Production Log: Equinox

A link to the video was posted previously.

This one was a quick cover to get some sounds “on tape” for two new instruments:

  • Longneck concert pineapple ukulele by Covered Bridge Ukuleles. I did a fairly detailed write up on this one on Ukulele Underground so I won’t say much about it here except to mention the uncommon tuning on this uke. It is tuned to Eb cuatro tuning using Southcoast XLL strings with a cuatro first string. The open strings are tuned to Bb3 Eb4 G4 C4, in other words, a linear Eb except the 1st string is an octave lower than usual. This “low reentrant” tuning gives rise to unique chord voicings for a delightful change of pace while the key allows reading off Eb instrument charts using standard uke chord shapes.
  • G4 Native American flute by Rising Moon Flutes – I wrote about this flute in an earlier blog post, but this is the first recording I’ve made with it.

With that said, here’s how the production came together:

  1. Backing track – this is a simple minor blues tune so I worked up a quick backing track in Band-In-A-Box. Intro-head-solo choruses-repeat head-outro. It started as a classic piano-bass-drums trio. The audio was exported from BIAB into Propellerhead Reason.
  2. Uke recording – I used a Blue Yeti USB microphone connected to Reason (via the ASIO4ALL audio driver). This is a side-facing mic so sat on the desktop about a foot away from the uke. I made a couple of takes played against the backing track and kept the last one.
  3. Flute recording – I used the same mic in the same position. I didn’t touch the gain knob which meant I had to move back a good bit to keep the flute from clipping. Again, I made a couple of takes and kept the last complete one.
  4. Rearranging – it was at this point that I noticed the piano part wasn’t meshing with the uke so I just ditched it by going back into BIAB, muting the piano and exporting again to Reason. Normally, I export from BIAB as MIDI and rebuild the parts in Reason to “make them my own”, but since the goal here was a quick sound demo to feature the uke and flute, I just used the BIAB audio directly.
  5. Mixing – again, with the focus not being a fully polished production, I kept the mix processing relatively simple. The uke and flute channel strips got a high pass filter and a little compression but nothing more “corrective” like pitch correction on the flute or rhythm correction on the uke. A little plate reverb was applied to each and small room reverb as a send effect. Then sensible mix buss effects were applied: compression, EQ, stereo width, modest level raise.
  6. Video – this was almost an afterthought, but why not? These are really stylish instruments, so it’s great to be able to show them off. Plus it gave me an excuse to play with the LumaFusion app, one of the best (if not the best) video editing apps currently available on the iPad. The biggest issue here is that none of the playing on video was used in the audio production, so the “hand syncing” (is that the instrumental equivalent of lip syncing?) is worse than a Mili Vanilli/Mariah Carey love child. Ah well, it is what it is. The video edit was built up as three layers. The first was simply the audio export from Reason. The second was the main video layer which started as a complete run through on the uke, and then all the other clips were spliced “into” this track with transition effects from LumaFusion. The title layer was then done as an overlay layer using the titling tools in LumaFusion. (Almost forgot – the camera was a Zoom Q3 which is not exactly cutting edge these days with only 640×480 resolution but still perfectly adequate for YouTube.)

And there you have it. Fairly quick-n-dirty sound demo. I have some other projects planned that will showcase these instruments further in a (hopefully) slicker package. Stay tuned.

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