Before I started the proper recording sessions for “The Flat White Album” in earnest, I was having issues with an instrumental ‘Suite for Guitar’ . Although an ‘OK’ player I was struggling with consistently producing clear-sounding strings and smooth runs. So I challenged myself to record it on video. This turned out to be a good investment of effort because, although I eventually recorded each musical section separately, these recordings were done with very few mistakes.

In the live video there was one really bad mistake when starting a new section, so I simply froze in position, then continued the performance from that section start point. I later removed the error in the video edit … can you spot it (there’s a slight image twitch)?

In the end, this was a good practice session but with the bonus of producing the simplest of all my music videos – one setup, one take, and no requirement to find the usual multitude of ‘story’ images plus hours of editing.

Because the performance was planned to be just a single take, I had to play/practice each day for a week (very rare for me!). The audio is the unprocessed recording from a Zoom H1 stereo mic (visible on the table) plus a Rode directional mic shoed on a Canon 70D.

The ‘audience’ vibe bookending the video was done purely as a joke, but I liked it so much that I incorporated it on the final album track to feel like an orchestral concert performance.

The sections (all using E, A and D bass drone, except ‘Sunshine Variations’ and ‘Bridge’):

· Fanfare/Anthem (E)

· Lost (Em)

· Chase (Em)

· Lost and Sad (Em reprise)

· Sunshine (Mozart inspired)

· Sunshine variations (Am with modulation)

· Sunshine (Mozart reprise, with fuller chords)

· Bridge

· Fanfare/Anthem (reprise)

· Maypole (E folkstyle)

The final album version is below, with the orchestration built around the same guitar part (as above, but re-recorded). I recorded the guitar without a click track – it sounded too robotic otherwise and also allowed me the freedom to play more dynamically while concentrating more on good playing technique. However, the downside was that the orchestration (12 MIDI tracks) was far more time-consuming as all the notes had to be ‘floated’ manually into place as bars/beats on the DAW timeline served no purpose.

Cheers,

Greg

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