Where is my mind? is one of my favourite songs by Pixies. And every time I listen to them I fall in love with the complexity of their simplicity. But, how many times had I realized the importance/difficulty of the work behind that tune? Of course I had realized the creative labour of the band, their lyrics, their talent as musicians, etc. But how many times had I imagined the recording engineer trying to choose the best microphones for the guitar amplifier and their perfect placement to get the desired tonal balance? Never! Well, never….until now!
I had to deal with some of these issues recently (together with my classmates Rice and George), during our recording project for the Digital Studio Production module. We recorded some tracks of Ash Mountain, a blues/country/folk band based in Manchester, whose line-up consisted of acoustic and electric guitars, bass, drums and vocals (and possibly a mandolin!). I just can say thanks to Ash Mountain for coming, for their patience and their great music! I will have to mix and master one of their tracks later on, in both stereo and surround 5.1. And It would be great if they were happy with the result! That is my main objective. After all, they are our clients!
Before the recording session, I prepared myself by doing some research about microphones and their placement, reviewing the signal chain (to prevent its possible conversion into a labyrinth during the session), and resolving the sometimes mysterious ways of headphone mix as well. As for the session, I suppose I could say it was fine since we had not serious troubles, apart from the common time limitations you all can imagine (time! Always rushing us!).
And now is when the critical moment arrives… what were my personal feelings about the recording session? Well, I feel that being so nervous and stressed did not help me so much. But my main enemy was without any doubt communication in English. It was really hard not to understand everything and being confused because of the language (I am sure some of you will understand how does this feel). I am a very calm person and every time I feel all the above factors I can’t avoid it: I change my skin to become a little Charles Chaplin. Apart from that, the most important conclusion I can get from this experience is that I learnt lots of really important things.
Here is the first one: A good sound engineer will be able to make things seem beautifully simple, making the complexity of his/her work unnoticeable.