Aron Radford is a UK based Weissenborn recording artist who plays a melodic ambient style of instrumental Weissenborn music. After releasing a Weissenborn relaxation EP called ‘Elemental Weissenborn’ back in 2013 he has since released a collection of tunes called ‘ My Weissenborn Journey’ and is currently working on a new studio album. TWiE caught up with him to chat about his standout track ‘Autumn Reprise’.
Tell us about the tracks’ double life as it has been recorded not once but twice now, firstly as ‘Autumn Smile’ and then as ‘Autumn Reprise’ has it not?.
Yeah this song has bit of a strange back story. As you say it started life as a tune called ‘Autumn Smile’ back in 2013 and was part of my debut album ‘My Weissenborn Journey’. As happy as I was with the composition the actual recording had a few sonic flaws. It was very early on when I was still learning and experimenting with home recording set ups. I had forgotten to check the Input line level on the digital recorder properly and it had clipped a tiny bit. So because of this I knew I wanted to rerecord it one day in the future and that’s what exactly what I ended up doing.
Tell us about how the track first got wrote first time around.
The song it’s self came about not long after I’d got my new style 4 Koa Weissenborn from Herrmann Guitars in Italy. I was eager to hear what it sounded like recorded so I spent a whole day experimenting with different set ups. When I’d finished I had about 2 hours of material, all of it improvised! After uploading it to the Mac and sifting through the material I stumbled across this golden 15 minute section that had something really special about it. I had been playing around with a melody that had come out of nowhere and during that section I had worked around with different variations of it for those 15 minutes. As I was also quite new to editing back then I thought I could edit together a song out of this, and that’s exactly what I did. Apart from the clipping which I didn’t release to later I was very pleased with the finished composition. I’ve had lots of good feedback from the song and if I could write 10 songs like that again I would be one very happy man indeed.
Explain to us how you found it a necessity to tab your own song.
Yeah the tab came about because I had booked the recording session to rerecord the track properly and then I realised I didn’t actually know what I played on the original. Seems a strange thing to say I know but I hadn’t a clue what I had played as it was total improv well over a year ago. So I had to then sat down and start to transcribe the original song note by note which was also a big learning curve for me at the time. It’s a great way of learning trying to tab by ear alone and after about a weeks worth of evenings I had tabbed the entire song. I rearranged a few bits and changed the order around a bit but everything was there, I also added a few extra parts to it which weren’t on the original while I was in the studio.
A series of YouTube lessons for the track then followed shortly after. What fuelled the decision to make these videos?
The video lessons on YouTube were born out of boredom basically. I’d been having a few conversations around that time with various people on TWiE about the lack of tabs and lessons out there for Weissenborn so I decided to do my bit and add something to the solution instead of complaining about the problem. I sat down and did the whole lot in a couple of hours one afternoon when I had writers block and thought “hell why not, could be fun”.There’s 9 lessons in total where I break down the song part by part, I thought it would easier to learn it block by block instead of a long drawn out mega lesson lol. The 4 page PDF tab is available to download direct from my website for free @ www.aronradford.com. The lessons are what they are and I hope some people can get something out of them.
Where did you record the track second time around?
The new version ‘Autumn Reprise’ was recorded in a local recording studio that I was testing out for the day. I’d had the studio recommended by a friend and arranged a half day session to basically get a feel for the studio and the sound engineer James who I’d never met before. You always worry that some people won’t be on the same wave length as yourself but right from the get go we clicked. James had done a ten years at Abbey Road Studios as a trainee technician and was fascinated by the Weissenborn. I knew I’d probably only have time to record, mix, edit and master one track so straight away I thought of redoing ‘Autumn Smile’.
Can you remember how the recording session went that day and what tuning did you use on the recording?
The actual session went really well and we recorded all the parts 3 or 4 times each and chose the best takes for the mix down. The tab really helped as a guide and to be fair I had practiced the song so many times before the day that I basically knew it by heart anyway. Funny thing is after we recorded all the parts and had a basic edit James asked me did I want to add any more parts and suggested some free styling solos. So I went back into the recording booth and played along to the guide track and played a few improv solos. Well to this day I still think they are the best part of the song to my ears. That to was an important lesson, be prepared by all means that’s good practice as studio time is expensive but don’t lose the spirit of the moment and spontaneity. As for tuning, I tried it with different vestpol tuning variations (half step down, whole step down) but standard DADF#AD is pretty much the only tuning it really works well in for me.
Do you play the track live?
Yeah. Playing it live I use a Boss RC-3 loop pedal. What I love about this pedal is that not only is it a standard looping pedal it’s got 3 hours of storage on 99 dedicated memory channels. The beauty of is that it has a USB port on the back and so you can save your loops onto a computer. And even better still you can create new loops on say Logic Pro and download back onto the pedal. So when I play this track live I have edited the actual strumming section from the recording sessions and made it a 30 second loop which I can trigger in the pedal. This means I can solo over the top as I did on the finished track. You can also make synth pad loops and other effects or whole backing tracks to use live, a great fun and creative pedal!
So what’s the story behind the name?
The name was quite literal really. It was originally recorded on a cold Autumn day and I distinctly remember that while I was recording that day the sun was streaming through the windows as if it was smiling on me, so ‘Autumn Smile’ seemed a good enough name as any. By coincidence I recorded the new version in Autumn too and as it was an updated version I simply called it ‘Autumn Reprise’.
The artworks that you create for your music look great.
Thanks. The artworks started as a bit of harmless fun really. I like working with graphics and layouts as I used to work in the print industry for 15 years and was the assistant editor of a hard rock magazine too for a while. So I have a good eye for layouts and what is ascetically pleasing on the eye. I have ended up making a cover artwork for every song I’ve ever written and recorded (and a few I never got round to recording too lol). When I can’t play guitar I love working on cover ideas and I’ve ended up doing some for other musician friends too. All my artworks are displayed on my website.
Will the new version be on your new album when it’s released?
For sure the new version will be on my next album. ‘Autumn Reprise’ is out now as a single on iTunes but it will definitely be on the new album too. I have since gone back and recorded three brand new tracks and have plans for more soon. I hoping for a late 2015 or an early 2016 release depending on how the song writing goes lol.
Thanks for keeping “On Track” Aron.
It’s a pleasure thanks for taking the time to talk to yourself 😉