A sneaky trick to make me sound like a better guitarist!

I’m writing four songs in twelve weeks. I’ve split the twelve weeks into two parts: the first eight weeks are for writing and recording the songs from scratch; the final four are set aside for the post-production stuff. Tomorrow is the first day of week eight, but since my fourth song has pretty much written itself, I’ve been looking back at the previous tracks and building up a bit of a to do list.

Simply put, I like Song 1. I think I’d be happy to listen to it if someone else had written it. I wish I could say the same for my second and third songs. The third one, in particular, is pretty dire: it doesn’t sound finished, or coherent, or anything. But I don’t have time to do any great musical restructuring, so I’m stuck with it!

My to-do list is dominated by the fact that I need to re-record some guitar/bass parts, in particular for Songs 1 and 3. I’ve spoken before about having issues with finding the right guitar tone, and that makes the recording process very scary to me. In fact, that’s why I decided to write Song 4 entirely using MIDI instruments which use sound generated by the computer.

I recorded the guitars in Song 2 without any effects, and the sound is okay. It’s passable, for me with my horribly low standards/reluctance to re-record. Ach, I’ve a cheek to call myself a musician! There was one wee passage that really troubled me though: a speedy, playful part for two guitars that came out a bit sloppily. It wasn’t even that fast, and I’d had to practice it a million times until I was happy with the recording, but the more I listened back, the more I heard it was a tiny bit out of time.

Instead of re-recording it, I used some computer trickery!

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This is the audio track for one of the guitar parts that I wanted to fix. It shows eight bars of music, subdivided into 4 beats per bar. If you look at the arrow at the start of bar 5, you can see that the audio doesn’t quite start on the beat. With Ableton Live, you can insert so-called warp markers into the music and then squeeze or stretch bits together until they sync up with the beat. After some careful adjustments I restored order to my sloppy guitar parts!

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Everything lines up much better now! I was amazed by how well it worked, even though it’s just subtle changes. (If you’re really paying attention, you might be able to figure out that I’m playing two notes per beat in bars 1-2 and 5-8, and triplets in bars 3 and 4!)

My plan for today was actually to spend some time re-recording my guitars for Song 3. I’m thinking I will use my classical guitar instead of plugging in an electric one. I just love the earthy sound of classical guitars with their nylon strings! As well as that, I bought a new condenser microphone with money I don’t have and I need to get some more practice before I attempt to record my sister playing the flute for Song 1!! However, instead of facing my fear of recording, I went for a nice long walk and hung out with squirrels and stuff.

Awkward selfie on Corstorphine Hill.

A post shared by mairi (@mairielise) on

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