eds1275 2010-12-16 - 10:38pm

Recreating a vocalless version of a song ASAP

OK So a friend of mine is a wicked singer, and I got a call from her mother the other day. Her mother had passed away [the mother's mother, making my friend the granddaughter] and they wanted a copy of Remember When by Alan Jackson for my friend to sing at the funeral. Which was in 2 days. Business was slow so I said sure why not. I don't listen to country but she said it was a ballad so whatever.

Next thing I did was fire up youtube to hear the song. Easy... guitar. Oh wait no... there a whole effing orchestra joining in from the second verse onwards.


So I thought about it for a few minutes, and then scoured the 'net for a midi file of the song. I found like ten of them, and narrowed it down to 3 based on their ratings. One of them was really good. I imported it into protools as a type 1 midi track [importing as a type 1 will split the midi file into individual instrument tracks] and then loaded up my sampler to begin choosing some sounds. Most of it was strings so I took a few liberties with it and made some decisions - some higher violins and deeper cellos than were on the original.I also used a really really round sounding fretless bass. Most of the samples were from Digidesign's Xpand! sampler, and the drums were from BFD Lite. Which is basically the free version, and does not include a ride cymbal, so the cymbals were also from xpand. The original song has some bongos or other types of hand percussion, I threw in a beefy kick drum and a snappy sidestick to accent the beat more. It's for a funeral, and I figured it'd help make it sound a bit more upbeat. I hate funerals where everyone just bursts into tears and is all sad. My funeral is gonna have a keg and some old rock records.

I then laid down the acoustic guitar tracks, which are basically G, Em, C and D until 2/3 of the way through, when it does the old songwriting trick of just hopping up a full step to A, F#m, D and E. I fingerpicked a single take, swapped out guitars, did it again, and panned them apart. There was a few leads in there as well, so I used the score editor in protools to clean them up, output a midi file, and then imported it into PowerTab twice - once as a guitar track and once as a mandolin track. I know, I'm such a cheater! I printed them out, and then after 2 or three takes of each I had a perfectly layered guitar and mandolin lead track.

I do not play slide. I have all my guitars set up with ninja fast action [at least for a gibson, with the baseball bat necks!]. I listened to the solo on the original, kinda pieced together a similiar but different concoction of my own, and then fired up my Line 6 PodFarm plugin. I loaded up a gritty blackface fender model, added a hint of dirt, threw it in a reverb cave, and played the solo on my gibson blueshawk on the neck pickup. It was schmooth sounding.

I mixed it and smushed it with a bunch of limiting and bounced it down, then emailed it away. The funeral is today, possibly even right now. As a joke, I titled the file Remember Hwen because that's the way he says it. I suppose I'll hear back later on how it hwent.

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