Monday, March 21, 2011

The Big Gundown cover - first bass track

If you haven't read the other posts :
Making Of : The Big Gundown - Ennio Morricone Tribute
The Big Gundown Cover : Guitar Track
The Big Gundown cover - opening piano


The main guitar and the piano are now recorded. I will introduce the electric bass that overtake after the piano and complete the opening sequence. Later we're going to add the drums and some other overdubs.
But what about the bass in this song ? Well apparently there is no electric bass, but if you pay attention you can ear what seems to be cellos in the background, but you really need to listen carefully.

*TIPS - If you're looking to identify a particular instrument in a busy mix, you can try to do some equalisation filtering to isolate the instrument. Althought in those days there is advanced software that can litteraly remove vocal track or grab a string line out of a song, EQ filtering is a quick and easy way that can help. In this case, I'm looking to identify the cellos' part, a low frequency instrument, so I have put a low pass filter over the song to get rid of all high frequency instruments. This will help me to focus on the low end only. Then it's easier to listen and pick out the line.

If I trust my ears, here is what the cellos (or is it a double bass ?) does after the piano, starting at measure 12 :

|----------|-----------|-----------|-----------|-------------|
|----------|-----------|-----------|-5------7--|-------------|
|-7--------|-3------5--|-7----3----|-----------|-7--5--3--7--|
|----------|-----------|-----------|-----------|-------------|


|--------------|-------------|--------------|--------------|-------------|
|--------------|-3--3--3-----|--------3--3--|--------------|----5--------|
|-0--0--0--0-0-|----------5--|-0--0-0-------|-3--3-3-3--5--|-7-----3--5--|
|--------------|-------------|--------------|--------------|-------------|


|--------------|-------------|---------------|-------------|
|--------------|-------------|---------------|-5--5-5------|
|-7--7--7--7-7-|-3--3--3--5--|-7--7-7-3--3-3-|--------0----|
|--------------|-------------|---------------|-------------|


Now watch the video to see what it gives with the electric bass :


  video

OK, I'm not very happy with this audio recording. I will do some other takes for the bass part and choose a better one later. This is time to say you always have to look for a good performance and do multiple takes for a given part. I always do 5 to 10 takes before reaching the G spot with a performance. Patience is what you need and don't be satisfied with a recording that is 1. not sounding good and is badly recorded and 2. is not as tight as you'd wish. Although we will see later how to correct some of these issues in the mix, always try to have the best out of your recording sessions.

As you can see, all my recording are concentring on the opening sequence only. Don't worry, I will work the other parts of the song later. The next post will actually be about the drums tracks and I will write down a drums track that will help as a reference from the start to the end of the song.

NEXT POST : drums track for the whole song.

Please note that I don't have any real musical scholarship and that english is not my first langage. Please, kindly indicate me the mistakes I could have made, especially the ones that prevent you from sleeping. :)


Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Big Gundown cover - opening piano

If you haven't read the other posts :
Making Of : The Big Gundown - Ennio Morricone Tribute
The Big Gundown Cover : Guitar Track

Now that I sorted out the opening guitar track and wrote down the partition, I did a little recording in FL Studio (more on the recording process later) so it became my first recorded reference track.

However I quickly felt I had to lay down the piano track to get a better feeling of the timing and to see how the main guitar track was acting against the piano. What is the song structure in term of tempo and beat ? It's fun to play a line without any structure in mind, just playing it with foot taping but as far as you're going to record and overdub many tracks, it's better to work with some kind of defined grid and tempo.

I set the metronome at 106 bpm which is the same as the original. The tempo is in 4/4 so I theorically have quarter notes 4 beats per bar.

Well, the piano is actually the instrument that initiate the song. With a large 3 octave A chord. There was something that intuitively intrigue me with the timming of the piano vs the guitar introduction. Try to sit down with real song, wait for the piano chords and then tap with your hand when you think the guitar is going to come. Not easy isn't ? It's because the guitar is not coming after an exact count of beat, the guitar enter after 2 and 1/2 beat following the piano ! Welcome in the world of Ennio.

Watch this short video to understand how to start the guitar against the piano

video

The piano is not very difficult to get. Being a poor pianist myself (but with good ears) I've been able to quickly lay down the partition. I recorded throught my MIDI controller keyboard with SampleTank free VST piano (not the best out there I admit). Check the video to catch the piano partition :


video

Ok good enough so far ! After that part, the piano seems to disappear and somehow is replaced by the cellos for the following sequences. There is no electric bass in the original recording, rather some background cellos that seems to be buried in the mix under male vocals, rolling bass drum and brasses. So that's where I will start to deviate from the original by introducing a nice foreground electric bass.

Next Post : Electric bass - first track

Please note that I don't have any real musical scholarship and that english is not my first langage. Please, kindly indicate me the mistakes I could have made, especially the ones that prevent you from sleeping. :)

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Big Gundown Cover : Guitar Track

Previous Post :
Making Of : The Big Gundown - Ennio Morricone Tribute

The song is build around the opening guitar theme so it will be the first thing i'm going to record. We will discuss two things concerning this track :

1. Getting the line correctly
2. Getting the sound right

1. Getting the line correctly

When you listen to the guitar introduction, it's easy to think it's a very straightforward line that should not pose any difficulty to get quickly. As it is often the case with Morricone's music, it always sounds simple on the surface until you go deeper and find some hidden level of complexity either in the timing or in the partition. That's a big part of Morricone's genius in my opinion : making easy listening music and simple idea through subtle musical complexity. That's why you will sometimes hear people covering the man without taking care of some little details and so they deliver an interpretation that doesn't sound quite "right".

And it's exactly what happen here if you're not listening carefully.

Indeed, my first reflexe was to pick the axe and play what looked to be a simple figure on the open A string that would go like this :

|-----------------|--------------------|
|-----------------|--------------------|
|-----------------|--------------------|
|-----------------|--------------------|
|-0-2-0-3-0-5-0-3-|-0-2-0-3-0-5-0-3----|
|-----------------|--------------------|



|-----------------|-----------------|--------------------|
|-----------------|-----------------|--------------------|
|-----------------|-----------------|--------------------|
|-----------------|-----------------|--------------------|
|-0-2-0-3-0-5-0-7-|-0-5-0-7-0-5-0-3-|-0-5-0-7-0-5-0-3----|
|-----------------|-----------------|--------------------|


Watch the video of this : Wrong Interpretation


Sounds good isn'it ? And quick to get ! I was happy with this and ready to record the line and be able to move to something else after. Then, a more carefull comparison with the original revealed it all wrong in bars 4 and 5.

So I picked up the axe again and after some struggle I figured it out correctly like this :

|-----------------|--------------------|
|-----------------|--------------------|
|-----------------|--------------------|
|-----------------|--------------------|
|-0-2-0-3-0-5-0-3-|-0-2-0-3-0-5-0-3----|
|-----------------|--------------------|


|-----------------|-----------------|--------------------|
|-----------------|-----------------|--------------------|
|-----------------|-----------------|--------------------|
|---------------2-|---0---2---0-----|-------2------------|
|-0-2-0-3-0-5-0---|-3---3---3---0-3-|-0-5-2---3-5-0-3----|
|-----------------|-----------------|--------------------|


Now that's better ! You can see the difference is the ostinato being no longer play with the open A but rather from the C in bar 4 which bring a little bit more challenge to perform. Close inspection of the bar 5 also reveal you a change from an easy A-D-A-E-A-D-A-C to A-D-B-E-C-D-A-C !

This sequence is reapeated another time when the drums and brasses begins and it's then transposed to E, then up to A and up to E. It ends abrutly half of the last bar. Here is the complete tablature. You may note again a little subtlility : each 5 bars pattern ends differently before it moves up to the next.

|-----------------|--------------------|
|-----------------|--------------------|
|-----------------|--------------------|
|-----------------|--------------------|
|-0-2-0-3-0-5-0-3-|-0-2-0-3-0-5-0-3----|
|-----------------|--------------------|


|-----------------|-----------------|--------------------|
|-----------------|-----------------|--------------------|
|-----------------|-----------------|--------------------|
|---------------2-|---0---2---0-----|-------2------------|
|-0-2-0-3-0-5-0---|-3---3---3---0-3-|-0-5-2---3-5-0-3----|
|-----------------|-----------------|--------------------|


|-----------------|--------------------|
|-----------------|--------------------|
|-----------------|--------------------|
|-----------------|--------------------|
|-0-2-0-3-0-5-0-3-|-0-2-0-3-0-5-0-3----|
|-----------------|--------------------|


|-----------------|-----------------|---------------------|
|-----------------|-----------------|---------------------|
|-----------------|-----------------|---------------------|
|---------------2-|---0---2---0-----|-------2---9-7-------|
|-0-2-0-3-0-5-0---|-3---3---3---0-3-|-0-5-2---3-----10----|
|-----------------|-----------------|---------------------|


|-------------------|----------------------|
|-------------------|----------------------|
|-------------------|----------------------|
|------------7------|------------7---------|
|-7-9-7-10-7---7-10-|-7-9-7-10-7---7-10----|
|-------------------|----------------------|


|------------------|---------------------|-----------------------|
|------------------|---------------------|-----------------------|
|------------------|---------------------|-----------------------|
|------------7---9-|----7----9----7------|---7--------9----10----|
|-7-9-7-10-7---7---|-10---10---10---7-10-|-7---9-10-7---10-------|
|------------------|---------------------|-----------------------|


|-------------------|----------------------|
|-------------------|----------------------|
|------------7------|------------7---------|
|-7-9-7-10-7---7-10-|-7-9-7-10-7---7-10----|
|-------------------|----------------------|
|-------------------|----------------------|


|------------------|---------------------|----------------------|
|------------------|---------------------|----------------------|
|------------7---9-|----7----9----7------|---7---9-9-11-9-12----|
|-7-9-7-10-7---7---|-10---10---10---7-10-|-7---9----------------|
|------------------|---------------------|----------------------|
|------------------|---------------------|----------------------|


|---------------------|------------------------|
|-------------10------|-------------10---------|
|-9-11-9-12-9----9-12-|-9-11-9-12-9----9-12----|
|---------------------|------------------------|
|---------------------|------------------------|
|---------------------|------------------------|


|---------------------|------------|----|
|-------------10---12-|----10------|----|
|-9-11-9-12-9----9----|-12----12---|----|
|---------------------|------------|----|
|---------------------|------------|----|
|---------------------|------------|----|


Now watch the right interpretation



Never as easy at it  first looks...

2. Getting the sound right

First thing that you may notice when listening to the song is the very plucky nature of the guitar sound. I'm not sure but it sounds to me like it's an acoustic guitar miked and amplified with some amount of spring reverb. However, I'll choose to play it on the electric guitar and I will work a sound with Ik Multimedia's virtual amp Amplitube a little more saturated, to get a bit more agressivity to the theme. I will be careful to play with my right hand very close to the bridge where the strings are more tensed so it will gives a plucky sound.

Next post : Piano track
Please note that I don't have any real musical scholarship and that english is not my first langage. Please, kindly indicate me the mistakes I could have made, especially the ones that prevent you from sleeping. :)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Making Of : The Big Gundown - Ennio Morricone Tribute

Now, here we go. There is this song that I want to remake from The Big Gundown soundtrack composed by Ennio Morricone.  I will upload on this blog a step by step making of the cover. You will see every details of my work, filled with tablatures, video and explanations of the recording and mixing process.

I will first invite you to watch an old cover I did of the Maestro. It was the song Mystic and Severe from the movie Death Rides a Horse (Da Uomo a Uomo), a song also featuring in the movie Inglorious Basterds. Based around a cool bass line, the song slowly build to epic proportions. Check it out !


This time, I'm going to work out the theme from the The Big Gundown (La Resa dei Conti). So before going further, it would be a good idea to listen to the theme in question. You will note that the song start with a great guitar line and it will the first thing I will discuss in the next post on the blog.  Here's the music :

 

A great song, one of Morricone's best scores ! You got it all : guitars, rolling drums, vocals, brasses. strings. Let see how we can rock this out !

My objectives with this remake are to come with something as punchy and kickass as the song I did from Death Rides a Horse. Epic is the word and this is from Ennio so there will be a couple of musical tricks to unlock, that's for sure.

If you are a musician, fan of Spaghetti soundtrack or a Morricone's enthousiast, please subscribe to this blog and be sure to read me !