Zack gave me a wonderful little “Escrow Survival” gift a few weeks ago, a copy of Gavin DeGraw’s new album Free. I’m diggin on it.
If you own a copy, check something out with me. Roll to the song “Stay”, track 3 on the album. Hit play. Hear that? 3 seconds in, “have to be part of the problem.” Hear that? Yeah.
That’s what a vocal sounds like when you track it in your bedroom at 3 am, engineering it yourself, and you blow a big phat “P” right into the mic with no popper stopper. That’s not the only example on the album, but it’s the easiest one to find.
So, now I’m torn. I’m not a big fan of the perfect pop experience, where everything is ironed out and tuned up and comped together into an indistinguishable amorphous wash of frequency. But … yeah. But. There are technical flaws on this record that really bug me. I can’t enjoy that tune. Everytime I hear it, I hear the pppppop. It keeps me from enjoying some very good songwriting and damn fine singing, some of DeGraw’s best I think (the previous song “Free” hangs together so well, check it out). I find myself wishing there had been a little more attention paid to the basics of good engineering.
So, I guess I’m part of the problem.
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.
This 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?