Like everyone in the music biz, mixers and producers have a reverence for the giants whose shoulders they stand on. We love to learn from the greats and, in this book, journalist and engineer Howard Massey sits down with 37 of them to record their hard-won insights. From Sir George Martin to Phil Ramone to Alan Parsons, we’re treated to intimate insights into how these producers makes great records and what makes each of them tick. Many of the common lessons here we knew already — such as the importance of getting the best performance over fixing things during the mixing process — but there’s real value in the way that these sentiments and lessons are articulated differently by each interviewee.
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Even though Zen is filled with useful technical tips, all that information is grounded within its proper context: great music and the emotions which fuel it. Based on the success of this volume, Mixerman went on to pen two more Zen volumes covering audio production, so don’t sleep on checking out the full set.
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We live in an exciting time for music. Now more than ever, independent musicians can create, release, and earn from music while maintaining full ownership. Gone are the days when a handful of tastemakers and big businesses decide who’s in and who’s out. We, the people — the producers, the songwriters — now have the ability to “place” our music on digital “shelves” where real consumers can listen to that music and thus support the continued creative process.
Alternatively if you’re an act like LCD Soundsystem or Emerson, Lake, and Palmer and you’ve brought giant synths and racks on stage that are exploding with wires and patch cables, you’re telling your audience that these instruments are so important to your sound that you’re willing to lug hundreds of pounds of equipment around with you wherever you go. Think about how your instruments, electronics, and gear is organized on stage and make sure you don’t take that aspect of your performance for granted, it helps in the very least to contextualize your stage presence.
Some quick and handy approaches to getting a great sounding recording of your drumkit, even if you only have a couple mics lying around your home studio!
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The year’s half over but tons of great conferences are still ahead. Here are our favorite North American music gatherings that you need in your calendar.
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From contemplative songwriting, to epic beats, to carefully crafted orchestrations, September’s student artists have created some memorable pieces in their Mainstage courses. Over several weeks of detailed content, constrained prompts, and personal feedback and support from a Soundfly Mentor, these students were able to explore and develop musical skills in areas like production, composition, and performance. Here are a few highlights:
It’s really something, even in robotic MIDI form. The chromaticism leapt right out at me on first hearing. It’s worth going on a little journey so you understand what chromaticism is and why it’s a big deal. The chromatic scale is the one you get when you play all 12 notes in the Western tuning system, all the notes on the piano or guitar or whatever. The chromatic scale sounds pretty bad. It’s too much information. The notes don’t feel like they’re related in any particular way, like there’s any logic to them.
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The tritone is a mainstay interval of heavy, dissonant rock riffage. In a most classic example, Black Sabbath’s self-titled song “Black Sabbath” (off the self-titled record, Black Sabbath) hits us with this massively dissonant tritone as soon as the band enters at 0:36, first jumping an octave before descending a gnarly diminished fifth, aiming to invoke the unequivocal power of the devil. The first time features a fast trill on the guitar, with a cleaner example of the interval at 0:47.
How do you record in a studio environment without the studio price tag or having to build a studio yourself? Closets, people! And don’t remove your clothes either (the ones hanging in your closet. You’re welcome to do this naked).