Unless you’ve been living under a rock the last several days, you’ve probably heard about the massive amounts of rain and flooding going on in Middle Tennessee. There has been so much flooding here in Nashville. They’re calling it a “500-year flood,” whatever that means.

It will be a long time before this area fully recovers. Many have lost their homes and businesses. Thankfully, my wife and I are safe and dry. (If you’d like to donate to the flood relief, you can do so at the Nashville Red Cross website.)

Before I go any further, I want you to know that I don’t mean to make light of the devastation that’s going on in this area. However, I did actually have a recording session on Saturday, during the torrential downpour, and I thought I’d share some of the experience with you.

Rain, rain, go away…

If you follow me on Twitter, then you may have seen me post this last Saturday:

The forecast called for rain. Little did I know it would rain something like 20 inches over the next 48 hours.

The goal for the day was to record acoustic guitar and vocals for a 4-song EP. We figured we could knock it out in a couple of hours. We made it through the first song just fine, then the rain started up again. We waited a few minutes for it to subside. It didn’t, so we looked at the weather forecast. It was clear the rain wasn’t going to stop any time soon.

Since I’m in a typical home studio, I don’t have a sound-proof vocal booth to record in. If it’s raining outside, you can probably hear it inside.

We realized very quickly that there was no way we could record lead vocals without picking up a LOT of rain noise. But we noticed that, with some careful mic placement and a generous amount of acoustic treatment in the nearest window, we were able to record acoustic guitar just fine.

We quickly decided to focus on getting all the acoustic guitar parts recorded really well, then we would re-schedule the vocal tracking session for another, quieter day. The important thing to note here is that we didn’t cancel the entire session and go eat pizza. We figured out what could and couldn’t be accomplished given the circumstances, and we changed our focus accordingly. (Don’t worry, we did eat pizza a few hours later.)

I think the main reason we were able to record the acoustic without picking up much rain is due to the fact that the guitar and the microphones were at least a foot below the nearest window. In addition, I was able to put some of my acoustic panels in the window as well as utilize my newly acquired Auralex Aural Xpanders (more on them in the future).

I’m really happy with the acoustic tone we were able to get, and you have to listen pretty hard to hear the rain. In fact, the recordings don’t sound any noisier than they typically do with hard drive noise, etc.

Moral of the story: Know your limitations and make the best of what you have in front of you. Be flexible. We were able to knock out acoustic guitars, and the session was quite a success.

Do you have a story of a session that didn’t go according to plan? Leave a comment. C’mon…you know you want to.

[Photo by iamthepinkcupcake]

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  • JP

    Do I ever remember the worst session of my life. A band I was working with at the time wanted to record some tracks for demo, and I knew a little about it, so we set it up. I was running the tape out of a powered mixer into my computer and to me at the time it was working fine and I thought I was doing good. Only problem was I couldn’t mulitrack everyone at the same time, so I had to have each individual person come in and do their parts, as well as my own, and I had to mix and engineer it as well, while everyone else was standing around waiting for me to hurry up. 16 hours for 4 songs and none of the material was usable. What a nightmare!

  • Al

    One of my friends made two panels with wood and glass, and used it to make a tiny accoustic room (somthing like 40 squarefeet or almost 2 squaremeters) in the corner of room.
    and he got a very good result, plus it didn’t cost him so much.

    i used google sketch to make a simple picture, so something like this : http://i914.photobucket.com/albums/ac346/weedose/share/googleSketch002.jpg

  • OH man… had a session in a finished off barn two weeks ago. This barn has a tin roof. Yeah… loud. We planed to track the drums for 3 songs on Saturday. Needless to say we didn’t get much done on the drums. We were able to do most of the guitars and vocals in the bathroom. With a HPF we were able to get rid of most of the low rumble from rain, but I’m still nervous about how its going to turn out after we get it mastered.