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64-Track Recording: “What You Own” Pre-Production Report

For my 64-track project, I called upon what is shaping up to be my go-to musician

squad to perform “What You Own” from the musical Rent: Cam McKenna (a Salem

State University student that found me on Facebook) for the drums, Sammi Simmonds

(my coworker from Salem Beer Works) for the acoustic guitar, and Maddi King-Giannino

(my good friend from high school) for half of the vocals, with the other half being per-

formed by me. If you know the song “What You Own,” you know that it is a duet be-

tween two of Rent’s main characters, Roger Davis and Mark Cohen; I would be singing

Roger’s lines and Maddi would be singing Mark’s. I also added in a MIDI piano compo-

nent to give the bridge of the song some “oomph.” The drums took up 17 tracks, the vo-

cals took up 23 tracks, the guitar took up 20 tracks, and the MIDI piano took up 8, mak-

ing for a total of 68 tracks. The recording took two VERY long sessions in the studio in

total, accounting for the entire production process as well as the post-production mixing

(which I will talk more about that in the post-production report.)

The first session was dedicated to recording the drums as well as Maddi’s half of

the vocals. We didn’t use the full drum kit for this recording; we ended up going with the

kick drum, the snare drum, the crash, the lo-tom, the mid-tom, the hi-hat, and the ride.

Cam also brought his own crash from home into the mix, which was really cool! The kick

drum was recorded with an AKG D112 microphone, the snare drum was recorded with

a Shure SM81 microphone, the lo-tom was recorded with a Shure SM57 microphone,

the mid-tom was recorded with a Shure SM57 microphone, both crashes were recorded

with AT4041 microphones, the ride was recorded with an AT4041 microphone, and the

hi-hat was recorded with an AT4041 microphone. Maddi’s vocals were recorded with an
AKG C414B microphone as the main microphone as well as two Shure SM57 micro-

phones placed to her left and right sides to catch the reverberation of the room. The

drums took three takes to record and the vocals took six takes to record.

The entire recording session took about eight hours in total. The drums took a

long time to set up as far as setting up the kit and all of the microphones went, and

Maddi had to get into the swing of things and warm up her voice before she was satis-

fied with her performance. In the end, the drum performance from Cam sounded FAN-

TASTIC; almost identical to the original cast recording of the song, and we were both

very pleased with the clarity of the sound. The vocals from Maddi sounded great, how-

ever there was an unfortunate incident when it came to saving the vocal tracks; they

didn’t. At all. All of the vocals that Maddi provided me with for the project were gone be-

cause I somehow lost the audio files along the way: a classic Deanna move. I asked her

if she wanted to rerecord her part and she declined the offer, so I ended up singing her

parts as well at the start of the second session. I will not be talking about anything post-

production from this session in my post-production report as there was slim to none. I

ran short on studio time and didn’t do anything other than record the parts that needed

to be recorded and time them up properly. With the absence of Maddi’s vocals, it ended

up only being the drum tracks, anyways.

The second session took just as long, about eight hours in total. Sammi came in

to help me out with guitar for this one, and I also rerecorded the entirety of the vocals for

the son. When it came to recording the guitar, we ended up putting microphones on the

neck and hole of the guitar as well as using three room microphones. The neck of the

guitar was recorded with a Shure SM57 microphone, the hole of the guitar was recorded
with Shure SM57 microphone, and the room microphones were an AKG C414B micro-

phone placed in front of Sammi, and two AKG C451B microphones placed to Sammi’s

left and right sides to catch reverberation. Since I was somewhat caught off guard with

having to rerecord the vocals, I went with a simple setup: one AKG C414 B microphone.

The guitar took three takes to record and the vocals took six takes to record. The guitar

sounded great and Sammi’s chords were right on par for the most part, and I was also

very satisfied with my vocal performance. Along with Cam’s drums, we were both

pleased with how things were coming along! The guitar and the vocals both—in my

opinion—needed some heavy-duty editing work, which would of course go down in

post-production. On to the mixing stage!