Category Archives: Uncategorized

Homogeneous Recordings

Homogeneous music is the term given to music which has an even balance of frequencies spread out between the instruments of a style such as rock where you would have vocals which can provide anywhere from low to high frequencies, guitar which provides the middle range of frequencies, bass which covers the lower range of frequencies and drums which ties everything together. Having an even spread of frequencies will make a track Homogeneous however if we change up the EQ on some of the instruments like taking all of the bass frequencies away from the bass guitar and the drums you would be left with a very thin sounding track which wouldn’t be Homogeneous any more and instead it would be Disparate.

This is a perfect example of Homogeneous music where 5 vocalists manage to create a full sounding piece of music by covering the bass, middle, and high frequencies using nothing but their voices, which is derivative of the barbershop music style where everything is sung acappella with each member of the quartet covering a certain frequency.

This next track demonstrates homogeny in different instruments which is the opposite of the first track which only focuses on using one instrument and already you can hear an immediate difference in the two recordings as this track fells like it has more substance to it in regards to frequency, as the instrumentation includes: 2 guitars, bass, drums, tenor vocals and violins you can get a very rich and full sound because every instrument here has a specific frequency it centres around resulting in a wall of sound that isn’t too overwhelming for the listener.

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Doom Project: Studio Log

A couple of months ago a friend at college wanted to start up a recording project of a medley he had arranged and performed with me last year, although this time for the majority of the track he had sessioned in a mutual friend of ours to help out with most of the guitar parts on the track. The track consists of three original soundtracks from the retro game series titled “Doom” which involves the tracks “e1m9” “e1m1” and “e1m8” and with the musical direction of Martin those three tracks merged into an arrangement that was ready to take to the studio. As far as my involvement is concerned I provided the lead melody line throughout the track “e1m8” which gives me the least to record as far as the rest of the piece is concerned.

First day of recording my parts consisted of trying to get the right tone that would allow my playing to cut through the mix without becoming too overbearing and causing all of the other parts to become drowned out which we tried to remedy with using amp simulation plugins that were already available to us through logic, however after searching a good long while to find the ideal tone we decided it was best to give up with virtual amps and instead we used Joe’s Orange micro dark terror amp that was already plugged into a cabinet in the adjoining room as it had the best tone when compared to the virtual amps on logic.

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After we sorted out the tones I recorded a few takes of my parts alongside Martin who was playing bass at the same time as a reference track for later on in the recording as we had yet to add the rhythm guitar and the Midi drums which at the time made the track sound very plain, at the end of the recording I had done a fair few takes with a lot of mistakes in them which if this was a proper session where I was getting paid to be on someone’s track I would more than likely never be hired by that person again. The next time I went in to record my parts Martin and Joe had already recorded the rhythm parts for the section that I was playing on which made my life a lot easier as I didn’t have to rely on a click track and instead I had a whole band behind me which helped me get more of a feel for the track, and after a while I managed to get a decent enough take that would later be included on the finished product.

Here is the finished version of the track:

3 Recordings And What Dates Them

Today I will be analysing three tracks in terms of sound quality such as texture and timbre as well as what stylistic and rhythmic elements are being used to determine which decade each recording belongs to which relates to my previous blog on how technology has affected modern music.

The first track I’ll be looking at is “Gloomy Sunday” by Billie Holiday which from the beginning is very apparent that it is not a recording from within the last 60 years because the sound quality isn’t as good as multi track recording which came about in 1955 where the overall tone is a lot more clearer and there’s no background noise which is what’s absent from this recording, also you should be able to distinguish that all of the instruments in the song are being recorded in the same room using one microphone which is what jazz big bands are synonymous for monopolising as multi track hadn’t been invented yet which means you can record everybody in the room in a single take but also be susceptible to hiss in the background that can be heard in this recording. The rhythm of the track is swung on the drum kit which is a musical device mainly utilised in the genre of the same name “Swing” which was at it’s peak of popularity between the early 1930’s to the late 1940’s which coincides with the song being pre multi track, as well as taking the instrumentation into account which is primarily brass we can safely assume that the recording takes place in this time frame. And lo and behold the song “Gloomy Sunday” was recorded in 1941.

The next track I’ll be analysing is “I’m So Glad” by Cream which demonstrates a clear improvement is sound quality when compared to the Billie Holiday track as all of the instruments come across clearly in the mix which could be achieved through multi track recording and computer based recording which places this track post 1955, however the sound quality still isn’t quite up to the standards of modern recording as the vocals sound as though they are recorded separately from the rest of the band and the guitar solo has been overdubbed which gives of the effect that there are four musicians playing whereas in reality there are only three. Knowing this allows us to cast aside the idea of computer based recording and instead focus on multi track which gives us a range from 1955 onwards which brings us to the overall instrumentation and style of this piece of music, the instruments used are: vocals, electric guitar, electric bass and drums which are is a really common combination of instruments and therefore doesn’t really give us much of a clue in regards to dating the track although the style of music does as it is in the style of psychedelic rock that was at the peak of popularity between the mid 1950’s and late 1970’s. The actual year for the release of this recording was 1966.

The final recording I will be analysing shows how a huge development in sound quality when compared to the other to recordings as every instrument can be heard clearly and there is no background hum as a result of using the previous recording technologies which has led me to deduce that the recording is dated from the 1980’s onwards. The track uses instrumentation mostly sourced from virtual instrument plugins which in some cases are sampled sounds taken from real instruments that can be manipulated in order to create compositions without the need to session in a multitude of musicians which only strengthens my deduction, and judging by the quality of the plugins used in this track we can assume that this is a fairly recent recording and if I were to hazard a guess this track about when this track was recorded I would say it would definitely be within the last 15 years. This track was recorded in 2001.

Mixing Issues

A couple of months ago at college my friends recorded a parody track at my expense called “Das Funken” because I made and error in my presentation regarding electro funk and referenced Kraftwerk as being  associated with said genre, this resulted in ridicule amongst my friends and the creation of “Das Funken”. And with me being the type of person who can take a joke I took it upon myself to create my own rendition of the track in my own style.

As I was aiming for the track to be in the style of electro music MIDI plugins are a necessity as the genre relies heavily on them in order to validate it’s identity, and this is where a recent acquisition of mine comes into play which is the Omnisphere 2 by spectrasonics that is essentially an expansive library of MIDI synthesizer plugins that gives me a huge range of sounds to choose from. One of the features of this product is that all of the patches are already premixed before you even use them which kind of defeats the purpose of this blog post if I didn’t any problems mixing the track, however some of the premixed pre-sets conflicted which each other resulting in a battle to gain prominence in the mix and in turn caused an indistinguishable mess of sound to ensue. I chose to remedy the situation using the conflicting patches to create a lead harmony and then I proceeded to pan each patch partially so that if you were to listen through headphones there would a slightly louder patch being sent to the left side and vice versa, and now with the ratio of panning between the two sides becoming equivalent the problems I had troubling me earlier vanished and the sound suddenly became a lot clearer.

Throughout the whole project I only really encountered one major problem area which was trying to come up with a way to effectively cut through the mix which – ironically – in this case is an unfortunate situation for me as I would of loved to have elaborated on  how I managed to work my way around properly mixing a track.

Here’s the link to the finished video:

My Graphic Notation Instructions

For my composition assignment at college I had decided that I would delve into the world of ambient music as well as the realm of unconventional notation when choosing which music genres my final compositions were going to be in, and the reason I made this decision was to help improve some of my problem areas as a musician because when it comes to graphic notation I tend to treat it as a work of art instead of a creative medium for improvisation. The effect I wanted the piece to give of is that of an abandoned mansion where everything you touch has an exaggerated sound like footsteps for example or insects crawling across the floor, and when coupled with an atmospheric drone it creates a atmosphere just like a horror film.

Here are the instructions for the piece:

  • Mustn’t centre around a diatonic key (Atonal)
  • Must be performed by as many as 4 – 12 musicians (4 people on Keyboards and the rest either howling into microphones, shutting doors or walking around
  • Effects must have an ethereal quality like thunder and quiet whispers.

This is the score:

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Prog Show Evaluation

Revisiting the topic of the Kiama show in the previous post I would like to write up a quick evaluation of the gig as a whole, how It affects my long term goal, what I have taken away from the experience and how it will help further my development as a professional musician in the future.

The Evaluation:

As this gig was treated more along the lines of a professional support gig many of the students performing were quite apprehensive when exposed to this new environment seeing as though most of us had only ever performed at college to an audience consisting of students, friends and family members, which lead to a few mistakes being made due to nerves getting the better of us. One of the problem areas I was most  aware of was the drastic difference in sound levels due to the lack of sound checking beforehand, the reason I picked up on this more than anything else is because when it came to my performance in both “Sinister Window” and “Thomas and The Giant Macaroni” my sound levels ended up being louder than the rest of the band making it difficult to distinguish what was being played. The gig as a whole could of gone better as everything felt rather clunky due to the sound check being all over the place but with that being said everyone managed to get through their respective performances without too many problems.

How This Show Affects My Future Goals:

If we refer back to my blog on “Instructive Plans” I mention that my main long term goals are to co-own a studio with another musician and to become a film, game and television soundtrack composer, now how does the prog gig I am currently evaluating affect my long term goals in a way that is beneficial to me?  As an aspiring composer having the chance to write a piece of music tailored to a specific genre of music is a welcome challenge as it gives me a chance to really zone in on what characteristics makes a certain genre unique, which will ultimately lead me to gaining a broader vocabulary of musical styles and will help me to improve my song writing, musicality and work flow which are key qualities in a professional composer.  Unfortunately I didn’t take the initiative and make contacts with the some of the professionals present at the event (Musicians, Journalists) which could of been a great opportunity to further my goal of owning a studio as I might of made a few potential clients or partners, had I been given the chance again I would probably bite the bullet and make conversation with certain people of interest and exchange contact information with them in hope of building future clientèle.

The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Supporting An Established Band

Recently in a couple of my current blog posts I may have mentioned that myself along with the rest of my course performed on a support slot for the band Kiama on the 27th February at Base Studios, which gave us all an insight into how professional musicians approach a serious gig which can ultimately affect the image the band in either a good or bad way. As a support act for an established band your automatically seen as lesser beings and often treated in the same way in most cases as the main act doesn’t want to be shown up, and with the gear on stage most likely belonging to the main act there are guaranteed to be some mishaps along the way which I shall delve into.

The Pros of Being A Support Act:

Being a support act for an established band can give you the element of surprise in most cases as the audience may never of heard of you and has paid for their ticket with the intention of seeing the headlining act, which is where putting on an effective performance can essentially decide if the exposure is good or bad. A few months ago I got the chance to watch The Libertines at the Barclaycard as my brother had a spare ticket available which was a great way for me to get more exposure to a different genre of music which I had never really delved into. Having shied away from this genre I found myself looking forward to being able take in as much as I could which lead to me wanting to watch the support acts (The Enemy, The Sherlocks) prior to the headliners, and in my personal opinion from what I experienced on the night the end result had the support acts stealing the show.

And Now For The Cons :

Having experienced this I can tell you that using the other musicians equipment is a very risky move as I found out when it came to the sound check and the performance because I had to use the midi keyboard set up that belonged to the headliners keyboardist, and without the knowledge to properly get the equipment working I had to refrain from doing sound check, and at this point we managed to get in contact with the keyboardist to request assistance to which he declined as it was not his sound check that was transpiring. Eventually the keyboardist arrived in time for the headliners sound check to sort out his equipment and In the end I managed to get through the gig with a less than ideal sound level. In short this shows how little the main acts think of their supports and will often lend little help to no help at all when it comes to issues that doesn’t concern them.

Here is the footage from the show (I am in fact in the video, just out of shot):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ca-tCMrZ1WY