Archive for February, 2015

The myriad joys of recording - volume 3

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

“When I were t’lad we ‘ad to do wi’owt bloody MIDI. In my day we ‘ad to spend three days attaching microphones to a drum kit before you could even think of recording. And by then your drummer ‘ad like as not choked on ‘is own vomit.”

“Aye, an’ the recordin’ software were dead clunky. Pro-tools one were all we ‘ad.”

“Pro-tools? Bloody Pro-tools? All we ‘ad were a minidisc recorder gaffer taped to t’ceiling.”

“Luxury. We used to dream o’ minidiscs. All we ‘ad were C-90 tapes.”

“Chrome?”

“Aye.”

“You were lucky. All we ‘ad were ferric.”

“Reel-to reel?”

“One reel and our bass player ‘ad to spool the tape onto the back wheel of ‘is Vespa.”

“Aye, them were t’days. Lovely and warm, that analogue sound. Not like yer digital rubbish.”

Eager Layers fans with an idle moment between court-mandated therapy sessions will be cheered to know that their increasingly decrepit idols have made a brave foray into preliminary recordings for album number three. Yes, like modern rural buses, you wait for years and then get an announcement via social media that one’s on the way but it’s going to be bloody ages.

Tonight we attempted to use an electronic kit to lay down MIDI drums. Step one was turning Layers HQ into something that looked like monkeys had tried to build the control room for the Large Hadron Collider. Step two was trying to get all of the pieces of electronic detritus to talk to each other. Step three, if we’d got that far, would have required us to play the tracks properly - an embarrassment that we were largely spared.

For the uninitiated, MIDI (Might Inadvertently Demonstrate Ineptitude) is a system devised to make middle aged musicians look dim. Whilst bearded twenty-something hipsters are composing concept albums on their iPhones, men who grew up recording on reel to reel Tascams are left staring blankly at web pages about audio drivers. Put simply, when you play a MIDI instrument, instead of sound, you get numbers. A computer then turns these numbers into sounds. Clearly this is far better than traditional instruments. Imagine a cheese grater that, instead of turning a block of cheese into grated cheese, turned it into a message in Morse Code. Then, instead of simply and inefficiently putting that cheese on your pasta, you would feed the Morse Code message into another machine that would turn it into cheese that you could put on your pasta.

Older readers will be wondering what is the point of all this? They’re also probably wondering if Antiques Roadshow is on and what’s that funny smell? Let’s press on regardless.

The huge advantage of MIDI is that the second machine wouldn’t just be able to turn your Morse code into grated cheese. It could turn it into grated carrot, instead, or weapons-grade Plutonium or pubic hair. All of which would ruin your pasta. There’s modern music for you.

So all in all, this evening has been a learning experience and, if we appear no closer to a third album than we were at the start, at the very least it’s inspired an unamusing parody of an old Monty Python routine. And in the end, isn’t that the point?

Oh.

Well, we’re downloading new drivers, so next week either we’ll get some recording done or play virtual golf. Either way, we’ll keep you posted.

Layers out.