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Thursday, June 28, 2012

15 Great Music Quotes

Aaron Copland Quote image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture blog
Every now and then we need a couple of inspirational words to feel good about music again. Here are 14 celebrity quotes from a post on DIY Musician that encapsule the best things about music.
“Where words fail, music speaks.”
― Hans Christian Andersen
“Everything in the universe has a rhythm, everything dances. ”
― Maya Angelou
“Pop music often tells you everything is OK, while rock music tells you that it’s not OK, but you can change it.”
― Bono
“Some guy said to me: Don’t you think you’re too old to sing rock n’ roll?
I said: You’d better check with Mick Jagger.”
― Cher
“Music is the great uniter, an incredible force. Something that people who differ on everything and anything else can have in common.”
― Sarah Dessen
“Music is the wine that fills the cup of silence.”
― Robert Fripp
“If I can’t dance to it, it’s not my revolution.”
― Emma Goldman
“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.”
― Victor Hugo
“The only truth is music.”
― Jack Kerouac
“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.”
― Bob Marley
“Music is to the soul what words are to the mind.”
― Modest Mouse
“When we die, we will turn into songs, and we will hear each other and remember each other.”
― Rob Sheffield
“A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence.”
― Leopold Stokowski
“Without music to decorate it, time is just a bunch of boring production deadlines or dates by which bills must be paid.”
― Frank Zappa


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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 27, 2012

6 Simple Things To Bring To Any Recording Session

Ed Cherney, Curtis Don Vito and Bobby Owsinski at Village Recorder from Bobby Owsinski's Picture Production Blog
Notice the flannel shirt?
Over the years I've learned that there are a number of very simple items that I must bring to every recording session I go to just to be sure that my time in the studio is productive and comfortable. These items aren't expensive, and while they may not be quite as important as your favorite mics and preamps, they sure make a long day go faster.

Here are the 6 things that I always bring to a session:

1. Shirt or hoodie - Most of us go to the studio wearing a t-shirt, but most studios with air conditioning are generally on the cold side, especially when the air is cycling. Having a nice warm shirt or even a light hoodie is just what you need to take the chill off. I prefer a a nice flannel shirt myself.

2. Comfy shoes - The studio is no time to break in a new pair of shoes or sneakers. Wear the most comfortable shoes you can because chances are you'll be on your feet for much of the session.

3. Beverages - If you're working in an A list studio, this is something that you don't have to worry about, but now even the B list places are cutting back on free food and beverages thanks to lower record budgets. Make sure you bring plenty of your favorite drinkable. It's surprising how much you can go through during a long tracking day. I usually bring my own teabags, since that's something that many studios don't regularly have (or what they have will be generic or old).

4. Earplugs - You never know when you might have to go into a room with a heavy hitting drummer or a Marshall cranked to 10. Recording and mixing is all about hearing, and the best way to make sure yours isn't temporarily damaged is by have a pair of earplugs handy. I love the Etymotic Research ER20's, but even a pair of the cheap foam jobbies helps.

5. Smartphone/Camera - Under all circumstances, pictures are important these days, not only for social media and promotional purposes, but also for sheer documentation of the event. The number of times I thought about a session from 10 or 20 years ago and wished that there were some pictures somewhere. Don't let that happen to you.

6. Laptop/iPad/Smartphone - Recording is very much like making a movie. There's a lot of waiting around until the action starts. Depending upon your situation, some people in the session have more time to kill than others (the producer and engineer usually have the least). That's why it's important to bring a laptop, iPad or smartphone; anything that will connect you to the online world. It's the best time killer ever invented.

These are the things that I always bring. Anyone bring something else?

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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 26, 2012

Deconstructing "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"

One of the most beloved and interesting songs in The Beatles catalog is George Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." The song not only marked the first time that a non-Beatle played on their recordings (Eric Clapton played the solo, although session drummer Andy White played on one of their first recording sessions), but also used an interesting technique of a six string bass doubling the four string bass (this was called "tic tock" bass in Nashville). This is described in engineer Ken Scott's new memoir Abbey Road To Ziggy Stardust as follows:
"The 4-string bass was sometimes doubled by a 6-string bass on some songs. By this time Paul had acquired a Fender Jazz bass which he used in lieu of his Rickenbacker, and a Fender Bass VI was always around the studio. What possibly happened was that the band had heard German orchestra leader Bert Kaempfert double an upright acoustic bass with a 6-string bass when they were in Germany, and decided to give it a try with electrics. Although they might not have known at the time, the practice was also used in Nashville on a lot of country songs and heven had a name: “Tic-toc bass.” You can hear it on “Piggies,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Glass Onion,” and “Rocky Racccoon.” The two parts were always played together and never overdubbed individually."
There's a complete section describing the recording and mixing of song in Abbey Road To Ziggy Stardust if you're interested, but in the meantime, enjoy this breakdown of the song (which mostly likely came from tracks from the band's Rock Band game).


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Monday, June 25, 2012

Deadmau5 Breaks The DJ Myth

Deadmau5 In Concert image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture production blog
Musicians have long been suspicious of DJ's at best and contemptuous at worst. After all, just what do they do?

There's no hotter DJ at the moment than Deadmau5, and on his blog post entitled "we all hit play" he broke the myth of the DJ being a musical god. Here it is in it's entirety, although you can check out the original on his site as well.

"we all hit play.
its no secret.  when it comes to “live” performance of EDM… that’s about the most it seems you can do anyway. It’s not about performance art, its not about talent either (really its not) In fact, let me do you and the rest of the EDM world button pushers who fuckin hate me for telling you how it is, a favor and let you all know how it is.
I think given about 1 hour of instruction, anyone with minimal knowledge of ableton and music tech in general could DO what im doing at a deadmau5 concert. Just like i think ANY DJ in the WORLD who can match a beat can do what “ANYONE else” (not going to mention any names) is doing on their EDM stages too.   have a look, then let me explain:
okay, so heres me, in a big silly mousehead.. twiddlin a knob or somethin… okay so heres how it works….  Somewhere in that mess is a computer, running ableton live… and its spewing out premixed (to a degree) stems of my original producitons, and then a SMPTE feed to front of house (so tell the light / video systems) where im at in the performance… so that all the visuals line up nicely and all the light cues are on and stuff. Now, while thats all goin on… theres a good chunk of Midi data spitting out as well to a handful of synths and crap that are / were used in the actual produciton… which i can tweak *live* and whatnot… but doesnt give me alot of “lookit me im jimi hendrix check out this solo” stuff, because im constrained to work on a set timeline because of the SMPTE. Its a super redundant system, and more importantly its reliable as FUCK!  And obviously, ive done the show a couple hundred times easily by now, so the focus over the past few runs with the “cube show” has been more revolved around adding new audio / visual content to keep it current.
so thats my “live” show. and thats as “live” as i can comfortably get it (for now anyway)  of course it'll evolve, and change up, but I'm sure a few key principles will always remain the same.
I'm just so sick of hearing the “NO!!! IM NOT JUST DOING THIS, I HAVE 6 TABLES UP THERE AND I DO THIS THIS AND THIS”  like… honestly. who gives a fuck?  i dont have any shame in admitting that for “unhooked” sets.. i just roll up with a laptop and a midi controller and “select” tracks n hit a spacebar.  ableton syncs the shit up for me… so no beatmatching skill required. “beatmatching” isnt even a fucking skill as far as im concered anyway. so what, you can count to 4. cool. i had that skill down when i was 3, so dont give me that argument please.
my “skills” and other PRODUCERS skills shine where it needs to shine… in the goddamned studio, and on the fucking releases. thats what counts… because this whole big “edm” is taking over fad, im not going to let it go thinking that people assume theres a guy on a laptop up there producing new original tracks on the fly. becausje none of the “top dj’s in the world” to my knowledge have. myself included.
you know what makes the EDM show the crazy amazing show that it is?  you guys do, the fans, the people who came to appreciate the music, the lights, all the other people who came, we just facilitate the means and the pretty lights and the draw of more awesome people like you by our studio productions. which is exactly what it is. But to stand up and say youre doing something special outside of a studio environment, when youre not, just plain fuckin annoys me."
So there you have it. Suspicions confirmed? What do you think?


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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 24, 2012

A Description Of The Audio Frequency Bands

EQ Bandwidth Chart image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture production blog
I'm always surprised when I speak with some young engineers about how little they know about the frequency bands of human hearing. They have a general idea, but it's not precise enough to help them when it comes to EQing.

Here's an excerpt from The Mixing Engineer's Handbook and The Audio Mixing Bootcamp book that covers the bands pretty well. It's actually from an article in the venerable old Recording Engineer/Producer magazine by Leo di Gar Kulka from way back in 1972.

By the way, another way to look at the frequency bands is on the chart on the left (also from the books).

"The audio band can effectively be broken down into six distinct ranges, each one having an enormous impact on the total sound.

Sub-Bass - The very low bass between 16 and 60Hz which encompasses sounds which are often felt more than heard, such as thunder in the distance. These frequencies give the music a sense of power even if they occur infrequently. Too much emphasis on this range makes the music sound muddy.

Bass - The bass between 60 and 250Hz contains the fundamental notes of the rhythm section so EQing this range can change the musical balance, making it fat or thin. Too much boost in this range can make the music sound boomy.

Low Mids - The midrange between 250 and 2000Hz contains the low order harmonics of most musical instruments and can introduce a telephone like quality to the music if boosted too much. Boosting the 500 to 1000Hz octave makes the instruments sound horn like, while boosting the 1 to 2kHz octave makes them sound tinny. Excess output in this range can cause listening fatigue.

High Mids - The upper midrange between 2 and 4kHz can mask the important speech recognition sounds if boosted, introducing a lisping quality into a voice and making sounds formed with the lips such as ‘m”, “b,” and “v” indistinguishable. Too much boost in this range, especially at 3kHz, can also cause listening fatigue.  Dipping the 3kHz range on instrument backgrounds and slightly peaking 3kHz on vocals can make the vocals audible without having to decrease the instrumental level in mixes where the voice would otherwise seem buried.

Presence - The presence range between 4 and 6kHz is responsible for the clarity and definition of voices and instruments. Boosting this range can make the music seem closer to the listener. Reducing the 5kHz content of a mix makes the sound more distant and transparent.

Brilliance - The 6 to 16kHz range controls the brilliance and clarity of sounds. Too much emphasis in this range, however, can produce sibilance on the vocals."


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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