Archive for September 9th, 2010

My new recording of stories comes out this week, and I thought I’d post a couple of blogs about the stories and the process of recording.

This was the first recording I’ve made in which the bulk of the recording was done at home. Over the years, most of my work has been done at Celebration Sound studio in Warren, RI, with my longtime conspirator David Correia, serving as engineer and observant listener. This time, after having finally cleaned up my workplace and gotten a couple of good mikes, I did most of the spoken word work out back of my house. I’ll post some pictures of my place next week, when I get back from Oklahoma.

After I was finished with the basic recordings, I took them over to David, who helped me edit them together, adjust levels and turn some knobs I don’t know much about. The stories that have guitar on them were done with David at his place.

Recording myself had a big learning curve. I would estimate that the first long story I did there (The Best Candy in the Whole World) took me about twenty-five hours of my own time – for twenty-four minutes of story. Part of that time was spent learning to get the levels right, and then trying to get a take of the story I liked to edit together.

The editing took hours and hours – if I made a mistake while recording the story, I just paused, backed up and started again from before the mistake. I end up with about forty-five minutes of raw material, which I have to snip and splice together on the computer. It’s very time-consuming, but very much like an addictive computer game – nudging, pushing buttons, recording some lines over. I sit down at 7 pm by myself, and before I know it, it’s 2 am. And I have a 9:30 am school show. Uh oh.

What I’m looking for is a very intimate feel – I’ve learned in recording stories that the best approach is to imagine telling the story to just one person, or a very small group. The hardest thing, as it is always is for me, is to slow down and take my time. This is a lesson I have to learn every day, and probably will until I’m done here on this mortal coil.

I learn a lot recording my stories. By listening over and over again – a very painful process – I find better ways to say things, focus more on the emotional core of the story, clarify images with some added detail, and get rid of things that shouldn’t be there. Debbie and other friends listen to the recording and give feedback. At the end of the recording process, I know the stories better – even the ones like “Jack and the Singing Leaves” that I’ve been telling for fifteen years.

The stories on this recording were pretty much ones I have in my head (one exception the new story “Sillier Than You” – more on that later). As a result, there’s no paper in front of me, it’s just the picture in my head – that I’m trying to put in the head of someone listening in some other part of the world, at some future time.

Next: The shaping of “The Best Candy in the Whole World”


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