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Friday, June 19, 2015

The Beatles "Girl" Isolated Vocals

Girl cover - The Beatles image
For many, Rubber Soul is the consummate Beatles album that really turned the genre into an art form. One of the most covered songs from that album is "Girl," and we'll take a look at its isolated vocals today. Here's what to listen for.

1. There's a count off at the beginning that you won't hear on the final album mix.

2. The lead vocal features just a single John Lennon vocal track on the verses. This is unusual in that Lennon didn't like the sound of his voice and always preferred to double it (which happens in the chorus) on most of the songs that he sang.

3. There's a fair amount of compression on the vocals along with the famous Abbey Road reverb that just melts into the track.

4. The Beatles harmonies vocals are doubled (except at the end of the bridge) and as beautiful as ever. Listen to the end of the bridge at 1:20 where it gets a little pitchy, and a mistaken vocal entrance at 2:02. Obviously, these aren't heard in the final mix.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

If You Were Ever Worried About Our Musical Youth

Pelican212 image
A conversation that I frequently have with musicians who have been around for a while centers around the fact that the next generation of musicians may be a little too computer-centric and don't spend enough time on their musical craft as a result. In short, there's a general lament about the musicianship behind left behind for technology.

If you feel like that, this video might change your mind.

It's a band from Louisiana called Pelican212 that my friend Katie Rees (the adult of the group) formed with some really stage-savvy kids. They're a lot more professional than a lot of adult acts that I see, with a swagger that you seldom see. Oh, and they play and sing great too.

Louisiana musicians (of any age) have so much soul and power. They're always entertaining.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

4 Tips For More Efficient Rehearsals

Band Rehearsal Tips image
Rehearsals are the life-blood of a band. Whether you're neophyte players in the garage or a bunch of A-listers in the studio reading down a chart, you want to get the song down so it sounds great as quickly as possible.

Here are 4 tricks from my How To Make Your Band Sound Great book that any band can use to not only make that song sound better than ever, but also do it in the most expeditious manner possible.

"No matter what kind of music you play, here are a few rehearsal tips to help things go a bit smoother.

1. When your first learning a song, stop as soon as there’s a train wreck and work it out.  Talk it over to see what everyone is playing, then play just that part until you get it.  Sometimes the problem may be in the middle or end of a section, so if you’re able to play just that section, great.  It’s pretty easy to work out.  Most bands just can’t get into unless you start four bars before or even at the beginning of the section to work it out.  Whatever it takes to make things sound great!

2. Find the hardest part of the song and concentrate on that first.  Slow it down to where it’s easy to play, then bring it up to speed when everyone can play it cleanly.

3. Sometimes it’s best to start with the chorus, especially the out-chorus, since it usually repeats.  It’s the section of the song that you’ll play the most anyway and probably has a hook so it’s easy to remember.  Starting with the chorus can give you confidence about playing a difficult song.

Once the band knows the form and can make it through the song, then come back and work on the things talked about in Chapter 8 and below.

4. It’s The Little Things That Count
As we’ve been saying throughout this book, it’s the little things, the nuances, that take your band to another level.  They’re what make you sound great.  We’ve talked about these things before, but let’s list them again, because these are the things that you’ve got to have down.
  • You know the part inside out
  • The turnaround between song sections is defined.
  • You know the dynamics of the song
  • All rhythms are in the pocket and the song grooves
  • Attacks and releases for each part are worked out
  • All the sounds are layered so nothing clashes either rhythmically or frequency-wise
  • All vocals are in the best range for the singers
  • Background vocals are defined and tight
These are the things that you should be concentrating on during rehearsal, not so much your individual parts. Or, if you must learn your parts at rehearsal, make one rehearsal for the parts and the next for the nuances, but don’t take the song out of the room until you’ve got both down cold!"

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Moog Gives The Company to Its Employees

Moog Console image
As most of you have probably experienced, the music business isn't always fair. It's more than likely that if you're in it on just about any level in any place, you're going to come up on the short end of the stick more times than not.

That's why it's so cool that the owner and CEO of Moog Music, Michael Adams, sold half the company back to his employees in a stock plan that rewards them for years of hard work.

The plan vests after 6 years at the company at 20% per year after the first year. As a result, an employee that begins at a basic rate of $12 per hour can retire with more than $100,000.

Adams has provided a trust that allows the employees to also purchase the remaining 51% of the company over about 6 years, which also provides some tax advantages for him as well when he retires.

So how cool is that? Let's hear it for Michael Adams and hope that Moog continues to stay profitable and crank out many new synths in the future.

You can read a great article that provides more details in the New York Times.

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Wrecking Crew Director Denny Tedesco On My Latest Inner Circle Podcast

The Wrecking Crew was one of the greatest group of studio musicians ever assembled. During the 60s and 70s, they played on just about every hit record, television show and movie that came out of Los Angeles, including hits by Phil Spector, The Beach Boys, Mamas and Papas, Cher, Simon and Garfunkel and many more.

Denny Tedesco is the director of the film The Wrecking Crew that documents the group's rise and fall. His father was the famed studio guitarist Tommy Tedesco, a main member of the crew.

I'm very pleased to have Denny as my guest on this week's Inner Circle Podcast to talk about the group and the film (which I encourage anyone involved in music to see).

In the intro I'll discuss the new AMP act that will make sure that producers and engineers get paid for streaming, and the latest on technologies that will help your workflow, like Thunderbolt 3 and the next step beyond touchscreens.

Remember that you can find the podcast at, or either on iTunes or Stitcher.

New Music Gear Monday: Blue Sky AMC Monitor Controller

Blue Sky AMC image
A dozen years ago when we all first started to mix in the box, there was no such thing as a true "monitor controller," which meant that level control had to be done in software. That was a pain, and something that manufacturers eventually addressed. Today, monitor controllers do so much more than just control level, as evidenced by the new Blue Sky AMC.

The Blue Sky Audio Management Controller (or AMC) consists of a rack mounted I/O box with a separate remote control, and is a true 7.1 controller, providing the ability to solo or mute each of the individual speakers and set a reference level if you're mixing for film or television. As with most controllers, there's also a big rotary pot for master level control, as well as a Dim and master Mute button.

The unit also provides DSP room analyzation and correction, with each channel featuring a 1/3rd octave EQ, 8 bands of parametric EQ and filters and variable delay for time alignment. This can be activated via its SRO or Speaker-Room Optimization mode. The system also provides up to 8 presets, which can be easily accessed via the preset buttons on the controller's front panel.

The I/O box features 8 channels of balanced analog input and output as well as 8 channels of AES/EBU digital inputs. All connections are via D-sub connectors. The A/D convertors of the system can operate up to 96kHz/24 bit.

The Blue Sky AMC retails for $2995. You can find more information on the Blue Sky website.


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