First and foremost today I’d like to start by saying sorry for taking so long with this blog post. It’s been a few weeks since my last one purely because the first of these two tracks has taken a while to get recorded. To make up for it, I’m going for a double whammy today – two for the price of one! That’s right, I’ve got two new tracks for you today, so without any further ado….
Once in a while I’m aiming to put up a video on my YouTube channel and this is actually only the second one on this channel so far. As you will probably have seen by now, I have two different categories for all of the blogs I write based on what kind of track I’m including – a Piano Track or a Keyboard track. It appears just below the title and in a drop down menu from the ‘Blog’ section of my main menu. The point of this is that I’m really keen on playing my keyboard, and I’m also really keen on playing my piano. Both are the same aren’t they? Well no, not really….
For the piano tracks, I’m aiming to have them as almost entirely just piano. Nothing else. Maybe a string section from time to time but that’s it. On the keyboard side of things it’s a little more complicated. For each keyboard track I’m layering up several different parts on my keyboard so that it (hopefully) sounds like a whole band of some variety playing. In this case, I’ve jumped on the bandwagon and recorded a version of ‘Let it Go’ from Frozen. Today I’m going to take you behind the scenes for what this has involved…
Every time I create a keyboard track I start with a metronome. That’s little clicking noise that tells me where the beat is. That click goes on in my ear for the whole recording session, start to finish. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click.
It gets a little maddening if you start focusing on it and can send you into a bit of a trance but it is something you get used to. This is where my obsessive tendencies rear their ugly head again. I record each different part as a guide track – chances are it will take a few goes to get right but it’s nice to have something that is going to sound reasonably similar to the finished article to help me get the feel for the music. For this recording I’ve included around 12 different parts, which were all recorded first as a guide track; piano, bass, electric piano, 3 types of string sounds playing different parts, general percussion, 2 drum sections, a glockenspiel, timpani and a horn section. After this, I play them all in again, starting with the least important (or the one that is most in the background, e.g. the timpani) working up to the piano part, which 9 times out of 10 I will use for the main melody. If I’m doing something for YouTube then the video camera only comes out for the final piano recording and maybe one or two other parts as well (take a look at ‘There’s a Fine, Fine Line’ for some exciting split screen work!).
I wouldn’t say I’m camera shy really, but for some strange reason as soon as I press record on the video camera all my knowledge about music and my ability to play an instrument crumble into a heap of nothingness on the floor leaving me stranded gormlessly with 25 black keys and 36 white ones staring back at me expectantly while the Tyros’ buttons gleam, sparkle and blink like something straight from the International Space Station…
But then there’s the obsessiveness….
No, I won’t let myself be beaten by my Canon leering over my should at my now poor, useless hands. So I give it a shot anyway. I start the camera recording and the keyboard starts recording and I stride on towards victory and smash down the barriers and reach for the highest heights of my keyboard playing ability and…
…I make it 8 bars before hitting a true clunker of a note. Let’s try again, from the top! I start the camera recording (again) and the keyboard starts recording (again) and I stride on towards victory (again) and smash down those ever-growing barriers (again) and this time I really do reach for the highest heights of my keyboard playing ability and….
….I make it 12 bars before hitting the mother of all clunkers. This process goes on for as long as it needs to until I get something that I am fairly pleased with. After this odd torture ritual, I breath a colossal sigh of relief and record all of the tracks into my PC direct from the keyboard, mix them to make them sound a bit more like a professional recording and sync them up with the video.
And that’s all there is to it!
As I mentioned earlier, I’m doing a ‘double-post’ to help make up for my poor effort recently, and actually this part is probably one of the more important posts (and shortest) that I’ve written. It has been a really busy time lately. There has been loads going on and I would confess to having been fairly self-absorbed. Despite this, I’ve known all along that I can count on my family to help me through it. They have quite literally been the ground beneath my feet.
I do struggle to voice my feelings and opinions so what better way to do it than over a world-wide document to be engraved in cyber-space for all eternity?! As cliché as it may sound, music has always been a translator for me to get across what I want to say but can’t.
So with that, this recording is a massive thank-you to my family for all their continued support.