My Sister's Guitar
Recording Notes

In General
[Aaron plays the piano] My Sister's Guitar was mainly recorded using my home computer.


The magic of multitrack mixing enables me to play tracks on top of each other.

Instruments played by me:

Fake bass was achieved by sampling the A string of a guitar, using the SK-1. Then I mauled it with an equalizer, and compressed the hell out of it.

Piano was tricky, because in order to record it, I had to move my computer upstairs.

Instruments played by others:

Tony performed the french horn the same way everyone does fake brass: He buzzed his lips into the microphone. Then I used an equalizer to change the sound and added a bit of distortion. I'm not sure what it sounds like now, but I think it sounds more like brass than lips, and I like it.

Mike Audet mastered the songs. He adjusted the frequencies, compressed the volume levels, and made DAT and CD-R master copies.

Play Me A Song
I played all tracks on "Play me a song":

"Play me a song" is actually one of only two songs from My Sister's Guitar that were recorded on my sister's guitar, an Anjo F 50. My sister, Trisha Kaplan got it, in turn, from my brother (Andrew Kaplan)'s fiancée, Nili Solomon. Nili describes it as a $75 dollar guitar. The inlay is a sticker, the tuning knobs are jerky, the case is a soft case whose lining comes off on the ends of the strings. The thing weighs about as much as a well-built mug, and it's the guitar I've used the most since I started playing.

The guitar I started on was a different one that belonged to my cousin, Ron Anderson's fiancée (at the time, now his wife) Michelle (neé Michelle Phillips).

Anyhow, the guitar went into retirement after I bought my Ovation CS-148. I had already recorded "Play me a song" and "In the Sighs". My friend, Andrew Woolner, has also recently upgraded from his sister's guitar. I thought of the album name when I notice we were both playing our sisters' guitars.

The flavour of the song emerged completely by accident, but I like it. It's an upbeat song to start with, and the flute certainly adds the that beachy, light feel. I kaypoed the guitar up quite a few frets so that it was essentially a six-stringed, bronze-stringed ukulele. Or is that called a mandolin?

There's no reverb on anything except the ukulele, and that may have to change eventually, but I think it's a fine first effort. I didn't expect to suddenly be dancing to it, but that's what happened.

In The Sighs
"In The Sighs" has five tracks:

Okay, maybe I overdid the reverb. But it sounds pretty neat on headphones. The reverb was based on an "Empty Parking Garage" preset in my sound program. Although I think, in general, reverb is a good thing, so far, I've only used it in the slow songs.

I wrote (I actually, physically wrote down!) the viola part for my mom, but she improvised the solo. Afterward, I added a flute part, turning her solo into a duet. Since viola is pretty rare on the tape, while flute is common, maybe I should have left it as a solo.

The Alligator Song
The Alligator song has 11 tracks, and I performed all of them:

The most interesting thing about recording this song was piano. I dragged my PC upstairs to record the piano, which was an adventure unto itself. Then, once I had a track I was happy with, the machine crashed. I had to record the track again. It was tricky for me figuring out where to put the microphone. Since it's an upright grand piano, I settled on the top front (where one would put music).

It turned out to be completely worth it.

Until the piano tracks were added, "The alligator song" was sounding dangerously similar to "Play me a song", but adding piano (which was the original instrument for both songs) gave "The alligator song" a fullness that surprised me.

The "bah" vocals were recorded on a whim to add even more build-up to the first chorus. They were inspired by 50's music, specifically "At the hop".

The Fishmonger Song
The Fishmonger song has 9 tracks, and I performed all of them:


Originally, I tried doing percussion on an african drum, but it just didn't sound right. I was damned if I was going to use maracas again, so I took the radical step of using no percussion.

The "soul" vocals are an additional harmony part used only in the final "soul" to punch it up.

Jeff Oussoren likes this song, and I asked him to come over an play on it, but when he came over, I ran into technical problems. Damn thing tried to record in 32 bits from a 16-bit sound card.

My sister, Trisha, thinks it sounds celtic.

Lonely Streets
Lonely Streets has 5 tracks:

The piano part took forever. I recorded and rerecorded it until I'd got it right. It almosts became a Zen thing, as I tried not to try to get it right. The flute was tricky too, because it had a lot of hiss. I'm not sure if flutes are just like that, or whether my embouchure is shot. At any rate, I ended up filtering the hiss out.

After the wacky reverb of "In the Sighs", I went with a more subdued reverb. There's some stereo effect over speakers, but it's very effective on headphones. Probably also on those "surround sound" boom boxes too.

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