This is what the final mix looks like as a two-track (left and right) waveform.

Click waveform to listen to the mp3 of this file.



From this to this in about 8 hours!

"Field Trip" by The Project Insight Playas

This project will walk you through the process we used in recording a song using a sofware-based recording system (Digital Performer by MOTU), along with drum loops, virtual instruments and old-fashioned "real" instruments.

First, let me give you the lineup of playas:

Holly: vocals and keyboards

Tim: vocals and rap

Brandon: bass guitar

John, Bo and Mr. Winters: Production and ambience

Mr. Egler: guitar, bass, keyboards, programming, drums and production/engineering

The first thing we did was pick out a suitable drum loop and establish a tempo for the song. The tempo is 73.34 bpm (beats per minute)
Second, we began tracking parts for the song. This is the fun part. This is also the part where everyone has to start thinking about Rock and Roll and Being Cool. Nobody cares about stuff that doesn't rock. Mr. Egler laid down a scratch guitar part to give sense of the arrangement and establish a key for the song. The song is in Bb.
Third, Brandon laid down a fat bass track.
Fourth, Holly and Tim laid down seperate "Aaahhh" vocal parts.
Fifth, Mr. Egler laid down a sick wah wah guitar part and dubbed in some extra bass licks.
Sixth, Tim laid down several tracks of his rap.
Seventh, Mr Egler laid down a killer stereo track of live drums. In one take!
The eighth step was Mr. Egler kicking everyone out of the studio and begining the process of organizing the sprawling, confusing jumble of tracks that we had amassed. This is the part that sucks. You can see a screenshot of the mess I was looking at by clicking here. You can listen to an mp3 of the raw tracks here. Sounds pretty awfull, huh?
The ninth step was for Mr. Egler to painstakingly audition all the vocal parts and line them up to the tempo grid. I also trimmed start and end times of the audio files to make them more manageable. I kept an ear open for parts that needed to be deleted.
Tenth on the list was to name and organize the tracks and put them on thier own channels. They are also grouped to mix busses. For example: all three of Holly's "Aaahhh" vocal channels were routed to a single bus. All four of Tim's "Ahhhs" were put on a single bus and then the three rap parts were put on yet another bus and so on. In the end I had 20 different channels bussesd down to 6 bus channels: Guitars, Holly's vocals, Tim's vocals, Tim's Rap, Drums, and Bass. I also recorded more acoustic parts as well as some awesome backwards-soundin' keyboard parts.
Step Eleven: Start to put effects on the channels. Equalize the vocal parts. Put the bass through a compressor. Put a touch of distortion on the drums. Turn up the guitars! Run the "Aaaahhs" through a pitch-correction plugin. You can see an example of an EQ plugin being applied here.
Step twelve is important. The arranging. This will make or break a song. A bad song can still sound cool with a good arrangement, but even a good song will suck with a bad arrangement. Most songs have at minimum 3 parts. An intro/outro part, a verse part, and a chorus part. But multiply that with all the different instrumentation combinations and you have mabey 36 or so different arrangement permutations. And if you repeat parts, as most songs do, you have maybe hundreds of arrangement possibilities. The most important part of this science of arranging is that IT MUST ROCK. It is imperitive that you move the listener up and down and up and down. Mmmmmk? View this screen shot of my rockin arrangement.
Thirteen. The last, lucky step! You have to sum all these parts and channels and busses down to two tracks: left and right. These are the two parts that come out of your headphone or stereo speakers. I summed the six busses (Guitars, Holly's vocals, Tim's vocals, Tim's Rap, Drums, and Bass) to a single Stereo Master Fader and then placed several plugins on that channel. EQ, Compressor/Limiter, Reverb. I then bounced that down to a single stereo file. I then ripped that sucker as an mp3 and posted it on this page! Now I just sit back and wait for the money to roll in. Ahhhh!


Here you can view photos of the session. Pics by DD Winters.

The intensity. The focus. The rock. The roll.

JC tearing up the Takamine

Tim gettin his flow.

Holly showing Mr. Egler what's up on the keys.

The Project Insight Playas

Is Bo writing hit lyrics? Checking his Xmas list? Ignoring us?

Tim tracks his rap.

More editing. Boring!

Holly is already thinking about the video for our masterpiece.

Bo challenges me to make him sound just like Robert Plant on "Black Dog".

Brandon is psyching up for laying down his monster bass part.

Holly is literally blown away by Mr. Egler's sweet chops.

"Sing it like you're karate-chopping them in throat."

Discussing royalty splits.


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