Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Deep Purple On "Democratic Mixing"

Every engineer or producer has gone through a session where the entire band is present, and each wants to hear "more me" in the mix. The result usually takes a well-balanced mix and turns it into a sonic goo that just doesn't work any more. While we usually associate this kind of action with young bands with little studio experience, it can happen to well-established hit makers as well.

Here's a quick video that shows what famed metal producer Martin Birch went through with Deep Purple during the making of their breakout mega-seller Machine Head.


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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Depeche Mode "Never Let Me Down Again" Song Analysis

Reader Ron West asked for a little bit of Depeche Mode for a song analysis, so here's "Never Let Me Down Again," a fan favorite. The 1987 release was the band's 19th UK single, and was top 10 throughout Europe. The song is from their Music For The Masses album, Depeche Mode's 6th release.

As with all song analysis, we'll look at the song itself, the arrangement, the sound and the production.

The Song
"Never Let Me Down Again" is another one of those songs with a song form that just a little different than the norm. The form looks like this:

Intro, Verse, Interlude, B section, Interlude, Verse, Interlude, B section, Chorus, Outro

A number of things jump out. First, there are a lot of interludes in the song, but they never feel like wasted space. Second is that the B sections can easily be classified as choruses, with a 2nd chorus at the end. However you want to describe the sections, they work well in the song.

The Arrangement
The arrangement of "Never Let Me Down Again" is pretty thick, although it doesn't seem that way on a casual listen. As with most hits, different parts enter with each new section, and every repeating section is slightly different from the previous one. The arrangement elements look like this:

  * The Foundation: The drums and the bass synth.

  * The Pad: The bass synth does double duty as the primary pad, although it's augmented during the chorus and outro by higher synth strings.

  * The Rhythm: A trademark of Depeche Mode is some of the background synth lines that occur throughout the song that add motion. You can hear the main one easily here because it starts the song.

  * The Lead: The lead and harmony vocals. The piano during the interludes.

  * The Fills: Synth lines between the vocal phrase.

The Sound
The sound of the song is pretty good, but unremarkable. This happens frequently with songs built around synths or heavily effected drums like you'll find here. Even though it may be well recorded, it doesn't jump out as such.

The drums sound a little dated with the gated short room sound (especially the snare), but it does really work here. What is cool is the way the drum reverb is timed to the track. Listen to how the snare verb just about dies out before the next snare hit.

The vocal has a nice short timed delay but it's really sibilant. It's unusual for this not to be caught during recording, but you'd think they'd fix it for sure in mastering.

The Production
What makes the production of this track so good is the layering of the instruments. Everything has it's own space, and you can almost imagine each instrument sitting in front or behind the others. The arrangement is also excellent, especially how each section slightly changes and gradually builds to the big end

Send me your song analysis requests.

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Help support this blog. Any purchases made through our Amazon links help support this website with no cost to you.

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

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Monday, May 9, 2011

George Massenburg On The History Of The Parametric EQ

We take an everyday mixing tool like the parametric equalizer for granted, but it's actually a relatively new device, making its debut in 1972. The inventor of the first practical parametric was audio and electronic engineer par excellence George Massenburg. In this video, George takes us through the history of the parametric.


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Help support this blog. Any purchases made through our Amazon links help support this website with no cost to you.

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 social media and the new music business.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Pat Travers On Mutt Lange

Mutt Lange is an interesting guy not just because of his excellent production skills, but because there's so little known about him. He's publicity shy, and there's only one old picture of him available anywhere, so not many people know what he even looks like. That said, this video interview of the most excellent Pat Travers (remember "Boom Boom, Out Goes The Lights"?) gives a little insight of what it's like to work with Mutt.


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Help support this blog. Any purchases made through our Amazon links help support this website with no cost to you.

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 social media and the new music business.

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