Take Your Mixes To The Next Level

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Musical Genre Overview

This is one of the coolest interactive sites you'll ever find. Want to know the genealogy of different music genres? Just about every type of musical genre you can think of is included (like chillwave, cowpunk, slow core and mbalax, to name a few of the more obscure ones). Click on any genre and you'll see who the practitioners are.


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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 social media and the new music business.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

An Arrangement Lesson From Lynyrd Skynyrd

The key to keeping a song interesting is in the arrangement. A song that's well written, performed and recorded still might sound flat and unexciting if the arrangement is unimaginative. Even worse, if the song has the same changes that repeat over and over for 3 plus minutes, you better be thinking of how to change it up a little so you don't lose your listeners.

Reader Fred Decker recently sent an email asking to take a look at the arrangement of the solo section of Lynryd Skynyrd's classic "Free Bird," something that I've done in some of my books like How To Make Your Band Sound Great and The Music Producer's Handbook. Skynyrd's arrangement is superb in that it changes ever 16 bars (even though those 16 bars repeat over and over), elevating the song and pulling you in. Even 40 years later, it's energy is inescapable.

The section we're going to analyze begins about half-way through the 9 minute song when the solos begin at 4:56 and the song goes into double time.

To see how the arrangement develops, first understand that each section of the ending is composed of 16 bars that repeats the G - Bb - C pattern 4 times. The section repeats 9 times (10 if you include the fade), and this is what it looks like:
1: straight double time  
2: accents on beats 1 and 2 
3: straight double time with the accent changed to the "3 and" (anticipation of beat 4) on the 4rth bar of the 4rth repeat 
4: accent on the "3 and" of every 4rth bar 
5: accents on beats 1 and 2 with the band stopped for beats 3 and 4 
6: straight double time with 2 guitar solos 
7: snare double time. On the 4rth repeat of the chord pattern, beat 1 is accented with a crash cymbal. 
8: snare double time with each beat accented with a crash cymbal. The bass gradually climbs from the low to high register. On the 4rth repeat of the chord pattern, the crash cymbal changes to 8th notes. 
9: back to straight double time with a push accent on "3 and" on the 4rth bar of the 4rth repeat. On the last bar of the last repeat, each beat is accented against a chromatic descending line from C to G. 
10: fade against straight double time with accents on beats 1 and 2 and an accent on"3 and"  on the 4rth bar of the 4rth repeat
As you can see, the same G - Bb - C pattern repeats 40 times (10 full sections), but you never get tired of listening since there's always something different happening, either with the drums, bass, solo or the entire band accenting. And best of all, the entire solo section has a form where it gradually develops to a peak on the 9th section.

Love the song or hate it, there's no doubt that "Free Bird" is one of the best examples ever of great song arrangement and development.



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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 social media and the new music business.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Introducing The Mixing Engineer's Handbook 3rd Edition

I'm pleased to announce the release of the third edition of the best selling book on mixing ever (I'm proud to say) - The Mixing Engineer's Handbook.

This version of the book differs from the previous in a number of ways:

1. The emphasis is slanted towards in-the-box mixing, since even so many of the pros are now doing it this way. Don't worry, traditional console mixing techniques are still retained, since the basic principles of mixing have so much in common no matter how it's done.

2. There's a whole new chapter on prepping your mix, which is a requirement in this digital age that we now operate in. The Advanced chapter includes:
  • Track cleanup
  • Adjusting track timing
  • Pitch correction
  • Sound replacement
  • Automation techniques
I don't think there's a book yet available that describes how the pros approach these elements, which are now such a necessary part of the sound of a modern mix.

3. New interviews with Andrew Scheps (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Adele), Robert Orton (Lady Gaga, Carley Rae Jepsen), Bob Brockman (P Diddy, Christina Aguilera), Bob Bullock (Kenny Chesney, Reba McEntire), and Ken Scott (The Beatles, David Bowie). These new interviews (along with the other 20 retained from previous editions) are incredibly helpful and fun to read. Worth the price of the book alone!

4. For those of you who use this book for teaching, a new Instructors Resource Kit is now available, containing a syllabus, lesson plans, Keynote and Powerpoint presentations to go along with the lessons, and tests.

Even if you own a previous version of The Mixing Engineer's Handbook (thank you!), I think you'll still find this new one worth owning as well. There's a wealth of new information, and as stated before, much of it is just not available anywhere else.

If you bought the book already, please let me know what you think!

Read excerpts from this book and others at bobbyowsinski.com
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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 social media and the new music business.

Monday, May 6, 2013

How Ribbon Mics Are Made

Here's a great segment from the How It's Made show on the Science cable channel about how a ribbon mic is made. In this case, we follow the birth of a new AEA version of the vintage RCA 44 mic (the AEA R44C).

It's fascinating to see just how much construction is done by hand. I'm a little surprised that the ribbon is cut and corrugated by hand, since that's such a critical piece and one would think requires the utmost in precision, but this mic is so well regarded that the way it's done must be precise enough.



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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 social media and the new music business.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

New Music Gear Monday: Acer Aspire R7 Laptop/Tablet

Today we're not going to look at a piece of audio gear per se, but a laptop. Since so much of our musical lives revolve around the computer these days, including one in New Music Gear Monday seems more than appropriate.

Before we go any further I want to admit to you that I'm an Apple fanboy. I've had Apple computers as far back as the Lisa model and the very first iMac and I've been extremely happy with them. Sure, I've had some PCs along the way, but I could never get my arms around any version of Windows. The Mac just works and I don't have to think about it, so that's what I gladly use.

That said, I am open to other things, especially when they have some interesting features. The Acer Aspire R7 is as interesting as they get, with a Mac-like look and a nifty pop-up, reversible screen. What's more, it also acts like a tablet in that the screen is touch sensitive and the fact that it can almost lie flat like an iPad.

This might be one of those cases where a device tries to be all things to all people, so it's yet to be seen whether this can actually make it as a DAW platform (especially since the trackpad is moved above the keyboard), but at least Acer is thinking outside the box. Check out the video for a more detailed description.



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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 social media and the new music business.

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