In the Studio: Shredding Up an Indie Track

Recently, I was contracted to record a solo for the tail-out section of an indie rock track. My only instruction was to “shred.” So I did:

[sorry folks, there was a link here, but it’s dead — future Lyle]

My strategy was to go nuts and let the client narrow down his expectations after hearing what I could offer. I was fully aware that a metal solo is probably not welcome in an alt-rock track. I also knew that I had succumbed to diarrhea of the hands, especially after 0:31, and that I’d need to trim some fat. He responded as I expected, requesting something simpler.

The client helped me out by sending a recording of himself soloing in a scratch track, and describing which moments in his solo he wanted me to preserve. Specifically, the opening of the solo — alternating unison notes on adjacent strings — and the repetition of the f-naturals in the end were his contributions. I personalized those moments, and filled in the gaps with something more lyrical. Here was the final take:

[once again, please use your imagination]

What can we learn from this? Often, the progression from seed ideas to a finished product involves breaking down, not building up. Restraint is a virtue. Also, I thrive on suggestions. As soon as I heard the songwriter’s conception of how the solo would flow, I was in better touch with his vision.

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