The Capitol Sessions, Pt.1



I- Sitting on a curb, in the parking lot

There is beauty in this bleakness. It’s in the details with the devil.

There’s a Gotham City sort of menace to the architecture around Hollywood and Vine. The buildings have that old world grandeur without the metropolitan density of East coast cities. The sparseness of LA buildings gives a looming presence to the absence between them.

Sitting here in the Capitol Tower parking lot, I can’t see the boulevard nearby, but I hear the boom and the rush of modern movement. There are not many surfaces for the city boom to boom off of, so the constant sound pressure diffuses into a sonic haze - a compound drone that bottoms out with the busses, tops out with the window A/C units, and breathes with the palms in the middle range. There is beauty in this bleakness.

II – Some very serious and educational pictures

We’re at a Walking Dead string-session today, back at ye olde Capital Records in Studio B... Home of recording history, lovely hot chocolate, and monstrous apple-pears, to whom you feel you must be introduced before eating, lest they may take offense.  Seriously I had to cut one up and eat it with a fork.

Bear had a particularly zombie-rific ensemble here today, and with all the darkness of 5 cellos and a string bass churning away with technical ferocity, I swore I sensed the coming of a super-massive black hole. Instead it was photographer Andrew Craig’s super-massive black camera. Andrew shoots all Bear’s sessions and makes us look like badasses.

Exhibit A:



(us as badasses )

I took some shots myself with my not-super-massive phone camera on the way to dinner  at Chan Dara on Cahuenga blvd, before the session.  Here was my highlight:

Exhibit B:



(This was featured on a metal door about half a block North of the restaurant. I think I will make this into a postcard, and inside I will print “Welcome to Hollywood”)

III - In Studio B with the Bear McCreary crew

Neal: “Bear, I got one thing, in bar 97, how about a crescendo so that the subito at 98 stands out more…”

This is the team of wacky geniuses who work with Bear to bring your favorite shows to musical reality. They’re like the Harlem Globetrotters of recording operations: a small hive of orchestrators, engineers and assistants, all attached to pencils, laptops, mixing consoles and scores. Some of them may have been wearing the same shirts for 3 or 4 days, but don’t be fooled, there is Kung-Fu power in that old-soap-and-Baked-Lays smell.

Now the chamber orchestra is bumping along at a good clip – this is an upbeat cue – and Bear, from my point of view, looks like floating shoulders, angling upward at various diagonals, following the lead of his baton.

During the take, one or two of the guys in the control room will hear something – a flat note, a late entrance -  and then you see heads start to turn, chairs swivel towards one another, and an idea shoots around the room. A possible solution will bounce, pass, and rebound - then a plan for action will pass and shift until the end of the take. Then Steve Kaplan at the console will press the talkback button:

Neal: “Bear, I got one thing, in bar 97 how about a crescendo so that the subito at 98 stands out more?”

Bear: “Good idea.”

Bear counts in the orchestra, one more take – slam dunk.



IV - Some more educational pictures:

Exhibit C:



(Steve, Ed and Henry behind the console. David in the back row, looking suspiciously at me.)

And here is a very specific and educational picture:

Exhibit D: (click to embiggen for greater educational benefit)



(outside Capitol, with important pointers)

Stay tuned for another terribly, terribly in-depth report from the Capitol Tower!

Raya Yarbrough

Singer, Composer, writer of absurd stories about LA, chanteuse on Outlander, BSG, DaVinci's Demons, & I used to date Dick Grayson.