...in the corner is a stage and on that stage is a band. After listening to a few numbers the Reviewer leans towards the Critic and shouts over the noise of the band “they’re pretty good, nice stage image, good instruments, catchy tunes – timing’s a bit off in places but for the venue I’d say they’re OK”. “I agree” yells the Critic over an explosion of uneducated applause, I think the guitar player’s vibrato is a bit shallow, and the drummer’s dragging the kick, but they’re really not that bad”. All around them, oblivious idiots dance and cheer and drink and enjoy the music....
I've recently had the pleasure of spending a little less time behind a desk and a little more on my feet with a guitar in hand. My old faithful Fender Custom Shop Nocaster has emerged from it's case and I've been practicing and rehearsing with it quite happily. This week I set down to record a few basic guitar tracks and on playback noticed a sound. One of "those" sounds. It's a tiny twangy buzz that occurs when a guitar string is touching something that it shouldn't, and it's called "sitaring" because it sounds a bit like a sitar. What's causing it is immaterial here, the point is that I've heard it, and now I can't un-hear it. It leaps out at me, I'm voicing chords to avoid the troublesome string and my string skipping is coming-on a treat. And what's this got to do with making records? Really?
Let me say up-front that I’m a big fan and long-term subscriber of Sound on Sound magazine and I work in pretty constant awe of the work done by the editorial team on the Mix Rescue articles. Mike Senior seems consistently to go a step-beyond in both his Mix Rescues and in his analysis of commercial hits and I frequently find myself in wonder at the amount of work done by Mike and by the A-List celebrity mixers interviewed in the magazine that blurs the line between mixing and arrangement. Heck, a lot of this stuff doesn’t blur anything; it goose-steps all over arrangement and kicks “writing” in the throat.
_ Every released recording, every signed-off mix, is a result of hundreds or thousands of individual decisions. These range from the big (does the world actually need a harmonica version of Eruption) to the detailed (what Q setting should I use for the mid-range cut on the glockenspiel solo).
_Each month I devour the printed copies of Sound on Sound and Tape Op that drop through my letterbox. Highlighter in hand I scan for the latest recording and mixing tips and for the latest hints at freeware nirvana. Rarely do I not find at least one golden (and free) plugin...
_We all like to think that we get better as we gain experience and spend lots of cash on expensive toys. How to be sure? I'm advocating the Nemesis Project. Eh, what did he say, the what?!?
All original content copyright The Dustbowl Audio 2019
Other material copyright acknowledged