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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We're almost finished recording a CD/Digital Download with a group I've been with for a couple years. We're all in our 50's but we're still trying to 'make-it' :). Most of my solos follow a typical formula - a little swing jazz here, an attempt at bebop lines there, ultimately ending with the bluesy thing. With the exception of one solo - I'm playing this soprano solo and it's going great. First chorus has a nice latin vibe with guitar and soprano only - during the second chorus the bass and drums sneak in. Then suddenly I'm into playing this super fast flurry of stuff for the third chorus. Honestly didn't know I could play that fast - not the most organized stuff I've ever played but the energy is off the charts. (Must have had coffee).

After the take, we give it a listen and the band guys are LOVING it. To me it's just a mess. So I go back in yesterday to try to fix the last chorus. Just couldn't match the intensity. No matter what I tried is sound like a 'punch-in.' Today I called the engineer (who is also the bass play) and told him to keep it AS-IS.

Anyone have experience with recording solos that seem to take on a life of their own?
 

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You are too close to it. Listen to it again in a week or two. I'm sure (having heard your playing before) that it isn't a mess at all. Your bandmates are responding to the energy and feeling, you are remembering "Oh, I was trying to go for this thing, and I blew it there". That thought may (or may not) be helpful to you the next time you play that tune, but it has nothing to do with the musical effect of your solo.
 

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Couf Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bari
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We're our own worst critics. I'm sure it sounds....FINE!

Sounds like some spontaneity did wonders. Keep it up.
 
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I totally agree. When I have occasion to record in my home studio sometimes after recording a solo when I immediately listen to the take it sounds like crap. If I wait a few days and give it a listen it gets better and a week after it sounds logical and complete. Well sometimes anyway. Sometimes I can nail a take in one or two takes but most times I can record a solo 10 times and hate it.
 
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Just a normal reaction: when you recorded it, you surprised yourself with what you were able to pull off and it felt like you were the next Kenny G and then you listen to it and you realize you were still fettered by mortality. And you compare the result to the energy flow during the recording and it is not as out of the world as you thought. But here is the good news, it was probably still out of this world just not from a galaxy long ago and far away. So all you need to do is get rid of your exaggerated expectations and you realize how good you actually were. And DO NOT try to fix it.

And I don't know whether that story is true but Clarence Clemmons recorded an ad-hoc solo for one of the Springsteen songs but the equipment sucked and then it took them 7 months to get something that was comparable because he tried to "fix it"
 

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Ben Webster wasn't happy with his 'Cotton Tail' solo with Duke in 1941, but others find it one of his best solo ever.

Best is to keep the solo as is, because a 'combined' solo (made out of several takes) almost always sounds worse (unless you can get the same energy / flow over several takes).
 

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I don't know how many times I've listened to a playback and said 'I can't do that.' I want to to analyze it and 'learn' it and I just did it!
 

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We're our own worst critics.
Yes, yes, yes. I remember some years back I recorded a solo for a gospel group and they really, really dug one of the first takes. There was something in it I hated and I insisted it be redone. Though I recall being happy with what we got after countless additional takes... I feel I just let them down. I always regret not giving in to them... and getting the hell out of there sooner.
 

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Hmm... Easy solution: Be Bad but also uncaring like me! Then you'll never like any of your takes, but keep them/share them anyways :)
 

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Seems like this is very common; we're our own worst critics. I've rarely liked anything immediately that I've recorded, even when my bandmates say it sounds great. But as others have said, after a period of time, it sounds better to me. One thing I don't like to do is a lot of takes. I prefer to get it in 1 - 3 takes, or so. Any more and it starts to get 'stale' or something.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I prefer to get it in 1 - 3 takes, or so. Any more and it starts to get 'stale' or something.
My best everything is in the first couple takes. For this project, we're recording as much 'live' as possible. The guitar player likes many, many takes. I think we played the same tune 9 times top to bottom and ended up using the first take. Of course, this is a basement studio - in the 'real world', 9 takes would start costing money.
 

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Ah, but what's money when you can have... perfection!

Ahem.
 

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Tony,
I think there are very few of us who love how we sound on recordings, and always find a reason to be less than happy.
This is all one big journey....try to find happiness where you are at now, with the understanding that hopefully things will continue to get better and better with every year that passes, as you have probably already seen with your playing.
I've heard you play, and you sound wonderful.

As a dear friend always says, "Acceptance of what is". That doesn't mean feeling like you are giving in or giving up, it just means to find a way to be accepting of where things are at for you, at the moment. That has been very helpful to me in my life.


I've always been a huge fan of live recordings in the studio. where everybody is right next to each other in one room, and there's no punching in to fix things.
For me, I love that spontaneity and the vibe that you get when feeding off one another. There is always something that doesn't come out perfect but I never cared about that. The energy was always more important than missed notes, etc...
 

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Thing about music today, that anyone who plays publicly should know by now, is that you're nearly always being recorded by someone. And they're going to post it somewhere. And you're not going to have any control over it. This of course has its exceptions... like when you think you really, really nailed it. Then it would seem the camera phones of others were otherwise distracted.
 

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I did a flute recording for a vocalist. After a few takes the engineer said I did a consitant job on each chorus and he'd cut out half of it to make a great solo. I wasn't leaving space, breathing. For my sax stuff. I hate it in the moment and then years later listen to it and wonder how I did it? Tone , time inflections, etc. It flows in the studio and you are right its real tough to "cut in" the bad part. Also, your band mates are getting the feel of the solo , not all the elements you might be thinking of . Its like a painting. You might look and say I need to change blank, blank, blank and someone else looks and says "Thats pretty": K
 

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I've always been a huge fan of live recordings in the studio. where everybody is right next to each other in one room, and there's no punching in to fix things.
For me, I love that spontaneity and the vibe that you get when feeding off one another. There is always something that doesn't come out perfect but I never cared about that. The energy was always more important than missed notes, etc...
Yeah Mark, man do I agree with this. However almost no one does it this way anymore. I could never get my band (when I had a band, pre-Covid) to do it this way. It was always, lay down the drums & bass track (maybe with rhythm guitar & 'scratch' vocals), then give the guitar a few dozen takes, then I put on headphones and play my parts including solos, and finally the vocals. That gives the opportunity to 'fix' things, but a lot of spontaneity is lost.
 

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I always did quartet stuff so it was very easy to get everyone in the main room at the studio. I hated being behind the door and having to look at everybody through the glass, so I always liked the other approach better. Just never felt right to me.
 
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