James M. Carson Live Session w/ Vizea Sound & Film Fallon.
Hello, it’s Joe here.
It seems myself and Jason at Vizea Sound have been working with some incredibly talented acoustic songwriters as of late. We are settling into our new home on Hope Street nicely and it’s proving to be a nice cosy atmosphere to work from.
Since we’ve been working with these musicians, it’s brought back all the memories of myself playing, recording, performing and the general minefields that ensue being a ‘Singer/Songwriter’. So I thought I’d share some of the things that I learned along the way that could help any aspiring or established songwriters.
With Vizea Sound being primarily a Music Production company, I will typically be addressing matters from a recording and production stand point however; I will touch on any other matters that seem appropriate along the way.
Lets Get Started
Right, so this weekend I found myself working with a talented acoustic songwriter based in Liverpool call Edd Barlow. With many obstacles in the way (time, budget, blah, blah, blah etc.) we found ourselves in my living room with the rough idea of recording some tracks. However, if you’re reading this and are either a novice to home recording or a seasoned veteran in the art, you will no doubt come to the understanding that THE SPACE is so very important.
The room you choose (or perhaps the only option you’re left with) will have a huge impact on the way your recordings will sound, how you’ll approach your sessions and countless other restrictions your space will put upon you. But don’t let this worry you or put you off at all, just be aware of some important factors when choosing your space.
1. Unwanted Noise – This covers things like outside traffic noise, inappropriately loud neighbours to your gran downstairs watching Poirot at volume ‘86’ on the TV.
2. Acoustics – Beware of the sound of the room. Does it sound ‘room-y’, ‘echo-y’ or just generally ‘crap-y’? If this is not want you want, you might want to get your duvet and blankets out. Try to deaden the room or maybe try and make a little den/corner that captures the acoustic reflections. (See the picture below, in which I used a futon mattress to create a little booth, as my living room has quite a ‘live’ sound due to its high ceilings). Some of you may like that ‘live’ or natural sound when you’re thinking about recording acoustic guitars or vocals. But generally speaking, if you are recording in a spare bedroom/basement, etc. I’m gonna presume it’s not a great sounding room and you might want to think about using Reverb FX when it comes to mixing to get what you’re after.
3. Size – Yes, apparently this does still matter. But don’t worry, it’s not everything thankfully. The size in which you record in and its inherent restrictions truly depend on how and what you are recording. If you are simply layering & overdubbing vocals and acoustic guitar parts yourself, then technically your space will need to be big enough to fit you, your instruments and your recording medium (computer, 8-track etc.) in and that’s about it really. Obviously, drums are typically a nightmare when home recording unless you know what you are doing. So as with all matters concerned with home recording, know your limits. If you can’t fit a drum kit in, get creative and improvise with banging anything that can be used as percussion, program a midi beat or overdub the drums individually. Really, only you know what your restrictions are, and don’t let them get you down, just work with it.
At Vizea Sound’s studio on Hope Street, we’ve spent a lot of time getting our rooms to sound great. This took a lot of time, effort and money but that’s not to say you won’t get good results at home, it just means you’ve really got to know what to look out for and how to conquer or avoid the problems you’ll face.
There are many articles on acoustic treatment and home soundproofing techniques but I personally recommend Sound On Sound’s ‘Studio SOS’ articles, in which they visit readers home studios and help them with the acoustics and general practicalities of home setups. It’s great for general things to consider and also you may stumble on one article that has a similar home recording set up as your own.
The many years I spent recording in my Dads basement and also in bedrooms throughout Uni, I found the biggest problems to be ‘boomy’ or uneven bass throughout the rooms and also compromised speaker placement. In the SOS articles though, there are lots of tips and guidance on these specific things.
Right, well I think I’ve rambled on for long enough now. But thanks for reading, and hopefully this will be the first post of many regarding Tips for acoustic songwriters. If at any point you have any questions or want a chat or pop down to Vizea Sound, get in touch or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.