Little Red Riding Hood

I wrote and recorded this song some time ago. I think it must have been one of the last things I did with my late-lamented Pro Tools system. I listened to it the other day for the first time in ages. Quite a lot of the music I recorded back then was a bit rubbish, but I still quite like this. So I made a video using found footage from YouTube (and a few clips nicked from student projects).

The history of that is that, in my previous employment, I was tasked with taking the company I worked for into new markets. Music technology was one. Back in the 80s, I’d made a few recordings with portable 4-track and 8-track systems. My ultimate set-up, in the early 90s, was to have a big analogue mixer and a Fostex 8-track reel-to-reel set up in my spare bedroom.

Fast forward to the 2000s, and I was looking for the first time at computer recording systems. My level of ignorance was high. For example, I not only didn’t know what MIDI was, but wouldn’t have been able to tell you the difference between MIDI and audio, didn’t know what a sequencer was, or a plug-in, or, etc.

I spent 18 months researching this stuff, among other things. My employer was remarkably tolerant, but eventually we became a reseller for all the major software and hardware companies in music technology.

Along the way, I accumulated a garage full of gear. I had a G5 iMac, external hard drives, a Joe Meek voice channel, a very decent Shure condenser mic, some high-end headphones, some high-end monitor speakers, an M Box, a Pro Tools LE system, and all the plug-ins.

In truth, I had plug-ins my Mac couldn’t cope with. For example, the Native Instruments Electric Piano was so demanding that I could never do anything with it. So for piano sounds, I used something called Ivory, which was more forgiving, and for a lot of samples I used Sampletank.

I left that job and the plug-ins went on working for a while, but over a couple of years, my licences expired, and I was left with a bare bones system. Ironically, of course, my time with the system meant that at the time I could have made best use of some of the effects plug-ins etc., I was down to the bare bones. At the time I had them all, I was fairly inept all round and made some fairly shonky recordings.

At the last gasp, before everything stopped working (the system was so old that eventually you had to choose between a working web browser/OS or working Pro Tools, although I didn’t know it beforehand), I participated in February Album Writing Month. I wrote 14 or 15 songs in a month, and recorded very quick and dirty demos.

I had reached a certain maturity. I still loved guitars, but knew that it took me a long time to get good sounds and good takes. It’s quite hard to record an acoustic guitar and have it sound as nice as your actual guitar. Same goes for electric. I’d mastered a certain sound, but in order to avoid it becoming samey, I started making use of more piano and different drum sounds, dipping into samples I’d ignored for years. I think Little Red Riding Hood came out of this. My last few recordings all sound very different from my sometimes quite awful early efforts. I’d achieved a certain competency, and acknowledged that I wasn’t ever going to be the guitar player I wanted to be.

I still quite like this song.

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