These lyrics are packed with truth. It is a Japanese translation the chorus of the hymn Jesus Paid It All. The English version is well-known, but here it is again:
Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe Sin had left a crimson stain He washed it white as snow
We recently released an acoustic recording of this hymn in Japanese. We want everyone to be able to enjoy it, so it is available for anyone to listen free of charge on SoundCloud. This post is a recap of our experience preparing for and recording the song.
Here’s the final recording on SoundCloud.
First Time Recording
This was our first experience recording together so we learned a lot. The members of our band were Issei Miyatake on violin, Yuka Livingston on piano, and I played guitar and sang. To be specific, we used a Yamaha electric piano and a Seagull guitar.
We decided to sing it completely in Japanese because we had a high quality, modern Japanese translation available to us. I received the translation three years ago from the worship leader at Equippers Conference. Here is a link to the lyrics with chords that we used.
We practiced about five times before the big day when we went to the studio. Our practice sessions were completely focused on refining the way we play the song. For example, when does the violin come in and when do we start building up to the chorus.
Before we started practicing we made an appointment with the recording studio. Having an appointment on the calendar for the recording session helped keep us focused and productive during our practice sessions.
In addition to our practice sessions we had been playing the song together for about a year at our bilingual Japanese-English Bible studies. This previous experience helped us because we felt comfortable playing with each other already.
Big studio, small studio, medium-sized? At first we didn’t have a clue what our recording needs were. We tried to contact a studio owned by a local college, but the studio director replied saying the college’s studio was probably overkill for our needs. He mentioned we would probably spend more money than we necessary to make a great recording with our small acoustic trio.
The studio director was kind and provided suggestions for a few smaller studios in the area. Interestingly one was owned by an aquaintence from my college years, so we decided to give it a try.
The studio was quite small, about the size of an average one car garage, but was more than enough for our needs.
Here’s a picture of our recording session.
Working with the Sound Engineer
The sound engineer we worked with was fantastic. He gave us two choices for recording:
- Recording all instruments together in one go
- Recording each instrument separately, then overlaying the individual tracks It seems like the second option is more common for experienced musicians making studio recordings. We may go that route in the future, but we decided to go with option one this time. We are used to playing the song together, so we wanted to stick with that style.
Our sound engineer also surprised us all with the ways he can edit the track. For example, at one point the guitar came in early. When we heard the recording we thought that we would have to re-record the whole song. Fortunately, our sound engineer was able to easily push the guitar’s entrance back half a second and make everything sound in sync.
Releasing the Final Product
Bandcamp, SoundCloud, YouTube … we had a few options to consider for releasing our music. We could have hosted the music ourselves, too. We decided to use SoundCloud for a few reasons:
- Slick user interface with widget that can be embedded in our website
- Users can comment on specific parts of the song
- Artist feed where we can share songs from other musicians that align with our mission
- Social aspect of following other musicians In the future we want to distribute via other platforms as well, but we figured SoundCloud was a good place to start.
At this point we felt it was too early to put our music on iTunes or Spotify. Those platforms require artists to pay for their work to be distributed.
One other thing we had to consider was the album cover for our first single. We decided to use a beautiful drawing that my wife created earlier this year.