Playing a Five-Song Session

Courtesy Sound on Sound

I finished an eight hour overdubbing session Tuesday, creating parts for a song cycle of five songs. The client's request was for me to create rhythm parts and some melodies over these songs. I received copies of the songs the day before the session so I was able to make some plans. I chose to use a Taylor K14c acoustic, a Cordoba 55R classical, a Gibson Les Paul Standard with Line 6 Helix, and the new Bhava Studio harmonium, to create the parts. To record the rhythm guitars, I put up a pair of AKG C451B mic. I switched to using just one of them for the leads. I also came up with the idea of creating a bed, "gravy," with the harmonium to glue everything together, sort of like a Hammond B3 does, and it worked great. Though the harmonium has only been in-house for a couple of weeks this session gave me a chance to set it to its appointed task. I chose a pair of Neumann TLM103 large-diaphragm condenser microphones to record the instrument. Since I was using it as "gravy," that essential pad sound that quietly holds a song together. I wanted a smooth sound that didn't demand attention. The large diaphragm condenser has a wonderful, flat response across the spectrum without a pronounced high end, and that's exactly what I wanted. To that end I also set the harmonium's jaali so that it was about three-quarter's closed to pull back on the overtones a bit. I placed the mics about three feet above the harmonium, right above my head, in a closely-spaced pair, to get a stereo image something like I was hearing. The result was a full, mellow, literal rendition that automatically settled into the background of my mixes.

All the concentration, multiple takes, load-ins and load-outs, and sitting on a grey metal lab stool all day to play left me pretty much knackered. But by way of reward, my lovely wife prepared breakfast for supper, with the crowning dish being her fluffy waffles. Yay!