Recording Project Update: First Edits and Beyond

2013-04-10 11.28.43Here’s another brief update on my Koetsier recording project (read the previous one here). As of my last update I was still working on liner notes and waiting to dig in to some first edits of the pieces. I’m happy to report that I’ve completed the liner notes, coming in at 1954 words (2000 words was the maximum). Rather than include lots of biographical information on Koetsier – which is already available online here – I chose instead to focus on specific information about each piece. Hopefully listeners will find this material helpful and interesting. For cover art we’ve licensed a very nice painting by artist Markus Bleichner. Visit http://www.artshop77.com/ to see some examples of his work.

As for the first edits, I’m quite pleased so far. To put these edits together in the first place required that I go through approximately 37GB of sound files and choose the desired takes for each piece. We had notes from the sessions, but I still needed to listen to everything to be sure that the takes were correct. This took about ten hours of really intense listening, broken up over several days of course. The easiest method I found was to load all of the material into an iTunes playlist. This made it easy to compare several takes back to back. Even so, I could only work for about two hours before my ears started to play tricks on me. Sometimes I’d find myself wondering “did I nail that lick, or not?” If I wasn’t sure I would take a break and come back later after my ears (and brain) had rested. I don’t have expensive monitors, so I listened using a pair of Sennheiser HD 518 headphones (shown above, with some increasingly more tattered scores). Great headphones can cost several hundred to even thousands of dollars, but for the money I think the HD 518s are some of the best around.  Are they as good as some of the more expensive models – probably not – but they’re pretty close! After compiling a detailed list of takes, measure numbers, and other information, I sent it off to the engineer for the editing work. I’ve been listening closely to these edits, both for overall impressions as well as for places where another take needs to be substituted for musical or technical reasons. Thinking back over the process so far, it would probably have been much more convenient to build in a few extra days after the session to do the editing on-site. This wasn’t really a possibility with this project because of when my sessions were scheduled – the week before Christmas – but it would have made the back and forth conversations about editing decisions much faster. Right now I have to wait for the engineer to upload an edit to Dropbox, and then he has to wait for me to download, listen, and write coherent comments about it. All of this is happening while both of us are juggling other professional commitments. The process works, but is a little cumbersome.

The next step is to continue to listen critically and try to get the best possible takes for every single measure of each piece. This may require a few more rounds of editing, but in the end it will be worth it. I’m also beginning to think about mastering, and the kind of sound I want for the CD. In general I prefer a more direct (vs. distant) horn sound, which should work well for the material on this recording.  To be continued…

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