Home Forums Let’s get Technical Recording of the Acoustic Guitar

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    Stephen Butler
    Stephen Butler
    Participant
    Post count: 23

    Dear Guy:

    On the last album I couldn’t help but notice, on the first track in particular, the ‘dropping’ ‘in’ and ‘out’ of the acoustic guitar playing the melody. Normally one can get one’s head around it, especially in vocal tracks (where this problem also tends to happen), but this time it’s really noticeable. Sorry, I’m writing with reference to the Altamira record. I am assuming of course that this was all done ‘post-production,’ so to speak, in some kind of DAW like Pro-Tools? C’est vrai? But why? Would it not have been better to just leave it on and have a more realistic sound even if perhaps a little more ‘hissy’? To me it sounds as if Mark is playing in a giant submarine and you are lifting the lid every time he plays a line and then popping it back down. There’s one part, I can’t remember now if it’s on track one or two, where you can hear Mark give a little sniff, and then the sound disappears.

    Oh, I have another question: on track three, I imagine that is largely Dame Evelyn Glennie’s work. Would that be correct? If so, how is such a piece ‘composed’? The booklet says you are playing on it, so how was it scored, if at all? In other words, how is such a work, er, written down?

    Cheers for now, more madness much later,
    Stephen

Viewing 5 replies - 1 through 5 (of 5 total)
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  • Icelander
    Participant
    Post count: 4

    Guy, when you are scoring music for a movie when do you come into the process. Are you involved while the movie is being made or do they just bring to you after and say Music Score please. It seems to me that you need some -pre-notion of what they are expecting. I thought the score to Princess Bride was perfect for the type of movie it was.

    Stephen ButlerStephen Butler
    Participant
    Post count: 23

    Thanks for that, that’s really helpful. It amazes me how grown-ups can get a consistent sound in their acoustic work, and make it sound as though the instrument is right there beside you, if the mic is so far away (sorry – I tried not to!) from it.

    To be fair to Mr. Wilde, I think it was more of an atmosphere he was after, and I just happened to hit the right sound. It wasn’t really money for nothing (God help me!), and I’m sure it can happen in any walk of life. I’m really sorry about all these Brothers in Arms references, it’s just my latest trick.

    Cheers!

    Dr. FletchDr. Fletch
    Keymaster
    Post count: 56

    one mike over the sound hole thingy,

    Firstly, if you are in danger of hitting a mic, the mics are WAY too close. Generally, I place mics 12-18 inches away from the top few frets and not directly over the sound hole as that can get boomy quickly. Also by placing your mics a distance away, the player isn’t super-glued in position. Another reason to move mics away is consistency of sound. Also, it happens to incorporate the space around the guitar more, which after all is what your ears are hearing. That’s funny, re. your one chord story. Yes, it CAN get like that.
    G

    Stephen ButlerStephen Butler
    Participant
    Post count: 23

    When my brother records acoustic guitar, he places one mike over the sound hole thingy, and another further up the neck. Is this standard practice, then? Because it’s dashed difficult to play without hitting either mike. I tend to move around a lot while playing, and frequently knock one or the other. Guitarists make it look so easy, don’t they? It seems trendy now for videos to pop up on YouTube, Facebook or wherever and the guitarist is playing into a studio mike the most devilish of tricky pieces of music, the kind of ability you can only have if you are in league with Satan, and they don’t hit the blimmin’ microphone once! So I can appreciate how difficult it is, I’m not suggesting for one moment that it’s easy.

    That being said, I love the Altamira album. I’ve always had a soft spot for Mark’s soundtracks, Local Hero and Cal in particular, but all the others have their charm – even A Shot at Glory, which is the weakest in my humble opinion. I happen to think that soundtrack work is the hardest job there is in music today, trying to imagine what the director or the writer wants when they don’t tell you. I once wrote a series of cues (again, with my brother) which were rejected when the writer/director heard them. All of them. The guy’s name was Patrick Wilde (famous for writing an episode of Casualty) and he made me sit beside him at the keyboard and come up with stuff there and then. I played one chord – just one -, and he went “That’s it!!” I took the money and ran. So for Mark to consistently come up with music of that quality within the constraints of a film soundtrack? Well, hats off to him, mate.

    Cheers!

    Dr. FletchDr. Fletch
    Keymaster
    Post count: 56

    Hi Stephen, the Altamira acoustic was Mark’s Froggy Bottom parlour guitar and was particularly tricky to record due to the style and low signal level but the tone of the guitar won us over completely…it meant there was a fair bit of ‘tidying’. Also a lot of the guitar was left out for dialog in the film. None of Evelyn’s pieces were scored but they easily could have been. I added some sound/design effects on these tracks hence my credit.

    • This reply was modified 5 months, 2 weeks ago by Dr. Fletch Dr. Fletch.
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