Improving the sound

I have been reflecting upon my sketchbooks. I have several of these but there is one that I tend to use for watercolour and pen & ink sketches. Those that I do for this blog I attempt to get more or less right, first go. This runs counter to the advice that I was given last year at university by the illustration tutor who urged me to generate loads of paintings or drawings quickly and freely, scanning in the best to work up digitally on computer. I was once told by a professional photographer that he would shoot a whole film on the basis that maybe one or two pictures might turn out well, or at least could be salvaged in the dark room (nowadays, digitally in Photoshop or whatever). He suggested that that was a major difference between him and the average amateur photographer who would try to make each shot count; would try to get the perfect picture with one click of the shutter.

There are parallels to all this in music. In the studio it is possible to lay down endless takes of all the tracks one might need for a song, and then to craft the perfect version in the mix-down. Let me extend this to Second Life music. It is possible to produce an excellent backing track ahead of time in the studio working in this fashion (I believe some folks actually buy professionally produced karaoke tracks). The advantage to the singer is a perfectly executed backing, with no fumbled notes and no sloppy rhythms. The disadvantage, of course, is that the singer is then mechanically tied to the tempo and emotional expression cued by the backing track henceforth on every performance of the song; not my cup of tea at all.

I think the reason for my distaste of karaoke stems from many years in the contemporary folk music tradition of singing live in English pubs. Although I am now extremely critical of most pub gigs (singing to a bar full of people talking, shouting, laughing and generally ignoring one’s performance is no longer my idea of fun), I have put in a lot of hours doing it in the past. The excitement of live performance seems to be coming across in the blossoming of Second Life music jams in first life (there has just been one in Texas, and there was a very successful one a few months ago in Montreal).


Car sponge mic sock

Be that as it may, the thing that is occupying my attention right now is the quality of my vocal sound as I stream it up for my Second Life shows. After much thought, I have decided to complete change the position of the vocal mic I use when singing with piano. This has required hammer, hooks, clips and the re-routing of cables around my mini-studio at home. I need to check the sound levels out this afternoon before I play my show this evening at Club Falling Waters. I don’t wish to give away all my secrets but the wind sock I made for the mic out of a car wash sponge seems to be working extremely well!

Before I can do this, I have a feeling that I am going to be called upon to be taxi-man for a trip to the city and after that there looms a mid-week trip to the supermarket. Somewhere in amongst that I am hoping for some time to ponder on the advice my piano teacher gave me this morning. I had better get on with things. Speak to you later.

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