The road ends, but the journey continues...

Swimming with Swans – March(ing) to the Studio

Southern Harmony Recording StudioLast Thursday marked the beginning of forward movement towards the recording of Swimming with Swans: the music.  I met with Ken*, the sound engineer and owner of Southern Harmony recording studio here in FloTown**.  I had a fantastic time sharing my project, discussing needs, working through technical details and listening to his expertise as applied to contexts unique to solo & ensemble classical guitar.
I am so glad I went with my gut on using this studio for my solo pieces.  The selection of quality recording studios nearby is limited.  I vetted several this past year covering a 3 hour driving radius and came up with a scattering of possibilities all over the state, but really, the best for my needs are located in Raleigh/Durham, NC.  Hubby being my #1 patron and supporter of my art is keeping those options open for me to use if I decide to go that route, regardless.

Original musical monkey in journal

A page from my journal…

I have to admit that until moving to and living in Florence, SC I took basic musician needs for granted.  This scarcity of a vibrant, well-rounded arts-scene will no doubt be a foreign concept/truth to grasp for many of my colleagues.  It certainly was for me, but – it is what it is and I’m thrilled to have cracked the code to a satisfying solution; enabling me to thus move forward and march*** to the studio.
There is one other semi-appropriate studio in Colombia that Joe and I toured during his Thanksgiving visit.  It was more attuned to the needs of classical/jazz musicians, but the space didn’t feel good.  It offers the use of a superior quality grand piano, but that’s not something I need. Also, the sound engineer didn’t have any project tracks to play for me to listen to that were relevant to my instruments.  The ones we gave a listen to were mostly of brass instruments, which sounded great…but.  After doing some of my own digging on the internet for sound samples from his client list, I found a few background tracks with acoustic guitar that sounded – well, let’s just say they were not to my liking.
As a musician, the bottom line is one’s tone, one’s sound. If that gets messed up, no amount of playing technique or flourish will save the day.  After listening to some of Ken’s current projects highlighting a variety of acoustic instruments, I believe I can trust his ear.  We certainly have a great rapport, which also counts as a keen element in the recording process/experience.
The Prisloe, Mo Giolla Mear, the ZOOM H4n & PillowMeanwhile, I’m doing time on the ole’ practice stool, fine tuning my solo pieces, getting ready for recording and keeping up my chops.  I hope to start sessions by mid-late March.
I am definitely psyched…
*If you visit Southern Harmony, you’ll find Ken is quite modest…his creds include an impressive resume of work in the LA scene for most of his 20 years of experience before moving to FloTown,  yet not listed on his website.
**Local name for Florence, South Carolina
***Yes, pun is intentional.


  1. Donna

    You were lucky to find a fine studio. As much as they promote a vibrant art scene here, I find it lacking myself. A “well-rounded arts-scene ” is indeed not always in every community.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Ahhh, methinks you understand… 😎
      ps-I’m loving your Hawaiian Holiday Shots!

  2. Jennie Fitzkee

    Laura, I love how you describe the whole process with your music piece. It’s more than the piece of music; it paints a picture of an artist. I smiled when you discovered that an abundance of musicians was not there. Art and music are so fundamental, and when it’s not there… that’s eye opening. I teach preschool in Massachusetts, and when it comes to music (and art and reading) I start from the top. I wish you could be a fly on the wall when I play Beethoven for the first time. The best is introducing the cello.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Revealing the world of music, art, poetry…revealing the fact that there is a bigger place ‘out there’ to students of all ages is sooooo cool. I’m thankful for your passion in teaching based upon quality ‘from the top’ sources…I remember well my own introduction to Beethoven (very subtly via family recordings at first, then my own discoveries…)
      Keep the fires burning, Jennie!

  3. Janis

    I am in awe of people with musical talent! I’m glad you found a studio that fits. I agree that having a good rapport with those you are working with is so important – in any industry.

    • laura bruno lilly

      You’re right, Janis – it is a factor that enriches many facets of life.

  4. Lulu

    Yay! Your enthusiasm and energy comes across vibrantly in your writing. It sounds exciting and exhilarating to have a project to spring you into a new season. I’m a terrible punner, that’s my best effort! Living in a rather rural/isolated/removed place after living in and around Boston, NYC, and DC my whole life, I definitely went through the education of learning what it is like to be without the resources that those places offer. Now that I’ve been in the place that I less-than-affectionately call Vanillasville on my blog for five years, I am discovering some hidden gems. It just takes a lot more hunting and scouring. I’m glad you found what sounds like one of those gems in Ken and his studio.
    Wishing you the best with the project as you move onward! Can’t wait to hear more!

    • laura bruno lilly

      Oh, it’s a relief to hear your own frustrations parallel my own…my hubs have been Chicago (early on), then Denver/Boulder, then just the whole arts scene in the West/Southwest…so different from here in the Swamplands 😉
      I, too, am beginning after 3.5 years to discover gems…not the least of which began with the Camden Writers Group
      We shall march onwards – don’t you agree LuLu (you who shares my name)?

  5. Lillian Batarseh

    Way to go, Laura! I’m sure that following your intuition re recording will produce favorable results.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Thank you Lillian for your vote of confidence!

  6. Anna Scott Graham

    Sounds (pun is intended) fantastic! Or near darn terrific, for one has to employ what we are given, then rest in the peace of that blessing. Yet tone is so important, so I am very pleased that you have found a place resounding (ha ha) with good vibes. Add to those vibes for further joy!

    • laura bruno lilly

      Love your vibes, girl!
      Of course our puns are intended…the thing is, so many don’t get ’em 🙁 But then that makes for a great excuse to qualify a pun by saying it’s ‘intended’…just in case they don’t get it. HA! Also to stave off groans in the crowd. 😎
      FYI: the Lord has been teaching me about resting in the blessings that are given…maybe that’s a different angle on the broad virtue of gratitude…hmmm.

  7. L. Marie

    That’s great news, Laura! So glad you found a studio you can trust. That’s so important.
    For me, it’s like finding good critique partners or illustrators. Some people think you can trust anyone to give you good feedback that will help shape your vision of your novel. Nope. You need a good rapport with those you work with. So glad you have a rapport with Ken.
    Ha ha on that pun! 😀

    • laura bruno lilly

      Yep, that sort of thing is essential in all slices of the arts…I hope you have a circle of critiquers you can trust and value their input to help in the perfecting of your own (he)art.
      So – after your admonition to ‘leap’ I’m march(ing) on! 😉

  8. Bob Cloud

    I’m looking forward to your “Swimming With Swans” work and glad you found the technical facility that feels comfortable .

    • laura bruno lilly

      Thank you, Bob for your continued support…the skies are clear here today – thinking of you gliding through the blue!
      take care

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