Welcome to MixTips – MixTips #1: Making your mix better.

Welcome to Mix Tips. This series of tips will come from my experience creating better studio recording mixes, tiips that I’ve chosen to share with other engineers along the way. They’ll be given in no particular fashion. I hope you find them helpful.

MixTip #1 – Making your mix better.
Remove bass frequencies below 40 Hz, nothing can really be heard in this sub-audio range so removing these frequencies leaves the energy to be reused elsewhere for a louder and more pronounced mix.

peace.
F!

All about the tone….

Greetings readers, I hope this post finds you well. This year, well starting the end of last year, has brought many opportunities in terms of live performance and music production. Some have materialized, and some haven’t, but either way, they began making me look at my skills as a guitarist AND a recording engineer more closely. Coincidentally, being the YouTube fan that I am, I started watching performance videos, specifically of guitarist doing smooth jazz pieces to backing tracks and loved the tone they were getting. Most either shot their video in studio or just of them playing on camera. This started my such to obtain such tone.

I had three choices, the two most obvious: either mic my amp and record in my DAW (Logic Pro), record direct into Logic, but by way of my Line 6 Pod XT Live, or go record straight into Logic and make use of it’s effects plugins and amp simulators. I decided to search the net for articles and forum activity that would help me understand how to achieve my goal for choice #3. To my surprise, I found many references on how to achieve a certain amp sound (amp sims have been big in software recording apps for the past few years now), or certain rock guitar tones, but nothing for that mellow smooth jazz guitar tone. I turned to magazine articles, still nothing. I like using my Pod XT Live for live performance and have found a few non-stock patches online that have really good clean tone.

Fortunately, I reached out to a great guitarist on YouTube Joe Washington, who kindly gave me insight to the effects chain he uses to achieve his tone. It’s really understanding the building blocks or elements needed to get any tone your are looking to use. Joe gets his town via a combination of different hardware effects, whereas I am trying to do the same via software (at least for now, since I still own my amp and a Roland GP-100. While the GP-100 is old school, this unit has some great user created patches I’d like to try out soon.

Fast forward to the last few weeks… a good friend and superb smooth jazz keyboardist asked me to provide the guitar solo for his upcoming CD’s title track. Needless to say, this has been an awesome opportunity and I’m pretty excited about it. With that, I realized I REALLY needed to get that tone for this track… a need for something not TOO smooth but definitely jazzy. After recording a rough of the solo tonite using my Epiphone Sheraton II, I think I am close to finding what I’ve been imagining for a few months. Looking forward to trying this out with my Emperor II after she gets a good setup.

The image above shows a channel strip in Logic Studio 8 with an amp simulator (Guitar Amp Pro), EQ, compression, reverb, and a dynamic stereo spreader (mix of LPF and HPF), giving me a nice jazzy tone. I’m definitely liking it and once I get it to where I really like it, you may see me record and post a few vids of my own.

In any event, I should have BEEN sleeping, but would love to record some more…THAT…is not a good idea at 12:59am.

’til we meet again…peace!

F!

Music Production on the MPC

Greetings producers, et.al…

I finally started getting up to speed on the latest addition to The Lab…the Akai MPC 1000. I’ve viewed 100’s of videos on YouTube of artists that produce music on all versions of the MPC. For a history on this legendary music production center, check this out

In any event, I keep a lot of notebooks in my studio library, documenting how I do things, always tryna better my workflow. Here’s a graphic of something I whipped up to keep a hard copy of the projects I work on (in case the software files get corrupted, lost, etc). Just something in the works I’m sharing with the music production community.

Ok, back to work…

peace…
F!

Quiktraks (60 sec audio) – Day 3

mpcblue2
Crew…

How’s everyone. Third installment here. The newest piece of gear I have in the studio is an AKAI MPC 1000 sampling music production workstation. The beat you hear is a simple one I did a few months ago when I first got it. While I wont go into the long time history and popularity of the machine, I primarily got it because I am used to (and prefer) composing drum tracks on a drum machine’s pad versus a keyboard, and as it is designed to do, it’s a nice sampler as well.

The track is the original beat, with me laying a lil 70’s funk rhythm guitar over it. Nothing fancy, everything dry….a few seconds of funk.

Background Notes:

Drums and vinyl scratch: MPC 1000
Guitar: Fender Strat recorded dry into Logic Pro 8

My personal tracks are on my Myspace page
The Lab is here.

peace…
F!

Quiktraks (60 sec audio) Day 1

Greetings crew…

Hope all is well. For those of you who know me, you know I am not only a podcaster, but a musician as well. I own a home studio, play in a band, and I’m currently in the works of finishing up a CD with my recording partner.

I’ve been playing and recording (even as in the beginning just to cassette tape) since I was 14. The technology has come a lonnng way and my choice of digital audio workstation is Logic Studio. I’m the kind of person that loves to make use of the many resources out on the internet, especially recording tutorials that reflect not only the kind of equipment I use, but the kind of music I like to record. On YouTube alone, I have collected over 4GB of tutorials on Logic Pro 7 and 8 alone, as well as great user tutorials on the MPC 1000. With that being said, I have found that I have been doing more watching than actual putting to use what I have watched and learned.

Enter Quiktraks (60 sec audio). This lil project simply is an attempt to record and upload daily, no more than 60 secs of anything I feel like recording or have recorded: ideas, throwaway tracks, experiments, etc. The tracks are more so to help me use what I have and learn more then simple watching excellent users teach it. In the end, I feel I’ll eventually learn the ins and outs of the tools I use to make music, especially an extremely power digital audio workstation like Logic Studio.

With that being said, here’s the Day 1 track – Midnite Vibe

Background Notes:

– Recorded with Logic 7.2 Express, no keyboard controller, just the keyboard keys
– Computer: Mac Powerbook G4 Aluminum
– Loops used: Piano, hip-hop drums
– Track processing plugins: Goldverb, Chorus, Parametric and Channel EQ
– My guitar: Takamine EG-544SC-4C Acoustic.

All and any constructive criticism from my recording studio heads are more than welcome! I’d to hear all the technical comments about the mix.

My personal tracks are on my Myspace page
The Lab is here.

Thanks!
F!

Mo’ music musings – studio recording/business activities

Ok…following up from the last post on this subject, the track we recorded here actually had enough content to be approved by the head of the music department at my church, so it will eventually be taught to the mass choir for Resurrection Sunday. That’s cool in that I now got to see the work gone into producing something of at least decent quality for a scenario such as this. Next steps will exercise more of a serious set of mix and production skills in that we’ll have to turn a four-voice quartet into sounding like a mass choir via duplicating the vocal tracks, recording some alto and tenor sax parts, and to give it a more live feel, importing some hand clap samples, the best vocal clips I can lift from our sermon DVDs of the pastor’s wife introducing the choir, and lastly some crowd applause for the end. In a way, this’ll be fun to do, but will feel more like work ;-).

As for my me and my partner’s CD project, “What Love Is”, we still have some work to do for two more tracks, mix them, then send the project out for mastering and duplication. Lately we’ve been learning the business side of things that will necessary not just for distribution of the CD, but for our new record company, Hall Effect Records. We’re in the midst of completing the business plan to reflect the next two years of activity with us as the sole artist on it … again…work!

On a different creative note, I got a call yesterday from a friend and talented sax player, Harron Evoria, who asked me to lay some guitar tracks on her second upcoming CD. That should cool and, if it jumps off, will be the 4th CD I’ve done as a session guitarist, a dream I had as a teen that has finally come true.

Now……if I can work in the time to get my solo project started….hmmm 😉 Makin’ moves to change some daily habits to realize more time to complete this thing I am passionate about.

Stay tuned for some various clips from everything I’ll have and had cookin’ up in The ‘Lab… If you are interested in here some of the tracks I’ve written, check out the links for my music production pages. Thanks for the read.

peace….
F!

Mo’ music musings – studio recording

Ok, so we’re into ’09 and already I’m tryna capitalize on the usage of time management and prioritizing in order to get more material out, as said in my last post. My partner and I just finished recording a four voice ensemble for the submission of a new welcome song for the church I attend. This was probably the first real exercise in recording vocals in Logic Pro 8, though we’ve been using it over the last few months to record a vocalist for our own CD project. Only one of the four vocalists did any studio work, so it was a set of lessons learned in really taking into consideration all necessary during the process to get the best vocal levels down, as it is not always that easy to “fix it in the mix”. I’ve got to tweak one more track before a burn a draft CD mix for submittal tomorrow morning. The keyboardist sent me a MIDI track of the piano and I played the rest of the instruments (rhythm guitar, bass guitar), as well as drum programming. If the approval goes through (as we hope), we’ll substitute some vocalists to lay down all the vocal tracks for final mix in a few weeks.

Meanwhile, I’m finishing up recording the music for a duet one of my other vocalists wrote, for a song he and a British female vocalist will be doing for her CD this year. Hopefully we can wrap that up and ship it to the UK by month’s end.

Danny and I are pushing to finish up three more tracks for our LONG awaited CD, “What Love Is”. There have been some CRAZY lessons learned (life gets in the way, etc) of the last few years (yes “years”) in tryna wrap up this project. At the same time we are in the midst of putting together a business plan for our record label, Hall Effect Records (we just became an LLC last year)…. I’ve got a few tracks in my head I am definitely wanting to record, get up on myspace, as well….so yeah…this is…”musique non-stop”.

Oh yeah, did I mention I got get ready for band rehearsal tomorrow night?

Out…

peace…
F!

More Music 4 The Masses ’09

Happy New Year ’09 everyone who is reading this, we’re blessed to see it. It’s 1:29AM EST, and I’m sitting in the studio…in silence. A quiet NYE08 has come and gone and after catching up on some music production magazine reading, the strong urge came over me to produce more music in ’09. While it appears to read like a New Year’s resolution, the only comparison is that I am stating this on 1 Jan. I don’t do NYRs, I prefer to take a day-by-day approach. It was until last month that I finally started to realize this, but just this quiet hope is actually exciting internally. More music equates to full productions, snippets, throwaways, strong ideas, weak ideas…whatever…just more…more…more. I’ve sorely missed that over the last two to three years due to mispriority, bad habits, compulsiveness in other areas…all which as squashed a natural muse that has been with me since 14.

I’m energized to take bigger steps for The Sunday Soundtrack – more new unheard of tracks, more tracks from yours truly, interviews, etc. I come from what is known as old school and now into the new school, in terms of creating music: old = hardware, new = software. I’ve been fortunate to do and know of others that do it both ways. (see below).

I just read an article in the November 2008 edition of Remix Magazine, a few minutes ago,  citing Brian-Michael Cox (Mariah Carey, Rihanna, and Mary J Blige) and his going back and forth between (even combining) hardware and software use in composing music – in the long run, It’s all about what inspires you to get started on the way to finishing. The whole discussion of artists that solely use software and samples, with no formal musical training vs those who use hardware and play actually musical instruments, is a discussion that can and will result in brevity. I’ve been fortunate to do and know of others that do it both ways (or just one way), and do it well. In this day and age (to me) all that matters is that it sounds good and what sounds good to one may not sound good to another … but that’s ok (as it should always be).

MM4TM ’09…a journey I am looking forward to embarking on.

HNY09….

peace…
F!