Saturday, June 13, 2015

Incorporating guitar into recordings

Several months ago, I thought that it would be a good idea if I could incorporate some guitar playing into my recordings. All I would need for this would be some way of interfacing the guitar to the computer - and there is a simple solution. The device pictured on the left costs about $10 and is easily obtainable. Unfortunately, I couldn't get it to work with my main computer, which is  a throwback to previous days, still running XP (I don't want to start updating software which might not have suitable versions for Windows 8).

Last weekend, it occurred to me that maybe the device would work with my new laptop computer: I plugged my guitar into the device and plugged the device's USB connector into the computer. I began running Audacity, the freeware music editor, and hey presto! The guitar was being recorded into a sound file. I then began developing ideas for incorporating some guitar work into a recording.

At the same time, I was developing an arrangement for an old song of mine, converting the original 4/4 rhythm into 5/4. Once I had the backbone of the arrangement ready, I started adding more instrumental parts, but this time taking care to leave room for where the guitar was going to play an introduction, a solo and a coda.

Yesterday, I sat down with the computer, guitar and interface device in order to record the guitar parts. Audacity allows one to record multiple tracks which can either be mixed down to one or to be exported as individual files; I preferred the latter option. The introduction took a few takes to get right, then I recorded a simple rhythm guitar part for most of the song. A few more solo parts were required, which again were recorded several times each until I was satisfied.

After transferring the files from the laptop to my main computer, I was able to plug them into the song. There is a small problem with latency: the parts as recorded lag slightly behind the main music track, but this was easy to fix. Having multiple guitar tracks was a good idea as I was able to apply different processing to each track: the opening was overdriven, the rhythm part was recorded in stereo and had flanging applied to one side, the middle had multiple echo and the coda had a different type of flanging. Once I was satisfied with the effects and the timing, I mixed the guitar parts down to one track.

This morning I recorded vocals: in places this was hard as the words don't fit the new rhythm too well. One punch in was required for the first verse and the entire final verse was rerecorded. Again, once everything was satisfactory, I mixed the vocal tracks to one track then ran the file through pitch correcting software.

Finally I mixed the music track from Reason, the guitar track and the vocals together. The result is quite good - although whether it justifies the effort is debatable.

[SO: 3927; 3,16,37]

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