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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Dan Fogelberg - Same Old Auld Lang Syne

Here's my favorite song about Christmas - the late Dan Fogelberg's Same Old Auld Lang Syne. I posted this last year too, but the song means as much to me now as it did then, so he it is again.

What I love best about this live version is how well Dan treats his backing musicians at the end. He shows love and respect, as all artists should.

Merry Christmas everyone, and thanks a lot for reading!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Springsteen - Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

Here's my favorite Christmas song - "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" by Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band. This is one of earliest versions (and one of the best, in my opinion) from the Capitol Theater in Passaic, New Jersey in 1978. Forgive the brief commercial and the black and white, but it is vintage after all.

In 1976, Bruce and many of the E-Streeters would come listen to my band The Other Side at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park. This was during the period when he was under injunction from his former manager so he wasn't allowed to perform. He was a nice guy then, and when I met him again some 25 years later in California (in Studio B of Front Page Studios and again back stage at one of his concerts) just as nice. He's a real down to earth guy, despite his massive success.

I don't think I really appreciated Bruce though, until I saw him on the Charlie Rose's PBS show maybe four or five years ago. During the show, he performed "Born In The USA" with just him on a 12 string, but he played it the way you'd expect an old bluesman to play it. As blues legend Willie Dixon once told me, "The Blues are the facts of life", and Bruce was telling it like it should be told. I was convinced at that point that he was on the level of any of our musical national treasures.

Again, ignore the brief commercials and don't let the marginal video get in the way of some great music. Below you'll also find that great Charlie Rose performance of "Born In The USA."

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The 6 Elements of a Great Mix

In a previous post we discussed the attributes of an amateur mix, so now is a good time to discuss the 6 elements of a great mix.

Most great mixers think in three dimensions. They think “Tall, Deep and Wide”, which means they make sure that all the frequencies are represented, the mix has depth, and finally has some stereo dimension as well.

The “Tall” dimension (which is called “Frequency Range”) is the result of knowing what sounds correct as a result of having a reference point. This reference point can come from being an assistant engineer and listening to what other first engineers do, or simply by comparing your mix to some CD’s, records or files that you’re very familiar with and consider to be of high fidelity.

Essentially, what you’re trying to accomplish is to make sure that all the frequencies of the mix are properly represented. Usually that means that all of the sparkly, tinkly highs and fat, powerful lows are there. Sometimes some mids need to be cut or other frequencies need to be added, but regardless of what you add or subtract, Clarity of each instrument is what you aim for. Again, experience with elements that sound good really helps as a reference point.

The Effects or “Deep” dimension is achieved by introducing new ambience elements into the mix. This is usually done with reverbs and delays (and offshoots like flanging and chorusing) but room mics, overheads and even leakage play an equally big part as well.

The panning or “Wide” dimension achieved by placing a sound element in a sound field in such a way as to make a more interesting soundscape, and so that each element is heard more clearly.

Every piece of modern music, meaning Rock, Pop, R and B, Rap, Country, New Age, Swing, Drum and Bass, Trance and every other genre having a strong backbeat, has six main elements to a great mix. They are:
  • Balance - the volume level relationship between musical elements
  • Frequency Range - having all frequencies properly represented
  • Panorama - every musical element is well-placed in the soundfield
  • Dimension - added ambience to a musical element
  • Dynamics - controlling the volume envelope of a track or instrument, and
  • Interest - making the mix special
Most neophyte mixers have only four or five of these when doing a mix, but all of these elements MUST be present for a GREAT mix, as they are all equally important. You can read about these six elements in more detail in The Mixing Engineer's Handbook.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Fastest Guitar Player In The World?

Speed is something that most novice guitar players strive for as they think that pure dexterity makes them a better player. That's not exactly true (listen to Joe Walsh or David Gilmore are great examples), since the faster you play, usually the less passion and soul you play with.

That being said, here's an interesting video by guitarist Tiago Della Vega playing the classic song “Flight Of The Bumble Bee” by Nikolay Rimsky Korsakov. Tiago plays at tempos that gradually ramp up to 320 bpm, which is totally outrageous.

I still prefer Joe Walsh, but this is a great performance.

World Record Guitar Speed 2008 Tiago Della Vega - Amazing videos are here

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Making Of Pink Floyd's "Money"

Here's an excellent video on the making of Pink Floyd's "Money."  There are lot of great things illustrated here:

1) Old fashioned tape loops. Yes, in the days before digital, this is how it was done (I get nostalgic looking at the MCI 4 track).

2) Track layering. You can hear how there's usually a lot more going on in a record than what you think.

3) The use of of effects. Effects are used to place a track in an artificial acoustic space and you can hear how it works very well here.


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