Recording your own music

Setting the perfect mood

It started with Ryan Lissner of Ryan’s Christmas Lights ( in Salisbury East, Adelaide, South Australia looking for some fresh music for his down-under Christmas display. Off-the-shelf music wasn’t an option but Suite Christmas by Carrie Lyn was a possibility. PlanetChristmas magazine asked Carrie for some DIY advice on recording a Christmas album.

Suite Christmas. Rush! That seemed to be the theme of the recording project that lay before me. This was an opportunity to share with the world the talents of the new lineup for Carrie Lyn Infusion, in addition to styling of Carrie Lyn “that violinist” as Ryan Lissner of Ryan’s Christmas Lights had been introduced to through my YouTube contest entry. All the ingredients were ready. The band was in place. “Manny” Smith was on drums, Rudy Wilson on electric bass, Joel Everett on orchestral bells, Martin Bappert on electric guitar and Carrie Lyn on “violin.”

The basement studio, fondly called Sound Exile Studio and Production, was in the supportive hands and ears of my dear husband, Joe. He brought together the combination of computer hardware and software as well as the recording gear. Suite Christmas Rush, was born.

Now anybody with a home recording studio knows it’s not as simple as it sounds. My husband and I agreed long time ago that the line be drawn between me, the artist and him, the recording engineer/sound dude. I make the music and he records it. He’s the guy behind the board working with the Cubase recording software program. I don’t pretend to know anything on his side of the invisible line in the basement, but I do know what I want to hear in regards to the finished product.

Every recording project has to have a purpose, deadline and destination. For this album the desired content was to be progressive and contemporary using Christmas hymns and themed melodies. Nothing “winter – wonderland” for three very important reasons. The event of Christmas is far more fundamentally miraculous than snowflakes and the colors red and, dare say, (go) green. The “cat was out of the bag” as Ryan had loved what he had already heard and just needed similar with clean original accompanying tracks. Ryan lives in Australia, where it is down right arid during Advent through Christmas and since he was kind enough to extend this opportunity to be his new music for his award-winning Ryan’s Christmas Lights for 2008 we were honored to comply.

Then there are the deadlines. I was first asked to have something ready for the 2007 season but that was not meant to be. Ryan was nice enough to ask again and needed preliminary music by late summer so he could start programming his lights. Our son, Steve, who plays drums, Marty the guitarist and myself created the riff that became the “glue” between the songs and was set in a story theme order. If you can recognize the tune and sing out the lyrics, the instrumental, Suite Christmas Rush, is a pretty quick and has musical report. Since the rhythm section of the band lives four hours south of us, the quick tracks of the “glue – riff” and pre-selection of carols helped save time when the whole band got together for the first Saturday of recording. We practiced until we had everything memorized and used our own individual lead sheet notes to write the arrangement. Two all-day-Saturdays’ and a few evenings of redo drop-ins were required before all the tracks were completed.

Then came the EQ (equalizing) and mixdown which is where the imaginary line in the basement started taking the shape of a sound wave! During all this we still managed family, children from ages two to sweet sixteen, avoided stray sound effect from toilet flushes to door bells and had a jolly chuckle in respect to the switch on the wall that was going to work a “recording in session” light by the basement stairs, until we realized the dog would not properly notify a crying child or the solicitor at the front door. We learned so much from our home studio.

I still flip that “recording in session” switch, giggle and then send up a prayer of thanksgiving that we may live in the Spirit of Christmas every single day of our lives – not to be in haste of a seasonal wonder, but instead, exhilarated in the passionate reality of creation anew through the kept promise of the Christ Child – Suite Christmas Rush.

More information about Carrie Lyn “that violinist” can be found at Find the Suite Christmas Rush album at

This article was included in the November 2009 issue of PlanetChristmas Magazine.

By Carrie Lyn

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