Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Physical Effects Of Music

There was a great article recently on truefire.com by Charlie Doom about "The 7 Effects Of Music On The Body." You can read the entire article for yourself, but I thought repeating a few of the more stunning facts would be appropriate.
  • A Canadian study found that listening to music at levels of 95+dB SPL can reduce your mental and physical reaction times by up to 20%. This supposedly only applies to operating heavy machinery (like a car), but you can probably expect your car insurance to go up if the insurance company discovers that your hobby is "car audio."
  • When the SPL level in a bar goes to 88dB, patrons drink at least one more beer during their stay, according to a French study. This explains why the juke boxes and background music is always so loud.
  • The human heart automatically tries to synchronize its beat with the tempo of a song, according to several studies. OK, that explains hit pop songs but what about punk music?
  • Music acts like a drug, according to some German research, in that it increases your level of seratonin when you hear music that you like. Seratonin is a neurotransmitter responsible for "good feelings." That's no surprise to most musicians, who already know they're hard-core junkies for the music they love. Of course, listening to unpleasant music has the opposite effect.
We inherently know that music is extremely powerful. Now there's true scientific research to validate what we already knew.

Click here to read the entire "7 Little Known Effects of Music on the Body" article.

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6DEC/    

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"What's Goin' On" Marvin Gaye - Multitrack

Today we'll take a look at the individual tracks of the multitrack of Marvin Gaye's seminal hit "What's Goin' On." The song was recorded at a low point in Marvin's career. Depressed over his partner Tammi Terrell's death, he was about to quit music and try his hand at pro football with a tryout with the Detroit Lions, when Obie Benson (of the Four Tops) presented him with the germ for the song.

This is the song that has one of the greatest recording session stories ever. Marvin was anxious to record the song, and after gathering the other Funk Brothers in the studio, found legendary bassist James Jamerson drunk in a bar. Jamerson was so hammered, in fact, that he couldn't sit up without falling down. He would up playing the song laying on his back on the floor of the studio. What's even more amazing is that the part he played was written, and he read it down like the legend he was. Here are some things to listen for.

1) Marvin's vocal is, of course, great, but listen to how shaky the background vocals in the intro are. Marvin's football friends from the Detroit Lions were among the singers and participated in the crowd noise that occurs later in the song.

2) The kick, drum kit and congas are on three separate tracks, which was normal in 16 track recording at the time. The configuration provides just enough flexibility for the mix however.

3) Listen to how the two guitar interact with each other. A Motown trademark, each play a complimentary part and have different sounds, but when put together they make a single bigger sound.

4) The vibes played by Jack Ashton outline the chord changes, which is another Motown trademark.

5) Eli Fontaine's soprano sax part wasn't written into the arrangement, and was a first take run-through that Marvin liked so much he kept in, and it became the signature line of the song.

6) Marvin's two vocal takes were left in the song after the engineer misunderstood what he was asking for. Marvin liked the effect so much that he used it on many of the subsequent songs that he recorded.



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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Human Beatbox Gives Hip Hop History

Whether you're into Hip Hop or not, this video is worth checking out just for the sheer brilliance of French human beatbox Eklips. It's amazing that he can have so many parts happening at the same time, and he's so good that after a while, you think you're actually listening to a drum machine that's accompanying him.

The Hip Hop history lesson would've been better if there was a lower 3rd identifying each song and artist, but it's a great video anyway.



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You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Don't forget to check out my Music 3.0 blog for tips and tricks on navigating the music business.


Monday, January 24, 2011

"Who Are You" - The Who Isolated Synth

Last week we took a listen to Pete Townshend's guitar on The Who's hit "Who Are You." Today we'll have a listen to the isolated synthesizer, as well as a few other tracks like acoustic guitar, handclaps, background harmony vocals and piano thrown in. Here's what to listen for.

1) The arppegiated synth serves several purposes. It outlines the guitar part, serves as a pedal note, and pushes the rhythm. No wonder Townshend used this trick on so many of his songs.

2) The claps sound especially big. There's a fair amount of a nice long delayed reverb that separates them from the other instruments in the track.

3) Next time you listen to the song, hear how Townshend's acoustic guitar during the chorus both pushes the rhythm and makes the color of the section different.

4) The piano flourishes by Rod Argent (yes, that one) during the bridge and out chorus are great.


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Sunday, January 23, 2011

UJam - Innovation Or The End Of Serious Music?

Don't have any musical skills but want to write songs? Now you can with a cloud-based online platform called Ujam, which, as there site says, "empowers everybody to easily create new music or enhance their existing music talent and share it with friends."

The platform does what it says, according to the demo. You can sing a melody into it and it will come up with a pretty good sounding backing track with a wide range of styles to choose from. You can even tweak the chord changes and melody, change your voice into an instrument, change the sound and pitch of the vocal, and just about anything else you can do with a DAW or Garageband.

That being said, UJam doesn't seem to be Mac friendly as it wouldn't run for me on Safari, Camino, or Firefox, probably because I have Flash selectively disabled (it's a resource hog). Perhaps some of you will have better luck at trying it out than I did.

As a musician, I'm not sure how to feel about UJam. On one hand I admire the technology and the ability to create a song so easily, even if it's generic. It could be a good tool under the right circumstances. On the other hand I'm appalled at yet another instance of skirting the hard work of learning your craft to turn mediocre or no talent wannabe's into "songwriters" and "singers." I think many will agree with me that the whole idea of making music so easy that you don't have to pay your dues has undermined the quality of much of the new music that we hear today, and is at least partially the reason for the current music industry woes.

Check out the video below or look at the UJam site and tell me how you feel about this.



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You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Don't forget to check out my Music 3.0 blog for tips and tricks on navigating the music business.


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