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Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Doors "LA Women" Isolated Vocal

Here's the isolated vocal from a classic rock standard that's still played on AOR radio stations to this day. It's The Doors "LA Women" from their 1971 album of the same name. The song was recorded live at the band's rehearsal studio with singer Jim Morrison singing in the bathroom because of the nice ambience it provided. The band was also augmented with bassist Jerry Sheff (Elvis' bass player at the time and father of Chicago bassist Jason Sheff) and rhythm guitarist Marc Benno. Here's what to listen for (the almost 8 minute track is edited to just the vocal sections).

1. There's a nice dark (meaning no high end) slightly delayed plate reverb on the vocal that melts together with the vocal. Even though Morrison sang in the bathroom because of the ambience, most bathrooms are too small to have long decays like you hear on the song. It does provide a nice fullness to the vocal though.

2. There's a fair amount of distortion on the vocal when it gets loud, which was obviously left in because the performance is so good. Engineer/producer Bruce Botnick is one of the finest engineers of our time, but he knew when to fix something and when not to, and this wasn't the time for a fix. The performance should always come first as it did here. Chances are none of us has ever heard the distortion with the rest of the track playing on the radio anyway.

3. It's very cool to hear the leakage in the background. There's nothing like a band that cooks live!



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You should follow me on Twitter and Facebook for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Don't forget to check out my Music 3.0 blog for tips and tricks on navigating social media and the new music business.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Are There People Who Take No Pleasure From Music?

emusia image
Most of us love music and the way it makes us feel. Regardless of what's going on in your life, a song can take your mind off it and take you to another place, at least for a minute. That's for most of us, not all of us.

Psychologists at the University of Barcelona discovered a group of people who lack the ability to receive any pleasure from music, even though they receive pleasure from other joys of life like food and sex. While studying responses to music to gauge emotion, they found that about 5% of all people just couldn't feel anything at all when listening to music.

When asked to bring in music that they liked, the 5% were at a total loss. They didn't have any music; no CDs, no Pandora, no downloads, no Spotify. It just wasn't a part of their lives. When asked to listen to a wide variety of music that elicited strong emotional responses from the rest of the test group, this non-emotive group who suffered from musical anhedonia had zero response that could be measured via heart-rate monitors or skin conductance. They just didn't care either way.

Don't confuse this with people who have a disorder called amusia, where people can't identify musical tones. The researchers found that these people could have their emotions peaked via music.

Lest you think these musical anhedonics might have an underlying psychological problem that was being masked, they all appeared to be healthy and happy in every other way. They just couldn't hear and react to music.

So if you're wondering why your not selling more music or getting more people to your shows, remember that there's at least 5% of the population that will never get it, and it's not your fault. Feel better now?

If you'd like to see if you're one of those that has no response to music (and if you're reading this blog I bet you a vintage U47 that you're not), take the test here.
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You should follow me on Twitter and Facebook for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Don't forget to check out my Music 3.0 blog for tips and tricks on navigating social media and the new music business.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Troubleshooting Your Sound System When Things Go Bad

PreSonus StudioLive Mixer Handbook cover image
Whether you're in a live situation or in the studio, things can suddenly sound distorted, or there could be no sound output at all. You can spend a lot of time chasing your tail trying to find out what's wrong unless you have an orderly procedure to follow that allows you to troubleshoot the system quickly so you can get back making music in short order.

Here's an excerpt from my new PreSonus StudioLive Mixer Handbook that was recently released. StudioLive is one remarkable console in that it packs a tremendous bang for the buck - so much so that many owners never use it to its full advantage. That's why I wrote the book, to hip everyone to the wonderful features that are under the hood and come to life when you connect a computer or iOS device. What do I mean? How about:

  • Remote control of the console through an iPad
  • Being able to change individual monitor or cue mixes from an iPhone
  • Room tuning and feedback suppression via the built-in Smaart analysis tools

And that's not even talking about all the excellent attributes of a fine digital console that's one of the easiest to use in the business. That being said, here's the excerpt about troubleshooting your system from the book.

"If something doesn’t appear to be working or if the sound is noisy or distorted, here are a couple of checklists to help you get to the bottom of the problem.

If There’s No Audio:
  • Is the mic plugged into the correct channel? Select the Input meter button to see if the mic is registering on another channel meter. Repatch it to the correct channel if it is.
  • Is the Mute switch on the channel engaged?
  • Is the Firewire or Digital [recorder] input button selected?
  • Is the Mic/Line control raised high enough? Raise its level more.
  • Is the master fader at zero?
  • Is there an outboard device connected to the insert of the channel? Disconnect it to see if the sound returns. If it does, the fault lies with the outboard device or its cables.
  • Is there sound getting to the output? If you have meter deflection but no sound, the problem could be the amps or speakers. If you’re computer is connected to StudioLive and you’re running VSL, open up Smaart and use to the Output Check as described in Chapter 12.
  • Try another mic cable.
  • Try another microphone.
If The Audio Is Distorted:

  • Are other mics distorted too? If so, check to see if the amplifiers for the sound system are overloading. Also, check to seen if a speaker is blown.
  • Is the Mic/Line control set too high?
  • Is distortion occurring somewhere else in the console? 
  • Are any overload lights on anywhere in the system?
  • Try another mic cable.
  • Try another microphone."
Follow the above proceedures and you should find your problem with a minimum of time spent.

To read additional excerpts from the PreSonus StudioLive Handbook: The Official Guide and my other books, go to the excerpts section of bobbyowsinski.com.

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You should follow me on Twitter and Facebook for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Don't forget to check out my Music 3.0 blog for tips and tricks on navigating social media and the new music business.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Common Characteristics Of Hit Songs

Hit Song image
Hit songs aren't easy to create, as we all know. If it were that easy, everyone would be doing it. That said, there are a number of common elements that you'll find with hits that may help you in constructing one. Here's an excerpt from an article I wrote for the last issue of Music Connection magazine entitled "Analyzing the Hits." The information from the article came from my work on the Deconstructed Hits series.

"After looking at hundreds of hit songs, there is definitely a list of similar characteristics:

  • Most hits are short. Songs today average 3:47 in length, which is a lot longer than it used to be, but still an easily digestible bite.
  • Most hits have a short intro. The average intro of today’s hit is about 7 1/2 seconds, but it’s always been about getting to the point and that never seems to change.
  • Most hits limit the number of arrangement elements that occur at the same time. Most have only three or four, and rarely even five arrangement elements that play simultaneously, but no more.
  • The arrangement of most hits develops over the course of the song. Usually it reaches a peak at either the bridge or the last chorus.
  • Most hits use the arrangement to keep your interest. There’s always a new element entering or exiting to hold your attention.
  • Most hits have either a bridge or arrange a repeating song section to act like a bridge. The latter is an arrangement trick to keep the interest high and the song flowing.
  • Virtually all hits are dynamic, with a lot of tension and release, which means a hit changes in intensity. This is usually accomplished through the addition or subtraction of instrument or vocal tracks, but can also occur because of good old-fashioned dynamic playing if real musicians are used.
  • There are exceptions to all of these rules. It is rare to find a song that follows these traits exactly. Often what makes a song a hit in the first place is the ability to twist one of these traits into something new.
As you listen to songs in the future, begin to listen to the similarities in song form, arrangement and production, which can be a great help if you’re a songwriter, arranger or producer. The more you know about how hits are made, the more likely you’ll actually create one.

Keep in mind that even though you may not like a song or an artist, it is still worth a listen. Hits are hits for a reason, and they are definitely hard to come by. Each has some sort of magic––as well as some common elements––so something can be learned from every single one."

You can read excerpts from the Deconstructed Hits books on the excerpts section of bobbyowsinski.com.
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You should follow me on Twitter and Facebook for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Don't forget to check out my Music 3.0 blog for tips and tricks on navigating social media and the new music business.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

New Music Gear Monday: Make Way For The Gestrument

There has been a lot of software instruments over the last few years that use touch or gestures for control over various parameters, but most have either been expensive or difficult to learn and impliment. Here's one of the cooler and least expensive ones that I've seen. It's called the Gestrument.

This can be a fun toy, but it was designed as a real professional tool by classical composer Jesper Nordin and software developer Jonatan Liljedahl-Kymatica, the developer behind AudioShare, Sector, AUFX, NordBeat, Bitwiz and other iOS music apps. The best thing is that it's only $0.99 for the lite version and $7.99 for the full version. Check out the video, and find out more at gestrument.com.




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You should follow me on Twitter and Facebook for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Don't forget to check out my Music 3.0 blog for tips and tricks on navigating social media and the new music business.

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