From Paper to Performance

One of the great things about releasing Films: Past and Future through PledgeMusic was the chance to share thoughts about recordings. This lead to recording a few ‘stripped down’ versions of songs with just voice and piano (and sometimes a pad or bass sound in the background).

So we thought to record 14 or so songs starting with the piano and vocal beginning, and keeping the ‘stipped down’ feeling, but adding further instruments, soundscapes, and arrangments.

The Journey

It’s a journey I know will also produce new compositions (a new song or an instrumental ) along the way.

Here are the various stages we’re going to go through together:

  • Planning – matching song lists with soundscapes and ideas of instrument groups
  • Rehearsals
  • Recording
  • Arrangments and overdubs
  • Mixing
  • Artwork and mastering

The whole process outlined, from beginning to end, is shared together with subscribers in the ongoing series #FromPapertoPerformance here:

Here’s the the route map with each stage.


At the start we’d be looking together at the planning.

  • Looking at the song list of 12-14 songs
  • Sketching out various different instrument combinations (for instance, jotted down I have a harp, a vocal harmoniser, a piano, violin, cello trio)
  • Matching songs with different instrument combinations and soundscape references


The initial rehearsals (which we’d broadcast record and share) would just involve running through the songs and getting an idea of the berst key, tempo, feel of each.


Here it starts to get serious. Depending on the song and the general direction this would involve recording vocals and piano (or another instrument), and perhaps drums and bass.

And again, depending on the song, recording time would be spent either getting these core instruments absolutely right or – if that seemed in place – adding further instruments.

The recording at this early – and perhaps stripped down stage – would be shared with subscribers – though strictly on no-sharing basis.

Arrangments and overdubs

This is where we take the recording and start to add arrangements and the instruments that will play an important part in the final piece. It’s also a time for trying out different approaches. Possibly for considering replacing one of the main instruments with something else. Or deciding at what point it might enter into the arrangement of the song. Finally, for this part, overdubbing is the recording of additionsl soind on an existing recording


The final part of the process before mastering and release.

Artwork and Mastering

Here we’re close to releasing. The artwork needs to be completed and the mixes mastered. Mastering is the last step. With mastering a final look at the EQ, Limiting, Compression, Stereo width of the whole recording is taken to ensure it plays back on different systems from in-ear earphones, to a car stereo, to a home hi-fi.


Overall it promises to be a very interesting journey. For me as well. It’s the first time we’ve done this, and it should prove a blueprint for the work on future EP and the lead up to the album.

To follow this, the subscription page is at the link below.

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