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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Heart "Barracuda" Isolated Vocals

If there is a queen of rock, then it must be Heart's Ann Wilson. She truly has one of music's great voices and you hear it in all its glory on "Barracuda," the1977 hit from the album Little Queen. There are some cool things to listen for.

1. The vocal is pretty spot-on tuning-wise, which was unusual for the time. Most vocals of the era had many vocal imperfections, but you'd be hard pressed to find one here. It wasn't until the 80's that producers became more conscious of vocal tuning and took more care, so this song is somewhat unique in that regard. Of course, it again proves what a monster singer Ann Wilson was and still is.

2. There's a nice 71/2 ips tape delay on the vocal that's timed to the track with a vari-speed (which wasn't as easy as it sounds back then) and pretty loud in the mix. This was back before the days of electronic delays so it was still done with a tape machine.

3. The vocal isn't doubled, even in the bridge when sister Nancy joins in with the harmony, which again was somewhat unusual for the time. Once again, a testament to how strong Ann's voice is.

4. In between the vocal parts you can hear some of the isolated guitar parts as well. Listen for the acoustic guitar especially.


If you like these isolated tracks and song analysis, check out my Deconstructed Hits series of books. You can read some excerpts at bobbyowsinski.com.

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You should follow me on Twitter and Facebook 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, February 19, 2014

Build A 3D Printed Mic

pMic 3D printed stereo mic image
3D printers are becoming so common that it's hardly big news anymore. What if you could print your own audio hardware (is that the proper word for something that's 3D printed?)? If you see something like that in your stars, here's a project to begin with.

It's a 3D stereo mic called the pMic, although to be fair, only the case is printed. The electronic parts are inexpensive, the circuitry is simple, and you should have it up and running in no time, if you already have a printer.

The plans are available here, so power up that 3D printer and get to work.
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You should follow me on Twitter and Facebook 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, February 18, 2014

Tips For Picking Stagewear

stage lighting image
Most artists and bands pick the clothes they wear on stage rather haphazardly and never consider what they'll look like under the bright lights. Here are a few tips from The Touring Musician's Handbook on basic clothing choices that can make all the difference in how you appear to your audience.

"Some players who are naturally hip can wear the same clothes on stage that they normally wear during the day, but others pack a few changes of stagewear. You’ll be under some bright lights and may be projected onto a big screen, so here are a couple of things to think about:
  • If you want to wear something other than basic rock n’ roll black, you’re usually better off with rich, vibrant colors, which set up well against the stage lighting.
  • Don’t wear white if you’re fair skinned because the lights can wash you out, and even worse, give you a bit of a ghostly look.
  • If you perspire a lot, silk will show off the sweat. But if silk is really your thing on-stage, make sure to wear something dark that won’t show up the sweat as much. If you do happen to get sweat stains, a little vodka can take the stains out easily (this is an old opera singer’s trick), although you might have some explaining to do to the MD.
A good trick when choosing stage clothes is to always select them under some colored lights so you can get the feeling of how they’ll look when you’re bathed in theatrical lighting on stage. Also remember that it’s an old showbiz tradition (and makes good business sense) that the star picks the first color, so if you know the way she normally prefers to dress, you should stay subordinate to that to keep the peace. And don’t forget that the shoes that you wear can sometimes be more conspicuous on stage than you think, so choose them carefully.


It’s a good idea to check with the MD or tour manager before you pack stage clothing to see if there might be a color coordination of the band to consider. For instance, one show everyone might be all black (or just black shirt) and another white. Obviously, none of the above matters much if you’re playing with an artist that requires matching stage clothes (like Tom Jones or Ricky Martin) or you’re playing in an orchestra that may be touring with an artist, since you normally dress the same."

You can read additional excerpts from The Touring Engineer's Handbook and my other books on the excerpt section of bobbyowsinski.com.
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You should follow me on Twitter and Facebook 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, February 17, 2014

Recording Electric Guitar With Ross Hogarth

Recording electric guitar can be so easy and yet so hard at the same time. Sometimes sticking a single mic in front of the speaker cabinet can yield excellent results, while other times it takes a lot of time and experimentation to get it to properly fit into the track.

Here's an excellent video featuring Grammy-winning engineer Ross Hogarth and top LA session guitarist Tim Pierce showing how to use two microphones (an SM57 and Royer R-121) to get a bigger sound from a typical guitar amp setup. This combo has become the standard in guitar studio recording all over the world.



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You should follow me on Twitter and Facebook 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, February 16, 2014

New Music Gear Monday: iZotope BreakTweaker

I don't know how I missed this at NAMM, but it's certainly been the talk of anyone into electronic music since the show. BreakTweaker, created by my buddy BT and the clever folks at iZotope, is called a Future Beat Machine and for good reason. The app can do things that no other piece of software on the market can do, at least for the moment.

Combining a precision sequencer, advanced drum sound generator based on morphing wavetable synthesis (with up to 36 oscillators, 4 LFO's and a vast array of modulation possibilities), and a micro-editor that allows you to slice up any step into thousands of smaller pieces, BreakTweaker looks to be one of the breakthroughs of the year (I still can't believe I missed it at the show) when it comes to making beats.

There's a NAMM special going on for $199 for basic app and $249 for the expanded version. In my opinion, it looks to be worth every penny. Check out the introduction video.


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You should follow me on Twitter and Facebook 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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