Inside the TightRope Studio



‘Why call your studio TightRope’?

 Although the studio is relatively new, I decided to give it a name – it just felt like the right thing to do.

 TightRope came to mind after looking at what a tightrope is all about.When working on new material – especially that of others; there are a few factors I like to keep in  mind.

 Every project will have a start & end position, it’s important to keep your focus ahead of you, there’s often a very ‘thin line’ between a great end result and a not so good finished product. Basically, I suppose it all came about by how everything is balanced with each step along the way. Hopefully you get the general idea.

My recording interest probably started off like a lot of other people – by ‘attempting’ to record the Top 40 off the radio on a Sunday afternoon (we all did it). The skill in trying to get as much of the song as possible before the presenter starting talking was a challenge in itself. At this point it’s probably good to point out in the interest & support of copyright laws that the songs I really liked were purchased from my local Woolworth or Golden Discs the following morning. It hardly mattered anyway as the majority of my tapes were either accidentally wiped or self-destructed themselves in some way soon afterwards!                                                                                                                                                 I am at this point also very aware that some readers will never have experienced the thrill and excitement of unravelling a 60 minute cassette tape from the heads of a tape-recorder, after it has tried to eat itself beyond the point of no return. You’ll really never know what you were missing guys!!

My studio today is a far cry from trying to capture sounds on an old cassette tape.

My interest to learn as much as possible regarding the recording elements of music production, undoubtedly began for me after getting a few quotes from professional recording studios. I was looking for a studio in which to record my first Household Honey EP –  even though I was only planning to record five tracks, the prices I was being quoted were, in my opinion, ridiculous. I figured I’d go it alone and perhaps learn something I would always have in the process.

TightRope's predecessor. The BR1600 home studio.

                 TightRope’s predecessor. The BR1600 home studio.

Whilst TightRope is a custom-built PC-based studio, I do from time-to-time also use a Boss BR1600cd  multi-track digital studio recorder. It’s a great bit of kit – in fact my entire album Rainbow Run was recorded using it! Maybe what I love most about the BR1600 is that it’s portable. A big advantage of having this is that it can be taken to wherever

The Boss BR1600cd

                                                       The Boss BR1600cd

someone wants recorded – either a practice room or home. People are generally more relaxed when being recorded in surroundings they know, and the more a singer, guitarist or whoever is at ease – generally the better the mix and whole recording experience will be. That done – it’s just a matter of bringing the BR1600 back to the main studio and recording the takes into the computer to work on the overall mix and master with specialised software.

Welcome to the Dark Arts.

I’ve taught myself a great deal over the past few years – either from trial and error, video tutorials or reading books on the subject of recording, mixing and mastering. There is however no substitute for just getting ‘stuck in’ and learning as you go. For obvious reasons this is probably better done before getting your hands on somebody else’s valued material.

For me however, when I was starting out, the best guinea pig was myself. I’m the hardest judge and critic when producing my own music, and I carry the same ethos when working with and recording others – after all, I don’t spend up to 14 hours in the studio for nil results (although on occasion, it can happen). It isn’t called ‘The Dark Art’ for nothing. Many books and professionals in the field will tell you there is ‘no 100% set in stone right or wrong way to get a song sounding great, just some firm guide-lines’ which should be adhered to. There is of course much much more to it, and I’ll answer some questions on my Q & A page under this heading.

TightRope started with a vision of wanting a very relaxed place in which creativity knew no bounds. A place where myself or anyone I was working with wouldn’t mind spending a couple of hours thrashing out ideas. While she continues to grow, I feel I am achieving what I set out to do with TRS – and loving every minute of it.