Tag Archives: production

The Swamp Effect

I have a horrible habit. At some point in every project, things start not sounding … right. Good. Emotional. Whatever. The train has jumped the track, and is off wandering through antique stores on State Street. I’ve lost my way.

At this point, I do the same thing, every time.

I do more. I do everything. I take every idea, and make it louder. I double it. I do it in octaves. I do it with a triplet backing rhythm. I add 3 string samples and 2 pads, on top of 3 more loops and a delay. I start putting out frantic midnight calls for friends to play overdub parts, stacked, with overdrive and double-stops.

I add piano, add flamenco guitar, add horn swells and swirly synths, a B3 solo, 6 passes of backing vocals, and a Taiko. With reverb. Then a reverse Taiko with even more reverb.

Then I put a limiter on the main bus, a 6:1 multi-band compressor, then another limiter. Then I turn my mains up. I turn on the sub, then add another low string sample.

The swamp effect takes hold, and whatever spark of inspiration birthed the process has been completely, utterly, horrifically buried in a morass of crap.

Save as.

Rename.

Delete.

Repeat.

Toxic

Christmas music is in the air, and so what better time to drop the awesome bomb on ya’ll. This is an arrangement I did last year for the Cal State LA master’s program, and I never got around to posting it. The assignment was to take a well-known song, and arrange it in a style totally unrelated to the original. Behold what I hath wrought!

Toxicity

Client Management

How do you get your creative work to the client when you’re working on a project? Email? iDisk? FTP server?

Most of the time, I hand off to a client via a webpage, where I can jot down some text and link large files for them to download or preview in their browser. For a few years, I’ve been building each page for each client individually.

After messing around with several different options, I finally decided that what I needed was a WordPress website, where each client project was a single post, and could only be accessed by linking directly to that URL (in other words, no “Front Page” to the site listing recent posts). You can check out one of the recent projects that uses this method here:

http://michaelleemusic.com/clients/my-hands/

I think too many people ignore clean client hand-offs. It matters whether or not they feel like their are being handled professionally. If the data gets to them in a sloppy or inefficient way, it’s like cooking a 5-star gourmet meal and serving it in a paper back with a spork.

So, that’s my thought. How do you guys (folks, fools, ustedes) handle it?

Book of Eli

What we do, part 2.

This was done by a freshman. He stripped the existing music from the film trailer for “Book of Eli” and rewrote his own score. I’ll say it again. This his first year, first time he’s ever taken a music class. He came to APU on a football scholarship, took music fundamentals last semester and found out he was pretty good at this stuff, and then 3 months later, this.

Beat It

It’s the end of the year, time again for student projects. This was done by my Production Techniques class. Everything you hear, all of the instruments, the recording, the mix, everything was done by our students. It was arranged and produced by Sean Beck.

VOLUME UP!

Beat It

This is what we do!

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

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

The Ongoing Dailies Production Blogging Experience

Still at it!  

Go read it.  This one’s kinda cool, I think.

Also, in case you’re not someone whose in my Facebook or MySpace loop, and if you’d like to be, feel free to email us at thedailiesmusic@gmail.com, we’re excited to announce our official CD release show has been booked at The Hotel Cafe on February 28th @ 11pm.  We’re over the moon at the invitation to play there.  Hope you can come if you’re in the greater L.A. area.  Come see Mike and Corey (and Dana and Rosy) ripping it up with us.  

I know this is a bit desperate, but seriously go read it, or at least follow the link and then don’t read it.  I want to make sure we’re top ranked on Google, as I’ve started to work the intertubes in earnest, emailing music blogs and media sites.  

Thanks, roadies.

The Dailies – Continued Blogging on Songwriting and Production

So, I’ve quietly continued my series on the writing and creation of our new record, so tastefully reviewed by our own Zackiepoo.  

I put up another edition, but it seems like the traffic is diminished if I don’t link to it from here.  All hail the power of Addison Road.  Or something.  If you dug the first two posts, head on over to www.thedailiesmusic.com from time to time and see what we’re cooking.  This one is actually pretty interesting, as it talks about a near arranging disaster that had to be averted in the 11th hour.  

We’re getting some traction on gigs, so if you live in the L.A. area and want to hear us with the band, your time is coming.  The first of these is happening on Feb 7th, at 10pm, at Room 5 on La Brea.  Hope to see you there!

P.S.  Something you should know about Zack:  I’ve discovered more music because of him than any of my other friends.  He has a nose for good stuff, and he’s a true lover of music.  While he is a friend, he’s not a sunshine-blowing sorta friend.  If he didn’t like the record, he would have remained politely silent.  Actually, he might have trashed it.  He’s a tough nut, that Zack.

Signal Chain :: Evolution of a Song

Hey all, and a happy new year.  

I have to tell you that I fear that Facebook and iPhones and the holidays and offspring are sucking the life from Addison Road.  We need a mobile app, Mike!!!!  

In the spirit of the new year, and new starts, I wanted to let you all know that I’m starting a new series of posts over at The Dailies’ Website, journaling the evolution of each of the songs from our new record.  I had a lot of fun putting this together this morning, and I wanted to share it with you.  

Hope 2009 is treating you all well, thus far, and we look forward to opening up our musical heads for you all now that the Christmas Miracles are all done.  

Here!  Click me!  Click right here!  Yeah!  This one!  With the little blue line under it!  CLICK IT!!

handbell samples

This is for all my homeboys who are gearing up for another year of Christmas miracles.

Know what the hardest instrument sample to find is? Handbells. Well, here ya go. FMJ has a very decent set, for the low price of free (for the lo-fi version, fine for arranging) or $5 (for the hi-fi version). Check out the linky link, and go get yourself some piercing ringy dingy xmas tingly in a can.

Student Projects

This is the first of a two-parter (updated below). Last week my students turned in their final projects for the class “Production Techniques”. It’s a group-based independent study kind of course. They work together, over the course of a semester, to go from song-writing demos all the way to final mixes. They manage everything; budget, timeline, contracting the players, producing the session, engineering (mostly), mix, the whole shebang. We toss them the keys to the ProTools HD room for a few nights, and they go nuts. For most of them, this is the first time they’ve walked through the whole processes, from beginning to end.

So, here are the 3 songs done by the first team (Paul Stephens, Cindy Hayward, Julia Dedmon). Paul is the vocalist, and the primary songwriter on all three.

“All I Want to Know”
All%20I%20Want%20To%20Know.mp3

“Free”
Free.mp3

“Just Walk Away”
Just%20Walk%20Away.mp3

(updated: decided to add the 2nd team to this same post)

Here are the 3 songs done by the second team (Elizabeth Rickman, Jocelyn Danque, Scott Ryan Ingersoll, Mike Rains).

“Buried” by Scott Ryan Ingersoll
Buried.mp3

“Leaves” by Elizabeth Rickman
Leaves.mp3

“Don’t Leave Me Behind” by Scott Ryan Ingersoll
Dont%20Leave%20Me%20Behind.mp3

A note to my young songwriting friends

Do me a favor. Take that heart-felt emotional ballad you’ve just written, and place it in the hands of a trusted friend. Ask them to read the lyrics, and circle any metaphors they’ve heard before.

Then, cut them out. Do it now. Show no mercy. Think of a different way to say whatever it is you want to say. You’ll thank me 6 hours into the recording session.

Sincerely,

The guy

beth orton
photo by Neil Wykes

Demo-lition Derby

I need a little help from my friends. Remember this class that I’m teaching?

It’s the one where the students produce a short album over the course of a semester.

Well, I’m meeting with the students for the first time on Monday night, to talk through the details of the class, and to get them headed in the right direction on the project. I’m going to hand them a sample packet of what a final project should look like, to give them something to shoot for, and I decided to use a song from The Dailies’ record as the model (totally violating the sanctity of Chad and Erica’s intellectual property of course. Suck it up. It’s for the children). I’ll put together a microphone input list, a budget, a timeline, a recording schedule, everything they need to do for the course, around that one song. The cool thing about this is that I have actual demos tracking the progress of all of these songs from The Dailies record, so the students will get to hear everything from first demos all the way through to final masters.

So, here’s what I need from you – which song should I use? Picture yourself as a 21-year-old music student. Then, go here and listen to the 30-second clips (or better yet, buy the album!). Then, tell me which song you think would most capture the interest and creative attention of the students in the class.

Sophia Rocks Out

So, one of the classes I teach is all done through video podcast. It’s a class on how to produce a studio recording, and so, of course, I thought it would be appropriate to compose and record the crapp-tastic-est theme song ever for the show. Here it is:

It turns out, this is Sophia’s favorite song ever. This is a video of her rocking out to it, again and again and again. This, basically, is how we spent out entire evening tonight. In the middle of this, while the camera is pointed at my chest, you will hear her saying her new favorite word, “More?”.