Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Big Gundown Cover - Now what ?

For my few fellow readers who don't know it, the result of my interpretation of The Big Gundown is now online on Youtube with a nice video montage from my friend David from France :

What happened with the blog making-of is, at some point, I had to choose to concentrate myself entirely on the cover making itself or I would have died trying to show a day-by-day description of what I do, how and why. The reason is things became complicated at some point and I had to go throught a serious amount of recording to push the song on another level. It' good to mention that creation is not always a linear thing and I found myself splitted between the will to make a structured tutorial and the need to plunge myself in the music making with all the improvisation and uncertainty it involves.

My apologies for that, but here is a disorder list of post-mortem though about the interpretation, as a sort of conclusion.

  • As you can testify by listening to the song, I haven't been precious on guitar tracking. For many musical lines that were originaly played by either strings or brasses, I voluntarily choose to run them on the electric guitar. There's two reasons for that. The first may seems obvious but I didn't want to make a instrument per instrument version. The second reason is I felt this music would deliver well if played a bit heavy on the side thus replacing the orchestral epicness of the original by electric guitar wall of sound epicness. I used a lot of doubling and tripling of the tracks (recording more than once the same line and blend them in the mix), I tried to pan (left and right use of the stereo) things with some logic and I did a lot of high pass filtering on the guitar tracks to avoid mudiness and crushing of the bass. In some place, you can hear as much as 6 guitar tracks overlayed simultaneously.
  • I did some vocal takes, doubling and tripling the takes of lower and upper octave, trying to achieve some kind of choral feel. However, my vocal abilities are limited and I was lazy trying to work that for hours in the search of the perfect take. I decided cleverly to not put them in front of the mix as much as the original. There was enough electric guitar to play the role of fronting the music so vocals were pushed in the background. At 0:60, it's a take of me pitched one octave higher than it was recorded. Hey, I can't sing that high !
  • A complete list of the instrumentation I used includes : vocals, virtual drums (BFD Ludwig kit), Godin electric guitar with Amplitude amp emulator, acoustic guitar (doubling the intro theme with electric), Ibanez bass on which I put some foam under the bridge to mute the notes sustain and gives a 60's-70's feel (listen to the bass lick at around 1:20 to clearly hear the effect), a little organ freebie called MK III, Sampletank player for piano (free), Pro-53 VST synth (emulation of the Prophet-5) and a bell sample.