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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Capturing Overdub Lightening In A Bottle

Here's an excerpt from my latest book, The Music Producer's Handbook, about what happens when the brilliantly unexpected happens during an overdub session. Depending upon how you handle the moment, it can be a huge time suck or an efficiently played overdub that makes the song.


It always happens at least once in the overdub phase. A player plays something by mistake or during warm-ups that lights up the whole studio and the producer says, “Can you play that again, but do something different on the end?” Or “Can you play it like that in this section instead?” And then the chase is on to capture that lightening in a bottle and pour it over a part or section that was lacking before.
But things are usually never as simple as they seem, as the once brilliant part is changed to fit the new section or tweaked to better serve the song. A quick pass turns into hours and before you know it, you’ve spent the entire day working up this single part. That’s usually the way these things go during overdubs. By the time everyone has worked out the perfect part, the player is too tired to perform it in a convincing manner.
During these times when an entirely new part is being worked out, I’ve found that it sometimes takes 2 sessions to really make it happen. The first day you take that brilliant  seed of an idea and work it out, and the second day is when the idea really flowers when you can properly execute it. Keeping this in mind can save you countless extra hours at the end of a long day. Leave it alone and come back tomorrow when everyone is fresh. It’ll probably be performed perfectly on the first take.
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Fred Decker said...

Dear Bobby,

I enjoy your books and read both blogs. The isolated parts are great--I hear things a whole new way. Thanks for your hipness.

I have a suggestion: can you list some reasons to be optimistic about the future of music?

I appreciate the truth, but all the negativity is depressing.

Bobby Owsinski said...

You're right, Fred. I'll try to me more upbeat in the future.


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