Why My Home Recordings Really Stink

Let me be self-deprecating for a moment — the quality of my home recordings (all made from various bedrooms and basements) really stink.

Home recording studio
One of my many recording setups

I mean, I’m happy with the music I’ve made. But sometimes the engineering could use some work.

So hopefully, these three home recording tips will help you avoid going through the whole trial-and-error experience like I did.

1) Tuning

It’s simple, but tuning is crucial. Case in point, my song “Let’s Get On A Boat.” The G string on my acoustic guitar is ever so flat. Bugs me every time I listen to it.

2) Production

When I recorded “Burning Like Chicago,” there was no cello in it. Can you imagine how boring the song would be without it? Fortunately, my friend and the guy who mixed/mastered the album, John Behrens, has a fantastic ear. He told me “something’s missing.”

3) Performance

On the song “Trust In Your Brother,” I’m singing slightly ahead of the beat, which makes this song non-listenable for me.

I’ve made mental notes of these three shortcomings in hopes that I can improve my engineering skills.

You should do the same.

Why Sad Music Warms The Musician’s Heart

Finally, an explanation for why my full-length album is so depressing.

It’s because I subconsciously knew it would make me and everyone else feel better.

“It seems that expressing sadness makes a musician feel good.”

– Discover Magazine

Stavin' Chain playing guitar and singing the ballad "Batson," Lafayette, La. (via Library of Congress)
via Library of Congress

In a recent study, researchers found that “expressing sadness activated the reward center of the brain while playing happy music did not.”

Basically, playing sad music causes a certain area of our brain (the area that makes a musician feel immersed in the music) to release dopamine when happy music does not.

Now, both sad and happy music makes the musician feel good, but just different kinds of good. Sadder music can cause a deeper feeling of good.

RELATED: 3 Ways Music Can Help Your Brain Function Better

And think about it: when you’re feeling low, you want to be around other low people and listen to low music.

If you’re low and you’re around happy people, they’d end up being annoying and you’d feel even lower.

So here’s to all those sad songs and sad musicians out there — we need you.