Tag Archives: Crash Symphony Productions

19 Aug

Reggae music

Reggae origins

Reggae music is a style of music that began in Jamaica in the late 60s. It can also signify any recent popular music coming out of Jamaica. In 1968 , Toots and the Maytals released a single: “Do the Reggay”. This was the first mainstream hit to use the word. This pretty much named it and introduced it rapidly to the rest of the world. Occasionally Reggae is used to refer to various kinds of popular Jamaican music. However, the term reggae more accurately relaties to a music style that was influenced by “mento”. Certain areas of American music such as jazz and RnB also had their influences on the style.

Reggae lyrics

Reggae music lyrics usually go down the path of political ideology, general world gossip and philosophies of life. It branched out spread into a more popular way in America, being represented first as “Rudie Blues”. Later, (including up to today) it was referred to as”Ska” and later still, “Blue Beat” or “Rock Steady” . It{s easy to recognize the bass and drum patterns that compliment each other. Basslines are often disjunct and melodic, using alot of arpegios. The drums are consistent and fairly simple. The guitar pattern is almos strictly off beat, creating a steady pulse to dance to.

Jamaica in the spotlight

Jamaican music became a whirl wind in the 1950s. This was long before reggae music actually existed in the form we know it today. Harry Belafonte was a huge sensation and started out as a lounge jazz singer who branched into pop. However, Harry became more and more interested in folk songs. He had some big hits using the traditional acoustic songs of his parents town. Harry termed himself as a “Calypso singer”. He sold huge volumes of records. Having said this, his records were quite different from the brassy, satirical and hypercalypso music that was played often in Trinidad And Tobago. T and T is calypso’s homeland. Belafonte’s music was a lotcloser to a tidy and simplified sort of mento. Mento is Jamaicas pre-ska music. These sort of styles are regularly captured in a good Sydney Recording studio.

Recordings like ‘Matilda’ and &‘The Banana Boat Song’ were easy listening tunes which US audiences loved and purchased. It would be wrong however to refer to Belafonte as an Adonyne. Belafonte took advantage of this to draw attention to civil rights issues. He skillfully used the music as a platform for humanatarian causes. Although he didn{t play reggae music, Belafonte paved the way for Carribean influence in American radio.

The history of Reggae can be skillfully captured in a Sydney Voice Over studio.

Harrys influence

Belafonte’s impact is still evident all over the world and can be heard on radios in all types of settings. However, the following Jamaican style to emerge still has considerable influence in both the reggae of today and also other brands of pop. Later in the 50s, ska, the immediate precursor of reggae music came blazing out of Kingston. It came for with its regular guitar stabs and waving of issues both political and every day. It introduced a rude boy culture and a certain bad ass image. Kings of the genre such as: The Skatalites, The Wailers and Prince Buster, enjoyed long careers. They actually served various record companies ver well including one that became a major label.

Great cover artists often enter a great syndey sound studio to record the music of Belefonte even today.

Reggae music goes viral

Throughout the 60s and 70s reggae began to attract musicians of non Jamaican background. Among them was Georgie Fame, whose first recording, Live At The Flamingo, had a version of Eric Morris’ ‘Humpty Dumpty’. His first 2 singles, from The Blue Flames, were ska compositions issued on R&B, a UK company directed at the Windrush Generation. The Migil Five, a n British band, came out with Les Paul & Mary Ford’s ‘Mockin’ Bird Hill’ with which they got to number 10 on the UK charts. In America, Nickie Lee, a radio disk jockey, put out a cover of Prince Buster’s ‘Ten Commandments Of Man’. The Chinese-Jamaican ska legend Byron Lee, appeared in Dr No, the very firstJames Bond movie. This did plenty to boost the image of Jamaica as a cool, young persons country.

Buster the king

There were many other artists who came under the influence of Prince Buster. Alex Hughes from Kent, a nightclub bouncer who loved reggae also forged a career around it. He reinvented himself as Judge Dread in reference to another Prince Buster tune, Hughes’ ‘Big Six’. Yes, reggae music influenced the story line around Mega-City One.

Ruder tones and reggae music in Britain

Buster’s lewder incantations also surfaced in the music of Ian Dury, in songs such as ‘You’re More Than Fair’ and ‘Billericay Dickie’. Dury then went on to have influence over Madness, who emerged in 1979 from the post-punk 2Tone movement. This placed Jamaica’s 60s rude boy culture in a new UK environment. Furthermore, the debut single of Madness was in itself a tribute to Buster. You’ll find shades of Buster other places in 2Tone. For example, The Specials’ 1981 ‘Ghost Town’, borrows ideas from Buster that he used on his1967 single ‘Seven Wonders Of The World’.

Reggae music spreads through the UK

In the 1970s reggae spread to the UK, where a combination of Jamaican immigrants and local  Britons started a reggae movement. This movement produced names such as Aswad, Steel Pulse and UB40. Furthermore, the performance poet Linton Kwesi Johnson. In addition, reggae caught on in the United States through the work of Marley.

Marley began his musical career with the Wailers. He formed this group with Peter Tosh and Bunny Livingston in 1963.  By 1969 Bob, Tosh and Livingston had really imersed themselves in Rastafarianism, which had a great impact on Marley’s music  and on reggae music overall. The Wailers united with Lee Scratch Perry, producing some of their greatest tracks like “Soul Rebel”, “Duppy Conquerer”, “400 Years” and “Small Axe.” This collaboration came to a close badly when the Wailers found that Perry, sold records in England without their permission. Yet, this actually brought the Wailers’ music into the realm of Chris Blackwell, the boss of Island Records.

The wailers break up

Blackwell signed the Wailers and produced their debut album, “Catch a Fire”. This was shortly followed by “Burnin'”, with tracks as “Get Up Stand Up” and “I Shot the Sheriff.” Eric Clapton’s version of this went to #1 in the US. In 1974 Tosh and Livingston parted ways with the Wailers to begin solo careers. Marley then went on to form the band “Bob Marley and the Wailers”, with his partnerRita as one of the backup singers named the I-Trees.

Fusion with other styles was a consequence of the music’s globalization and involvement with international influences.

Crash Symphony productions regularly records the reggae music in the superior Sydney recording studio.

 

24 Jul

Cumbia music origins

Cumbia music

Cumbia is an important and widespread style of Latin American music. The classic beat of cumbia appears from Chile to Colombia to the United States and further. The musical patterns and rhythms trace back to one particular area: Pueblos beside the rivers of Colombia’s Rio Magdalena. African and local Indian music combine to create this new style. There are many such bands all around the world. Many local musicians in Australia require a Sydney recording studio to capture this unique music.

Cumbia music keeps evolving. Today, DJs and pop singers are dragging cumbia into the electronic music sphere. No matter how much it changes, it always returns to Colombia.

The origins of Cumbia Music

Because of the huge variance of influences and cultures in Latin America, it can be hazy to trace the roots of Cumbia Music. The African slaves that were transported to the south American colonies undoubtedly had the major influence. Loca Indian tribes also had input. Furthermore, the conquistadores with their Spanish forms of music also had input. All these styles are recorded in a good Sydney Voice over studio

An important text

Adolfo Gonzalez Henriquez wrote a very informative book on the topic: “La música del Caribe colombiano durante la guerra de independencia y comienzos de la República”. (Music of the Colombian Caribbean during the war of independence and the beginning of the Republic). In this work he includes a speech by General José Prudencio Padilla that discusses cumbiambas and indigenous gaitas during a festival in the nearby village of Arjona, a couple of days before a final battle. The battle was between the last conquistador resistance and the new republican army. This battle concluded the struggle for independence.

“It was a night without the moon, that of June 18, 1821; but the picturesque town of Arjona showed the purest serenity in the starry sky, and the cheerful bustle of gaitas and cumbiambas with which the indigenous people celebrated, sheltered from the republican arms, the approach of the festival of St. John…”

This text is also available on audio book recorded in a top quality voice over studio.

Other important  clues

Most noteworthy, the famous teacher and musician Luis Antonio Escobar, in his work “Música en Cartagena de Indias” (Music in Cartagena de Indias) records a description of native dance.Luis witnessed the navy lieutenant Swedish Carl August Gosselman in Santa Marta, and recorded in his work “Viaje por Colombia: 1825 y 1826” (Journey through Colombia: 1825 and 1826). He sites this as evidence that by the second decade of the nineteenth century the gaita ensemble was active around Santa Marta. A similar type of dancing and music shows up in Cartagena and other cities with negro musical styles that developed into Cumbia:

“In the afternoon of the second day they were preparing a large indigenous dance in the village. The dance floor was the street, bounded by a narrow circle of spectators surrounding the orchestra and dancers.

His description of the band

The orchestra is really native and consists of a guy who plays a bamboo clarinet about four feet long. It is similar to a gaita, with five holes, through which escapes the sound. Similarly, another that plays a similar instrument, with four holes. He holds this with his right hand.  In the left hand he holds a small pumpkin full of pebbles, a maraca, that sets the pace. Rhythms stand out even more with a large drum made in a fire-hollowed trunk. On top of this there is a stretched hide, where the third virtuoso hits the flat side of his fingers.

To the constant and monotonous sounds that I have described already join the observers, who with their singing and clapping form one of the most horrible choirs that can be heard. Then all pair up and start dancing.

This was an imitation of Spanish fandango, although it seemed to be more like a parody. It had every sensual detail from the Spanish dance but without any of its beautiful steps and movements, that make it so famous and popular.”

— Carl August Gosselman (1801-1843), Viaje por Colombia: 1825 y 1826

A revealing river cruise

José María Samper travelling on the Magdalena River in 1879, describes the basic elements of dance and music on the river. Cumbia identifies among these.

“A wide space, perfectly clean, surrounded by barracks, barbecues used to dry fish, tall coconut trees and various bushes. A large bonfire fed with dry palms, around it the circle of dancers hopped. Another circle of spectators, dancers at their own turns, much larger, close to eight meters away closing the greater circle. There, men and women, old and young were confused, and at one point of that second circle was the tremendous orchestra. Eight couples danced to the beat of that loud, monotonous, incessant son of the gaita. A small flute of very high pitch and with only seven holes). The tamboril, conical instrument like a sugar loaf, very narrow. This produces a deep sound like the echo of a hill and is played with bare hands by continuous drumbeats.

Strange instruments

The carraca (a chonta reed, corrugated transversely and whose noise is produced by rubbing a small thin bone).The triangle of iron, which is known, and the chucho or alfandoque. A cylindrical and hollow reed, filled with beads that are shaken by the jolts of the artist, it produces a dull and rough sound similar to the dash of a waterfall). They were oddly mixed in the concert. Those instruments were rather fancy, because the pure currulao knows nothing more than the gaita, the tamboril and the curruspa. The eight couples, formed as squadron in column, were turning around the bonfire, hand in hand, man and woman. Hatless, carrying two burning candles each on the other hand. Following all the rhythm with their feet, arms and whole body, with movements of a voluptuousness… “

With these roots cumbia continued to evolve right up until the 20th century. Salsa, samba and various other Latin music styles had their influence In the 20th century also. Consequently cumbia is varied in all forms.

Cumbia instrumentation

A typical cumbia band consists of the following instruments:

Cumbia music plays with a modern set of instruments such as Bass, Drums, Piano and Guitar.  Older instruments used: The calling drum, merry drum and bass drums which each have their own rhythmic role. Furthermore, the wind instruments (Gaitas, flautas de Millo). These provide melody and counter melody. All microphone techniques differ for each instrument depending on which Sydney Recording studio you enter.

21 Jul

The music and life of Michael Jackson

Michael Jacksons impact

Avoiding Michael Jackson’s music is like trying to avoid traffic in Los Angeles Peak hour on the freeway. Many artists have entered a Sydney Recording studio with him as the guiding spirit of performance.

Similarly, avoiding sexual abuse stories of late is almost impossible.

Leaving Neverland is an intense four-hour documentary which examines the stories of Wade Robson and James Safechuck

A timeline of Jacksons life

  1. Michael was born in Gary, Indiana.
  2. The Jackson Five reléase “I want you back”
  3. Michael begins his association with Quincy Jones. First plastic surgery after breaking his nose in a dance routine. First plastic surgery after breaking his nose.
  4. 1982. He releases the album Thriller
  5. 1984. He burns his hand badly in an accident.
  6. 1986. MJ buys a pet chimp named Bubbles.
  7. 1987. Michael releases the album Bad,
  8. 1988. He constructs the fantasy “Neverland” ranch in California complete with an amusement park.

1993–  Jackson Is accused of molesting Jordan Chandler, a 13-year-old child, at Neverland. The family reportedly settles for $26 million dollars.

  1. 1994. Michael Marries Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of Elvis Presley. They marry in a small ceremony in the Dominican Republic. Michael and Lisa Marie divorce two years later.
  2. 1996. Jackson marries Debbie Rowe, the house nurse.
  3. 1997. Prince Michael Jackson is born.

1998- Paris Michael Katherine is born.

  1. 2002. Jackson dangles Prince Michael the 2nd, from a Berlin hotel balcony in front of fans.
  2. 2003. A documentary airs in which Jackson reveals to the interviewer Martin Bashir that he shared a bed with a young boy, saying: “It’s a beautiful thing.”

Nov 2003. The police arrest Michael for molesting 12-year-old Gavin Arvizo. Gavin was a friend of the family.

2005.The charges are acquitted.

  1. Jackson dies in Los Angeles ahead of a planned series of re-emergence concerts in London.

A brief history of MJ

He made his performance debut in 1964 with his brothers Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, and Marlon as a member of the Jackson 5. MJ  started his solo career in 1971 with Motown Records, and in the early 1980s, became a huge force in popular music.

His videos, including “Beat It”, “Billie Jean”, and “Thriller” from his 1982 album Thriller, are acclaimed as breaking racial barriers and changing the médium of music videos into an art form. In fact they are credited with bringing the show MTV to fame. Bad (1987) is the first álbum in history to contain 5 US Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles. He continued to innovate throughout the 1990s with videos such In he 1990s he continued strongly and released “Black or White” and “Scream”. The techniques employed on these albums paved the way for many a Sydney Recording studio.

He gained reputation as an exciting live artista and toured he world. Jackson also made popular intricate dance techniques such as the robot and the moonwalk. His sound and dance moves have influenced millions.

Sales and breaking records

Thriller is the best-selling album of all time, with sales of 66 million copies worldwide. In total his sales were in excess of 350 million. This doesn’t include youtube and streaming services.  His other huge selling albums, include Off the Wall (1979), Bad (1987), Dangerous (1991), and HIStory (1995). He won dozens of awards (another record he holds in the history of pop)

 

Michael has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame more than once. Furthermore he is the only pop vocalist to have been introduced into the Dance Hall of Fame. His accomplishments include Guinness world records (as the Most Successful Entertainer of All Time). He won 15 Grammy Awards. Furthermore, Jackson won 26 American Music Awards (much more than any other singer). Similarly he had 13 number-one US singles. Jackson is the 1st performer to gain a top ten single in the Billboard Hot 100 over 5 different decades. In 2016, his estate gained $825 million dollars, the highest annual number for a superstar recorded by Forbes.

The changes of the 80s

As the 1980s progressed, Michael became a person of controversy for his slowly changing look his, relationships, and his lifestyle. In 1993, he was accused of sexually abusing a child of a close family friend. The allegation was settled outside of court with a suspected huge amount of money. Similarly in 2005, he went tried and acquitted of other child abuse charges and several other discrepancies. In 2009, while training for a run of new concerts, Jackson overdosed on sedatives given by his private doctor, Conrad Murray. Jackson’s supporters everywhere were grieving. His public memorial service was televised live. In 2019, the documentary Leaving Neverland  made known the truth about this superstar. The sound track was recorded in a voice over studio similar to Crash Symphony Productions.

Questions for us all to answer.

After the documentary aired they both faced constant abuse online. This in iteself  is a sign of the strong sense of denial that consumes people when they don’t want to face the fact that their idol was possibly a monster.

Consequently the documentary left people on the Street debating weather or not to listen to Michael Jacksons music again.

But of course we will. Above all, society will continue to venerate him and remember him as the musical phenomenon, not a pedophile

His musical accomplishments will be more remembered than his abuse. Artists will continue to enter a Sydney Voice over studio with him in mind as the inspiration. His legacy will live on and the radio stations will play his music like they always have. Those who were abused and their families will feel the pain every time people put  on one of his songs.

Injustices persist

There are a number of reasons for this strange imbalance in society.

Above all, it is not the fault of the victims, but rather of those who want to defend the indefensible.

Finally, MJ’s fame will outlive the crimes, like many of histories greatest criminals. Furthermore, Michael was a complicated individual who was traumatized in his own childhood. Similarly fought to get where he got and somehow his difficult childhood and struggle caused a set of inexcusable behaviours to be ignored in order for him to achieve his huge fame. As a result, around him who knew what was happening (and there were many) somehow though it was ok not to report him because of his superstardom.

 

19 Jul

Studying a brass band

What is a brass band?

brass band is a large ensemble made up completely of brass instruments. A brass band often haspercussion. Many brass bands have entered a Sydney recording studio or a Sydney voice over studio in various formats.

The British style brass band

The traditional British brass band consists of 28 players including percussion. Consequently a brass band typically has the following line up:

  • The soprano cornet is in E♭.
  • There are 9 Cornets in B♭. Cornets have separate parts for ‘Solo’, ‘Repiano’, 2nd and 3rd cornets. There are 4 players on the ‘Solo’ part. 1 Repiano, two 2nd, and two 3rd.
  • 1 Flugal horn in B♭ (notated on the same part as the ‘Repiano’ in some older music).
  • 3 Tenor horns in E♭ (called Solo, 1st and 2nd).
  • Baritone Horns are in B♭.
  • 2 Tenor trombones are in Bb.
  • 1 Bass trombone is in concert pitch. The bass trombone is the only brass instrument in the band notated in Concert Pitch (C) on Bass Clef.
  • Euphoniums are in B♭. These instruments usually play the same part with divisi sections.
  • Tubas are in Eb and Bb.
  • Percussion players are in every brass band.  >There are 2 or more timpani, glockenspiel, snare drum, triangle, cymbls, a drum kit and more.

Almost all of the instruments are conical-bore. Above all, this gives the classic British-style brass  bright, yet mellow tone. The two instrument exeptions are Trombone and Baritone. Furthermore, all notation except for Bass Trombone and percussion are written in Treble Clef. Similarly, the alto horn in E♭ is more commonly named the tenor horn in British bands. A good Sydney voice over studio will use the right mics and equipment to capture the mellow tones of a British Brass Band.

Competitions throughout the country

The brass band tradition in Britain has attained a very high standard because it is asscociated with many competitions. These competitions usually revolve around local communities and work groups. In the 1930s brass bands reached a pincale with around 20 000 bands operating in the country. British-style brass bands ar not just restricted to Great Britain. These bands are widespread throughout  Northern Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Norway and many European countries.  They are also found in North America. In all of these countries there are anual competitions, hence keeping the standards quite high. Furthermore, they quite often enter a Sydney recording studio to lay down this traditional style.

Salvation army bands

In Sydney Australia The Salvation Army have various bands throughout the región.  The Salvos have employed brass bands since the 1870,s. Salvos bands continue to be an integral part of that branch of the Church. The most famous Salvation Army brass band is The International Staff Band which is located in London.

Salvation Army bands have different sizes and formats because of the limited and varied availability of members. Some bands only have 5 or 6 members. The bands still have the same basic instrumentation of Cornets, baritones, tenor horns and trombones. Sometimes they have a euphonium.  The style and line up varies depending on the recording studio.

Balkan brass bands

The Balkans have their own distinctive Brand of brass bands that began in the mid 19th century.  Military bands in Turkey would compose and arrange folk music into the brass band format. Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Albania, Bulgaria and Northern Greece all have these types of brass bands. The music is faster and more frantic than the british style. A percussion instrument called the Kolo accompanies Balkan bands. Goran Bregović and Boban Marković Orkestar are two very popular and highly recorded Balkan brass bands.

Fanfare orchestras

Fanfare orchestras opérate in mainland Europe in France, Belgium, Netherlands and Germany. They differ from the British bands in that they have saxophones in the instrumentation. Fanfare orchestras have their origin in military music. There are also civilian fanfare orchestras.

New Orleans style brass bands

Brass bands are also a central part of New Orleans culture. They stem back to the military bands of the French blending with the sounds of the African workers.

Tuba, trombones, trumpets, clarinet/saxophone, snare drum, and bass drum make up the band. New Orleans brass bands are portable and flexible. This has allowed them to move from the streets and into Ballrooms, concert halls, and various festivals.

Brief History of New Orleans Brass bands:

There were mixed-race Creoles and sometimes coloured people who had freedom. As a result, Brass bands came together naturally. In the first years after Emancipation in 1865, the first black brass bands began entertaining at events. The events were funerals, baseball games, and other festivals. Consequently, by 1900 bands such as Excelsior and Onward were popular.

Furthermore, the New Orleans brass band was mixed with a new musical form that began around the turn of the century. Jazz music was derived from ragtime, blues, spirituals, and marche. It focussed on improvisation,, rhythmic syncopation and repetition.  The brass band was a formative influence on; Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, Similarly, jazz bands, including those of Buddy Bolden and Kid Ory, doubled as brass bands. Jazz bands sometimes substituted the rhythm section of piano, bass, and banjo for tuba and drums. As a result, jazz performance styles influenced the New Orleans brass band.

Above all, the Sydney band Hot Potatoe have made the style popular in Australia. Hot Potatoe have recorded various times in a Sydney Recording studio or Sydney Voice over Studio.

 

 

09 Jul

Salsa music

 Salsa is an inspiring music that causes a response in the body for music lovers all over the world. It is highly rhythmic and energetic and always gets the dance floor packed in seconds. People sitting in their seats have to sway from side to side and groove along. First of all, salsa music is infectious and joyous and the music of fiestas! People go wild for Salsa music.

This music has its origins in Cuba and Africa. The first wave of Salsa was actually know as “Son” music. Son cubano  originated in the highlands of eastern Cuba during the late 19th century.

Instrumentation in Salsa music.

Classic Salsa music instruments are as follows:  The Tambora is a popular percussion instrument. Bato is another highly used instrument in Salsa. Clave, maracas, cowbell and bongo are all used a lot in salsa music.  Congas form the backbone of the music. The instruments and the vocalists very often imitate the call-and-response melodies of African songs. Other salsa instruments are: Guitar, vibraphone, bass, violin, piano, accordion, marimba, flute. Furthermore, a brass section of trombone, trumpet, and saxophone. As of late, in modern salsa, electronics are added to the mix.

The rhythmic basis.

Similarly, Salsa music has a basic “clave” rhythm grouped in the following way |1-2-3| 1-2  |. Likewise in the opposite order: |1-2| 1-2-3 |. Samba is not just limited to one rhythm or group of instruments. The tempo is usually up, and the energy is frantic. In any Sydney Recording Studio this energy is essential.

There are different kinds of salsa. Salsa dura is popular in Colombia. Romantica is huge in Mexico. Merengue is another type of salsa.

Where Salsa Began.

Salsa music began in Cuba. Another school of thinking says that salsa is a newer version of older, traditional Afro-Cuban forms. Furthermore, these schools conclude that the origin is in Cuba. This is worthwhile knowing when you walk into a Sydney Voice Over studio.

The reality is that the wave of popularity surrounding Salsa (and the name itself) actually began in New York in the 1960’s. Salsa music developed there over about a decade. It was imported by Cubans and Puerto Rican musicians.

Some old school musicians say that Salsa is not even a style. An expert inside a recording studio will affirm this. Tito Puente was not convinced it was a style. He was asked about his thoughts on the music and simply replied: “I’m a musician, not a cook.”

Development and birth of Salsa.

Between 1930 and 1960  musicians from Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico and South America journeyed to New York to try their luck in the music scene. They brought their own cultural rhythms. They bought traditional forms and as they listened to each other they mixed and matched styles.

In this way, in the 1950’s the combining of various styles with Cuban “Son” music led to the classic Mambo sound. As a result, mixing of styles lead to the various categories we know today as cha-cha, rumba, conga, and Salsa

Back and forth collaboration.

Above all, this musical collaboration went both ways. The music went back to South America, Puerto Rico, and Cuba and continued to develop there. It progressed differently in each location. Today we have Cuban salsa (timba), Puerto Rican salsa, and Colombian salsa (dura). Each style has the classic, forward moving energy that is the cornerstone of Salsa, but they also have their unique cultural sounds from each country.

Origins of the name

The spicy salsa sauce that is eaten in Latin America is added to give food zing. Similarly disk jockeys, radio announcers, bandleaders, and musicians were yelling “Salsa” as they were introducing a particularly energetic music to a program.

While this is reminiscent  of  Celia Cruz  who would shout, “Azucar,” meaning “sugar,” to inspire the crowd at her own concerts. The word “Salsa was used to spice up the music. Tito Puentos words are quite ironically appropriate!

What’s in the lyrics?

Salsa music lyrics range from basic dance calls and catch phrases, to sentimental romantic songs, to sexy and politically divisive material. Isabelle Leymarie states that salsa musicians and writers incorporate machoistic bravado (guapería) in their words. This is similar to those found in calypso and samba.  Guaperia is a theme she ascribes to the lyricists’ “humble backgrounds”. Leymarie states that the music is “essentially virile, an affirmation of the man’s pride and identity”. Similarly, manly taunts and challenges (desafio) are also a part of salsa.

Above all, Salsa lyrics often incorporate traditional Cuban sones and rumbas. As a result, there are also references to Afro-Cuban religions, such as Santeria, even by artists who are not adherents to these faiths. Many Salsa lyrics also show Puerto Rican origins. Similarly Hector LaVoe used typical Puerto Rican form in his singing. It’s not unusual to hear the Puerto Rican exclamation “le-lo-lai” in some songs.

Political motivation

Furthermore, Politics and Social Activism have long been an important part of salsa lyricism. Consequently Eddie Palmieri wrote many songs in his recording studio in this vein. His “La libertad and lógico” became Latin, and Puerto Rican anthems.  Ruben Blades  is appraised for his socially-conscious salsa lyrics. Ruben wrote about many topics from imperialism to disarmament. He is from Panama. His classic and well composed songs have resonated with audiences throughout Latin America. Ruben is an example of a very sophisticated type of Salsa writer. Hence, his songs are far more than just dance catch phrases. Not only the lyrics, but the music also is very composed and though out in an orchestral way. Similarly, other salsa lyrics contain a nationalist theme, centred around a sense of pride in Latino identity. Finally, Salsa lyrics may be in Spanish, English or Spanglish. Spanglish is a mix of Spanish and English.

Salsa music began in Puerto Rico.

Similarly Cumbia began in Colombia.

Tango began in Argentina.

01 Jul
sydney recording studio

The role of the bass

Understanding the role of the bass.

Bass guitar is one of the most under appreciated instruments in a band. Many audience members have no idea what the role of the bass is. Despite this fact, bass is probably the most critical instrument in a group. It is rare to find a performing band without a bass player. As a budding bassist, you should be happy to know there is always a high demand for bassists—especially good ones.

The Responsibilities of the Bass Player

Normally, the role of the bass is twofold:

  1. It provides the rhythmic foundation.
  2. It provides the harmonic foundation.

The Rhythmic Foundation

The rhythmic foundation is about the consistent pulse of the beat. This is probably the most important factor in the role of the bass. Even the drummer works his beat around a bass line.  A great bass player helps the band by laying down a steady pulse. Most songs that are popular and often played at dance functions consist of a steady rhythm. This is the main job and first priority of the bass player. People would rarely be able to dance to a drum beat alone. Its usually the bass that people respond to deeply and move to. This is very evident in African Cultures where the bass takes high praise and respect.

The Rhythmic Pulse

The drummer also contributes to the rhythmic pulse. It is a team effort often described as a “Marriage”. In fact if a drummer and bass player don’t get along or “lock in” together well there is a serious problem! No matter what the drummer is like, as a bass player you want to have a strong sense of rhythm for yourself. This goes for every individual in the band. They cannot borrow “time feel” from the drummer. Everyone has a part to play in keeping a band rhythmically solid. 

This is arguably the most important part of bass playing. Even if your note choices aren’t perfect, the rhythmic foundation you lay down is what you will be remember for. The feel and groove you give to a band are unique and essential to the bands success. 

The Harmonic Foundation

Apart from providing the basis for rhythmic pulse in a band. The other important part of the role of the bass is providing the foundation for the harmony.

Harmony simply refers to the playing of several different notes at the same time. Sometimes only a guitarist or keyboardist will create this harmony. Other times a large combination of instruments/voices in a sound studio in Sydney, such as in an orchestra, rock band or a choir, create the harmony together.

When we hear more than one note  played at the same time, we all the notes in relation to the lowest sounding note — the bass note.

Where to start when learning

So what about learning the bass. Do you want to dive in and join a band as one of the most important members and the backbone of the music? Do you want to walk into a Sydney Recording Studio and lay down a solid line? Its a great and noble cause. Just bear in mind the following:

You need to know the songs better than the other members! Yes thats right, often a drummer or guitarist or singer will look to the bass player to be sure of where they are in the order of the song. You knowing the song inside out is essential to a rehearsing band feeling comfortable. 

You need to have a great sense of timing. In one very real sense, you need to have the mentality of a drummer. In most auditions for bass players, what gets them over the line and into the band is the “feel” that they bring to the music.

Great examples of bass playing

You want to be an expert in multiple styles if you want to make an impact in a Music Studio in Sydney. Consider learning the baselines for the following various styled songs:

  1. Is this love – Bob Marley – A great way to begin to understand reggae feel on the bass.
  2. Fine China by Chris Brown – A classic RnB bass line that requires both great groove and also virtuosity. It will really challenge you.
  3. Sweet Chilld of Mine by Gun’s n Roses – One of the most beautiful melodic rock baselines in history. Duff McKagen was the backbone of this great 80’/90’s rock band.
  4. Suck my Kiss by Red Hot Chilli Peppers – You really can’t go past the great “Flea” for funky and punchy baselines. This one is a solid, syncopated groove.
  5. What’s going on by Marvin Gaye – The father of Motown bass playing – James Jamerson, lays down a wonderful melodic adventure for you to learn. This will teach you about harmony and using chord tones, scales and arpegios to construct a great bass line.

Other essential styles

Apart from these great starters which will challenge you melodically and technically, you will want to thoroughly cover the basic styles of music:

Country (Check out Keith Urban and Dixie Chicks)

80’s/90’s pop (Check out Madonna and Prince)

Motown – Anything by the Four Tops or Temptations will get you started.

Jazz – Try some easy Ray Brown lines from the early Oscar Peterson Records. Or Sam Jones from Bobby Timmons trio.

Blues – BB King, Albert King, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters or anyone else from that era.

Now you are armed with a great arsenal of styes and influences. Get out there and audition and keep the band in time! Walk into a Sydney voiceover studio or a Sydney Recording studio today and dazzle them.

music, instrument, electric, bass guitar

28 May

How much does a voice over artist make?

 

Know your facts and figures.

Budding voice over artists often ask the question:  “how much to voice over actors get paid”. There is a simple answer to this question. The industry standard is quite a good protection mechanism for those working hard in a Sydney Voice over studio. The answer to that question is found in the industry recognised rate card. https://www.meaa.org/download/commercial-voiceover-rates/. This was developed over the years by the communications council of Australia in conjunction with the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance. Annually is really up to the individual. Obviously it is not a salary or wages job and you are paid per performance. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, though, radio and television announcers made around  $35,360 in 2017 and voice over actors made roughly $17.50 per hour.

This rate card outlines the minimum rate for Voice over Artists in Australia and covers all uses of studio voice over work including: Television, internet and even phone holding services.

If you have set your heart on becoming a voice over artist and long to enter a Sydney Voice Over studio, these are the rates that you should aim for. Many people have tried to undercut the industry. and there has been some heated debate over the years about how much one should charge. Ultimately it is ethical to stick to the rates outlined in the rate card and better for your bottom dollar! Voice over actors work hard like any other industry professionals. 

Below are some examples of jobs you might have as a voice over artist.

Television / Internet advertisement 

Lets take a keen young voice over enthusiast named Eric for example.

Eric has studied all his favourite voice over actors and has practiced tirelessly.

Furthermore, he advertises his services on Gum Tree and social media. Eric emails various studios around Sydney. He calls certain contacts in the industry and pitches his services to them.

John gives Eric a call to read a 45 second long script for a television advertisement. The advertisement will be aired on Facebook and other social media outlets for 3 weeks. John tells Eric that Fee for this voice over job is around $700. Further more, television pays slightly higher, especially when there are multimedia outlets and different mediums. If it was just a TV voiceover gig it would pay closer to $550. TV differs from Radio in that the rate is based per script rather than per total job. You should bear this in mind when charging and invoicing.

Sydney voice over studios search often for new talent to post on their websites.

One of the most prominent Sydney Voice over studios is Crash Symphony Productions. They regularly record advertisements for television, youtube, facebook and countless other mediums. They are a top Sydney Recording Studio and record everything from Bands to orchestras, dialogue sections for movies, novels and jingles.

Radio advertisement

A local radio station gives Eric a call and asks for 4 x 35 second snippets promoting different ranges of products for a large department store.   Eric gets booked for a voice over at a commercial radio station. The ads will run for 1 month on radio in Sydney and rural NSW. The advertisement is for pesticides and chemicals. Eric has researched the product and is familiar with it. 

The number of scripts can vary for different types of calls and jobs. You might have to read up to 5 scripts or as little as 1. The rate for 1 to 5 scripts for one company is the same. Be aware that the rate can vary slightly depending on what state the advertisements are played in. The rate for a job like this based in Sydney and rural NSW is around $450. Crash Symphony productio

Holding message for a phone loop

You might be called into a voice over studio to record a simple “please hold the line, your call is valuable to us” message. Phone messages pay slightly less than TV and radio but are a simple and short job. You might only require 20 or 30 minutes in the studio if you know what you’re doing! The voice over rate is around $200 for this sort of call out. Be prepared to hear your voice on some random phone cycle many, many times! It may not be very glamorous, but as a voice over artist this is the sort of work you might be asked to do. Crash Symphony productions offer a variety of jobs. 

I’m super keen to follow through so where do I start?

You need to set realistic goals as a voice over artist. In other words a Voice over artist will always progress with persistence and practice. The voice over industry is very competitive. With the right training and listening you can develop your skill and get a good reputation for yourself. Model yourself on other voice over actors.  You create a career for yourself in any major city with hard work. Local radio stations always search for up an coming voice over artists. Some voice over artists get started on local radio for free and get a feel for reading out advertisements and announcements. Similarly this could even lead to you being a full time radio jockey. Crash symphony productions is a great studio. First of all, a voice over artist is a flexible person. 

Above all, you want to be doing a job you love. Don’t expect to be pulling in $50 000 dollars in your first year. Income like that takes years to build up. With patience and practice you can begin to expand your opportunities and get a reputation in various voice over studios. Crash Symphony Productions has a website that is viewed by hundreds of companies and clients who want particular sounding voices. You should record a demo. Clients are searching for new voice over artists constantly. When you have the demo of various styles ready to go, you can approach a Sydney Sound Studio and ask to be put up on their website.

16 May

Big Band Music

What is a Big Band?

Big Band Music is a essentially a jazz derived large ensemble form that has 10 or more members and is divided into four sections: Trumpets, trombones, saxophones and a rhythm section. Rhythm sections are comprised of Bass (usually upright), piano, drums and sometimes guitar.

Early Big Band music appeared soon after 1910 and rose to prominence in the 30’s and 40’s when dance swing bands were akin to popular music. For this reason, the name “Big Band” is often associated with this era. A problem that arises from this definition of course is that Big Bands since that time right up until today play a huge variety of music. Some of it is Avant-Gard and experimental. Other forms are very be-bop and hard bop based with complex harmonies and melody lines.

A main difference between Big Band music and a small jazz ensemble is that they are more focussed and unified around the arrangement. In other words, the individual soloist takes less priority. The leader is usually a conductor and in this way it is similar to classical music. Unification of the band makes it like a large football team and they must all work together to get the job done.

The instrumentation:

Trumpets – 1st lead  – specialises in brilliant high notes and is the most audible voice of the entire band).  2nd Trumpet – usually the primary soloist, 3rd trumpet – plays harmonies. 4th trumpet – often doubles lead trombone or trumpet one octave lower.

Some super bands have been known to have 5 or even 6 trumpets like the Duke Ellington band of various eras.

Saxophones: lead tenor, 2nd tenor, lead alto, 2nd alto and a baritone saxophone. Most of the saxophonists double on clarinet. Earlier Big Band Styles used clarinet quite often.

Trombones: 1st, 2nd, 3rd trombone and bass trombone.

Seating

Seating is usually arranged with 4 trumpets at the back, the trombones in the 2nd row and the saxophones in the front row. Often this will be on a tiered stage with the trumpets highest. The Rhythm section usually sits to the left of the band (stage right). With the conductor of course at the front often moving to the side when a soloist is featured.

Big Band music rhythm sections actually evolved into its current most common line up. In the 20’s and before, it was more common to have a banjo player than a guitarist. It was also more common to have a tuba player instead of a double bass player. The electrification of bass and guitar allowed for the more even balance. In fact, earlier big bands often had less wind instruments just because of the balance issues. Obviously in a Sydney Recording studio the format may vary to accomodate space issues and microphone technique.

An unusual lineup

The Fletcher Henderson orchestra of the 1920’s is an example of the variety of line ups that were in circulation prior to the popular standard line up. 

  • Alto Saxophone 
  • 2nd Alto Saxophone, Clarinet 
  • 3rd Alto Saxophone, Violin 
  • Bass 
  • Clarinet 
  • Drums 
  • Guitar 
  • Piano
  • 1st Tenor Saxophone 
  • 2nd Tenor Saxophone, Clarinet
  • Trombone 
  • Trumpet 
  • Tuba

History[edit]

Dance music

Until 1914, recreational dance in the USA was usually exemplified by European forms like, waltz, polka and square dancing. As jazz moved from the south up to Chicago and eventually New York City, different styles of dance moved with it. The evolution of dance can be followed in tandem with the evolution of the big band styles. Paul Whitman was a typical example of a band leader from a classical background that combined European elements of music an dance with evolving American styles.

Great soloists of jazz often found a home in a Big Band. This was a welcome relief from the lonely hours of practice and touring with small bands. Players like Coleman Hawkins and Louis Armstrong were epically famous as soloists and yet played in 14 piece orchestras quite often. The Count Basie band produced and nurtured such soloists as: Buck Clayton and Lester Young. Fletcher Henderson used Coleman Hawkins. Later on in the 50’s and 60’s, Stan Kenton had an orchestra with much more modern arrangements and soloists. Some of the great names that were associated with Kentons band were: Carl Fontanna, Frank Rosilino and Bill Watrous, Stan Getz, Maynard Fergeson. 

Competition and contraversey

The major bands considered mostly black of the 1930s included,Ellington’, Hines and Calloway, Chick Webb and Count Basie. “White” bands were Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Tommy Dorsey. Due to obvious racial and population bias, the latter became more famous for a long period of time and were very lucrative financially. “Black” bands however stood the test of time and to this day are known as the innovators and trail blazers of new styles. Benny Goodman’s early band was mixed and created quite a stir. He made a strong stance agains racial segregation and was a unifying force in big band music

Privileged white teenagers and young adults were the main listeners of the Big Bands in the 30s and 40s. They grooved to recordings on the radio and patronised live concert tours in the many “dance halls” that littered the countryside in almost every town. Often these bands would pause on tour and enter a Recording Studio. Many Big Band in Australia find themselves in a Sydney Recording Studio laying down the magic.

Modern big bands

Although big bands are associated with the 1930s and 40s swing era, they existed long after that period of time. Woody Herman in the 1940’s was already pushing the style envelope and moving the music away from dance to art. In the 50s, Kenton referred to his band as “progressive jazz”. He used his band as a mode for his modern compositions. He moved the boundaries of big bands by implying arrangers whose ideas about music clashed. Modern bands in Sydney include: The Sonic Mayhem Orchestra, the ABC swing era big band and the John Morrison band. All of these from time to time enter a Sydney Recording studio. The most popular forms of Big Band Still have a great voice artist to accompany them. Frank Sinatra is the father of this style. For a classic 1930’s Sydney Voice over studio experience contact Crash Symphony Productions. 

Other leaders utilised  Latin, Afro Cuban music with big band instrumentation, varying to include a lot of percussion. Gil Evans was famous for his use of Big Bands in movie music and used experimental line ups.  Europe adopted the big band line up and created many new sounds in later decades. Examples like the Vienna Art Orchestra started in 1977, and the Italian Instabile which operated in the 90s.

22 Apr

Voice Over Work – How to get started.

An Introduction to Voice Over work

Voice over work is extremely competitive. The recorded spoken word is all around us in the media that we consume. It is so ubiquitous in fact that we, as consumers of audio, take it for granted. As a result, getting a job as a voice over artist is challenging. Candidates mistakenly think that because they can speak they can also easily get into the industry and be good at it. It’s not that easy! In this article we are going to look at what it takes to be good at voice over work and how to get into the business.

Our studio, Crash Symphony Productions, has been recording the voice since 2006. We are uniquely located close to Australia’s two largest CBD’s: Sydney City and North Sydney. As a result recording the spoken word has become our thing! We are going to examine all the important boxes that need to be ticked in order to be successful in this competitive industry. Read on to learn more about how you can get into the voice over industry!

The Voice Over Showreel

The showreel is the most important element needed to get this kind of work. Investing in a good showreel is about 70% of what is required to get the work in the first place. Don’t try doing it yourself at home. It simply doesn’t work. Most clients will only listen to the first ten to twenty seconds of a voice over demo before either moving on to the next.

We always suggest that candidates start their voice over demo with a greeting. Introduce yourself and tell the potential client something about your voice. Make it super brief and then move on to the main produced content. Don’t put any music behind the introduction. Make it honest and clear. They need the opportunity to hear your true voice before getting into the meat of your showreel.

Fine Tuning the Demo

Once you move into the main body of the your showreel choose some ads that vary in style and genre. Business, TV commercials, phone greetings, radio announcements, and general acting scripts are all good examples of the mix that is required on a successful demo. If all the short components are the same you will be limiting your job opportunities. You should demonstrate that you are diverse and capable. Don’t make the mistake of making each element long. Each should be extremely short and they should cross-fade into each other. Maintaining the attention of the listener is the ultimate goal and very hard to do.

Most voice over showreels are a maximum of three minutes. Most clients will not listen to the entire demo so make sure that the best parts are at the beginning of the demo and not at the end. Using a professional studio, like Crash Symphony Productions, to create your demo will make a huge difference to your chances of success.

The quality of the demo is impacted by the recording facility. We are able to record your voice in a very quiet space where there are no intrusive noises that get on to the recording. Our microphones and recording equipment are extremely high-end. This means the audio quality is very good and your vocal will sound its absolute best on the showreel. Our engineers are also very experienced at recording scripts. We can guide you through the process by making sure that you get the best performance for each part of the demo.

The Tone of Your Voice

There’s no question about it – Some people just have the voice. There’s a natural tonal quality that comes with the anatomical geometry of every individual. Some voices just sound amazing. It may be a male with a deep and rich vocal tone or a female with a sweet and sexy tone. There’s no doubting that the natural tonal quality of your voice is going to make a difference to your chances of success. However, this is not as much of a major factor as people may initially anticipate. Other factors play a much more important role in the success of the talent. Read on to learn more!

The Clarity of Your Voice

Clarity of voice is something that needs to be worked on. We refer to this as diction. Making sure that all the t’s and s’s are pronounced properly is really important and very much a learned skill. People who have done extensive training in acting are usually very good at increasing the clarity of their voice through these trained skills.

There’s no doubt that the recording equipment has a significant impact on the clarity of the voice on a recording. It isn’t just the talent’s skill. A condenser microphone in a very quiet, acoustically inactive, and sonically impermeable space is the ideal place to record a voice over. The microphone’s proximity to the voice is critical to getting the clarity right, too. If the mouth is too close to the microphone the bass frequencies will be loud and this makes the voice sound muddy. Conversely, if it is too far away the detail will be lost, also. If the microphone is too low with respect to the oral cavity the harsh sibilant frequencies will be loud and shrill. All these audio engineering factors play a major role in the perceived clarity of the voice on the recording.

Understanding Vocal Inflections

Vocal inflections are an important part of creating tense in a voice over recording. An inflection is an upward or downward movement in the pitch of the voice during the reading of a passage. Upward inflections are an indicating to the listen that the passage or idea will continue. That it is NOT the end of the idea. Conversely, a downward inflection indicates the end of a passage. It is a kind of auditory full stop to the listener. Once a talent is aware of the importance of inflections it is easy to do. It is amazing how few people are aware of inflections. They are really important for creating a good voice over recording.

The overall dynamic and contour of the voice over passage is super important in retaining the attention of the listener and ultimately in selling the idea. Without vocal inflections in the appropriate places the read can sound very monotonous.

Reading Tempo

Tempo, or read-speed, is another aspect of voice over recording that gets easily over looked by the talent. Many inexperienced voice over artists will tend to read very fast. They get nervous when they begin to record and, as a result, begin to race through the script. This is not good for the listener as it makes it hard for them to understand the message. An experienced voice talent will be able to adjust their reading tempo to what is required for the script. Maintaining the tempo is also critically important. When the producer asks the talent to slow the tempo down some inexperienced artists will slow down initially only to accelerate back up to their initial hyped tempo. Being flexible and controlled with the tempo is the sign of a strong voice over artist.

Reading Skills during a voice over

Reading skill is arguably the make or break of a good voice over artist. Truly professional voice over artists can walk into a studio, be handed a script that they have never seen before, and read it so fluently that you would think that they were saying it naturally off-the-cuff. This is akin to a violinist who can sight-read sheet music in an orchestra. Of course, it is not common for a talent to be thrown into such a situation but many times the script can be changed during the recording session. The strength of the artist’s sight-reading skills is a telling sign of who is a true professional and who is not. 

Getting on a Voice Over Site

Now that you have your voice over showreel recorded and have honed the craft of being the talent the final step is to get the demo on a site. There are three most common sites that a prospective client might find their voice. A voice agency’s website, a studio website, or if the talent has their own webpage. Let’s examine each of these in some more detail.

Voice Agencies

Voice agencies are by far the most common places that a prospective client will find their talent. The agents will be able to liaise with the client and fast-track their search by communicating with them and identifying what specifically they need. These companies are usually very well established and have great visibility on search engines like Google. As a result a lot of traffic is captured and directed to the agencies. Getting signed to an agent is great but difficult. You need to have an incredible demo, be a proven performer, and it means you can’t have your demo on any other sites. It also means that a large chunk of the earnings will go to pay the agent.Voice over

Studio Webpages

Studios have taken to creating pages where they show off some of the freelance artists that they work with and think are good. The main benefit of this is that if a client contacts the studio first regarding a project the task of locking in the talent is hastened. These artists are freelance and are not signed to another agent. They also have more flexibility with the payment in dealing directly with the talent rather than the agent.This has certainly proven much more practical for CSP.

Talent Pages

Highly ambitious and organised artists will completely manage their own dealings and their website is central to getting new clients. They will need to compete with the SEO power of large talent agencies. If they succeed the financial rewards are enormous.

Reliability for Appointments and Return Business

Being a reliable business operator is the final point to having a successful career in the voice over industry. Some of the points listed here are so obvious but not everyone follows them. These are things like turning up to scheduled appointments on time and making sure that scripts are well rehearsed before the session.

Conclusion

As you can see there are some very specific boxes that need to be ticked in order to have a successful career as a voice over artist. Some of these points are within the control of the talent like reliability, getting a good demo made, and having visibility on the search engines. Other factors are more difficult to acquire like the skills that professional actors spend years training for and a natural tone.

Hopefully this article will help aspiring voice over artists get there careers off the ground. For further questions please feel welcome to contact us here at [email protected] Alternatively, give us a call on 0408 300 402. Best of luck!