So it’s been a less than linear last couple of years after finishing my degree, sparing the detail I haven’t achieved much within audio though I have regained a passion for live production. My plans are now extending beyond audio into Lighting and overall stage production. As I have been working with a couple of artists within close proximity, more and more of my prior stage experience within Classical dancing and theater seem to subconsciously seep through. There are a lot of parallels to be drawn whether it is singing, acting or dancing on a stage. Presence is everything and I aim to work intimately with artist’s to provide the extra seasoning on top of there performance to have audience’s marvel at the experience.
Audio and lighting matter! in a sense that they are complimentary and support the artist in achieving the height of their ability. My aim is not to detract from the artist but add value their shows as in the shows stand separate to the music and become an experience and product within themselves. Artist’s with great live shows earn more point with fans, period. I’ve seen it time and time again, shitty production, shitty attitude, lead vocals in the 2track ugh, the list goes on.
A divine moment, a moment of perfection, a heightened sense of reality and an experience to never forget is exactly what we are trying to achieve. The technical details run too deep for this reintroduction though I will be documenting my works and progress within the field on a weekly basis from now on. Lighting, audio, performance technique, venue reviews and even studio stuff will be here for you to digest.
It’s nice to be back ❤
It is finally here, we are in the midst of week 12 and thankfully I’m on track with the project. Stereo mixes and masters have been completed for the whole album. For the mastering I went the route of MFiT(mastered for Itunes), which in short is high resolution, high sample rate and no dither. Part of the Itunes Pre-mastering process is noise management, So adding dither to your 24bit 88.2khz/96khz is pointless as they are performing the sample rate conversion and bit depth reduction on their end and thus managing noise. This was stipulated in the Itunes document though it wasn’t specifically clear So after reading a few articles on the subject it became apparent that the Dither happens on The Itunes side.
My analytical ear has gotten far better since the last time I approached any kind of mastering and I ended up even going back to the mixes to rectify a few issues. The biggest problem I faced when first pushing the mixes into a limiter was Sibilance, oh god, their was no taming it in the master So I went right back to the mix and did some surgical De-essing on 3 of the tracks. The Sibilance wasn’t apparent until I pushed it into the limiter and was playing it loud. I’m glad I ran into this problem because the overall aim is to be able to play your music loud and not have your ears bleed right?
I kept the same monitoring level through out and aimed within the bracket of -14-12 LUFS. Some songs are naturally louder, So I guess it is normally ot have them respectively louder within the context of the album but not to ruin the continuity of the overall sound. I never thought I would say it but the multi band limiter was super useful in the vocal range of 2khz – 5khz, as the performances can be quite dynamic and this just helped tame and level the performance and mesh it with the rest of the instrumental. I was Super careful with the limiter, no crushing around here. Here is a sample of a chorus pre and post master.
My Octophonic surround sound idea fell through, The commercial prospect idea of the sound installation is still not that viable because I myself don’t have a whole lot of public notoriety or a fan base as such. I am still aiming to release this Album commercially and pursue the Octophinic sound setup as a later prospect when I have a group of people I can really sell it to.This is what I probably should of thought about when planning for a specific target market. I know there is a commercial viability for the Album itself in the mainstream market as it sounds current and blurs a few lines between hip hop/rnb/glitch hop/EDM. I think that’s a broad enough approach to appeal to a wide audience?
In the mean time I took the time too mix the Album in 5.1 in the c24 which was a joy as it really let the tracks breathe. the multiple layers of vocals sound great in surround. Ambiance comes to life as you can really place your self in the room. The composition of the Album definitely merits a surround mix, the LFE helps with my bass addiction as well. As for the Re-sell ability of 5.1 audio without video… pretty much nill as not many own a 5.1 setup and DVD-audio came and went really fast. From what I have gathered any kind of 5.1 specific audio is limited to a small niche in the depths of some audiophile forum where uneducated opinions on bit depth and sample rate is constantly argued about and the warmth of Analogue audio is preached about. I digress.
This is most likely the Last post of the trimester though this is the first project which doesn’t die in week 13. Octopussy is going commercial and I plan to launch it in November. After that the band and Myself are going on an east coast tour all the way down to Melbourne. But before that happens all the commercial side of things has to take place, Photo shoots, videos and ad campaigns. I’m not willing to throw this project into the air and expect someone big to catch it, there’s no point. The old dream of signing a “deal” is pretty much dead to me until I can show that I can move my weight myself and create a real following of what I do independently. I’ve got a really good team of dedicated talented people around me and this is the first step in making something for ourselves in the long run.
When it comes audio engineering there are two approaches that you are faced with when using effects, Corrective and artistic. This didn’t initially apply to auto tune as it was only used as a corrective tool to fix poor vocal performances which were out of key. Now it is used in a whole different light. The sound and artifacts that come with auto tune is a desired sound in RNB and Hip Hop alike. T-pain is a master of using auto tune, he can really sing though uses it in a way too make his performance unique. One misconception about auto tune is that it just melodizes your voice automatically which is false. You do have the option of playing the notes and transposing your voice though that when it start to sound super “artificial”. It is better practice to have the melody in the performance down to a reasonable extent and then think about auto tuning. Monitoring post tape and pitching into the auto tune makes it a whole lot easier as you can play with the thresholds while singing and create a really interesting performance. Within my project #OCTOPUSSY, I used some really aggressive auto tune for the artistic purpose and specific sound. This allowed me to express my melodies in a way i wasn’t able to before. It was a really good way of extending my artistic ability. Here are a few before and after auto tune clips which are pretty hilarious in some cases. I admit it I can’t sing though I do a pretty good job of manipulating the effect. keep in mind there is compression, reverb, EQ and a sprinkle of secrets also applied to these vocals.
Don’t feel bad for laughing, I did
It’s week 10, So realistically I am 2 weeks out from finalizing the whole album. My last post about deadlines was me being super wishful. The Album still hasn’t made it out of the production phase as I am still working on perfecting the flow and recording elements such as vocals for all of the tracks. My go to vocalist has a sinus infection, *sigh*. Some of these things just can’t be avoided and re scoping must be made. The music itself is honestly swallowing all of my time at an alarming rate, So its probably best that I focus on creating compelling music and just finishing the album in Stereo in its entirety. Mixed, mastered and “published”….. I’m not forcing an actual release until I am poised marketing wise and have a plan for shows etc. Throwing an album in the air and expecting people just to download it is pretty much a waste of time.
So let me really readjust the scope of the project, this is what I expect to have done by the end of week 12:
- Album mixed
- Album mastered
- 1 proof concept track fitting for Octophonic sound installation
- prior piece of music published through mainstream outlet
So the Album will be mixed, the Album will be mastered, I will attempt to create 1 worthy track complementing the Octophonic Idea and entertain the idea of publishing a track through a mainstream outlet. In saying that I have music already published through band camp and sound cloud, but I am yet to take the Itunes leap as I haven’t planned for the platform or mastered for iTunes yet. I think this is a realistic outlook on the whole project considering I am a one man band right now. I got people around me helping but I am definitely carrying the load.
I recently recorded some vocals of Gloria Chung. She speaks fluent conversational Korean and I really wanted to sample some international languages into my new album. It wasn’t for deriving meaning though more the actual sonics and sense of mystery in the music. we used the Audient control room to record these vocals and inherently there was a higher than usual sound floor because of all the fans and electronics in the room. I was actually waiting for an imperfect signal to come along so I actually had a chance of repairing some audio. Now to be clear, there is nothing wrong with the recording I just couldn’t stand the noise floor after compression. The more i compressed the vocals, the more you could hear the room breathing. We were using a rode NTK which is admittedly a tube condenser so there is the natural noise floor of the circuitry itself which has its own noise floor. To combat this I used a couple of methods, Waves Z-noise and a gate.
Z-noise simply listens to the audio and maps the frequency response of the ambient noise. You then use this to extract it from the signal. after than I compressed the signal. This then gave me clean vocals though there was still a tiny bit of noise on each end of the vocals. I then implemented a gate with a fast attack and slow release to make the vocals cut in quick but then not turn off between quick consonants. This made for a really clean vocal recording, here is before and after processing, listen closely to the noise floor on each side before using gate and Z-noise.
My aim for the body of music I am currently producing is to make it commercial therefore I should in theory be taking legal precautions to indemnify myself and anyone involved. Compensation will be made where needed though the stipulation of intellectual property must be made so I can obtain entire possession and legal control of the work. It has been a short journey so far though there is a couple of things I have had to research to ensure I am in the clear.
The first is obtaining samples off freesound.org. There are multiple different licensing standards most of which protect the owner and their intellectual property but the beauty of most of the work on freesound.org is that it is creative commons. I have incorporated Japanese vocal samples which fall under this license. Here is the definition of the Creative commons 0 license.
The person who associated a work with this deed has dedicated the work to the public domain by waiving all of his or her rights to the work worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
You can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission. See Other Information below.
It must be noted though that there are multiple variations of the “creative commons” License, some which allow you full control and some which don’t. I am luck the samples were classed as license “0”. Freesond.org puts a lot of it pretty plainly in the FAQ
This information was clearly linked to via the samples page on freesound.org
The key part I was searching for in this information is the fact that I can use these samples in a commercial fashion without any infringement. This gave me great relief as I went searching for this after the fact. pretty cool.
The second aspect I have researched is release forms. Now I understand that you can goto a lawyer and get one written up though there is a really useful resource I found called Docracy. This is a website which makes legal documents publicly available for use and all the content is wrote by professionals in law. You are free to take templates and edit them as you wish to cater for your situation. I sourced a release form which is tailored to music production between 2 parties, The artist and the production company. I have multiple artists contributing to this project and am aiming to have it commercially released so I must take this step in furthering my professionalism. here is a link to the document which is freely available to anyone:
I will be using this document, to address the artist’s involved within the music process. This template will also serve for any artwork created as it can be altered and stipulated as part of the contract. A really convenient opening to the legal side of things.
Week 9, I usually don’t get delusional till at least late in week 10 but it is early onset this trimester. The workload is becoming overwhelming due to being a one man-ish band. I still have One person on board for the Octopussy project though formally it is just myself. So that’s from creation to recording and documentation. I’m not worried about the project not getting finished, or even having it publicly displayed anymore. A proof of concept being reviewed and critiqued is enough for me to carry the project beyond the end of this trimester and actually make a commercial product out of it. I guess one way to look at it is that the trimester is a good period of concentrated time to get the crux of the idea fabricated and working before letting it rest for a little before finishing it. Balancing workloads between this and my other Solo project in CIU is starting to daunt me, I just want to be an artist *sobs*.
So now its time to reset some goals and put the project into perspective as of this day moving forward. Here are a list of the things I would like to complete by the end of the trimester.
- Vocals tracked
- Octophonic mix ready for proofing
- Stereo mix ready for master
- plan of projection beyond the trimester
So being the producer/engineer and artist doesn’t help but it lets me have a hold of where the project is really at when i sit down and reflect like this. I still am in the process of writing lyrical content and tracking instruments though these are not holding back the mixing process yet so I will still be exploring the space within the studio every Saturday to really prep for final mixes and automation. I received brief feedback and have returned to production to better exclaim the use of 8 speakers, more use of transients was the key point in this critique. I have adopted a more glitch hop approach and started using tools such as stutter edit, which will help me create less repetitive compositions. Onwards with production.