The Recording Process, Part 1: Consulting on the Songs
Over the last few months, I've been working hard in the studio with my producer/engineer Kelly and several of the finest musicians I know. Thanks to your support, the recording of Year of The Nightingale is moving steadily forward!
As we move ahead, I'll be sharing with you an inside look at our process of producing the album. My hope is that by sharing the process with you, you'll gain a deeper understanding of how this album is being created. And if you’re a music-maker yourself, I hope it will be useful for you in your own creative process.
The process of recording Year of The Nightingale actually began several years ago on the East Coast of the US where I had relocated from Ireland to work with a group of musicians that I had met through the Bahá'í Community. Since then, the album has brought me and Kelly on a dizzying adventure back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean involving more than ten different recording locations, a sea-faring fire-truck and a pair of magic gloves. I'll tell you the whole story someday, but in this update, I'd like to share with you the first stage of our approach to producing the album.
The First Stage - Consulting on the Songs
As with all albums, the process begins with the songs. Typically, after setting a text to music, I bring each new song to Kelly in its bare bones - just voice & guitar (or piano). We then consult together about how to bring out the best in the song - what kinds of sounds and instruments might enhance the song? Shall we add strings? trumpets? saxophones? mandolins? vocal harmonies? Part of the role of a music producer is, first of all, to perceive the musical potential of a song, and then to create sounds and music to 'clothe' that song, like a painter choosing what shades and colors to add to the canvas. This creative aspect of production continues throughout our entire process, with new musical ideas and layers of sound often being added right up until the final stages of each song.
We try to choose instruments and sounds that will highlight the meaning of the text and enrich the listener's experience of the words. All the words on Year of The Nightingale come from two books of Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words and Prayers and Meditations, and our aim in the studio is try and create sounds and music that reflect something of the words.
After our initial consultation on a song, we begin the next (and most obvious) stage of making an album: recording the instruments & voices, often referred to as 'Tracking'. In the next update, I'll share with you a few aspects of our approach to tracking.
I always feel unable to finish an update without repeating how grateful I am to all of you for helping me to make this album. It's a true privilege to be able to record this music and share the process with all of you.
With my deepest thanks,