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At age 52, I am now involved with a group that is putting together a full length 8-9 tune CD of original jazz material. I've been involved with recording parts or solos here and there but never this involved. I've spent most of my life in horn bands, wedding bands, society bands, etc. Never as the only sax player in a quarter - Bass, Drums, Guitar, Sax. Here's what I'm learning (even at my ancient age):

1) My recorded sound wasn't the sound I had in my head.
We're recording in the bass players home study. Since we have plenty of time and we want to socially distance, I play in the recording booth and we record all the rehearsals to gain experience. It took a couple months to get the right reed combo to get the sound I thought I already had. Altissimo still isn't there but everyday - I feel like I'm heading in the right direction.

2) Pitch Pitch Pitch and More Pitch
This is by far the MOST frustrating part. I'm having difficulty hearing 'in-tune' in the studio. I always thought I played fairly in tune but maybe not. Put on the headphones and stick me in a booth and I seem to lose the center. Definitely a learning experience. I hear ALL the issue during playback but not while actually playing. So Bizzare.

3) Simple solos seem to sound best.
I really want to crush something and prove to the world that I not terrible. Here's the problem. When I try to play something complicated and fast, it just doesn't work. Clearly a case of trying to hard.

Any advice from you pros out there. I know recording more always helps.
 
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Mr Green, I'm not a pro but I take music seriously and still gig in many situations when I can. That being said, I am these days thinking about what I love from the artists I love and how to integrate that into my soloing. I love Sanborns phrasing and tone and he has me in just a few notes so thats what I plan to practice on a daily basis. Yes I'll do tech work and run changes but at the end of the day your either tell your story or show what is the last cool lick you practiced in the practice room and can you force it into a solo. Many ideas on this but I did a thing years ago where looked at 25 guys in my itunes I liked alot I went throught every one and discovered that time and phrasing were the reason I gravatated and bought allthe people I did. I also noticed that when artists got to licky or technique oriented I didnt like that. Its all personal taste. ? what do you want expressed out of your playing. who do you love and why. Thats my current direction at 66 >and 45 years into this K
 

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1) My recorded sound wasn't the sound I had in my head.
Can't answer that except to say maybe it isn't a great recording studio, but have no fear - despite what people say, often you can fix it in the mix - but good equipment, monitoring and mixing acoutsic are vital.
2) Pitch Pitch Pitch and More Pitch
This is by far the MOST frustrating part. I'm having difficulty hearing 'in-tune' in the studio. I always thought I played fairly in tune but maybe not. Put on the headphones and stick me in a booth and I seem to lose the center.
This is usually something we learn in the studio after a while. Never be scared to ask for the headphone balance you want. If you are too loud or too quite then pitching can be difficult. Often some more reverb or delay in headphones can be useful for pitching - headphones (by their very nature) are often too dry sounding.
3) Simple solos seem to sound best.
Yep. Right at the start of my recording career, I learnt a short sharp lesson from a producer. Luckily before I started the session he told me they'd had a few saxopone players in, and they were fine until it came to a solo when they all would just play fast jazz as if it was a competition , as oppos to making a record. So I knew right then and there where my bread was buttered and how I might have a half decent chance at making a career out of this. Even if it's a jazz recording, same has always applied to me - the fewer notes you play, the fewer bad ones will be recorded.
 

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Greene; it is tough, which is why many of us recommend recording yourself every time you play. By the time you get to the studio, a lot of this will have been worked out already. Recording well is a special talent but anyone can do it with the right prep. I oughta know, because I've never done it very well. :)
 

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If you need help hearing yourself or pitch while recording, try leaving one ear off the headphones. Most musicians I know do this, hard to get a sense of how you are naturally sounding in real time otherwise
 

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At age 52, I am now involved with a group that is putting together a full length 8-9 tune CD of original jazz material. I've been involved with recording parts or solos here and there but never this involved. I've spent most of my life in horn bands, wedding bands, society bands, etc. Never as the only sax player in a quarter - Bass, Drums, Guitar, Sax. Here's what I'm learning (even at my ancient age):

1) My recorded sound wasn't the sound I had in my head.
We're recording in the bass players home study. Since we have plenty of time and we want to socially distance, I play in the recording booth and we record all the rehearsals to gain experience. It took a couple months to get the right reed combo to get the sound I thought I already had. Altissimo still isn't there but everyday - I feel like I'm heading in the right direction.

2) Pitch Pitch Pitch and More Pitch
This is by far the MOST frustrating part. I'm having difficulty hearing 'in-tune' in the studio. I always thought I played fairly in tune but maybe not. Put on the headphones and stick me in a booth and I seem to lose the center. Definitely a learning experience. I hear ALL the issue during playback but not while actually playing. So Bizzare.

3) Simple solos seem to sound best.
I really want to crush something and prove to the world that I not terrible. Here's the problem. When I try to play something complicated and fast, it just doesn't work. Clearly a case of trying to hard.

Any advice from you pros out there. I know recording more always helps.
Having 30 years of studio experience (owning, performing, writing, arranging and engineering) I understand all of these issues. On tuning/pitch, probably of UTMOST importance. although sometimes fixable in these troubling times :) It is never advisable. Being out of tune (particularly stringed instruments) is unforgivable. It always amazed me to have a guitar player come in, spending big bucks, and pick up their instrument and start playing without tuning. First indication of a poor musician. The most amazing take is useless on a poorly tuned instrument. That and an instrument in such poor shape beyond even tuning it is unplayable.

The quality of the studio and gear goes a long way in capturing the sound in your head. Mics and acoustics being predominant followed by preamps. Keep in mind how most of us are surprised by the sound of our own voices on recordings; I still am. Also high gain guitars, or for that matter any instrument, always sound way more distorted once layed down. You can always add more but it is harder to subtract.

Simple is ALWAYS the best. Follow melody. Many solos are simply self gratifying, ego driven, nonsense. Following melodic ideals, construction of an intro, theme/motif, variation, ending. First takes (before getting all wound up and self conscious) are overwhelmingly the best. As much as I enjoy "soloing" I'll often question the need of a solo from writer/arranger ears. If it doesn't support or have the song foremost in it's concern it is useless.

"When the trout are gone, smash the state" :)
 

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At age 52, I am now involved with a group that is putting together a full length 8-9 tune CD of original jazz material. I've been involved with recording parts or solos here and there but never this involved. I've spent most of my life in horn bands, wedding bands, society bands, etc. Never as the only sax player in a quarter - Bass, Drums, Guitar, Sax. Here's what I'm learning (even at my ancient age):

1) My recorded sound wasn't the sound I had in my head.
We're recording in the bass players home study. Since we have plenty of time and we want to socially distance, I play in the recording booth and we record all the rehearsals to gain experience. It took a couple months to get the right reed combo to get the sound I thought I already had. Altissimo still isn't there but everyday - I feel like I'm heading in the right direction.

2) Pitch Pitch Pitch and More Pitch
This is by far the MOST frustrating part. I'm having difficulty hearing 'in-tune' in the studio. I always thought I played fairly in tune but maybe not. Put on the headphones and stick me in a booth and I seem to lose the center. Definitely a learning experience. I hear ALL the issue during playback but not while actually playing. So Bizzare.

3) Simple solos seem to sound best.
I really want to crush something and prove to the world that I not terrible. Here's the problem. When I try to play something complicated and fast, it just doesn't work. Clearly a case of trying to hard.

Any advice from you pros out there. I know recording more always helps.
You are listening, and that is the most important part. You realize you are not playing in tune. If you do not have a good sound, nobody wants to listen to you. If you do not play in tune, nobody wants to play with you. Get a good tuning meter, and use it. Hear in your head what you want to play, and then just play what you hear. It is a matter of time, patience, and intelligent work. Hang in there, and play the music. You will keep getting better because you are being honest about your playing. Miles Davis left a lot of space, and even if he cracked a note, he made it sound great. He played the music.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Quick Follow-Up. After reading some of the post above, I talked the the sound tech (also the bass player). We add some reverb, move the mic a bit closer to the bell, and EQ'ed the headphones with a bit more high end. Basically making the heading and microphone sound what I'm used to in live situations. 100% better - I was so relieved when I can out of the both to hear the play back. Not perfect at least now I'm not going to throw my saxophones off a cliff.

Bottom line is that the headphones were so dry and mid/low heavy that my normal points of reference for pitch were simply not audible. Thanks for everyone's help.
 
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you hit two key components, 1, if you hate the tone coming through the cans it does effect your playing (mine too) and 2. if the balance isnt right you cant hear if you are in tune. I still keep a tuner handy for those times where due to ineptitude or a bad moniter situation I simply cant hear myself as I play. works K
 
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