Reggae Song-A-Week choice

  1. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    I don't know how it happened, but Bob Marley's song Three Little Birds got chosen as song of the week in our neighboring social group. I was amazed that a few folk were actually quick to give it the old college try.

    Here's my take on the tune:

    I used midi drums, bass & keyboard and played a couple mandolin tracks and a vocal track to make my version. More on that in my next post.

    Simon DS did a really impressive job using nothing but his mandola:

    And two of my SAW heroes, David Hansen and OldSausage (also a David) each contributed a version, the original thread is here if anyone is interested:
  2. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    Follow up post.

    On some of my past recordings, I've used a "midi back up band." There are easier ways to do this, and my way is probably too complicated, but I thought it might interest someone if I shared the process.

    1. ChordPulse
    I downloaded the free version of this and tried it awhile, a couple years ago, and liked it. I wanted full features so I could program jazz chords, etc. so I paid for the licensing fee soon after. I find this to be a really cool tool for making quick backing tracks in many, many styles and genre. It is also what I use to create a "midi backup band" for my recordings when desired. Using the video above as an example ... I entered the appropriate chord sequence for that Marley song, and I chose a groove from amongst three or four Reggae styles, and set the tempo I wanted. Chordpulse adds the bass, drums and other instruments automatically, and I was able to do a minimal amount of tweaking as to how those instruments behaved in a particular measure. All of this is fairly a simple thing to do. Once I was happy with the whole thing, I exported it as a midi file with the option of keeping each instrument in its own separate track.

    2. DAW
    Next step is to import the midi file that ChordPulse created into my recording studio software (aka DAW, "Digital Audio Workstation"). The one I use is Ableton Live Lite. When I imported the midi file, it created five midi tracks: drums, bass, piano, electric piano, and jazz guitar. Now in my DAW, these files wont play upon importing. They have all the midi programming, but there are no actual instruments to play them, so I have to choose by trial and error a drum kit that I like the sound of to the drum midi track, and likewise, have to assign instruments to each other track that I want to use. I have a lot of control over what to use and how it sounds, and how to mix it all. I generally would want all midi instruments to take a back seat to whatever I do with my guitar, mandolin or vocals, but in this case I kept the drums high in the mix, and kept the bass pretty high as well. I retained the other midi sounds, but pushed them way back.

    3. Live Playing
    Now comes the real fun, playing live. I generally start with either guitar or mandolin tracks, but for this tune I recorded the vocals first, then played the mandolin chords on a track, then I played a mandolin lead riff on another track, and finally some other mandolin lead fills on another track. I decided not to even worry about getting good fills or lead breaks, because all this is time-consuming and all in fun anyway.

    4. Mix Down
    Finally, once all the playing and editing is done, comes the final mix down. Volume levels are adjusted on each track, effects like compression and reverb are added where needed, and once I'm reasonably satisfied, I call it done.

    Since this amounts to a lot of energy in multiple tasks, that's the best overview I can give on it. And it may or may not be helpful to anyone else, depending on which tools they use. But if anyone wants more detail about any part of the process, feel free to ask.
  3. HonketyHank
    David Hansen is an absolute hoot-owl with his video.

    Thanks for posting, Mark. I probably would have passed all this up if you hadn't. I am not much of a fan of reggae, but all of you look and sound like you are having entirely too much fun. I enjoyed listening to all the videos on the SAW thread.
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