TUNEBOOK – RECORDING MELODY LAB

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It was an absolute luxury to be able to record the Tunebook debut  album at Gorbals Sound Studio in Glasgow. This is a really high spec studio, a central location and the staff are brilliant, making for a very relaxed and comfortable recording experience.

Juggling diaries from the five very busy musicians in TuneBook meant our approach to the recording process had to be very well thought out.  We managed one full day rehearsal with the band before going into the studio which was the crucial time to establish exact speeds for every track. Our first day in studio 2 was then used to set up guides and click tracks. We all played live along with the decided clicks and made sure each tempo created the right feeling for each tune.

With click track’s established Mhairi Hall and Matheu Watson had only two full days in studio 1 to record all the accompaniment. As you can imagine, with this time limit, there was not much time for editing. Mhairi and Matheu did a sterling job of performing the music live with next to no mistakes! That was some task but they were definitely more than capable for this challenge. In studio 1 there is a grand piano in a separate booth and three other live rooms for Matheu to have chosen from.  Having studio one made it very tempting to want to record with us all playing live at the same time. This may have worked had we had more studio time but I am glad we stuck with the click track approach. The live atmosphere is still captured but the final product is more measured and professional sounding than it may have otherwise been.

Once the accompaniment was recorded, the melody players had three days in studio two. We largely recorded live in the one room with enough separation between instruments for small edits if needed. For the one pipe track Ross did go into the wee booth in studio 2 as separation in this case would’ve been impossible!

We were very fortunate to have James MacKintosh guest on some of our tracks. He came to the studio for one afternoon and with such an experienced ear for tunes it did not take him long to lay down some brilliantly subtle percussive additions to the band arrangements.

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Mixing the album was the most difficult process as we could have gone back and forth on little bits for eternity! We did one day mixing and then listened back on as many different stereos and headphones as possible. There was then a lot of notes to get through on the second day of mixing but thanks to our engineer, Jim Neilson and his speediness, we ticked everything off the list.  The mixes were then sent to Calum Malcolm for mastering and he definitely added that final sparkle to the music. I would highly recommend Calum as a mastering engineer and will definitely be using his expertise for future projects.

Recording Melody Lab was an absolute pleasure. Working with amazing musicians, engineers and good fun folk was certainly a 2014 highlight for me.  I look forward to writing more music with this band and hopefully make another album! This album project could never have happened without the support from Creative Scotland and we now have an amazing starting point for future collaborations and exciting writing projects.

Hopefully see you at our Celtic Connections gig on the 22nd January at the Piping Centre! www.celticconnections.com

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