Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Recording Project

Read this

THOUGH gargantuan the Task must appear to the Tyro, it must nevertheless be attempted : to essay definitively to evaluate the well-nigh gigantic Contribution to the Welfare of the melodious Muse achieved by Mr. ACKER BILK and those most admirable Complements to his Genius, the Members of the PARAMOUNT JAZZ BAND. Suffice it, however, to record here merely that this agnate Crew have together scaled the glittering Heights whereon dwell the Giant Success and his Handmaiden, the Lady Fame.

  Not once, not twice, but thrice have these be-laurelled Gentlemen sallied forth into the Lists, there to contest with cheaper, less worthy Opponents for the Publick's Crown of Acclaim: and three Times, too, have they emerged victorious - with the Ballad celebrating the doughty Leader's own West Country County of Birth; with a dulcet
rondo paying elegant Tribute (upon the reverse Side of the Kingdom) to the Prodigal's first, and last, View of his Motherland; and - redolent of the Breeding and Manners for which Mr. B's Compatriots are renowned the Globe over - with a fetching Madrigal bidding of Good Morrow to a Lady of Latin Descent.  And with each Success, planting the Standard of Jazz Music firmly atop the vasty Peaks and desolate Wastes of Popular Song, they raise anew a different Emblem: the Standard of Appreciation of those whose Taste had previously aspired to nothing better than the Banal, the Trite and the Meretricious.

  Small Wonder, then, that from the four Corners of the Empire there ring ever and anew the Shouts of Acclaim, the Gasps of Surprise and the Protestations of Satisfaction and Amaze at the prodigious Exploits of (to name them all) Mr. Acker Bilk himself, vociferating and wielding the Clarionet; Mr. Ronald McKay, as dextrous laryngeally as he is with the padded Beater and the Cymbal Stick; Mr Collin Smith, a Tower of Strength in the Brass Department and, with his fellow Mummer, Mr. Jonathan Mortimer of Trombone Fame, a Big Gun in the comical Arsenal of the Ensemble; Mr. Stanley Greig, the original Northern Light and Displayer of Pyrotechnics at the Keyboard; Mr. Ernest Price, the scholarly Basher of the Bass; and Mr Roy James, whose Evocations from the Tenor Banjo bid fair to oust from Popular Esteem the Pipes of Pan.

This tempestuous Amalgam of Expertise and Enthusiasm has now succeeded yet again in capturing the popular Fancy with Gothick Trifle entitled "That Is My Home" (the which, coincidentally, may be discovered by those of shrewd Intellect upon this very Recording). It was therefore deemed Timely that those innumerable Persons to whose Huzzahs Mr. Bilk's Success is in no small Measure due should be accorded the Privilege of having revealed to them a further Selection of those airy Ballads from his vasty
Repertoire which "Age cannot wither nor Custom stale." And that, in a convenient, circular Form, is what lies within this Envelope today.
Mr. Peter Leslie

My very good friend Megan asked me around about the middle of last year if I would take on a little project for her.  I had already done a wee bit of research into the work, and agreed, thinking it would not take me more than a couple of days to get done.  Alas I was mistaken!  It took me a day and a half to realise that the computer program recommended to me was not going to do the job, and hour to find one that would, and two weeks to get the new program installed and running on my Linux desktop computer.
It was another two days before I could get a usable/decent input running into the correct connector on my computer, and then my stereo broke down. A couple of hours of fault finding, one more of soldering, and several minutes of reconstruction & reconnection and I was finally in a position to begin.

After a month away on a promotion course in the South Island and a few days working over the Christmas break I was finally ready to pass GO.  And this, my friends, is the break-down of what I've been doing in my spare time:

First, I take one of Megan's father's LP records:





I set it up in the player and adjust the stereo to act as a 'source' for what would have been (back in the day) a tape recorder.




The other end of the cable is plugged into the mic input at the back of my computer.

In my computer I open the 'Terminal' application which is a lot like the DOS command prompt in windows and I instruct a (magic) program called ffmpeg to begin recording whatever sound is coming in the input.




As soon as I hit Enter, the program starts recording.  I start the record, and we're off!  I hang around the player for the 20 or 30 minutes it takes for the side to play out.


Occasionally there are scratches which require me to start recording that song from the start again and applying gentle pressure to the needle as necessary in order to get as smooth an output as possible.  When the record stops playing I return to the computer and stop the recording.  By this time the screen looks like this:


From here begins the laborious task of playing back the sound file and taking note of all the start and stop times for each track.  Then I use the same ffmpeg program to convert each section of the recording into separate tracks.  The command to do that looks something like this:

ffmpeg -ss 0:00:11 -i tasteofhoney-side2.wav -t 0:02:28 7EveningShadows.wav

And I keep going until this:


Looks like this:

Hooray! That's the hard stuff done.
Once I've finished recording and trimming both sides of the record, I burn them to CD.  Styli.co.nz recommend Verbatim Digital Vinyl CDs, and have this to say about them:  If you are wanting to transfer a record collection onto CD for whatever reason, you will likely want a good quality recording, These Disc's are Seriously the Best...
To be honest I can't comment on quality or longevity, but they seriously look cool:

 Yes, the surface is textured like a record - grooves and all!

Here's the original and the finished product:



What's that you say?  What does the excerpt at the start of this post have to do with any of it?
It's the blurb on the back of Mr. Acker Bilk's Lansdowne Folio.

I can get through one record per night-shift day, and 2-3 records per weekend day, if anyone is interested. CD's cost between NZD$2.30 & $4.50* and my labour is negotiable.

* Depending on whether they come in a 2-pack or 10-pack.

4 comments:

Nick Ward said...

Wow you're going blog-tastic. Love your work Sez.

sempre said...

Such self-sacrifice is only warranted in a scenario such as this. Good on you hun :)

Scott said...

You are just the best friend ever, and my Dad loves you for what you are doing for him! He was so completelyac blown away when I told him, as I hadn't said anything before, that he was actually speachless, which is saying alot for my dad. :)

Thank you SO SO SO much!!! Love MJxxx

Sez said...

Love you too sweet! It's been my pleasure, and I'm looking forward to getting the rest done upon my return!