Thursday, June 23, 2011

George Massenburg On The History Of GML

George Massenburg doesn't need much of an introduction to any audio professional. His work as both an engineer and an equipment designer speaks for itself. From his early successes with Little Feat, Earth Wind & Fire, Linda Rondstadt and later with Lyle Lovett, James Taylor and the Dixie Chicks among others, to inventing the modern parametric equalizer and later the GML product line, George has always been state-of-the-art in everything he touches.

This is a great video that not only describes the history of GML, but some of the early history of recording as well. Even if you don't use GML gear, it's worth a watch.


----------------------------------
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.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Savage Garden "To The Moon And Back" Song Analysis

Reader Emanuel Alexandru requested a song analysis of the big 1997 hit "To The Moon And Back" by Australian duo Savage Garden. The song was from their Savage Garden album, which went on to sell over 18 million world-wide thanks to a number of top 10 hits. As with all song analysis, we'll look at the song form, the arrangement, the sound and the production.

The Song
"To The Moon And Back" is a very straight-forward pop song form-wise. It's well written and to the point with few surprises, but it doesn't really need any either. The form looks like this:

Intro, Verse, Chorus, Interlude, Verse, Chorus, Bridge/Solo, 1/2 Verse, Chorus, Interlude, Outro

For me, the best part about the form of the song is the 2 bars at the end of the verse where it breaks down and sets up the chorus. Just this one little twist takes the song to a different level.

The Arrangement
The arrangement is also fairly standard in that it employs 5 arrangement elements.

  * The Foundation: The bass and drums

  * The Pad: A lush synthesizer that plays throughout the song, along some big electric guitar power chords in the solo and outro.

  * The Rhythm: In the first verse it's an arpeggiated 16th note synth and a shaker, which switches to a 16th note picked electric guitar for most of the rest of the song.

  * The Lead: Vocal and nylon string guitar solo


  * The Fills: Electric guitar

Just like all hits, "To The Moon And Back" is well arranged so everything fits together well, instruments enter at different places to keep the interest from lagging, and there's always a couple of twists like the nylon string guitar solo.

The Sound
I like the sound of this record in that it's pretty in your face without sounding squashed, and it's layered really well. The snare is especially punchy and forward in the mix, which is the result of it being slightly compressed, but this makes it propel the song. The lead guitar in the intro and interludes is pushed back a bit thanks to a timed delay, and the synth pad has a longer reverb that adds a nice layer. The bass is really big sounding, but the kick seems a little on the floppy side and gets in the way of it a bit, although I'm being really geeky here.

The vocal is doubled in during the last 2 bars of the verse before the chorus as well as slightly flanged and band-limited, but the effect really works in the song. The aforementioned nylon string guitar solo is recorded really well in that it needs a good amount of compression to sit in the front of the mix as it does, yet it sounds very natural.

The Production
With production, sometimes it's the little things that count. The just mentioned vocal sound changes before the last chorus, the contrast between the clean, distorted and nylon string guitar solo, the slight change in the melody during the last chorus, the interesting little fills that happen during the 2nd verse and outro chorus; these are the things that ultimately take a record to the next level. Add to this the piano and strings that enter at the very end of the song off of a set of different changes and you've got a very well produced hit.

Send me your song requests for analysis.


----------------------------------
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.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Voice Lesson From Bobby McFerrin

This is pretty cool. Jazz vocalist Bobby McFerrin gives a lesson in how to do what he does. Of course, not many singers can do that (he's certainly one of a kind), but he gives a few exercises on how to get started. Plus, he's really entertaining during the process.



----------------------------------
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.

Monday, June 20, 2011

8 Steps To A Great Vocal Performance

Here's another excerpt from The Music Producer's Handbook, this time outlining the 8 steps that a producer can use to get a great vocal performance from a singer.
-----------------------------
"The easiest way to get a the best performance out of a singer is to make the environment comfortable. Sometimes even a seasoned pro sometimes can’t do her best unless the conditions are just right, so consider some of the following suggestions before and during a vocal session.

1. Ask the vocalist what kind of lighting they prefer.
Most singers prefer the lights lower in the studio and control room when performing, but ask them first.

2. Adding a touch of reverb or delay can help the singer feel more comfortable with the headphones mix.

3. If you need to have the singer sing harder, louder or more aggressively, turn down the vocal track in the phones or turn the backing tracks up.

4. If you need to have the singer sing softer or more intimately, turn the singer's track up in the phones or turn down the backing tracks.

5. Keep talking with the artist between takes. Leave the talkback on if possible. Long periods of silence from the control room are a mood killer.

6. Try lowering the lights in the control room so they can't see you. Some people think that you're in there judging them when you might be talking about something completely different.

7. If the take wasn’t good for whatever reason, explain what was wrong in a kind and gentle way. Something like "That was really good, but I think you can do it even better. The pitch was a little sharp." This goes for just about any overdub since players generally like to know what was wrong with the take rather than be given a “Do it again” blanket statement.

8. Keep smiling. Want to put your vocalist at ease? Keep your attitude helpful and positive no matter how badly things might be going."

To read more excerpts from The Music Producer's Handbook and other books, go to bobbyowsinski.com
----------------------------------
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, June 19, 2011

The Strokes "Under The Cover Of Darkness" Song Analysis

Reader Carlos Ponce de León recently requested a song analysis of The Strokes "Under Cover Of Darkness." This was the first single from the band's fourth album entitled Angles, which was a big hit in many parts of the world, reaching #1 in Australia and #6 in China, among other countries. Like with all song analysis, we'll look at the song form, the arrangement, the sound and the production.

The Song
"Under Cover Of Darkness" appears to have a rather simple form on the surface, but it's a bit more complex than it seems. The form looks like this:

Intro, Verse, B Section, Chorus, Intro, Verse, B Section, Chorus, Bridge/Solo, B Section, Chorus, Intro

What's makes this song interesting is that the second time all the sections are played they're a lot shorter than the first, and the last time they're even shorter still, with the final Intro line played only once. This works great because the song would've been way long otherwise, and the way each section changes keeps things interesting.

The Arrangement
The arrangement on the song is pretty straight ahead. You just hear the band with very little embellishment or extra parts. It's actually very refreshing to hear a song that doesn't suffer from tons of sweetening for change. The arrangement form only uses three elements instead of the typical four.

  * The Foundation: Bass and drums

  * The Pad: None

  * The Rhythm: The strumming rhythm guitar on the right channel pushes the song along.

  * The Lead: The vocal

  * The Fills: None

Except for some backing vocals in the B sections and choruses, the song gets its development and movement strictly from the playing and not from additional instruments entering the mix. One guitar plays the rhythm while the other plays rhythm and lead.

The Sound
All the elements of the song are very much in your face. The song is wonderfully absent of any effects except during the guitar solo, which has a short reverb with its tail only on the left side to balance the panning. The vocals are somewhat buried in the mix, but what that does is bring out the power of the band. This is a very old-school approach and quite the opposite of what a pop song would require, but it works very well here. The song seems to get a bit bigger in the chorus, so it might be that the guitars are gently doubled, although it's hard to tell for sure, which is what's supposed to happen.

The Production
Produced by my buddy Joe Chiccarelli (who's also an excellent engineer), this song is what you'd expect from a production in 2011. The players aren't virtuosos, but they play well together and are very disciplined in their playing on the record. This could have gotten sloppy but the attacks and releases are performed well so the band sounds extremely tight, the vocal is passionate and real, and even though some of the guitar parts are a bit outside the norm, all fit together well.

Don't be afraid to send me your song analysis requests!


----------------------------------
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.

How Your Father's Music Influences What You Listen To

Here's a Father's Day special post and it's a fun infographic on how your father's favorite music influences the music you listen to today. Have a happy day, all you fathers!
----------------------------------
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.

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...