The Song Train
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Recording The Song Train

These songs were recorded rather sparsely, with just an acoustic guitar for rhythm, and one or two voices, with guitar and voice always recorded at the same time. We perform in concerts separately and together, and wanted to show how we would sing harmony on songs the other sang, to make the songs a little more interesting without "covering" them up.

For hardware we used Audio-Technica microphones: usually a pair of AT4051's on guitar, an AT4047 on Harvey's voice, and usually an AT3060 tube mike on Joyce's voice. We recorded in 24-bit to MOTU Digital Performer through API pre-amps and an Apogee 8000 converter.

We usually played and sang together and created complete takes, and have not made recordings that were based on studio multi-tracking. We occasionally overdubbed a vocal harmony or an instrument lead, but not in songs where the additional part was critical to the song's energy. We always made a point to sing a song's chorus without harmony the first time through so you could hear the melody, and only two songs in the whole collection are complete duets throughout (Kentucky & Simple Gifts). I played some lead guitar, dobro on one 1 song, and mandolin on 2 or 3, and Joyce played fiddle leads on a number of songs, since that is how we usually perform together. Our goal was to make musical recordings, and present the songs in a way that we would perform and record them, and we tried hard to avoid any fancy guitar work or "unnecessary" adornment. Some of the more driving songs have rhythm guitar parts that a beginner would not be able to do, but the world has provided very few examples like this, of real musicians playing simple but strong versions of songs. Our goal always was to present the song in a captivating and effective way with the minimum guitar technique, so as to show a way to play the song without other musicians. "Rock Island Line" is a hard-driving rhythm, and can't be done any other way.

We also must confess to feeling a little self-conscious, as folk musicians reaching out of our areas of knowledge and strength, and tackling classic rock, blues and country songs. But we had fun doing it, and so can you when you play them yourself.

Harvey & Joyce (2007)


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