By admin, 2018-04-27
We can all name our favorite bands and artists, and probably name the first few albums that transformed us into die-hard music lovers. However, not many of us know what exactly goes on behind the scenes. What happens before the album hits the cyber shelves and before the video reaches our screens? One word: production.
Whether or not artists work with or independently from a record label, every single musician needs to have their music produced. This is a vital and inescapable part of the music-making process.
But what exactly is music production? Ultimately, the act of producing music is an in-depth and complex process, and, like many production processes, involves orchestrating the execution of everything that needs to get done. From guiding musicians through the recording phase, to organizing budgets and schedules, a music producer makes sure everything from A-Z is taken care of.
Typically, music producers exist within a record label. However, there is a long history of labels influencing artists to alter their music so it could appeal to the mainstream, thereby perpetuating an industry that thrives on a homogenized sound. For this reason, many musicians prefer to work independently or with independent labels-hence the term "indie"-which can mean that they will need to play a big part in the production of their own music. While this is a more laborious route, it provides the artist with the liberty to guide their own vision without any external interference.
If you are an aspiring musician, you should take the time to understand the entire production process as best as you can, either by shadowing industry professionals who do not mind taking on a protégé or by taking classes at a music production school. As you gain a solid grasp on the production side of things, you will also get a better understanding about the music industry as a whole, and the more you understand, the more control you have. This control will stay with you regardless of whether you sign onto a label or decide to go indie.
Keep in mind that this article does not claim that all record labels are run by evil profit-chasers, or that all musicians should veto the prospect of working with a major label. Although some artists do prefer to work as independently as possible, working with a label will not necessarily undermine the musical craft. What is important is that a music producer, be it yourself or someone else, needs to believe in your art and encourage you to bring it to incredible heights.
By admin, 2018-04-11
In our mastering studios, we see a lot of music and a lot of music files coming our way. Many musicians and producers know just how to prepare their mix for CD mastering, but on the other hand, a lot of the files we see coming in are not prepared correctly for the mastering process. The main problems we see are either 1) the file was exported too hot, and there is no headroom to work with, and the sound clips; 2) the producer used a mastering plug-in on the export, and the song is already mastered, to a fashion; and/or 3) the vocals are distorted or are not sounding good.
When a file is exported too hot, the result is that there is no variation between the louder sections and the parts that are supposed to softer. The reason is that in digital music production, there is a ceiling to how loud a track can be, this is referred to as the zero attenuation point and roughly corresponds to the 'red line' maximum level on the output slider. If the song is mixed correctly, the output mix will never touch the zero line. But what we often see is the whole output file touching and in fact attempting to push above the zero line. In such a case, all the softer sections of the music are pushed almost as loud as the zero point, and all the louder sections would have crossed the zero point, except that they are "clipped" by the fact that the sound cannot be louder than the zero point. The result is that all the louder peaks are cut off and "clipped" by the zero point whereas the softer parts are pushed almost directly to the zero point. The result is a marked lack of dynamic difference between what are supposed to be louder and softer peaks and valleys in the music, which should have shown more dynamic difference but were thwarted due to the clipping process. And in most cases, the clipping results in distortion and aliasing which were not present in the music when originally produced.
Similarly, if a producer or self-produced musician employs a mastering plug-in on the entire track, this also destroys any sort of variation between the louder peaks and the softer valleys of the sound track file. While usually such a plug-in does not allow the sound to clip past the zero point, nevertheless it compresses the track into a dynamic range which eliminates this so-called headroom from the track, and invariably makes it difficult for us as mastering engineers to do anything creative with the dynamic range that remains. Therefore, if you are going to get your track professionally mastered, it is imperative that you do not use a mastering plug-in when outputting your mix. The plug-in itself may be nice and sound good and provide some form of mastering, but the fact is a mastering engineer can do a lot more with your mix than a mastering plug-in. So, you should choose: mastering plug-in, or mastering engineer? not both.
The third more common issue we see with files coming into the studio is a track with badly recorded or distorted vocal tracks over a beat. Believe it or not, many self-produced musicians have this problem. The way to solve this is, first, get a decent microphone. There are a number of microphones on the market today which one can purchase for less than $200 -- basically imported knock-offs of high-end microphones, which work very well and sound great. Get yourself one of these microphones. Then, you must experiment with your input levels until you've found that "sweet spot" where you get a strong signal coming in with zero distortion. Once you've found this spot with a halfway decent microphone, that is half the battle. The other half is delivering a strong performance, which is up to the musician.
In conclusion, the best practices to follow to prepare your mix for professional audio mastering are: 1) make sure your mix is not maxing out at the zero point and clipping; 2) get rid of any mastering plug-ins you might have on your output mix; and 3) make sure you use a decent microphone and make sure the input levels are set correctly for clean recording of your vocal parts.
By admin, 2018-04-04
Acting is a big industry. There are actors everywhere from the theatre to films, from TV to radio.
Acting is a big industry. There are actors everywhere from the theatre to films, from TV to radio, and even on the street in the form of mime. Yet acting is not easy – in fact, like playing music, it is almost impossible to master.
To be a good actor, you have to be able to get inside a character and literally live as them – to convince your audience, and, for a moment, even yourself, that the character is who you are. Given that all you will probably have to work with is a few written words, perhaps costumes and a set, and your imagination, it’s a difficult undertaking.
The range of skills that an actor must have to be effective is very wide. You need to have a mastery of your body for movement that can include fighting, dancing, or evocative expressions. Your voice, too, must be clear enough to be understood from a distance, and you might also need some talent in singing or putting on accents. The most difficult aspect by far, though, is the emotional one, as you must be able to assume different emotions at will – crying on demand, for example, or being able to give an effective illusion of happiness or excitement.
One of the most widely-used means of portraying realistic emotions is Stanislavski’s theory of method acting, which you would do well to study if you wish to become an actor. Basically, the idea is that when you are acting, you think of a time when you felt the emotion you wish to portray. For example, if your character is sad over the death of their mother, you might think of the time when you were small and your dog died, and so start crying. There’s more to it than that, but that’s the basic theory, and it can give a very convincing performance when done correctly.
By admin, 2018-03-31
The main ingredient that distinguishes a perfectly respectable "album cut" from a hit song is the presence of a killer hook. But if they were so easy to create, we'd all be millionaires! How can you enhance the impact of your songs' hooks to appeal to both audiences and the People Behind Desks? Read on!
The main ingredient that distinguishes a perfectly respectable "album cut" from a hit song is the presence of a killer hook. But if hooks like that were so easy to create, we'd all be millionaires! How can you enhance the impact of your songs' hooks to appeal to both audiences and the People Behind Desks? Read on!
To make this article more useful, gather up your 3 strongest or most recent titles, hooks or choruses, so that you can apply what we're discussing to the "real world" of your material.
Tap Into Your Personal Experiences For "Nuggets of Truth"
It's my firm belief that the old adage, "write what you know" is applicable to songwriting as well as prose. Although some of us prefer to believe we can write about anyone and anything, our most meaningful and successful songs usually spring from "real life" experiences, and our responses to, and interpretations of, those experiences. Each day we spend on the planet, observed through the prism of songwriting, offers innumerable creative possibilities. The seeds of brilliant songs often lie just beneath the surface, but the writer must be willing to nurture their growth.
Let's say you're starting with a blank slate: germ of an idea brewing, recording device turned on, and instrument, voice or blank page ready and waiting. How do you go about extracting the proverbial Killer Hook from your precious "nuggets of truth":
• First, ask: what is true, real, intensely felt RIGHT NOW in your life? Be attentive to those flickers of realization, your "aha! moments."
• What experiences do you have a burning yearning to share?
• What contribution do you want to make to the world?
• What makes your angle on life unique, compelling, interesting?
• In the movie "Walk The Line," Sam Phillips asks Johnny Cash what song he'd sing if he was dying in a ditch on the side of the road and only had 3 minutes left. What hook would you sing in that situation?
• How can you arrange words and/or musical notes to get your "soul" down in song?
• Get crazy, be bold, bare your deepest truth or your silliest notion.
• Your job as a songwriter is to express what others can't express. Go overboard!
Now take a few minutes and blurt out what comes up for you. Really dig in there and fearlessly sing, write or play something, anything, as long as it rings true. This is a great exercise to try any time you have 10 minutes to spare.
Next, start to put that spark of inspiration into song form. Stay connected with the essence of your personal experience as you begin to experiment with lyrics and music.
Ways to Enhance the Impact of Your Song's Hook(s)
In the Verse/Chorus song form — the most common form these days — the chorus, and especially the hook, is where you "deliver the goods." It's the equivalent to the summation to the jury, the punch line of the joke, the revelation on the mountaintop. Every verse, every pre-chorus, every bridge, every line and every note leads up to this ultimate payoff. A great hook (and chorus) is packed full of meaning, fun, passionate intensity... or all three! It can't be overemphasized that your hook has to really Rock Their World. But first, it has to rock YOURS. It has to ring true to you.
• Boil your Big Idea down into the smallest possible expression of its essence: your hook.
• Stay simple-yet-elegant. Less is usually more.
• Don't pussyfoot around. Be bold and risky. Always take a strong point of view!
• A great line bears repetition. If it's worth saying, it's usually worth saying again.
• Make your song move rhythmically. People want to be SWAYED in more than one way by your song.
• Think of it this way: your hook is the hub of the wheel, and the other song elements are the spokes.
• Marry your melody to your lyric so that each intensifies and deepens the other.
• If you are thrilled by your hook, "they" probably will be too. And if you're holding back, they probably will too!
• Show off your "money" note, your slammin'-est groove, your cleverest line, your most unusual concept in your hook. Aim for the bleachers, emotionally and creatively.
Give Your Hooks Mass Appeal
Singles are distinguished from album cuts by their catchiness, accessibility and freshness. And the hook is the key to that mass appeal. Most listeners and People Behind Desks couldn't sing all of a song's verses back to you if they tried. But most CAN remember a killer hook or chorus. For those of you who are driven by thoughts of financial gain, singles are also where the money is. (But remember: selling doesn't mean selling out!) When you get to your main hook, hit us with fresh language, chords and melodic movement to wake us up physically, emotionally and spiritually. The might mean:
• An impassioned title or lyrical line: a twist of phrase, an unforgettable image, or an emotional outpouring that rings true
• A peak moment for the vocalist. This could be a high note, a long note, a rhythmically cool pulse or movement, a fresh interval, a repeated pattern or melodic sequence, etc.
• A catchy-as-hell instrumental riff or chordal pattern
• An underlying rhythm or groove that sweeps up all in its path
• Enough repetition to be catchy without becoming boring
• A striking contrast to whatever comes before and after (verses, pre-choruses, bridge), so that your hook stands out in an obvious way
Remember, more Hooks-Per-Square-Inch is better! In this day and age of sensory overload, listeners thrive on intense songs that cut through the clutter. We WANT to be moved on all levels. We're hungry for depth, for truth, for emotion, for humor. Strive to discover the universal within the personal, the specifics of real life. Make your song paint a picture or create an environment people can live in.
By following these guidelines, and learning from songs that are hits in your chosen genres, you can make your songs more accessible, satisfying and commercially viable.