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Friday, March 18, 2016

Funk Brothers "You Keep Me Hangin' On" Isolated Tracks

The Funk Brothers imageMotown's famous Funk Brother's band was the mainstay for all the great hits made during the Detroit era of the label, and they were a truly formidable lot.

Although the players were great, it was the arrangements that really made the hit songs work. Here's a great example of a beautifully simple arrangement of a pop song with The Supremes "You Keep Me Hangin' On." Here's what to listen for.

1. The song features one of the smaller combos found on a typical Motown session. There are drums, 3 guitars (the usual compliment on most Motown songs), organ, percussion, tambourine and James Jamerson's great bass.

2. Listen to the interplay of the guitars. There's a high and low guitar playing the basic riff, and a 12 string outlining the chord changes. During the bridge the parts change, but all work on their own and never get in the way rhythmically. Oh, and all of the parts are dead clean as well.

3. Speaking of guitars, the 12 string that's outlining the chords is often behind the beat, which is unusual for most Motown songs, since most players had great time. The fact that it wasn't fixed is probably due to the fact that it was recorded live married to another instrument on the same track.

4. Listen to the low galloping percussion during the bridge playing roughly the same figure as the bass. You can hear it well here but not in the final mix.

5. While the tracks might sound dry, there's actually a tiny amount of a short reverb on everything that keeps the instruments in your face without seeming washed out.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

New Order’s “Blue Monday” Played with Obsolete 1930s Instruments

Diddley Bow imageThis is pretty cool. A group called Orkestra Obsolete uses only obsolete 1930's instruments to play New Order’s “Blue Monday.” The 1983 song (which was the biggest selling 12" ever) was very electronic and very cutting edge for it's time, but this puts an entirely different spin on it.

Among the instruments used are the Diddley bow, hammered dulcimer, harmonium, zither, musical saw, singing glasses, theremin, prepared piano, slit drum and dulcitone. When was the last time you used any of those?

Here's the video. Just for a comparison, the original is below as well.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

How George Martin Changed The Finances Of The Record Business

George Martin and The Beatles 1966 imageThe recent passing of record producer George Martin has brought effusive thoughts, memories and well-deserved accolades from all quarters of the music business. Most have dwelled on Sir George’s creative accomplishments, and truly there were many. Just his work with The Beatles alone changed the way we make music forever, not to mention his work with other top selling artists like America, Jeff Beck, Paul McCartney, Little River Band, Gerry & The Pacemakers, Kenny Rogers, Kate Bush and many more.

But an unsung Martin contribution to the music business is the way he changed the finances of making a record. And, as sometimes happens with many giant changes that occur, it has been to the betterment of some and at the expense of others.

Martin’s career as a producer began in 1950 when he joined EMI Records as an assistant to Oscar Preuss, the head of EMI's Parlophone Records. When Preuss retired in 1955, Martin took over as head of the label, which at the time specialized in classical and Baroque music, original cast recordings, and regional British music, and was a rather insignificant subsidiary of the company.

Martin turned the rather sleepy division into a moneymaker though, by concentrating on comedy and novelty records by the likes of Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan, Dudley Moore and Peter Cook, among others, but it wasn’t until he signed The Beatles that the label hit gold - vaults of it. The band went on to sell hundreds of millions of records worldwide and reap EMI record-setting profits within a very short period, but Martin was still only a salaried employee with no participation in the profits he had such a big part in developing, which was a common trait of record producers of the time.

In 1969, after being passed over for a small bonus even though The Beatles had made EMI another year of historic profits with a succession of #1 worldwide hits, Sir George decided to use his considerable leverage to obtain a piece of the action by leaving his EMI staff position and going his own way. Soon many other successful producers followed, finally starting to cash in on large advances as well as receiving a piece of their best-selling artist’s pie. Read the rest on Forbes.

Some of the above is an excerpt from The Music Producer's HandbookYou can read more from The Music Producer's Handbook and my other books on the excerpt section of

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Music Made With 200 Marbles

Marble Music Machine imageThis video has been making the rounds across the Web lately. It's a fantastic marble music machine built by composer Martin Molin. It uses 200 marbles to activate the various parts of a song, but requires quite a lot of interaction by Molin to actually pull it off.

Still fascinating though. Check out where the mics are places during the various closeups during the video.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Two Year Anniversary With Episode #100 Of My Inner Circle Podcast

Bobby Owsinski's Inner Circle Podcast Episode #100Today is a joyous occasion in that it's the two year anniversary of my Inner Circle Podcast!

I want to thank you all for your support of the show. I don't make any money from it, but I love doing it as long as you find it interesting and useful.

For episode #100 I welcome back the great studio and live engineer and my good friend Dennis Moody, who was my first guest and also first anniversary guest on episode #50.

Dennis will talk about the changes in venues around the world, especially after the latest terrorist incident in Paris. Dennis arrived there on tour shortly after the event, and he'll describe what it was like.

In the intro I'll take a look at how the once promising Tidal streaming network is currently in trouble and why, as well as some of the unique and interesting vintage gear finds of late.

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

New Music Gear Monday: Free Audiofile Calc Conversion Tool

Audiofile Calc imageA few years ago I designed an iPhone app called the Delay Genie that determined the delay time for any tempo along with full note, dotted and triplet note subdivisions. Unfortunately, the publisher decided to no longer support the app on later versions of iOS, so it's no longer available.

I've searched for a substitute for a while with no luck, but finely found one that's even better called Audiofile Calc, and the best news is that it's free!

Audiofile Calc figures out delay times with ease but goes way beyond that to allow you to find things like Note Length, Bar Length, Song Length, Beats to Tempo, Time to Samples, and Samples to Time. You can also compare tempos, and add and subtract timings, which is great for determining the running time of an album.

Audiofile Calc doesn't stop there though. It also figures out pitch calculations like Note Name to pitch, MIDI Note to pitch, Frequency to pitch and Wavelength to pitch as well as Timecode calculations like Frames to Timecode, Convert Timecode, and Change Timecode.

There's also electronic calculations like Compare Power and Compare Voltage, acoustics calc like Distance to Time, Time to Distance, Sound Pressure Level (SPL) and Panning, as well as a handy file size calculator too.

I'm not a big one for apps, since we all seem to have so many of them that we don't use, but this is one well worth having on your phone. You'll constantly find it useful for something in your audio life.

Audiofile Calc was developed by Audiofile Engineering, the same people that created the very cool Triumph mastering workstation software. The app requires iOS 7.0 or later. It's compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. And again, it's FREE!

A big thank you to Russ Hughes at Pro Tools Expert as well as everyone at Studio One Expert for this find.

Download Audiofile Calc here.


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