Category Archives: audio

Phat Beat

We’re recording an album this week, of the touring small group from APU. It’s going to be pretty good.

We’re doing one song that’s a deep R&B, hip-hop groove. In pre-production, I built this massive phat 808 electronic kit loop. We tracking scratch vocals yesterday, and the group went nuts over the loop. I mean, seriously nuts.

I guess they didn’t realize that all the great hip-hop songs are actually programmed by middle-aged white guys living in the suburbs.

get-on-up-loops.mp3

Behold, Emmanuel

So, this guy I know wrote this really cool choral piece for men’s choir.

I’ve gotten to know a very cool local choir director (she’s Zane’s piano teacher too) who roped me into playing percussion for a couple choir concerts, as well as doing a recording of her community choir singing last Christmas season’s program.

Like most music majors, I sang in the big choir at school, and was exposed to some pretty cool music back then. And like most “commercial” musicians, I don’t hear or write that sort of thing in the course of my typical pop/rock record production gigs.

So, inspired by this reemergence of “serious” choral music in my life, I thought maybe I should give it a try. Janine, the aforementioned choir director encouraged me to write something for Christmas, and offered to have the choir sing it, assuming it passed muster.

I came up with this.

behold_emmanuel_DEMO_071009.mp3

Behold, Emmanuel

Obviously this is just a demo… Thanks to Michelle, Alissa and Ryan for singing the parts I couldn’t.

Janine seems to like it. She’s offered to show it to a bunch of mucky-mucks she knows in that world, so who knows where it’ll go. I’m sure I’ll be losing all sorts of street cred as a hip pop/rock producer by dipping a toe in the choral music world, but I figure in the spirit of “lots of irons in the fire” it can’t hurt.

Let me know if you’d like to see the score… I’ll email it to you.

Our Father, Vindicate – Finished!

On May 28th, 2008, I jotted down the first few notes of Our Father, Vindicate. I stared with the melodic theme (E – D#, F# – D#), and the sound of that flat 6 suspension in bar 26. One year and one month ago today.

A few minutes ago, I just finished the final mix of the recording. It’s such a huge feeling of accomplishment to see this thing come together, and to have something solid in hand, something people can hear and respond to. I’ve loved writing this piece, I’ve hated it at times, I’ve put more hours into it than anything I’ve ever done, and I feel like I’ve grown a lot as a musician because of doing it. I’m glad it’s behind me, but I’m very glad to have done it.

So, here it is.

Our Father, Vindicate
By Michael A. Lee
our-father-vindicate.mp3

Downlod the chart: Our Father, Vindicate.

The vocalists are, in order of part from top to bottom:
Anthony Maglione
Brent Froelich
David Loucks
Jessie Bullock
Kyle Campbell
David Kress
Lucas Short
Phil Nash

Additional vocals by Michael Lee, and Harold Clousing.

Audio Auditions

Hey there, roadsters. I need some help.

I’m finishing up the final edits and mix on “Our Father, Vindicate”, and I’m having a hard time deciding on the final ending solo. I have three options from 2 different singers, and I’m looking for input on which to choose. Take a listen to all three (the clips are about a minute each), and then tell me which ending solo (the very last phrase) you think is the best fit.

Try to ignore volume and reverb, and focus just on the vocal itself.

Here are the three options:

Option A
m1.mp3

Option B
b1.mp3

Option Salty
m2.mp3

Option 4
ml3.mp3

Leave your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks!

Underneath the Satellites

Ran across this the other day. It’s a track I completely finished writing the music and producing, but never finished a song to go with it. It was an experiment in tweaking with different keyboards – a rhodes, jupe 8, a few delays, and I think an old EMU sampler makes an appearance.

Anyway, enjoy!

Underneath the Satellites
underneath_the_sat_edit.mp3

Things You Can Make A Piano Do, Part 1

I’m writing a new piece for piano, trumpet, and laptop. The middle development section uses a lot of striking and plucking piano techniques through delays and loopers. I dropped a mic on the piano tonight, and spent a few hours doing this as sort of a writer’s workshop. These are all from the piano – enjoy!

Thing That Go Bump
by Michael Lee
things-that-go-bump.mp3

Save a Child, Change the World

So, last year, my parents and sister went for a few weeks a remote village in Uganda on a ministry trip.  It was quite a thing for them to do.  My dad, in case you don’t know, is a family practice doctor, so he spent much of the time he was there basically seeing patients.  

There’s a picture, and I don’t have it on my computer unfortunately, of him seeing one of the women in the village, and there was literally not enough space inside the room, so he’s actually standing outside, examining some wound on her arm through an open window. 

Now, if you know my dad, Dr. German, this is not acceptable.  He is an unrepentant fanboy of infrastructure.  The folks on the trip decided to do some research, and discovered that it would cost about $60,000 to build a full blown medical clinic in this village.  They’ve been working for months to put together what promises to be a successful fundraiser this weekend.  

Anywhoo, Erica and I were asked to contribute some music, and here it is for your consideration.  I’ll embed it without further ado, and then make a little commentary after you’re done listening.  Or skimming.  

save-a-child-change-the-world.mp3

Welcome back! I found it terribly challenging to write a religiously ecumenical song, “We Are The World,” type song, especially as the name of the fundraiser is “Save a Child, Change the World,” and it was requested that I use this phrase in the song. This is not my cup of tea.

With that said, I feel pretty proud of the lyrics. I was actually trying to speak about such things without the usual utopian hogwash that typically sinks into a song like this. I was trying to convey the reality that when something like this happens, it’s not magic, it’s not some massive awakening. It’s just one good person trying to step outside their own skin and selfishness long enough to do an act of kindness for a stranger. I’m especially proud of the lyrics in the second half of the second verse. I find them terribly hopeful.

Now, I am not a guitar player, and the budget for this was $0.00. There was to be no Corey Witt love for me, this time, because Corey Witt won’t work for free because he hates Africans. He’s from Texas. That’s not true, people. I actually didn’t ask him, because I’m pretty stupid and didn’t plan ahead, instead using my usual technique of procrastination and then frantic creation.

So, anyways, I was searching for ways to make this feel more organic, and I am proud of my Ukulele debut. The cool thing was that, if you listen again, you’ll hear a distorted loop that emerges in the mix during the 2nd chorus, giving the mix a bit more mid-range energy. This is actually my ukulele parts fed through several delays and distortion and a 16th note tremelo. I think it’s a nice, original sound, and that it doesn’t sound like samples. I think the other thing I’m most excited about is the bridge. It just slams. I did a fair amount of manipulating and tweakage to get all the elements to sit down as well as they do, and it’s a very rewarding moment for me.

I was laboring hard for this to not sound like a home studio creation, and I think we got to about 90%. The cool thing is that with another day of edits and tweaks, I feel like I could get it to 100%. However, I’m out of time, so that’s that. But, it’s still cool for me as I listen back to old home recordings and hear how far we’ve come with our Dailies experiences.

Anyways, if this song has inspired anyone to do something generous, you can check out Embrace Uganda and make a donation. They’re good folks, and their cause is just.

Our Father Session Clips

Not yet mixed, not even really edited, but here are the long-demanded rough clips from the recording session on Friday. And by long-demanded, I mean I casually mentioned that I would post them, and nobody has really said “No no, please don’t.” I take that to be a consensus for demand.

Here are 3 clips from the song. When the final mix is completed, I’ll post the whole thing in sequence, including videos of my laughably bad conducting. Joy!

our_father_vindicate_clip1.mp3 our_father_vindicate_clip2.mp3 our_father_vindicate_clip3.mp3

Wiki Wiki Waaa?

So, I’m in a quandary.

For the past 6 years, I’ve used this book as the textbook for my Intro to Music Tech. It’s over 10 years old, which is an eternity in music technology, but nobody has really written anything that’s as clear and usable since.

loudspeakersThis morning, I stumbled across the Wikipedia article on loudspeakers. It’s … fantastic. Clear, concise, well organized, contains everything it should. It is, in fact, much better than the chapter on speakers from the textbook I’ve been using. That led me to the entries on microphones, MIDI, digital recording. Some are great, others are written by engineers using inscrutable symbols and mostly made up vocabulary.

But even the one’s that aren’t great are still pretty good. Which really has me considering why I make my students buy a $25 book every semester.

So, I’m considering a switch for the fall. Instead of having a required textbook, I think I might just have a page of assigned links instead, some from Wikipedia, some from other sites that cover the material well. The content is there, I think I can organize it in a way that has some continuity and logical progression. Maybe I’ll put together a few pages of my own on my academic site to cover the gaps.

Anybody think that’s an awful idea? Phil?

Mixing Metaphors on iTunes

Well, the fruit of our labor is available for general consumption.  

I invite any and all of you who cannot come to the CD release show on March 7th to go and invest your $9.90 in our record.  It’s a really good work, and we’re proud of it, and we think it’s worthy of your dollars and your listening attention.  

If you do like it, how about a review?  

Blessings to all of you.