So, today, my husband is back to working on the mix-down of our performance of “Carry On Wayward Son.” As I listen to the balances he’s trying to achieve between sounds produced by un-effected me–pure, raw flute (loud)–and sounds produced by me through an effects unit (loud, but not as), I’m thinking to myself, I really like the sound of my instrument. I’m really not that thrilled with sounding like a saxophone, a lead guitar, a chorus of instruments, or any other warping of my sound waves.
Of course, what I think is irrelevant to what he’s trying to do. I’m just the person who plays what he dictates as he dictates, though it took me a lot of practice and frustration to be able to manage the foot-switching on the effects unit at a fraction of a second prior to when the sound was supposed to happen…which, in the case of this piece, happens, if I’m remembering correctly, every two-and-three-quarter beats apart: Clean, effected, clean, effected–do it, do it, do it, do it.
There’s a lag–just a fraction of a second–that happens when you punch a button on an effects unit. It’s just a minuscule amount of time, but it’s critical. And, trained classically, which comes ‘on the beat’ rather than just before the beat like rockers play, my training coupled with the effects engagement lag compounds my husband’s rancor, because he wants it played like a rocker, and IT MUST BE PERFECT (his idea of perfect, that is.)
So, prior to recording day, I spent a week working very hard to not screw up. I practiced…and recorded that practice–thank the cosmos for good recording software–then began adjusting my playing to ‘anticipate the beat’ and come in a micro-fraction ahead of when normally one should. That worked. He was…happier. (Can’t say happy, just happier.) Next was trying to figure out the lag that happened between stomping on the effects unit button (switch banks, engage POG, stomp on one or another button, 1-10, and, simultaneously, with the other foot, step down on the volume pedal to the exact level specified in the performance notes, reversing the process two-and-three-quarters of a beat later.)
The lag was, literally, .121 seconds according to the sound wave and beat division markers contrasted against the actual time in thousands of a second. Right. I guessed at what I had to do, trying over and over…and I was running out of time. This was Thursday. We were recording on Saturday. Finally…finally, I got it. The wave form lined up. When he came home, I was ready. Again, he was happier–not completely satisfied, but grumblingly accepting.
Disaster just struck, though, right today.
Pray for me to the music gods of your choice that I don’t have to re-record that performance all over again now that he’s discovered something in his performance that he doesn’t like–a quiet little finger thump as he stops his strings between accented notes. Oh, gawd. I’m making a run for the mountains, right now.