GUT: Creating a Feature Score. Entry 03: Two Steps Back or Is He Dead?

Writing music for me is a very isolated process. I think better when alone in the studio and I’m far more comfortable making mistakes without others around to witness them. I like the dark studio with only the dim glow of my computer monitor lighting the room and a clutter of cables and gear surrounding me. Recording like this is fine… so long as you don’t happen to be recording in a studio with a giant window that other people can glimpse into. Apparently sitting back in a chair with feet propped up onto a mixing console and not moving for over three hours while slumped over the guitar laying in your lap in a dark room is cause for concern. At least that’s what the building security thought when someone reported me as either sick or dead in the studio. Fortunately for me I wasn’t dead.

In my trance, however, I was discovering some problems with the gear I was using. Noise and some weird gating of my guitar signal. Now, I love noise… but not in the wrong places. I’m using a fairly long chain of FX for my guitar so my first step was to trouble shoot that. I’ve been using an Adrenalinn III for my delay FX and I was able to isolate some undesired chopping of my sustained notes and a little extra noise through this unit. It’s a cool little box but it has it’s quirks so I yanked that and replaced it with a Tech21 Boost DLA, a really great little delay, that gave me what I needed without the noise. The second problem was really the amp itself, a Peavey Studio Chorus 210.  I love the sound I get through this amp but there is a substantial amount of noise it makes by just sitting there powered up. That amp noise in a mix is usually never an issue as most of the other instrumentation covers it up but the soundtrack for GUT has many empty moments. Individual strings ringing and decaying with trails of delay and reverb. This recording has GOT to be pristine and I don’t want to have to deal with noise reduction at any stage while working on this soundtrack. Any little blemish in tone is painfully obvious with arrangements like this and so I had to reconsider my approach for this part of the soundtrack. There a millions solutions for this. New amps, software, noise reduction, dif FX, amp sims. I’ve decided to try out something I’ve read about over the years but never actually played with… a Tech21 Sansamp. This basically simulates my amp, the speaker and the microphone. I’m not a fan of amplifier simulations usually and a lot of the amp sim software that is available leaves me a little cold feeling. I like hardware so this seems like a good compromise and aside from that, the demos I’ve heard of the Sansamp sound pretty great. Using this removes a lot of potentially noisy elements from the recording process in addition to the amplifier itself so I’m looking forward to testing it out. If you followed the link you’ll notice the SOLD OUT notification on the page so it was up to Ebay to save me. So at the moment, I’m temporarily stalled with the soundtrack until this unit comes in. I’m hoping it arrives by tomorrow so this weekend isn’t a complete loss. (good news… it came in tonight! – chvad)

Now while I was sitting there in my chair, apparently dead, I was listening to the film and the hours of scratch music I’d recorded up to that point. My original approach to this score was to create themes and hand those over to the editor/director Elias and let him have a ball figuring out where he wanted all that to go. That’s not going to work. While going through each scene in the film it was evident that each scene needed it’s own unique arrangement. So that’s what I’ve spent the past two weeks doing. Watching the film over and over and finding key moments that would benefit from music being added and trying to define moments that music would detract from which, in my opinion, was substantially more difficult. I’ve come up with about 3 hours worth of ideas that I’ve trimmed down to about an hour.

Before I let you go… in the last entry I was waxing poetic about keeping everything analog and well…. fuck that. I woke up last weekend with a host of ideas that were screaming for my Waldorf Microwave XTk so I dug it out of storage and have every intent on using it! You cannot stop me!

That’s it! Next time I’ll hopefully have results from testing out the SansAmp and more progress with the score.

-Chvad

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