Monday, January 19, 2009

Haywire Mac

No, I am not speaking of my laptop (although, there is still time for a Logic Board Meltdown, god forbid!)

But I am speaking of the Man who they nicknamed "Haywire Mac".

The "King of the Hobos"

Harry McClintock

He is the guy who popularized the song "Big Rock Candy Mountain".

Harry sang songs that were raw, and showed the gritty side of people who lived through the great depression of the late 1920s and 1930s.

It is the same song that author Wallace Stegner named his book after.

The title was/is a sarcastic metaphor, and in regards to his father's desire to find the last easy street, that Wallace decided to use in the story of the futile, yet hard-working efforts they put forth as a family to make things work in the one place he called "home".

It was more than they could handle, and the family fell apart.

But Harry's songs were something of a comfort to a child who would believe, at least for a summer of two, that it could be possible to have a normal, average life.

It is one of the reasons why I have chosen to bring a banjo to the Stegner house, record "Big Rock Candy Mountain", as well as my own songs based on the book of the same name.

And record on my Mac.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Recording The House

I plan on bringing a few microphones with me to capture the sound of Stegner's House, when I record "Return To Big Rock Candy Mountain" in March.

I have a few Shure microphones, but they are best for onstage shows and cabinet miking.

Funny enough - when I was recording WAV files for an Autism EDU program, the first microphone I picked was a cheap Radio Shack vocal microphone. I used it for a few samples, and when they asked for several thousand more files, they said, "Don't change a thing". So it worked perfect to capture an even voice without much in the way of dynamics for 5 years! Simple, pure, and with no connections in between. Just my kind of tech requirements.

I was going to bring a studio condenser mic with me, but that would also mean I would have to bring my USB soundcard interface (with Phantom Power). Instead, I decided I really wanted to capture the sound of the room as well as the songs. The best way I know how to do that is with an Omnidirectional Microphone. Standing several feet away - I can sing and play and capture the natural echo of the house (probably the living room, where Stegner's mother used to play piano and sing back in 1917) with little or no overdubbing. Although I may record some of the vocals in the study.

Bringing the Banjo with me will also lend a nice touch to the timelessness and folk-nature of the music I have written for this project (14 songs), and I will probably write a few more songs where I am there. Probably sitting in his dad's old chair in the room that used to be Stegner's bedroom.

I have several days to complete the project, and I don't think it is going to take very long to do. An acoustic guitar is supposed to be brought to me while I am there, and I will have some harmonicas and percussion as well. I also plan on bringing the old-fashioned portable cassette recorder, to capture a few sounds on the road.