Totally blew my sleep schedule by playing around with audacity and layering multiple tracks to the Fray song, "How to Save a Life" (yes, I bought that album for my birthday). All my previous attempts were basically single tracks (with some minor experimentation with the placement of the microphone). Multi-track recording is much harder and I am basically stumbling my way through it... but that is half the fun! Ok, so here is three versions of "How to Save a Life" (not the full song):
- Single Track Version. What I like about single track songs is that it is very easy to get the timing right. You are playing as you sing and the way I do it -- the singing always sets the rhythm. Thus, I can on-the-fly alter the speed of strumming to accomodate the vocals. The downside of this is that sometimes you need to simplify the guitar portion (in order to do the split-brain work in the complexity of the vocal piece). For example, in this piece the single version uses chord strumming throughout, which is ok, but lacks enough similarity to the piano piece. (The Fray song is a piano piece -- by the way, if you like Coldplay you should buy the Fray album). [Note: quickly knocked this out after the multi-track versions for contrast. This is a little sloppy but works as a counter-point.]
- Double Track Version. Ok, in this version, the change should be immediately evident. The two first verses are picked instead of strummed. (One downside is that the speed is slightly too slow compared to the Fray version ... but since I liked the way the picking came out, I stuck with it - I'll redo it later).
Another part of the experiment is that I actually only played this on the guitar for 1 "round" (verse, prelude, chorus) and then copied it to repeat. That was cool as an experiment but the slow start in the beginning is even more noticeable the second time around.
One other lesson I learned is that you must use headphones for the following tracks because you don't want the speakers playing anything while you record the next track (duh!!!! Did not take me long to learn that one...)
- Third Track Version. Lastly, for this version I broke out my son's electric guitar. The fray version uses some simple lead guitar in the chorus. I did not really bother to make sure this lead was correct, I just used whatever sounded good to me. I think the addition of the lead guitar really adds a lyrical quality to the song. All of my kids like this version best and I hope you to do.
- There is not a fourth version (yet) but this song definitely needs some drums... more fun for later. I did download a freeware drum machine but have not had enough time to play with it. Also, many other songs I want to play with multi-track recording. I may try some Snow Patrol next ... or may hearken back and do a little Elvis.
If you have any tips in doing this sort of thing ... let me know. If I continue on this pace, I will soon have to build me a recording studio and go back to taking lessons!
UPDATE: Back at playing around with Audacity! This time I am playing around with reworking old Neil Young songs. Here is a quick cut at Neil Young's song "After the Gold Rush" and a 4-Track cut of "I believe in You". Hope you like them... More soon...