Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Watching and learning...

Today was a good, busy day. This afternoon, I got to visit my friends Tracy and Shawn at UpTown Studios. Shawn is making a choral CD, and is in town to record the instrument tracks. (Tracey is doing the piano parts. I know both of them from Stamps-Baxter.) He'll take the tracks home where he can finish the recording with his church choir.

The studio had a great set-up, with a main room, that was surrounded by lots of smaller, isolated booths for piano, drums, guitar, etc. (The guitar player was Kevin Williams, of Gaither Homecoming fame.) The booths meant that everyone could record a take of the song at once, but then they could go back in and fix up individual parts without losing the whole take. Wish we'd had that with the big band recordings I did!

The most impressive part was watching the musicians with the charts. These are all seasoned session players, which is a very different beast than a live performance player. And all the charts were in the infamous Nashville Number System. Before each song, the players would sit quietly in a room, each looking at a single piece of paper that contained lines of numbers, with a few dashes and dots added to mark repeats, etc. They would talk through the structure, but they would never really practice anything. Then they would step into the studio, and just start to record. A few things would need to be adjusted, but basically, they would get the bulk of the song down in a few takes. Amazing!

Tonight, I attended a Christian writer's night at NSAI, where we had a guest speaker. Dan Keen is a VP with ASCAP, and he specializes in Christian music. He was really fantastic because he covered both sides of the business. He spoke in very practical terms about copyright, streams of income, and PROs. (Performing Rights Organizations, like SOCAN or ASCAP). But then he also spoke about the role of Christian writers to serve the needs of the church. He encouraged us to be very local, and to create projects specifically for our community. It was all really well balanced, and very inspiring.

From Day 1, Gerald has said that we are here to learn. Today was definitely a great day for that!

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