Posts filed under ‘music’

Rock Band performs with iPhones

A New York City rock band “Atomic Tom” is in the news for turning to their iPhones for help after their instruments were allegedly stolen.

The members of the band hooked their iPhones to a portable speaker system and used various musical iPhone apps to play “Take Me Out” from their latest album on a New York City subway train.

While the lead vocalist uses the iPhone as a microphone, the other three members of the band use various musical iPhone apps simulating the piano, drums and guitar.

This is a great performance  … checkout the video below:

 

 

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October 18, 2010 at 7:33 pm Leave a comment

Music snobs … meet Dubset

dubset What is Dubset?

This site uses the internet to redefine the latest hot dance mixes.  Gone are the days where you had to hang out at the disco or buy a recording of the DJ’s mix for the night. 

According to Dubset … “Re-Defining Internet Radio + Music Discovery by the world’s top DJs. WE are working hard to create a place where music lovers can come to listen and discover music from the world’s top DJs. Dubset is NOT a Democracy. DJs are either hand selected or Invited to join by their peers and a group of industry experts.” Visit www.dubset.com

 

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August 24, 2010 at 1:41 pm Leave a comment

MOG, radio reinvented

Overview_hdr

And my MOG, yes there is another player besides iTunes.  MOG lets you get unlimited tunes a month for under $10.  And yes, they have millions of tune choices and phone apps!

Listen to millions of tracks from major-label and indie artists. Enjoy your music ad-free in high fidelity streams directly from your browser — no software download required. Select individual songs, explore playlists, or just sit back and listen to radio with no limitations.  Hello MOG … Roll over radio!

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July 23, 2010 at 1:21 pm Leave a comment

Wow a Virtual Choir!

What a great idea.  I remember in the 70’s when I observed a recording session in LA with live overdubs from NYC.  This is wonderful it was Produced by Scott Haines and composed/conducted by Eric Whitacre

The project Represents 12 Countries: 
Austria
Argentina
Canada
Germany
Ireland
New Zealand
The Philippines
Singapore
Spain
Sweden
United Kingdom
United States of America

 

 

March 27, 2010 at 1:36 pm Leave a comment

Does Elvis get a free dessert and song?

ELVIS PRESLEY’S BIRTHDAY!

My how the time flies! Is it possible that Elvis Presley’s birthday on January 8, 2010 puts him at 75 years old? Have you seen him today?

Untitled-1 To celebrate the life and legacy of the King of Rock ’n’ Roll many events and exhibits are on tap from Graceland to all across America. Through January 10th thousands of Presley fans will brave the bitter cold and fans head to Memphis, TN to join Lisa Marie and Priscilla Presley for Elvis’ 75th birthday celebration. Other celebrations too:

  • See the Elvis’ 1956 Model KH motorcycle at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, WI. How about this? Any visitor with E.P. style sideburns and sunglasses save $4 off regular admission.
  • Photojournalist Alfred Wertheimer’s Smithsonian traveling exhibition with pictures of a young Elvis debuts on January 8th at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles, CA.
  • Cirque du Soleil’s Viva Elvis that premieres on February 19th at the new Aria Resort & Casino at CityCenter in Las Vegas, NV.

Other celebrations exist too.  Amazing isn’t it?

January 8, 2010 at 3:29 pm Leave a comment

Is It Live or Is It… Just Music?

ampexI’ve recently returned to teaching audio at Houston Community College after a not-so-brief hiatus of some 20+ years. As I was preparing a lesson plan about microphones, I outlined in the lecture that recording and microphone techniques could be historically divided into two major categories: old-school & new-school. And inevitably, there was a crossover period where old school techniques co-existed with the beginnings of a new-school approach. And these disciplines coincided over a period well-known for memorable music productions known as the SIXTIES (in reality, 1955 to 1968 +/- a year or so).

Prior to the sixties, the goal of music recording was to CAPTURE a performance. Both theaters and music studios were meticulously-designed in regard to natural sound and acoustics. Levels and volumes were adjusted by the musicians themselves or by physical placement on the “stage” of the performance. The recordist’s goals were to embrace the sound as if the listener were present at the performance.

les_paul_03

Paul with his Les Paulverizer, another one of his inventions that amplified and multiplied sound to simulate a full orchestra, delighted 1950s America as a star of vinyl, radio, and television. His inventiveness in the recording process enriched electronics company Ampex using his designs to become the standard in professional recording throughout the 1950s and 1960s.

With the introduction of multi-track recording and large-format mixing consoles in the late 60’s, the new-school era of recording began. The process was conceived and developed by guitarist Les Paul in the 1940s with the  financial and inspirational assistance of Bing Crosby and the Ampex Corporation,Each musical part of an overall performance could be recorded until it was “perfect”. If a “group performance” was good, but the bass player hit a bad note on the 32nd measure, you could now go back and “punch-in” the correct note from the bassist. Isolation of all instruments became ultra important as each part became a “performance” unto itself. Each “track” had its own level & tone control as well as acoustic environment. Now, the recording process BECAME  the “performance.” This phenomenon has grown even more isolated, surgical and non-human in the present-day environment of digital workstations and virtual instruments.

In the SIXTIES… The first multi-track recorders (notwithstanding Les Paul’s research) appeared in 2-track & 3-track formats. Coming from a history of “capturing the performance”, the Rhythm Section of a song still followed the old-school guidelines in either mono or stereo (1 or 2 tracks respectively). That would leave one or two tracks open for a separate, isolated performance of vocals, string sections or horn sections – perhaps even a solo instrument. But the energy and synergy of capturing people playing together as a musical group was kept intact. In the extreme case of Phil Spector’s famous “wall of sound”, there would be two of every instrument – Two drummers, two piano players, two bass players, at least two guitar players & on & on – All playing simultaneously! The results were huge backing tracks full of energy, excitement, tone and acoustic space! And THAT is the magic inherent in the music of the period (and why recordings from that period continue to gain appreciative listeners, year after year, generation after generation).

dylan

Bob Dylan

Now I’m not revealing any startling new hypothesis here, nor am I addressing a subject that hasn’t already been reviewed or discussed by many before me. Presently, even music-as-a-career is currently in the middle of a old-school/new-school transition. But it’s always worthy to take a look in the rear-view mirror every now & then, especially in a discipline such as music where the career path to future success is so ill-defined.  We’re all in search of the magic energy of a hit song. And in a world that’s become increasingly virtual and synthesized, maybe some answers lie in mixing modern music methods with the true beauty of human group interaction. Is it live? or is it… just music.

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October 7, 2009 at 2:28 pm Leave a comment

Are you Analog or Digital?

Are you in the analog or digital camp? In other words, do you prefer the sound of analog (LP’s) or the sound of digital (CD’s)?

Before you answer, let’s get geeky and look at some definitions and also a list of pros and cons for both types of recording:

 

Analog: An electrical signal that continuously varies in strength as related to some form of input.  

Analog Recording: A means of recording audio or video whereby the recorded analog signal is a physical representation of the waveform of the original analog signal. Some examples of analog sound mediums are vinyl records or LPs, cassette tapes, 2” 24 track tape, 8-track tapes, VHS tapes etc..

 

Digital: A reference to a system whereby a continuously variable analog signal is reduced and encoded into discrete binary bits that establish a mathematical model of an original signal or other information.  

Digital Recording: A method of recording in which samples of the original analog signal are encoded on tape or disk as binary information for storage or processing. Some examples of digital sound mediums are CDs, DAT tapes, Digital Betacam tapes, MP3’s, WAVs, AIFs, etc…

 
Blah, blah blah
analogueDigitalSo, an analog recording is a signal that’s actually stamped upon a recording tape or medium.
A digital recording is actually snapshots of the signal captured in intervals, much like a moving picture can represent action over time when the sequence of pictures are played back in sequence.
 
Digital one’s and zero’s are stored on mediums such as a compact disc or hard drives.  

  Now that we have a little background, let’s discuss some of the pros and cons of each:

Analog Pros

  1. It’s a an accurate representation of sound but is limited by the device and recording medium.
  2. Many people find analog sound warmer and more pleasing to the ear.
  3. Distortion caused by over driving the recording with volume saturation can deliver a more pleasing result than digital methods.

Analog Cons

  1. Recordings are susceptible to degradation.
  2. Copies of the original recording are noisier and more distorted. 
  3. Editing is more cumbersome and time consuming.
  4. The background noise of the media (tape hiss) and recording device become a part of the recording.

Digital Pros

  1. Easier editing.
  2. Duplicates are an exact copies.
  3. Noise floor usually exceeds human hearing ability.

Digital Cons

  1. Recording at too loud a volume results in a harsh unpleasant sound.
  2. Conversion from analog or one digital format to another must be done carefully to avoid loss of fidelity or gritty sound.
  3. Most people feel that digital recordings are colder or more sterile than analog.

listenOk, made up your mind yet? Did the techno-babble above change your position? Or are you more conflicted?

Let me throw another wrench at you. Most people, even most sound engineers, have a hard time differentiating between the sound of analog and digital. 

Take a few minutes to watch this Wired Science episode that ran recently on PBS and you’ll see what I mean. Audio Files Vs. Audio Files.

 

Tech Note: Analog tape saturation offers a natural compression, lowering the audio peaks causing softer sounds to seem louder, smoothing high-frequency content (cymbals) and boosting the low bass frequencies.

Ok, here’s my two cents worth – I prefer analog sound because it’s artifacts are more natural and actually pleasing to the ear. Analog distortion is warmer and more acceptable. But digital recordings are easier to manipulate and each copy is an exact replica of the original.

Today there are a variety of tools (Plug-ins) available to the audio professional that can add an “analog” feel to digital recordings.

It’s possible to get the best of both worlds, the ease of digital editing and the warm sound of analog. People will always debate Analog and digital recording methods. Today the best sound engineers use both.

Please post your thoughts and comments below. Look for a future blog entry on this topic including some wild stories …

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August 14, 2009 at 9:53 pm Leave a comment

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