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Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Beatles "I Want To Hold Your Hand" Isolated Rhythm Track

Here's another interesting isolated track video, this time it's the song that broke The Beatles in the United States nearly 50 years ago - "I Want To Hold Your Hand." What you'll hear is the band's rhythm section of John Lennon's rhythm guitar, Ringo Starr's drums and Paul McCartney's bass.

These parts were all recorded onto a single track of a 4 track tape recorder, which was quite an innovation back then. As a matter of fact, "I Want To Hold Your Hand" was the very first song the band recorded on a 4 track, having done their previous recordings on 2 track machines. Listen for:

1. How tight the band is. You can tell they did their 10,000 hours before they hit the studio.

2. How Lennon's rhythm guitar pushes the song along. This is the perfect example of the rhythm element and how it works in to propel a song.

3. How good the track feels, especially during the bridges. Ringo's playing has always been extremely under appreciated.

4. How bright the snare and hat is, but it works great in context when the other tracks are added.


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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Natural Reverb And The Water Tank Studio

We all love reverb, especially the natural kind. Live chambers like the ones that Capitol Records Studios are known for are beloved and high on the list for every software reverb programmer's to try to emulate. Walk into any large room, hall and gymnasium and the first thing many musicians and engineers do is clap their hands and marvel at the echo. We're naturally drawn to the beauty of the sound.

To prove my point, here's a video from the BBC about an old empty water tank in Rangely, Colorado that sounds so good that a group of musicians got together to save it and then install a small studio so they could record inside.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

How To Get The Most From Your EQ

One of the things that beginning engineer's soon learn is that you can't get the most from your EQ unless you know what to expect when you use it. Here's a chart from the 3rd edition of The Mixing Engineer's Handbook that breaks the audio spectrum into ranges and describes the effect of boosting or cutting in each.
The Audible Frequency Ranges and what they do
You can read more from The Mixing Engineer's Handbook and other books on the excerpt section of

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Beatles "Abbey Road" Isolated Vocals

One of the things we loved about The Beatles is their vocals, especially their harmonies. Here is the isolated vocals of side 2 of the vinyl of Abbey Road. You can hear the boys at their vocal peaks, with beautiful in-tune vocals. After listening through, it's easy to see why this is one of the best albums ever recorded. Here are some of many observations.

1. Listen for how the vocals are strategically doubled in various parts for more strength.

2. The famous Abbey Road Studios reverb is set fairly long, but is very unobtrusive, a trademark of the studio. Also listen to how it's raised at the end of certain phrases, or dropped out in certain sections for contrast.

3. There's lots of interesting things that trickle into the mix, like the headphone leakage, finger snaps, and even a few comments.

4. At 3:00 you can hear the tambourine enter on the same track, but you also hear sound effects and piano in certain places as well because they'd run out of tracks.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

New Music Gear Monday: The AirTurn Digit iOS Controller

iPads have quietly changed most musician's lives. It's hard to see a stage anyone without at least one for reading music, charts, lyrics, cues or set lists. The problem is that changing the page on an iPad is similar, too similar in fact, to turning the pages of a book. It still requires you to reach out and swipe. Wouldn't it be great to be able to change the page with just a footswitch?

Now you can with the AirTurn Digit, a new Bluetooth controller that works with your iPad, but your iPhone or Android phone too. In fact, Digit can be used to control a number of Bluetooth enabled devices like cameras, Macs and PCs (depending upon the app).

You can use it as a handheld controller, or plug two pedals into it and turn your pages back and forth or up and down. I think this could be really cool for a club band to control effects or lights as well as the above mentioned applications, and although I don't see any applicable apps on their site at the moment, you have to think that this will happen over time.

The AirTurn Digit sells for $79.95, and the BT two pedal setup sells for $129.95. A four pedal version is also available.


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