Production examples: Before and After

Songs recorded & mixed at Song-Haven Studios
featuring production and arranging by Steffen Presley

There are few things more subjective than music. What sounds great to one person will sound crappy to another person. Culture, psychology, biases, contexts and other reasons can all play a major part in how things can come across in one person's reality. The examples presented here are not intended to demonstrate what is "good" or "better", but to showcase a variety of ways that the client gets the exact results they want. Sometimes we are given only an a cappella vocal demo towards creating a complete arrangement and recording. Other times we might be required to create an arrangement in a different style from a finished song, or to precisely copy something complex. Some of these situations are represented below.

The Way She Moves - Eric Walker

The original demo was done by Eric Walker in his writing studio. He requested that I play my alto saxophone as the lead instrument to this nice soft jazz composition. I also played all the rest of the instruments. The resulting track was included on his 2015 album, Universal Delight.

The Way She Moves


©2015 Eric Walker

No Rides - 7 Mansions

The original a cappella demo was sung by songwriter/singer Satina Warner in the group's home studio. They had a fairly clear direction towards taking the song firmly into a reggae sub-genre, for which I worked out the arrangement using the original demo ("Before") as the guide. 7 Mansion guitarist Diz Butler added his electric guitar stylings, and I performed the rest of the instrumentation. Satina wanted "special" effects on her voice for which I was happy to oblige.

No Rides - 7 Mansions


©2012 Satina Warner

Sway - 1940's big band standard

Arlene Nicoletti is a fabulous vocalist who has a very entertaining live show featuring many songs from the 1940's big band era. She needed backing tracks for her show, so she came to me. My job was to reproduce this big-band sound as accurately as possible, which I was able to do with uncanny realism, yet very inexpensively! "Sway" is the English version of "¿Quién será?", a 1953 mambo song by Mexican composer and bandleader Pablo Beltrán Ruiz, with English lyrics by Norman Gimbel. The song was recorded and performed by many artists, including Dean Martin in 1954. The version given to me (the "Before" version) is by Rosemary Clooney. The finished mix as heard here (the "After" version) has no vocal track, as it is to be used as a backing track for her live show. A CD is planned for down-the-road to showcase her fine voice in these new recordings.

"I'll be singing 14 fun and fabulous songs followed by Comedian Magician Glenndalf in this two person show at Flappers YOO-HOO Room in North Hollywood California, Saturday June 2, 7:30pm $10 cover plus two item minimum. Free show." -- Arlene.

Sway - for Arlene Nicoletti


©2012 Pablo Beltrán Ruiz

Clariza Da Razao - Ernando Novais and Lito Viana

Ernando Novais is a Brazilian artist currently residing in Arizona. He is a singer/songwriter who also plays acoustic guitar (heard on both the "Before" and "After" versions). Because of the distance, it was necessary for us to work remotely through the Internet. The original demo for his song Clareza Da Razao ("Before") was recorded in his home studio and originally included a video element to improve communication. After recording basic tracks (drums, bass and piano), I would send him a rough mix for which he would overdub his final guitar and vocals, then sending me these new tracks. At that point I added an orchestral accompaniment to fulfill his request, and then completing the finished mix as heard here in the "After" version.
Addendum January 2013: Regretfully, Lito Viana was the victim of a robbery in Brazil, causing his passing! In the words of Ernando: "It is hard to accept how a musician and music teacher who wrote such wonderful songs and helped people all his life would leave this earth like this. It is hard to understand. I have been struggling with this". It is now in Lito's honor that I present this song here. May he rest in peace!

Clariza Da Razao - Ernando Novais


©2012 Ernando Novias

I Need You Here

The original demo was sung by the songwriter (Glenn) in order to assist the group of musicians he had brought to a professional studio work out an arrangement. This was done a couple of years before he found Endless Productions, then subsequently asking me if I could do something with it. I only needed the track with Glenn's vocal soloed (The "Before" example), as it provided me with a clean slate to create a new arrangement, which I immediately "heard" as a "retro-ska" sort of vibe. This turned out to work very well. I brought in a local young vocalist to suit this arrangement, and otherwise performed all of the instrumentation myself.

I Need You Here - Glenn Hoffman/Ron Krown


©2012 Glen Hoffman and Ron Krown

The Wind Will Blow Me Away

Brian Nassau is a talented singer/songwriter who also plays the piano. He has recorded a large repertoire with us at Song-Haven over the years. In the particular situation presented here, vocalist Mark Charbonneau, who has been recording his own repertoire with us, commissioned one Brian's songs for which we were to create an entirely different arrangement to suit his style and purpose. Brian's original recording of this song was done with just piano and vocal and was recorded long ago in a different studio before he found us.

The Wind Will Blow Me Away - arranged for Mark Charbonneau


©2012 Brian Nassau

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