Zone Recording: E-Mail Recordings

Hello readers. Thanks for checking in again for another installment of Zone Recording. I am on the road again. Connecticut is stinking hot at this time of the year! Enough to melt this Canadian boy.

This month I would like to talk about e-mail sessions. This is a new thing for me, but the possibilities are pretty crazy!

Recently I was asked to do a session that needed some nylon string parts on this pop song with female vocals. A client e-mailed me and wanted to see if I would be interested in doing it. I have to say first off that if I did not have the Internet or a computer based studio, I would have had to turn the session down. Of course you have to have both today and be able to work with both. This is how the session went down.

I had Sean (the client) e-mail me a few mp3 files.

The first file contained the full mix with MIDI keyboard parts playing fake nylon and steel parts so I could get an idea of what Sean wanted. The second mp3 was the track minus the fake nylon and steel parts. I needed all the files to be exported from his system at exactly 0:00, and I requested the exact tempo of the song so I could easily import it into my system. He was using Logic and I was using Sonar 2.2. This is totally insignificant because e-mail recordings will work with any type of software-based system. He wanted all files to be recorded at 24 bit 44.1.

Once I had the mp3 file imported in at 76 bpm (at 0:00) it was time to go to work.

I first focused on the nylon part. The song was in the key of D Major. I noticed that the keyboard part did not take into account that the guitar's tuning does not normally go to D. I played the guitar part up an octave, but it was not the same as the keyboard part. Of course, drop tuning the part down gave me what I wanted. Sean mentioned that he wanted different takes to make the production grow. I gave him 3 different options of nylon parts. The first was exactly what he had played on the keyboard. The second was with a few embellishments, and the third had different trills with more of a Latin flavor. All three of these takes were doubled for the great stereo effect with a Neuman TLM 103 and 2 Rodes N5 mikes using a Drawmer 1960 front end.

Steel guitar tracks were next. He requested 3 different versions of the steel part also. A similar process was used as with nylon part, but whereas the nylon part contained more picking, the steel parts had more strumming. All the steel parts were doubled as well. All takes were only approximately 4 measures long. He wanted to make sure he could loop the takes where needed. I just assembled each take in time, 4 measures at a time. There would be a 4-measure break and then the next version. I combined each take into a full track and exported 2 tracks of wav files each with 3 different takes of steel and nylon parts at 0:00, then burned them to a CD.

I then brought the files to my Internet computer. Of course 2 wave files about 1 minute each with 24 bit 44.1 info are quite large. 50 + MB of data each. Sean had me upload the files to his web space that holds up to 500 MB, if not more. This was very easy to do. He received the files and imported them into Logic. Not one problem. All this happened within 24 hours. We did not even meet face to face, and it was all done through e-mail. I think that is pretty frickin' incredible. Just another way to have fun and be a professional musician.

I am off to check my e-mail to see if I have another session.

May the tone be with you.

David Martone is a guitarist from Vancouver, Canada who has released seven solo CDs which showcase his musical diversity and brilliant guitarmanship.

His 2007 CD is entitled "When The Aliens Come", which features a progressive sound incorporating jazz, rock, fusion and metal influences.

David Martone