Senior Project – Days 16 – 17

Wednesday 4, Day 16; from 8 in the morning to 1 the next morning, I slavishly cobbled the rest of my project together.

In the morning, I did more drums for “Dyschronometria” and started doing vocals. Audacity as usual was a crashy, finicky bother, but I managed. Between a faulty high-end pair of headphones, a working low-end pair of earphones, and a large PVC speakerbot my father and I build a while ago, I really need to reinvest next time around in some expensive equipment. I had to pull 4 songs together, and only had three: After a 2:00 dentist appointment, I kept working on the other three while trying to come up with a fourth. After dinner, I just started sampling my voice and created a pretty sick a capella beat. I pulled up some starter lines from a .txt file sitting on my desktop, and I tore up the mic. Hours spent working (not counting the dentist appointment from 2-3): 16 hours. That’s just inhuman.

Thursday 5, Day 17 and presentation day; before getting started on the trifold, I still had to mix the vocals, drums, and other instruments together in the two big songs, and master everything. That was new for me, learning how to add just the right amount of EQ and Compression and Reverb, panning everything so each instrument has its own place in space, and adjusting gain and timing of each. What a pain. Then I got to work on a trifold board. Woke up at 6, so with only 5 hours of sleep and not really eating breakfast or lunch, I’m running on fumes here.

So what’s the big meaning to all this? There are a lot of things I’ve learned, in no particular order:

  1. Recording a full album, with songs already written and practiced, with a band, with a professional engineer and everything, can take about a month.
  2. Recording anything resembling an album, with songs not yet written or practiced, soloing both the music and the mixing and the album art and everything, and potentially music videos, definitely does not take two and a half weeks. This project wasn’t merely ambitious, it was foolhardy.
  3. Expect to have 100 takes of every riff so that you can pick the one that sucks the least.
  4. Expect to save often, because even on a good rig, things still crash.
  5. PulseAudio, ALSA, and JACK do not play nicely.
  6. Linux does not play nicely. Not giving that up, because I know it works and I’m re-familiarized now with it’s quirks, but it comes at a price.
  7. Be careful when editing php files in your website, you can kill the whole thing if you mess up.
  8. I never have a problem filling time. There isn’t really enough to have any time left over.
  9. Cut the mid-range to make it sound clearer.
  10. Duplicate, pan, and add Reverb to give tracks weight in sound-space.
  11. Eat food and drink beverages and get sleep.
  12. You can have all the instruments in the world but you can only play them one at a time.
  13. Collaborations are fun, but only if you can actually get together to collaborate.
  14. Always be prepared for plan B, C, and Q.
  15. Instruments sound different together than they do alone. Always listen to everything together every so often.
  16. Even if I’m stressed, it’s something I love doing so it’s still a joy. Learn to isolate the stress from the work so that you don’t compromise anything.
  17. Compromise on the impossible, the sooner the better.
  18. Mad respect for sound engineers.

The final step in this journey is really to finish the other songs over the summer and re-record/re-mix/re-issue a full album by August. That’s much more time I think I can squeeze more usefulness out of.

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