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Studio Blog
February 26, 2013

It's fun to get back together. Joe, Tom, and Linzi stopped by tonight and helped me out on a new song. Love Me Like You Started To. We shall see how this turns out...
February 22, 2013

My obsession has paid off- I'm now officially the discoverer of The Reading, Marietta and Hanover Railroad on the Abandoned Rails site. This one is for my Uncle Skip, the man who taught me what it was to be ironic, may he rest in peace.
February 21, 2013

Roland SRV 330 Dimensional Space Reverb

party lights

This unit failed right at the beginning of mixing the Willie Marble CD, which was good timing. I have other effects units to go to, and other than fattening up instruments, it doesn't get much use. Still, there's a place for it, so it went on the bench for repair.

I went online, and wouldn't you know it? Other people had the same problem I was having. The unit would power up, but then the screen would go blank and it wouldn't pass signal. They had traced the problem to one of two things- either the display backlight was drawing too much current, or the power supply was failing to hold the 5V rail. Or both...

This photo is the backlight, all ripped open. It's a bunch of surface mounted LEDs on a board. The ones that are not lit are the ones that I accidentally cut off the board when I pried it open. Oddly enough, the darn thing still works. I was thinking of replacing the backlight with some other form of light, but nothing worked very well. In the end I dropped a small resistor in series with the light, which results in a dimmer display, but which reduces the current draw to the point where the unit runs. I can live with a dim display...

February 19, 2013

There is a lot I don't know- I'm willing to admit it. This Gram Parsons fella, now I was aware that a lot of people really like him, but the stuff I heard hadn't impressed me so much. Well, I guess I just didn't hear the right stuff. Dr Mo loaned me GP and Grievous Angel on CD because we're working on something sort of country-rock and he wanted to try and get the sound of Kiss the Children.

I am sorta beginning to understand the mania. First and foremost, it's Gram's voice. Then it's the vision thing, the sound on the records, still fresh. There are things I have trouble with lyrically, but really, just the title Grievous Angel is enough to make him one of the immortals...

February 18, 2013

You don't even need to be a fan to enjoy what's going on here, although it helps if you're a studio geek...

Inside "Revolver"

There was a release of (I think) four CDs worth of Beatles studio out-takes some time back, and I just found them on the tube.

When you're confronted with the final product, the hit pop song, it may seem so perfect that you believe in magic. Here's magic with some layers peeled off. Trying different keys, different arrangements. Listen how the doubled guitar riffs tighten up through the course of the thing.

Lately, I'm hot to get me one of those 60's Epiphones and a Vox. Nobody gets that ripping guitar sound!
February 17, 2013

One of the best parts about mixing an album-length project like this is rediscovering the gems and the happy accidents. Like the harp/sax/guitar solo that was performed on three separate nights, but which sounds like three guys playing off each other's riffs, totally live.

I'm totally impressed with the playing on this record. Most of these overdubs were first or second takes.

Another joy is mixing the 12-piece vocal chorus. I had to chance to record them to four tracks, so I can do a lot with the "space" they're in.

Stay tuned for more about this project...
February 13, 2013

mixing



OK, now this here is a video of me mixing a song for the Willie Marble project. The video is around an hour and a half long. The actual mixing took twice that. But that doesn't make this some kind of highlights tape.

The fact is, there are no "highlights" in mixing, other than those odd happy moments when things come together. Generally, it's a process of making small corrections, over and over. Watching me do it would be, for most people, like watching paint dry. But, if you want to know how it works, (or at least, how my process works), grab a beer and have a go.
February 12, 2013

I had a nice long talk with Bob Kopf on Sunday for the Music Makers of Lancaster project that Linda Davis is putting together. In the course of it I referred to a video of a performance I'm obsessed with to make a point about the importance of time in music. Here's the Nino Rota Orchestra performing the overture to La Gazza Ladra, otherwise known as The Thieving Magpie.



Highly entertaining, and moving, performance. Compare and contrast- the same piece performed by The Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.



Note perfect, but... meh... My impression is that example number two tries to make up for the lack of emotion with an increase in tempo. (hmmm- keep that comment to yourself, Doug...) Ol' example number one may be a little sloppy through the fast passages, but when it gets to the important stuff- they nail it.
February 11, 2013

Sax and Violins

bone

After that, it's gotta be trombones, right? This was possibly the final recording session for the Willie Marble project. Now it's all about mixin' it down...
February 08, 2013

Mike

Mike S. was in last night and played alto sax on 5 Willie Marble songs. First time I've recorded sax- I set up three mics in front of him and we did a shoot-out. The Sennheiser 441 beat a Beyer ribbon and an M-Audio large capsule condensor. The ribbon was a real close second though.
February 06, 2013

locals... 3 Dollar Suit

I'm enjoying another local band release- Grainery Road by 3 Dollar Suit. From the Seven Valleys area in York county. Now, I was through there recently, and I didn't actually count, but there are lots of valleys there.

I'm liking the songs and the singing and the playing, but I think I'm most impressed by the recording and production by Fred Pellegrini. Really nice vocal and guitar sounds, appropriate "extras", and an open aural space. All respect...
February 04, 2013

Stray Birds

The Stray Birds have some songs on WXPN's Key Studio Sessions. Nice graphic, too...

...come to find out they are scheduled to play a show on Mountain Stage on April 7. Busy birds...

February 01, 2013

Glyn Johns

Dr Mo stopped over yesterday and we began arranging his latest song. I used the opportunity to try out this micing technique on my "new" drumset- something known as the Glyn Johns method.

It sounds so scientific and so British, doesn't it? Well, Mr. Johns used this drum micing technique on some pretty well known records. Now, the caveat they all tell you is that "this works wonderfully, with a good drummer and a well-tuned set." The fact is, a good drummer with a well-tuned set sounds wonderful through a can on a string, but we'll let that slide.

What they mean when they say it is that there will be no fixing things later. When drums are recorded this way, they sound live and natural, and you'll get what they really sound like, and nothing is hidden. It's a great sound.

Here's a little sample, my playing, so not the best drummer, and my crappy old set, so not the best set, but in a good room with lots of space, so very natural sounding.

Example of Glyn Johns method.mp3

There's no eq or gating or effects on those. When the song gets further along I'll eq and compress them a bit as needed- if we wind up using these. My ability to shuffle is limited...
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