2013-07-10

LCR Mixing

I, like many home recordists, track a pile of music and audio recording sites, blogs, podcasts, etc. And now, having done this for a few years, I am starting to notice that there are some subjects that keep coming up in peoples questions of the experts. Recently, on The Home Recording Show, somebody asked about LCR mixing. Now for those that don't know, LCR mixing is a technique where the mixer will pan things either hard Left, Center, or hard Right. No half measures here! Now my personal opinion is that anything applied that dogmatically is retarded. But people keep asking if that's what they should be doing.

To me, to LCR or not to LCR is not the question.

 To whit, here are a couple of tracks that have (by today's standards) weird panning:

Now, the intro seems relatively normal.  But then the left side just kind of drops out, rhythm section on the right, then Nancy starts singing (in the centre).  Eventually, the horns come back in the left.

Clearly, some extreme LCR but some interesting choices about where each element is placed in the stereo field (as though you're sitting somewhere in the middle of the band, rather than in the audience facing the band).

Here's another:

Here you have rhythm section occupying the left.  Guitar solo on the right.  But some twists.  The reverb and delay returns are sent to the opposite channel (at the two minute mark, it's pretty obvious).
As the track progresses, there are other games played but this was the first time I heard a dry signal in one speaker and a full wet signal in the other.

To sum up, your pan knobs are creative tools.  Use them.

2013-03-28

Did I do that?

Today, @TaraBusch tweeted a link to video of Jefferson Airplane performing White Rabbit at Woodstock. In the typical meandering that seems to be an essential part of the YouTube experience, I soon ended up on the video below.

At 1:30 she talks about her varying reactions to her own work. The surprised, "did I do that?" And, of course, the inevitable judgment.

I have that reaction all the time. I certainly don't think it's a unique feeling but I have to admit that I am surprised that a lifelong career artist would still feel that way about her own work.

Which I guess is really cool. That the joy and surprise of creating doesn't have to dim with age.

2013-03-25

Odd Path

When I was younger, I used to get a little frustrated that those older than me weren't up on new music. Even if they were a musician or claimed to be very into music. Now I am that older person and while I track much I accept that I cannot track it all. Even if I'm a "big fan" of a particular artist. Case in point.

I love the music of Jose Gonzalez. You may know him from his solo work, you may know him from his appearance on Zero 7's "The Garden" or you may remember this:
I have been listening to his two solo albums for a bunch of years and I almost drove three hours to a show of his but was stopped by a snowstorm. But I hadn't heard anything lately until...

One Saturday morning before anybody else was up, I was flaked on the couch catching up on an episode of Elementary. At the end of the episode, a song is playing and it doesn't quite get through until the fade to black and the credits roll. Huh, I know that voice. Rewind. Shit, yeah, that's Jose. So now I Google Jose along with some of the lyrics that I can interpret and I'm led to discover that he's got a new act called Junip. And this song has been on soundcloud. And reviewed by Pitchfork. All of which didn't get through until I stumbled on it at the back end of a TV show.

There's probably no big message here. Except perhaps, that the ways in which new music is discovered are myriad, changing and highly personal. How does it work for you?

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't share my "discovery".

2012-03-05

Little Magic Box

Sometime last year, Geoff Thorn (guitar player and teacher extraordinaire) showed me a new toy. He described it as the preamp circuit from an echoplex (one of those mythical hardware things I had heard about but never seen or used). He was unable to explain exactly what it did but summarized with a vague, "it just makes everything better." This seems to be a common theme with this device, everybody that I know that has one raves about it (and in most cases, end up never switching it off).

Not wanting to feel left out, I recently got one of my own. It's difficult for a geek like myself to admit but I have no clue what this thing does. But it is good. And since getting it, I have recorded no guitar part without it engaged.

2012-02-07

Started On A Path, Got Lost, Found A New Place

Sometime last year, the owner of a certain netlabel (who I'll happily name if he gives permission) asked me if I would have material ready for a near future release. After I got over the, "Holy shit! I'd be honoured!" I asked a few questions, pushed back a bit, asked some more questions.

Since I've been making interesting noises for a few years now, the feeling was that I would simply draw from my "catalogue" and put together a collection for release. Of course, this involves actually listening again to all that stuff and with an ear to the proposed new context. It also means,or just offers up the opportunity, to revisit/cleanup mixes. So far so reasonable. Until you actually start doing it...

It didn't take long for me to hate it. To quote my new favourite show, Californication, "the self loathing is strong."

So I decided the best course of action was to make entirely new material. And around that time, I developed a renewed interest/appreciation for more drone-y material. Of course, in my mind, that better fit this net-label's sound anyway so why not make some drone tracks and see what happens.

Things started pretty well and I posted early rough mixes on Soundcloud. This apparently simple act had an unexpected ripple. I was contacted by a rather prolific drone/ambient/post-rock artist, 6LA8. They are a duo from Karachi, Pakistan. Now getting comments from far afield is nothing new in these halcyon Internet days but in this case it was a little weird to be asked if I was still in Mississauga (where I live) because one of them was in Waterloo (which is only one hour away by car). Weird or not, I jumped at the opportunity to meet and play with a like minded artist...

And thus, I had my first internet musical blind date.

Two guys from very different places with laptops and guitars got together, improvised for hours, recording everything onto a pocket digital recorder... ending up with Minimal Wanderings



We are both deeply indebted to Al Gore for inventing the Internet and making this magic possible.

To be continued...

2011-12-20

Lazy Man Video

Increasingly, musicians seem to be using video hosting sites as places to show their wares; almost like "video, or it didn't happen". If you're like me, you don't have a video bone in your body and you wonder if there's a way to follow the herd...

One day, I was blissing out, staring at the iTunes visualizer when it hit me that I could be a cheap bastard and simply record that playing one of my tunes and I'd have a video.

The next question was how... Turns out that the Quicktime player app can record your screen and soon, after a couple of false starts, I got a video of the visualizer running in full screen on my tune Polyphasic. Next, I used iMovie to attach the audio to the result (and get it all synced). After I was happy with that, I had to wait forever while the whole thing rendered and uploaded to youtube. The result:


2011-11-19

What Does It Want To Be

Every now and then I start on a piece, inspired by some idea or some process. And like many pieces it grows from there. And it grows and grows.

The ideas come fast and furious and just pile on.

Pretty soon it's a big blob of swirling, gurgling sound.

And I change from an artist with a blank sketch pad to a sculptor attempting to find beauty in a large hunk of rock.

Sometimes I despair that there is no beauty in the mound of sound.

Should I leave it behind, move on to the next piece? Will I be able to find this place again? Is this place even worth revisiting?

I have no answers. Only similar, perhaps more naive, questions that many, much wiser before me have asked.