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Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas With Bruce Springsteen "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town"

Let's celebrate the holiday with one of the best versions of a Christmas standard that you'll ever hear. It's "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" by my old neighbor Bruce Springsteen and his E-Street Band from the famous 1978 concert at the Capitol Theater in Passaic, NJ. This version really smokes!

Merry Christmas everyone, and thanks so much for reading!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The 40s Christmas Song That Has Outsold Everything Since

White Christmas cover image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture blogWhat's the best selling record of all time? No, it's not Thriller by Michael Jackson (reported numbers are said to be inflated so it's difficult to even tell how many copies it's sold).

It's actually "White Christmas," recorded by Bing Crosby and written by songwriting legend Irving Berlin.  The single is said to have sold over 50 million copies alone, with sales of the album putting the total over 100 million.

Recorded in 1942 just after the World War II started for the US and debuted in the movie "Holiday Inn" with Crosby and Fred Astaire, it's widely held that the war actually had a lot to do with the song gaining popularity. Since millions of troops were overseas and longing for family, the song brought a little bit of comfort and the feel of home. From that point onward, it's become ingrained in our consciousness as a standard that's played constantly throughout the holiday season.

There's a lot that's interesting about songwriter Irving Berlin, as well. He was self-taught and could only play using the black keys of F#. Probably because he was self-taught, he also frequently wrote with unusual cadences, and many times never bothered to write a bridge, which was contrary to the songwriting technique of the time.

Still, the song has outlived hundreds of competitors over time with more introduced every year. Despite all the famous songs that Berlin wrote that everyone somehow knows, ("Alexander's Ragtime Band,""Easter Parade," "There's No Business Like Show Business," "God Bless America."), "White Christmas" will be the one he's best remembered for.

So if you really want to make your mark as a songwriter, write a holiday song.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

6 Editing Tips For Solid Natural Tracks

Timing Releases image from The Mixing Engineer's Handbook
Mix engineers are called on to do so much more than ever before.

Tweaking the track timing used to be done way before the mixing stage, but mixers find themselves doing it more and more.

Here are some tips for tweaking track timing in you DAW from the new Advanced chapter in the 3rd edition of The Mixing Engineer's Handbook.
"No matter how great the players on the session are, there’s always some portion of a recording that doesn’t feel quite right. Usually, the timing of the basic tracks will be tweaked right after your tracking session so you have a solid rhythm section to overdub against, but if you’re just now discovering some sections of an overdub that don’t feel right (which happens more than you might think), prepare for the joys of slipping and sliding time.

Here’s a list of some of the do’s and don’ts for tweaking the track timing:
  • Don’t edit by eye. In most music (electronic music being the exception), you can’t successfully edit by just trying to line everything up to the kick and snare or the grid and still have it sound natural and human. Often times, tracks that look perfectly lined up don’t sound or feel right, which is why listening is more important than looking. Turn your head away from the monitor or close your eyes and just listen before and after you move anything.
  • Every beat doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, if it’s too perfect, you’ll suck the life out of the performance. Unless something really jumps out as being out of time, you might get away with leaving it as is. Another way is to just line up downbeats and any major accents, which gives you the best of both worlds; a loose feel that still sounds tight.
  • Copy and paste another section if you can. If you have to make too many edits to a particular section, chances are it won’t sound as good when you’re finished as just finding a similar section in another part of the song and pasting it in over the area that’s suspect. It’s a lot faster and easier to do, and will probably sound cleaner and groove better as well.
  • Everything doesn't have to line up exactly. Many times the bass will speak better if it’s a few milliseconds behind the kick drum rather than right with it. It still sounds tight, but both the kick and bass will be more distinct and the sound may even be fuller.
  • Listen against the drums. If you listen to the track that you’re editing all by itself, you can be fooled into thinking that the timing is correct when it’s not, especially if you’re editing to a grid. The real proof is when you listen against the drums. If the instrument sounds great by itself and great with the drums, you’re home free.
  • Trim the releases. This is one of the best things you can do to tighten up a track. Everyone is hip to tightening up the attacks, but it’s the releases that really make the difference. Regardless if it’s an accent played by the full band, the song ending, or a vocal or guitar phrase, make sure that the releases are pretty much the same length. If one is longer than the rest, trim it back and fade it so it sounds natural. If one is a lot shorter than the rest, use a time correction plug-in the lengthen it a bit (see the graphic on the left).
Of course, if you’re using loops or MIDI instruments, you’ve probably quantized things to the track by now. If you haven’t, remember that if it’s too perfect to the grid it may not sound natural."

To read additional excerpts from The Mixing Engineer's Handbook and other books, go to

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Music In The Brain

Music in the Brain image
Although there's been a number of studies on the auditory system of the brain over the years, all of them have failed to zero in on a specific region for where music is created or appreciated. Until now, that is.

For the first time, neuroscientists from MIT have identified the exact area in the brain that responds to music, but not to other sounds like speech or from the environment.

The hope is that scientists can further identify regions that deal specifically with rhythm and melody in an effort to help people learn to play more quickly or refine their skills.

Check out the video about what they discovered.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Producer Michael Beinhorn On My Latest Inner Circle Podcast

Producer Michael Beinhorn imageProducer Michael Beinhorn is one of the most interesting people in the music business, and I'm happy to have him on my podcast once again since his thoughts are so provocative.

This time we talk about his great new book (Unlocking Creativity: A Producer's Guide To Making Music And Art), as well as the techniques that he's used on projects with artists like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Soundgarden, Herbie Hancock, Korn, Ozzy Osbourne and more.

On the intro I'll talk about the extras that you can add to make a CD more attractive to buyers, and the first new record press manufactured in over 30 years.

Remember that you can find the podcast at, or either on iTunes, Stitcher and now on Mixcloud and Google Play.

New Music Gear Monday: Slate Raven MTi2 Multi-Touch Controller

Slate Raven MTi2When the original Slate Raven MTi hit the scene, the music production world was taken by storm by this new innovative approach to mixing. Just like mixing in-the-box, many engineers initially resisted touch screen mixing since it was so radically different than what they were used to. The initial price of a large touch screen interface was also a barrier.

That's not the case any more, as Slate introduced the Raven MTi2, a 27 inch multi-touch screen display that has a lot of things going for it that should make it much more attractive to mixers everywhere.

Probably the biggest thing about the new MTi2 is the price, which is only $999. If you've ever tried to price a good 27 inch monitor, you know that this is already in the ballpark for the monitor by itself, let along one with multi-touch control.

But the brains behind the MTi2 is the new Raven 3.0 software, which allows control over every major DAW, including Ableton Live, Cubase/Nuendo, Digital Performer, Logic Pro X, Protools 10-12, and Studio One V3 on Mac as well as PC compatibility for Protools 10-12 for the first time.

The Raven 3.0 software also features the new Batch Command System, which is a series of preset and customizable buttons that can execute up to 1,000 key commands and mouse clicks automatically. With just one button, BCS allows you to create instant headphone sends, name tracks, put entire drum tracks on the grid, export stems, and so much more! The BCS comes pre-programmed with 100 preset batch commands in every supported DAW, with layouts for music, mastering, post-production and more.

The Slate Raven MTi2 comes with 1 supported DAW, and requires USB2 and DVI ports on your computer.

Check out the Slate Raven MTi2 on its dedicated web page, and also in the more detail in the following video.


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