maugorn (maugorn) wrote,

The new CD (_Little Laughter_) is inches away from being finished. Posting Late!

I have my final mixes done. Tomorrow I do my first test burn and listen to see if there are any more final issues I need to address. Gods I hope not.
The odds are looking good that all that is left is (if necessary) to tweak some relative volume levels between songs.

_Little Laughter_ was recorded in it's entirety at this year's Spoutwood Farm Mayday Fairie Festival. I had my portable recording rig, with me. Wherever I set up to play, whenever I could, I recorded myself. I wound up with thirteen songs for this album and possibly a few more for other projects too!

The vibe and the sound of this album is a little more untamed than the others. I don't necessarily mean rowdy or crude though, just a little unkempt, feral, like one might picture a changeling child. Most of the songs are upbeat, happy, playful, some danceable, bright, sunny, weedy. My original thought for recording this project would be that I would highlight the "Faerie" parts of my repertoire and there is definitely some of that, but in the end, the songs that made the cut were the songs that the folks there and the festival itself seemed to pick. Being live, there's some spontaneity, some imperfection, and some INCREDIBLE serendipity. There was no other time or place where this music could have happened this way, and so even when it could have been wrong, it was right.

And as usual, the recording, mixing, editing process had its share of drama and adventure. I learned more again, about the craft of taking a recording of a moment and polishing it into a track that can last. Yes, I used some tricks of my trade to create this finished project. Don't worry. It's all me. I didn't cheat. Oh, and yes, it's all me making that music. My voice, my guitar/banjo, my harmonica, even my tambourine (played with my foot)

My final adventure today, finishing the last song is a kind of freaky tale to tell. As I said, I have some tricks. These live recordings are prone to things happening in them, wind, bumps, noises, electronic glitches that get recorded into the files, etc etc and I have my bag o' tricks for slyly minimising their effects with Audacity. There's one trick in particular that's very subtle and sometimes tricky. See, when I mic myself, my preference is to have the mic pretty close to my mouth to help drown out extraenneous noises. The guitar effectively blocks noise from one side and tends to drown out most reflected sounds. But my vocal mic is out there in the air. So I mic my voice close. But there's a price: being close to my mouth is also close to the harmonica. And *sometimes* when I'm doing some intense tonal warping and bending of notes, my throat will make these little "bark" sounds as I change the shape of my mouth and throat to maximise the harmonica's character. Yep, sometimes these barks get into the vocal track. But I have tricks. I've learned how to locate the frequency(ies) that these barks live in, and once I do, I can filter them out digitally. It mostly works, especially since the barks are usually not the frequency of the note(s) I'm playing. The annoying thing is that the barks can sometimes be slyly individual. The EQ profile that fixes one might not work on another. Within a song, it's usually pretty close. I find the frequency, I apply the filter, and when I get it right, it works. And every time I stare a fewin wonder as one does looking at a magician making something/one disappear in front of you.

So, yeah- working on this last song, right there going into the first note of the harmonica break, I heard what sounded like one of these barks. So I proceeded to do my usual trick which ends up with me (once I get in the ballpark) of working my EQ apps until the process of elimination shows me what frequency band fixes it. It usually works (and yet I'm surprised every time). Except this time. For there, just below the normal audible level of the harmonica, was this sneaky little note. It didn't even sound like a bark (although it was hiding in a bit of one). It was a kind of whistly sound. And for the life of me, I just can not find the frequency band that could affect it. I tried everything I know: painstakingly going through trying out the *entire* range of a 31 band studio EQ app, one band at a fewa time; I tried every notch filter app that I have, to no avail; I tried two different parametric EQs; and sometime in this process, to see if I could bypass guess work, I tried to whistle along with the note until I matched it. My tuner app on my phone handily displays the frequency. So I matched the note, checked it with my tuner, and said to myself "HA! Got you!"...... nope. None of my EQ skills and none of my apps would affect this damned little whistle. None. Seriously, none. And I *know* my EQ functions work because they've done miracles on other tracks. And as I thrashed about with this one, I could hear how various frequency bands affected the sound of the recording. (BTW- If you ever want a really poignant lesson in acoustics, take a recording of your favourite song and run it through a 31 Band equaliser sometime and see what changing each band does to the song.) Nothing I do will affect this note, despite my being able to imitate it and derive it's apparent frequency (and its multiple and some harmonics that I could calculate quickly).

I have determined therefore that this tone is not of this world but of Faerie. It's either a sonic graffito, a note sung by a Faerie critter, or even an actual critter itself taking up residence in my recording to go and be duplicated and sent on adventures. I also decided, it's not too loud (ie, barely noticeable) and that I could just leave it in the recording as an unkempt strand of a wild faerie child's moppish top.

More details of the CD to come when I am ABSOLUTELY SURE it's ready to be released, and I'm aiming for JUST IN TIME FOR PENNSIC! It's not quite a Pennsic demographic album, but I'm pretty sure that the folks who love me are still gonna love this.
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