Skip to content

This Is Where I Feel Home

I recorded a song again with my guitar, and this time a stupid mistake led me to a quite creative idea. It was yesterday when I recorded a small chord sequence without plectrum, I picked the strings with my hands. At that point I didn’t know if I would do something with the chord sequence, and since I was a bit in a hurry, I just saved the whole project in case I want to use it at a later point. Today, I was kinda thoughtless and just loaded the project again because I wanted to record a solo. Thoughtless because I didn’t really check if the quality of the chord sequence would be fine. So, after I arranged the drum midi files and after I recorded my solo, I just exported the wav file, and I don’t know why it happened so late, but when I listened to the file, I got a shock. I had a lot of background noise in the chord sequence, it was very audible across the whole track. I think I realized it because I listened to it with the VLC player and I had the volume quite a bit louder there.

I was now a bit disappointed and wanted to replace the chord sequence. In other words I wanted to play it again, but I realized this is more difficult than said. Why? Because I had the solo track already finished, and if I play a solo, I listen carefully to the mood of the chord sequence. So, if I was just slightly off with my newer chord sequence, the whole mix didn’t really turn out as previously. I remember a video on YouTube where an audio mastering engineer said that bands often like to add something to the song days later, but he often explains that this is kinda difficult. Why? Because the first factor I mentioned right now is not the only one, it’s also that you probably won’t feature out anymore how you had your potentiometers set on the guitar and so on. You just can’t get that same mood again. I realized I messed my song up but I am not someone who gives up fast.

First thing I tried was to add a noise gate on the chord track. Interesting idea, but that didn’t really work well because I should have done it during recording. Now with the existing chord sequence, I just had three options with the noise gate. Making the sequence sound like trash, completely closing the gate that no sound comes through anymore, or using settings that suppressed the background noise too little. That means, no matter what kind of settings I used, it didn’t really work out well. If I would have used a noise gate while recording, it would have worked since I can feature out how aggressive I need to plug the guitar strings to “open the gates”. Even better, I shouldn’t have recorded the chords in front of my PC, because that’s how you get noise in your recording. A couple of meters away from it, the recording sounds a lot cleaner in my opinion, but now it was too late for these smart insights I always knew.

Next idea was to use an equalizer, but I realized the background noise was all over the place, and lowering so many bands wouldn’t sound right anymore. That’s definitely not how I wanted it to sound. Meanwhile, still listening to the loop of the chord sequence with the noise, it somehow came to my mind that it sounds a bit like the background noise of the sea, when waves dance with each other. Not really, but it sounded a tiny bit like the background noise of water and waves at the beach. And that’s where Jeremy came to my mind. He makes videos for YouTube too, often with a focus on visuals and binaural sounds. I remembered one of his posts where he talked about the Brighton Beach in Dunedin, New Zealand. There he also showed this video. Now I revisited the video, because I wanted to know if the sound of water and waves would work in the background of my song. I played my song, while listening to his binaural beach recording again.

It absolutely worked, and not just that, the background noise of my chord sequence would somehow be less noticeable now. I was almost sure and wanted to ask him if I could use the sound in my track, with credits everywhere of course. But then I noticed that his video is a bit shorter than my track, and if he would have allowed me to use it, I would have needed to use two copies and patch them together. That didn’t sound like a good idea either. I needed audio that was at least equally long as my track. I would have liked to ask him to use the audio, because his sounds are aweome, go check! And as I commented on his video a while ago, the sound of waves is relaxing to me. I love to listen to it as I live near the sea as well, the Baltic Sea. I told him “The sound of waves, the smell of the sea, all that means home to me”. So, hearing my song and the audio of his video together, it was like dedicated to that, the feeling of being at home near the sea.

But I needed longer audio. I now checked the web for public domain sounds and found the website called freesound.org. I browsed the site for audio of waves, and I even found some sounds that have been recorded at Baltic Sea coasts. And then I found this file of the user Pulswelle, recorded in Howacht, a small town near the Baltic Sea. This worked perfectly fine with my song as well and I wanted to download it. The audio is quite long and the file is big. But once I had it down, I did put that into my track and apart from lowering the volume of the water sound a bit, it worked right away. I just needed to trim the end down, because my song was just about 3 minutes long. While I was listening to the finished track, I now browsed my Lightroom library for my own photos. I needed an image for the video, one of the many I shot near the Baltic Sea, because as said, it means home to me. I found a nice one I shot in Travemünde

Baltic Sea / Travemünde

In Adobe Premiere, I did now put the image together with the song. And of course with the video of me playing guitar. But I used a blending mode for the image, so that you partly see me play the guitar, and partly see the background image. It rather worked well in this case, but it’s not the first time I did that, because the idea came up while finishing a previous video. But this time again, blending a video and picture together can look quite interesting. And in the recent case? It really created a mood that was perfect for this idea. All together was now really interesting. I like the result and thought I call the track and video “This is where I feel home”. And here it is…

The guitar solo is maybe partly imperfect, but my motto is that you learn with each song or with each practice session. I like to upload these recordings because maybe I can look back in the future and say “Hey that was horrible” or “Hey that was actually pretty good”. Also it’s a nice way to carve some ideas into the stone that the internet and YouTube is. I hope you like the track. Positive and even negative feedback is welcomed, because it helps to find out where I need to improve. Let me know in the comments.

7 Comments »

  1. Garry used to know how to lay down layers of sound on video tracks, but that was on professional equipment. I don’t know if he knows how to do it on straight audio. I do have friends who know how, though. if you’d like, I can put you in touch with them. They are professional audio engineers and they worked many many years doing exactly what you are trying to do. They know all the tricks of the trade and might be able to offer suggestions.

    • Thanks Marilyn. But the song is now finished and uploaded. Next time I should record chords a couple of meters away from the PC or any electronic devices that cause the pickups to pick up noise interference. I use iZotope Ozone mastering plugin via Ableton Live… in the EQ, the noise was on all high and mid bands… so, removing the noise would just have resulted in a very horrible sounding chord sequence. I don’t think it makes a lot of sense to improve what was already horrible at the beginning, which led me to the creative idea with the beach sound, and I like how mistakes can result in interesting ideas.

      I think it’s rather easy. I have to either use a Noise Gate when I record something, or I have to make sure to sit not too close to the PC. This post was more about the fact that the mistake led me to the interesting idea of giving the song a beach mood… with the coast sounds. Which also completely eliminated the background noise, since it’s barely audible against the shore sounds. 🙂

  2. Dennis – think your music and playing really captured the mood. There’s a lovely sense of reminiscing and comfort in the song. Like the guitar sounds as well. I would like to hear a remix with stereo delays and a long reverb wash on the guitars — and with the sea pushed up in the mix and the drums pushed down and buried in reverb or even cut completely (which would really change the feel maybe in an unexpected way). I like this as it stands as well. I am of a mind to try something similar!

    • Thanks Jeremy. I am glad you like the mood. I think the sea sound made it sound comforting. It really altered the mood of the track in a very positive way. And the idea came from your video.

      Your right, reverb and delays could work very well here. I was unsure with the level of the sea… I got into the doom loop of decreasing the level, increasing the level and back and forth. I probably heard it too often during mixing. That’s probably where it’s better to stay away from the mix for a day. Because at some point you just don’t know anymore what works better.

      It’s cool if this inspired you to try something similar 🙂 That’s what I like about the internet… people inspire each other. I like to see what others come up with. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: