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May Meeting Recap

Hey songwriters,

A full house, good songs, great commentary, a guest speaker and an outstanding featured performance. Meetings of Pittsburgh Songwriters Circle don’t get much better than our May 6 gathering at Bloomfield Bridge Tavern. There were just a few takers for the optional songwriting assignment, but several interesting collaborations resulted in some good co-written songs.
Doug Wilkin (djwaudio@comcast.net) of Wilkin Audio, producer of our 10-year compilation album series, visited to answer questions about the recording process (see more below). And David Michael King (kingsomma@igc.org) showcased well-crafted songs in a featured set that preceded a busy open stage.

Retrospective album
Our non-profit sponsor, Calliope: The Pittsburgh Folk Music Society, will pick one song from each year of our album series for a special retrospective album celebrating the project’s 10 years. We’re about half way to our funding goal — please chip in at the GoFundMe link on this website.

2015 Pittsburgh Songwriters Circle album
The duping/participation fee deadline has passed on this year’s album project. Lots of participants — it’ll be another double disc production.
Next deadline: book your first recording session by June 6. The session can occur later, but you have to be on the Wilkin Audio schedule by that date. The first-session deadline is intended to advance the project and avoid a log jam of new sessions near the recording deadline. Contact Wilkin Audio at 412-736-9068 or djwaudio@comcast.net. Scroll down for Doug’s recording tips.
See you soon,
John

Doug’s recording tips
1. Prepare! This is No. 1 for a good reason. The best recordings result from good performances and good material. All the other stuff is secondary. Finish your song before coming in. Practice it until you’ve got it down. The more confident you feel with your performance, the better you can realize it in the studio. Practice to a metronome. Have your tempo decided, note the bpm (beats per minute). Unless you’re going to do the song live, which has its pros and cons, practice playing the song without the vocal and/or melody. It’s a great skill to bring to a recording session and will serve you well as you record in the future. Bring lyric/chord sheets. Why blow a great take because you forgot the bridge?
If you have any concerns and feel you may be unable to do any of that, contact me and I’ll help you. Song arrangement, backing instruments, additional vocals … whatever. Answering questions is free; sitting down with you and working things out at the studio is on the clock. I can offer myself playing guitars, bass, basic mandolin [I’m no virtuoso], harp, vocals and light drums/percussion. I charge only for my time, not my performance (see previous Songwriters Circle albums for examples). I can also refer you to a variety of session players for hire.
2. Guitarists, get your instruments in good shape. Guitars require maintenance. Neck, nut and bridge adjustments can make your instrument play and sound better. New strings are vital. I can’t record frequencies that aren’t there.
3. Arrive on time. Not early, not late. Simple. I’m not a dentist — I don’t offer a waiting room with snazzy magazines. Actually, I have some snazzy magazines but they’re for when you’re waiting for your bass player to finally get a good take.
4. If you’re looking for a particular “sound” bring an example and be realistic. That “sound” may be the result of the performer’s talent and skill as much as anything else. It may also involve many, many hours of studio time and racks of gear I may not have.
5. Bring whatever you’d like to drink. I have a small kitchen and you’re welcome to use the fridge. I’ll have water and coffee.
6. Enjoy this process! Recording can and should be, if not fun, at least satisfying and rewarding. Don’t get stressed out about it. I’m really patient (unless you’ve chosen to disregard 1-4) and will guide you through the process if you’re new to it. Know that you’re a part of a very cool thing. The Pittsburgh Songwriters Circle album project is something to be proud of. I’m really glad to be a part of it again this year.

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