Two Is Better Than One

A blog post by Andrew Healey about his instrumental Two.

For many years, I was a single guy. Sure, I mingled with members of the female sex from time to time, but I lived alone. I liked it that way. Well, maybe I’ve lost my ‘mojo,’ but, these days, I’m happy to be in a relationship.

Give & take

When you share your life with another, you can’t have everything your own way. That’s the rule! My partner, Kathy, for example, demands that I do housework! Can you believe it? I’m more than happy to live in chaos, but she won’t have any of that. So, I take out the rubbish, wash dishes and even cook occasionally! My life sounds like hell, doesn’t it? Well, it isn’t. I’m just being melodramatic, as we ‘artists’ are prone to be.

The upside of doing my bit, is that Kathy does stuff too. Like, for instance, I hate driving in the city. My internal compass is broken — probably since birth. Consequently, I have zero sense of direction. Kathy, though, always knows north from south, so she’s the designated driver. Despite my aversion to city motoring, I can handle a car pretty well. So, when we travel beyond Auckland city, it’s me behind the wheel — Kathy hates driving on winding country roads.

Yes, Kathy gets stuff done (often through me). It’s she who remembers when the car needs servicing or when a family member’s birthday is coming up. Kathy also ensures our place is tidy when friends come to visit. I reckon if we were Andy & Kathy Incorporated, Kathy would be the general manager. As the ‘big-picture’ guy, I’d like to think I’d be the CEO, but I’m not so sure.

Kathy & me during lockdown

My album

You’re probably wondering why I’m babbling on about my relationship. Like, what’s it got to do with my album? Well, everything, actually.

I began writing new songs when New Zealand was in lockdown. As neither Kathy or I were categorised as ‘essential workers,’ the only people that either of us interacted with in person over five weeks was each other. And, we were fine. A self-contained unit. So, it’s not surprising that almost all my new songs are about our experiences together during that time of self-isolation.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a tune in a similar vein to Blackbird by The Beatles. I figured it would make a great song to describe my life with Kathy — a bit like The Beatles’ (here I go again about my favourite group) song Two of Us.

I had plenty of ideas. And, I wrote a ton of lyrics. But, no matter how hard I tried, nothing worked. Everything felt trite and sentimental — too much Mills and Boon. I wanted light and shade, some grit.

So, I had a thought: Why not leave things as they are? Maybe my guitar should do the singing? Consequently, I have decided to record my first instrumental — a bold move for someone who is primarily a singer.

Two

The instrumental is called Two. I’ve begun the recording process, which I expect to be quite a challenge (you can listen to a sample below) For a start, the track will feature one guitar only — my G.S. Mini, as it happens. So, there will be no other instrumentation to mask any imperfections.

Because the recording will focus on one instrument, I feel that the quality of the recording and performance needs to be much higher than it would otherwise. So, I’ve spent a fair amount of time experimenting with microphone placements.

ORTF

For Two, I want to capture the magical tones of my guitar in stereo. Up until now, I’ve used XY microphone placement to record my guitars. This technique works nicely, but it doesn’t produce much stereo separation. So, for Two, I’ve been experimenting with ORTIF.

French broadcaster the Office de Radiodiffusion Télévision Française came up with the technique in around 1960. It works by positioning two microphones at 110° to each other with the capsules facing outwards at 17cm apart.  I’ve found that ORTF works well and produces true stereo imaging.

Mixing things up

I’m looking forward to finishing Two. The way things are progressing, it looks like my album  will be an eclectic (hopefully cohesive) affair. My song The Sun is Up is straightforward pop, where I’d describe some of the other songs as reggae, ska, blues and avant garde. An acoustic instrumental should fit in nicely.

For updates on the progress of my album, please subscribe to my blog by completing the form below.

Andrew Healey

Editor

Andrew is an Auckland-based writer and musician.

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