Tag Archives: Recording studio

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.

07 May

Country Music

Origins

Country and western is the traditional way to refer to country music. It is a style that began in the south of the United States in the 1900’s . Borrowing from genres such as blues, western, bluegrass, Appalachian folk music, hillbilly music and more recently rock and roll and pop. It is helpful for to understand the roots of country for any country artists hoping to enter a Sydney Recording Studio.

Country music usually consists of a fairly simple form with a focus on lyrical content and story telling. From ballads to up tempo hoe-down style dance music, it uses a range of topics. Some of the most famous Australian Country songs were written about the harsh landscape and life as a farmer. This was the same in Texas and many other southern states. Life as a rancher or as a cowboy was often sung about and dramatised over several verses. Like all other forms of pop music there are always love ballads and romantic songs. Stringed instruments are the most popular instruments in country. This includes electric guitars, banjos, acoustic guitars, pedal steels and lap steels and also fiddles.

The term country came to notoriety in the 1940’s and replaced the terms hillbilly or Western. It has become phenomenally popular in the United States. Country music stations are the most listened to nation wide during the evening commute in rush hour. It’s about sentimentality and the stories and ideas that give people hope and something to dream about even when stuck in a big city.

The Australian Scene

The Australian country music continues to dazzle with very strong song writers and bands. It is Australias most successful original music scene and has its own charts. Adam Brand and people like him have put Australia on the map by performing in the USA and excelling at the very music that came from there. Modern Australian artists such as Troy Cassar-Daley, Lee Kerhaghan, Troy Kemp,  Keith Urban (who is actually from NZ but spent much of his career in Aus),  and Casey Chambers have done extraordinarily well in Australia and have huge followings both in the cities and in regional areas. Adam Brand encapsulates classic Australian sounds and mix them with powerful hard hitting American rock genres. 

Country artists are particularly active and encouraging during times of severe hard-ship such as drought, bushfire or flood. Often they fly out to remote locations and perform to people who otherwise may not have access to music or arts.

Icons of Australian Music

Slim Dusty is one of the best know country artists in the world. Slim rocketed to success after releasing his famous song “A Pub with No Beer”.  The song is a hit internationally and he was the first Australian to have an international hit record. It was considered typical “Occar” Australian and recounts the different characters of the outback and their desperate need for a beer in the lonely Australian desert

It’s lonesome away, from your kindred and all
By the campfire at night, where the wild dingoes call
But there’s nothing so lonesome, so morbid or drear
Than to stand in a bar, of a pub with no beer Now the publicans anxious, for the quota to come.
There’s a faraway look, on the face of the bum.
The maids gone all cranky , and the cooks acting queer.
What a terrible place, is a pub with no beer.

The Stockman rides up with his dusty dry throat.
He breasts up to the bar, pulls a wad from his coat.
But the smile on has face, quickly turns to a sneer.
When the barman said sadly, the pubs got no beer.

Bush poetry

Slim is famous for encapsulating country Australia and has been compared to the great bush poets such as Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson. Some of his works are actually poems and have been recounted in many a Sydney Voice Over studio. Bush poetry requires skilled voice over artists who can enter a voice over studio with a knowledge of the genre. Slim himself also has written many songs about the Trucking industry and life on the road. Him & his wife were patrons for the National Truck Drivers’ Memorial in Tarcutta, New South Wales.  A quote from one of his lesser know songs “Along the road of song” encapsulates some of his conection with the road.

“‘Neath the gumtrees by the roadway,
As the sun goes down outback
I lay at rest in peaceful reverie,
Then I thought of all the songs I’d sung
About the outback track,
And that is how this vision came to me.”

This Australian icon has won an unrivalled 37 Golden Guitar Awards and is in the Aria Hall of Fame. He was a prolific song writer and when he died at age 76, he was recoding his 106th Album.

Slim Dusty is remembered by his arts centre has been founded in Kempsey New South Wales which was his home town. It was opened in 2015 and designed to keep the legacy and music of Slim Dusty alive.]

His daughter Anne Kirkpatrick is also a renowned country singer and songwriter. Anne carries on the legacy proudly and has won Golden Guitar Awards at the Tamworth Country Music Festival in 1979, 1991, and twice in 1992. Anne also won an ARIA Award for Best Australian Country Record in 1992.

John Williamson

One of the greatest Country Icons of the 80’s was John Williamson . John plays awareness songs and is very vocal and active in supporting the Red Cross and various wildlife funds including Wildlife Warriors world wide. His famous hit “True Blue” was adopted by the Australian Cricket team and encapsulated concepts and lyrics that helped people understand what it was to be truly Australian. It was recorded and produced in a Sydney Recording Studio and still is played on country radio to this day. 

Modern movements and changes

Modern artists write and perform quite differently to the simplicity of land and travel ballads. Slim Dusty provides an example of simple folk song telling. Recent artists produce modern pop sounds and harder rock edge. The songs have quite dazzling high budget video clips and are usually sung with American accents. Often young Australian Artists will not use a Sydney Recording Studio and send their song stems to Nashville to try and get the same sounds as the American artists. However there are quite accomplished Sydney Recording Studios such as Crash Symphony Productions that successfully emulate the Nashville sound and can mix Country music in an authentic way.

16 Jan
recording studio

Jazz Harmony concepts for beginners

Understanding Jazz Harmony

Jazz harmony can be intimidating for many musicians. Looking at a jazz standard on a piece of sheet music can be quite baffling. Chords sometimes seem unrelated and with all the alterations they have it is often easier just to say “this is not my bag”. So many people walk away from Jazz because they are intimidated by jazz harmony. You need not be! There are foundational principles that can get you through any well known jazz standard when tracking in a Sydney recording studio. 

Simplify the voicings. 

First of all, for chordal and accompaniment instruments in a sound studio it is rarely necessary to add alterations such as b9, #9, 13 or #5. These are colours that are often expressed in the melody itself. In fact sometime adding the alterations can clash with the melody if it is there as a passing note. Yes, ideally we want to use them to give the standard its colour. However if you are struggling with a first reading of jazz harmony, it is totally acceptable to play the basic foundational chord. These reduce the amount of shapes and voicing you need to grapple with. Here is a chart of 5 basic chord qualities without alterations:

Dominant 7th.     1.   3.   5.  b7

Major 7th            1.   3.   5.   7           

Minor 7th.           1.   b3.   5.  b7

Half diminished.  1.   b3.   b5.  b7

Diminished          1.   b3.   b5.  6

 

Simpler than it looks

Quite seriously that is all you need to find your way through a jazz standard. Also it is worth bearing in mind that you rarely even need to add the 5th of the chord. The 3rd and the 7th are what gives a chord its unique character. Even in a Half Diminished chord where the b5 is unique, a beginner jazz student can still play 1,  b3,  b7 (the same 3 note voicing as a minor 7th chord) without interfering with the harmony or the rest of the band in a Sydney recording studio.

There is just no need to avoid jazz any longer. However start with what you know and add to it slowly. Just playing through the tonic, 3rd and 7th of every chord in a standard will give you a beautiful insight into the “harmonic flow” of the song. 

Other useful approaches can be applied step by step once the above method is conquered. For example if you are comfortable with simple 1 3 7 voicing’s (or better still ONLY 3 and 7 voicing with out tonic. Yes that’s right 2 notes are more effective than 3 when there is a bass player in the band!) Having said that, we can now begin to approach the extensions in a non intimidating way. 

Simplifying extensions

Approaching the b9 in jazz harmony is easier than we think. When you see a dominant 7th b9 chord you can simply choose to play ANY diminished triad off the b9 itself, the 3rd, 5th and 7th. This is because the entire chord is a diminished chord with a different bass note. Remember the bass note/tonic is not your responsibility when there is a bass player in the band when jamming in a music studio in Sydney. For example: 

C7b9 you can quite safely play any of the following:

Edim. (Built off the 3rd)

Gdim. (Built off the 5th)

Bbdim (Built off the 7th)

Dbdim (Built off the b9th)

Most importantly the aim of this article is to make life easier for intermediate/beginner players when reading or recording a jazz standard. So when you see a progression like this:  Dm9.   G7b9.  Cma9#11

Your options can be very simple and very tasteful. 

A D minor 7th chord with no 5th will suffice – though the 5th is ok also if its easier (try 5th fret root note voicing from the A string)

for the G7c9 Just play a D diminished from the same position!

Landing on the Cmajor is a simple 3 note voicing going downwards from the 5th fret, voicing: G B E

All the above is accomplished with hardly any movement and can be applied time and again in any key for any II V I progression.

The next step

Let’s use the same example and try a different position and add perhaps 1 more extension.

Try from the 10th fret:

Dm7 3 note voicing (E string root note on 10th fret)

G7b9 –  Ab diminished (from the Ab on the A string)

Cma9#11 – Similarly, the simple major 7 shape (3 note voicing) with C root note on the 8th fret. If you are ready, you can leave off the root note: C and play the upper 2 notes B and E (9th fret D and G strings) and simply add a D on top (10th fret high E string). You could simply play a G major 7 triad (this contains G, B, D and F#). This is particularly allowable if the there is a pianist in the group that will cover the 3rd of the harmony. Another option is to simply play an Em9 chord or Em7. This covers the upper harmony of a Cma9#11chord quite comprehensively. However, that is slightly more advanced and will be covered in another blog about recording in a Sydney sound studio.

Beginning to think in full triads and chords that start on the 3rd and the 5th of the chord you are comping will give you a head start for playing extensions!

Some other useful shapes and ideas are located here at Learn Jazz Standards.

Various 3 note voicing positions:

 

11 Dec
sydney recording studio

Tips for EQ

Tips for EQ

EQing is a big subject but it doesn’t’ need to be intimidating in a Sydney sound studio. The best way to think of EQ is to understand that each instrument has its own “space”. We generally don’t want to invade that space with other instruments. We want to keep them distinct so they stand out more and occupy the frequencies that are most appropriate for them. Its as much about separating  instruments as it is about blending in a recording studio! For example: Generally you don’t want to have a really bass heavy electric guitar mix because it will muddy the actual bass guitar mix.  Another thing that can interfere with your bass guitar mix is unwanted lower mids in the kick drum. We want big lows on the kick and even some highs to give it some cut through but we don’t want it muddying up the bass mix. Sometimes when mixing we have to focus less on the actual sound of the individual instrument. Try and get a big picture of how it interacts with other instruments. Understanding frequency ranges is essential for this concept to flow nicely for you when you are mixing.

Tips for EQ inside certain frequency boundaries:

20 – 80Hz: These frequencies tend to be felt more than actually heard. They are where the “power” in the mix comes from. They give drive to the rest of the mix. The bass and kick drum live down here.

80 – 250Hz:  The danger zone!!! Please remember this. A lot of instruments meet here and all compete for space so it’s really worth cleaning this up on each individual track. We don’t’ want it to be overcrowded and muddy here.

250 – 2kHz: This is where you will spend most of your time creating and sculpting the beauty of a good mix in a sydney recording studio. The fundamental harmonics of most instruments are in this range. Learn what instruments are most prevalent in this region and clean up around them to let them really shine and stand out.

2k – 5kHz: Try and be subtle in this area. It’s very powerful and gives clarity to most instruments. Be careful not to go overboard here because it can make a mix sound harsh. Sometimes it can be a fine line between crystal clear, crisp clarity and rowdy harshness.

5k – 8kHz: Particularly important in a Voice over studio – this is where the “s” sounds live and where consonants are defined. You give clarity to a vocal in this region.

8k – 20kHz: This is great for the top end of the Hi-hats and all cymbals. It’s a shimmering place, adds brightness and sparkle to the mix of your Sydney sound studio.

Tips for EQ with specific instruments:

 Voice: If the voice is really booming you can use a high pass filter at 150Hz. If it is too thick and intrusive you can cut a bit out of the danger zone at around 240Hz. If you feel they are not standing out in the mix enough, boosting 2.5k will help them to cut through.

Bass guitar: Basses vary a lot and different instruments have different characteristics. Spend some time getting to know a bass during the input phase. Some melt like butter perfectly into any mix with very little work (like the Fodera NYC at Crash Symphony Productions). Others on the other hand require a bit more love and attention. Generally speaking if you feel the bass is too muddy, try cutting 160 – 200Hz. 700 to 1kHz will help the individual notes to stand out. This zone will also create that “new string” sound if the strings aren’t fresh. Be warned though, a lot of other instruments need that space between 700 and 1k so boost it sparingly and possibly automate it a little for “bass feature” passages.

Live Piano

Often the most complex instrument to mix. This really depends on the mics you are using and where they are positioned. Stay tuned for another article on this topic. If it is boomy  you can often find the problem between 200 – 350Hz. If it’s a bit honky and “barking” cut more towards 400 – 500Hz. Between 2 and 4kHz you can get it to cut through. A little often goes a long way in that region!

Kick and lower toms

They will almost always sound quite boxy at around 500Hz and you can usually cull a fair bit in that region. 5k is where you will get the cut through to make sure they aren’t just lost in lows and low mids. 60-80Hz will give you the power and the drive that you want mostly from a kick drum.

Hi- Hat

A hugely important instrument that can determine groove, subdivision style and so many other important characteristics in a song. Cut back on lows and low-mids. You don’t really need much down there. Above that experiment and look for the character you want. Don’t forget 8k – 20k where you will get the brilliance.

Snare

You can be fairly gentle with most snares (though of course they vary). Generally speaking they can stand to lose a bit around 600Hz. 4k on the other hand can really give them the smack and cut through they need to drive a song. Depending on the drum itself and how it is tuned, 200Hz can sometimes be appropriate to boost a little. Experiment and see if this is what you’re looking for. Refer to 80’s power ballads for this style of snare!

For further reading to optimise your work in a Sydney recording studio, make sure you check out Udemy!

tips for eq

 

 

27 Nov
Video Production Sydney

Maintaining your skills as a musician

Maintaining your skills as a musician

Songwriting can be great fun and can even be an addiction. A very healthy and productive one! Once you get inside a music studio in Sydney and begin to let the creative juices flow, hours can pass without even noticing. While this is a great place to be in we mustn’t forget the rudiments of playing music and maintaining our skills!
In fact practicing and discovering new techniques, rhythmic patterns and melodic devices can enhance our song writing and recording studio ability. Below I have outlined a few techniques, concepts and approaches for developing focus and direction in your practice routine

Stay with one theme for a period of time.

When maintaining your skills be sure to focus on one particular style or style for a period of time. Not hours or days but rather weeks. (Sometimes it takes even months of practice in a Sydney recording studio.)
As consumers we are constantly bombarded with new music from Spotify to Apple music to all the latest releases on YouTube and the radio. As well as this there are instructional videos, blogs and websites with a multitude of suggestions about what we should be learning and practicing. Musicians often find themselves jumping from one technique to another without mastering anything quite perfectly. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with having variety in your practice routine. The way to really improve is to stick at one concept for a while. To take a very simple example. If you want to improve your playing and phrasing as a guitarist for example. I highly recommend looking closely classic solos and focusing on every inflection. Its these details that make great musicians great. From the length of each note to the style of picking and also the pitch accuracy of bending notes.
Focus on whatever you are trying to accomplish for a period of weeks. This will create a consistency and authenticity in your playing. It’s important to state at this point that you should choose something you are passionate about. If you enjoy the playing of the master you are imitating you will be inspired to spend more focussed time on that aspect of practicing in a music studio in Sydney.

Slow things down

Very much related to the previous paragraph is the idea of slowing down sections of a song or solo in order to be more accurate. Playing something fast over and over his very ineffective. It does not iron out the problems that need to be ironed out. In fact it can cause you to develop bad technique and habits! Allow your muscle memory and fingers to adjust and really absorb what you are learning. Give them a chance lock into new phrase over time.  Slow down and focus on the details. It may seem tedious at the time they will pay great dividends later on. When people are listening and wondering what that “x-factor” is as you solo years down the track, you can surely point back to this concept. Similarly, when learning a new scale this is especially important. Playing a scale fast does not necessarily mean it is is embedded in your long-term memory. Try the scale slowly in different positions and “feel” each note. Allow each note and each position on the fretboard to become a part of your long term memory. When this happens you will find that you can call on it at any time when improvising in a Sydney recording studio.

Set goals

Goal setting is especially important when desiring to improve our playing. The goals can be very simple and no doubt they will change from time to time. The important thing is that when you sit down with the instrument you think before playing! So many times we just pick a guitar up and “noodle”. Its very relaxing and can be great for relieving stress. Many non-professional adult students simply want to play guitar for stress relief and therapy and this is fine! They don’t necessarily have the goal like you of maintaining your skills.They have other focusses and occupations in life and guitar is just an “outlet”. If however you are looking to move forward as a musician focus is essential. Quite literally before picking up the instrument, tell yourself OUT LOUD what you hope to accomplish. This will cause you to be so much more time efficient. It is astounding what someone can accomplish in just 10 minutes a day. Its not quantity that you need to improve. It is quality in focus. The irony about this entire concept is that at the end of a productive 10 minutes you will feel so much more accomplished and relaxed than if you wasted 10 minutes noodling! Playing something we are already familiar with because it sounds good is really a time waster. Yes it can be gratifying for a moment. But frankly – MOVE ON! Forward progress is exhilarating when you develop momentum. I cannot emphasise enough how fulfilling it is after a week or 2 of just 20 minutes a day on a new technique in a music studio in Sydney to feel yourself nailing it. If you’re looking to make a big impact in a sound studio in Sydney, go in with a constantly evolving skill set!

16 Nov

Recording studio ideas for song writing

Planning an album at home

It’s a common practice these days to record one’s own demo material before taking it to a professional recording studio like Crash Symphony Productions. To save a lot of time and money I highly recommend planning your album and song writing in a flow chart. Know where you are going while at the same time being open and flexible. Consider a few important factors before moving forward. Below are some pointers and ideas about how to be prepared for the ultimate Sydney recording studio experience:

Getting an honest opinion on your song material

There are a few hard and fast rules about song writing. Yes, everyone has their own style and different lyric content. Yet there are things that you can’t do without. One of those things is the opinion of others! We may fear the opinions of others and be hesitant to ask. Don’t let this stop you from collecting as many ideas and opinions as possible. It is true that some people will have a different taste to what you are writing. The reality however is that most people can even hear a hit song in a genre that they are not familiar with. I cannot count how many times I have written 3 or 4 songs only to find out that my least favourite was popular with other people! You could be leaving gems on the shelf and missing obvious recording studio hits. When you walk into a recording studio it is often too late to be chopping and changing the songs you want on your album.

A consistent feel

While every song will not be the same on your album, certainly there should be a consistent “feeling” that comes through. You want variety of course but without sacrificing the general style of the album. Recording studios are the place to refine this sound and hone in on a common thread between different songs. A particular instrument or vocal sound. A recurring emotional theme in the lyrics. A common thread of production ideas. All of these things are ways to “unify” an album. Consider the great artists and albums like Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”. Another great album is the 1976 “Hotel California” by The Eagles. Both of these classic albums have a very clear unification between songs. The guitar sounds, the production and even the lyrics all tend to “gel” and create a feeling. Similarly modern albums like “X” by Ed Sheeran have a very unified feel. Sheeran plans his songs and the feelings long before he ever enters recording studios! He knows what he wants and so should you.

Writing from the heart

Another important factor when walking into a recording studio is to have your heart on yoru sleeve. A good producer and Crash Symphony productions will always look for the heart of your project and try to reflect that in every aspect of the production. To some people this might sound overly emotional but the reality is – music IS emotional! You are aiming to catch peoples attention, not just with their ears, but also with their heart and mind. If they can walk away knowing they have been truly touched and influenced by your music, you can be sure the album will do well.

Who is your audience?

Consider the people who may or may not listen to your songs. When walking into recording studios, young artists often forget their intended audience. Sit back after you have begun a song and try to envision the people you are singing too. Music is a two way art form and the listener is as important as the performer. So many people walk away from recording studios disappointed with sales because they did not have a target. A classic example of this is someone who’s song writing is very old sounding (70’s or 80’s style) and is surprised when they don’t’ get any local modern radio play! There is nothing wrong with writing for a bye-gone era as long as you are aware that you are competing for a place among those genres. It can be harder to break into a scene that has already been flooded with great music. Having said that, you can write in any style you want if you understand the audience. People are always hungry for new music of ANY style. So don’t be discouraged!

Finding lyric material

Are you a detective? Are you an investigative journalist? If not, try and imagine that you are! Be hungry for new ideas and new lyrics. If your eyes are open all the time for new material and ideas, you will be surprised by your song writing. There are emotions, thoughts, behaviours and relationship stories all around you. When you walk into a recording studio you should be full of great lyrics and stories to tell to your prospective listener.

 

07 Nov

Recording Studio Techniques for Arranging

Arranging and voicing for different sized bands

Arranging is a broad topic and it is not nearly as intimidating as most people think. Recording studios that focus on film music in particular need these techniques.  You don’t necessarily need an impossible set of skills and years of experience. Rather some basic principles to help you understand how instruments blend. If you are looking to “fatten up” your sound and expand from the typical 4 – 5 piece rock pop band, consider these factors:

Thinning out the rhythm section

When adding brass remember to thin out the harmony instruments like piano and guitar when arranging. Often just removing a few notes from the voicings of accompaniment instruments can really create space. This allows brass harmonies to breath. Also ask the rhythm players to comp around the brass arrangements. Recording or re-recording chordal instruments after the brass lines have been recorded is better.

Ranges and tonality

Research the optimal range and tonalities of the instruments you want to add. For example if you were going to add a cello in multiple layers, try and get a grasp of what a cello sounds like in different octaves. I use cello for an example because it is remarkably versatile. It can sound extraordinarily warm in the middle register, (a 6th or so either side of middle C). With this in mind you may be able to cover the role of a viola or even a trombone for ballad style voicing.

Like wise, even the violin itself has different character in different octaves. You will find a violin will need far more overdubbing to sound smooth. Extra layers are essential to remove the harshness from the upper ranges of a violin. This is evidenced in many of the samples and plug-ins that allow for this factor.

Using mutes

Remember the availability of mutes and different techniques. For example, dramatic changes in tonality can be achieved with a trumpet by simply changing mutes. A cup mute can give a darker, swallowed and less intrusive sound. A straight mute will punctuate the instrument and cause it to stand out even at lower volumes.

Using unusual instruments

Consider the use of unusual orchestral instruments. A French Horn can add surprising clarity and smoothness to a ballad arrangement. Long tones on a French horn blended with trombone and flugelhorn can create a warm mystical flavour (think unicorns). This steers the sound away from the cliché’s of a standard brass line up.

Panning and mixing

Panning and mic positioning can influence the sound dramatically. Creating a natural “orchestral spread” is vital to give a fuller more authentic sound to your arrangements. Also using the correct eq and reverb for each instrument is vital. In recording studios, most of the magic happens around mixing.

Simple lines

Recording studio work can be taxing so don’t over think the lines. Often a simple 3 or 4 note pentatonic motif with some basic syncopation is sufficient for brass lines. Such lines can be sketched out on a guitar or taken from motifs and ideas with in the existing melody. Very often the first idea that comes into your head will be the one that is most congruent with the style of the song. After this point it is simply a matter of trialing the lines with the brass players and allowing them to suggest appropriate changes! Remember they play their instrument day and night and certain phrases “roll off the mouthpiece” easier than others.

Involving the players

Related to the previous point: Let the brass players experiment with their own lines. You could ask them to perform multiple takes with different inflections, fall offs, flutter tongues and blending techniques and even different turns of phrase. In recording studios this can reveal surprisingly workable lines and add to the originality of the arrangement as a whole.

Balancing instrument velocity

Recording studio equipment allows management of volume before mixing! Brass and wind instruments are not so different to tube amps and have different points of volume response for tonality. This is one of the main reasons they are far superior to any samples or plugins. Similarly, the interval between notes in a voicing can affect the impact greatly.

For example: Shifting the trombone part up a 3rdor 4thand closing the gap with the trumpet can create a much thicker sound depending on over tones in a composition. Be conscious of harmonics and the power of a 5thas opposed to the relative gentleness of a third. Bear in mind the science of the instruments and listen to multiple options. Sometimes it is simply not possible to tell on paper what a blend will sound like! Experimenting with voicing’s and changing intervals during a session can reveal some gorgeous sounds. The recording studio itself may have certain frequencies that respond to different notes in the same room.

 

30 Oct

Recording Studios Laser Physics

Recording studios

Recording studios are high-tech environments and there are many technologies that make a recording studio function in the twenty first century. In this article we will look at how lasers have made a difference to the modern recording studio. We’ll dive into the actual raw details about how lasers work and how they help make things function more efficiently. So let’s look at recording studios laser physics!

What Recording studio technology uses Lasers

Lasers have augmented the digital era dramatically. This is because lasers can be switched on and off very rapidly, and thus, can transmit binary code. In the recording studio lasers can be found in CD and DVD reader-writers, fiberoptic cabling aka “light-pipe”, and alarm systems. Read more about recording studios here.

Understanding how lasers work

The word ‘laser’ is actually an acronym for Light Amplified Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Few recording studio engineers actually appreciate this fact about lasers. Let’s explore how lasers work at the atomic level. Essentially, when energy is imparted to an atom the electrons respond by jumping up to higher energy valence orbitals. When these electrons will spontaneously fall back down to their ‘ground state’ energy level and release their energy in the form of light. This light is released in a packet that we refer to as a photo.

Energy is ‘pumped’ into the atoms. This continues until all the electrons have had their energy states elevated to the upper orbitals. This will cause all these electrons to elevate to higher energy levels. When all these electrons have fully occupied their higher energy levels we refer to this atomic state as ‘population inversion’. Now for the important part. When we fire a photo at an atom that is in population inversion it causes all the higher energy electrons to fall back down to their ground simultaneously. Therefore, all of these electrons will release photos, or light energy, at the same time. The atom will, thus, emit a large amount of light. Now you know how the words ‘Stimulated’ and ‘Amplified’ got used in the famous  acronym – LASER!

Fiber Optics and Lasers

Fiberoptic physics is extremely important in the digital age because this is how we harness lasers to transmit binary information at close to the speed of light. Recording studios utilise fiberoptic cables throughout. It may be a cable transmitting audio information from the computer to the audio-digital-converter or the internet cable taking data to another part of the world. Fiberoptic cables are the fastest that we can currently transmit binary information.

A fiberoptic cable is made from glass, glass-polymer, or polymers. The beam is aimed down the centre core. This how it reaches the other end of the cable. The refractive index of the core of the cable is varied according to the gaussian function and this is key to why the beam doesn’t escape the cable. The multiple beams (referred to as modes) arrive at the other end of the cable, simultaneously. The gaussian refractive index inside the core ensures that this occurs. This increases the efficiency of data transfer along a multi-mode fiberoptic core.

The future of recording studios with Lasers

Recording studios are becoming more digital-dominant and less analogue as technology progresses. It makes sense then that we will see greater use of laser technology in recording studios. There is new technology currently emerging that will assist recording studio engineers to place microphones on instruments robotically. These devices will use laser distance-guidance systems to help the computers determine the microphones location relative to the player and instrument. Recording studios are highly reliant on the internet.

Transferring large packets of digital data is becoming increasingly important! The internet is becoming a global recording studio. As the technology available for the internet becomes faster the latency will asymptotically approach zero. This will allow musicians, who are in geographically different locations, to jam with each other over the internet!

Solutions such as ‘wireless fiberoptic’ are becoming closer to reality. The internet could be sped up by astonishing orders-of-magnitude through the use of this technology. It must be noted that this technology is still about five years off in the United States! This technology is how we at Crash Symphony Productions stay ahead of the game in an ever changing technological world.

03 May

Recording Studio: Mick jagger Part 5

Recording Studio Sydney: “We have performed in many special places during our long career, but this show in Havana will be a milestone for us, and, we hope, for all our friends in Cuba, too,” the band said in a statement.

The show at Havana’s Ciudad Deportivo sports arena was the band’s first concert in Cuba and part of its 2016 South American tour.

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