The Art and Science of Sound Recording – The Book

More than simply the book of the award-winning DVD set,  Art & Science of Sound Recording, the Book takes legendary engineer, producer, and artist Alan Parsons’ approaches to sound recording to the next level. In book form, Parsons has the space to include more technical background information, more detailed diagrams, plus a complete set of course notes on each of the 24 topics, from “The Brief History of Recording” to the now-classic “Dealing with Disasters.” Get a taste for what Parsons is all about in the excerpt below!

Hello there!
 Is this hello for the very first time, or have you got the video series as well? If the former, we also produced a video series entitled Alan Parsons’ Art & Science of Sound Recording, and this book is both based upon and an extension of territory we covered in the videos. We hope you will find one to be a good companion to the other. Alan Parsons’ Art & 00333735Science of Sound Recording—The Book is a complete rewrite and reappraisal of the original video version. Because it is a book and not an audio-visual experience, we’ve been able to examine all of the topics in greater detail. With the videos we strove to keep you visually and aurally entertained. Now, you can be reading this at home, or in a busy Starbucks, or on a plane . . . you can read one page at a sitting, or one chapter, or just dive in here and there using the index or the glossary. Ingest the words, look at the pictures and diagrams, and if something is not clear first time around, well, read it again. It’ll make sense eventually; promise.
 The great thing about a book is that you can go at your own pace. Plus it’s the ultimate in nonlinear formatting. You can flip from here to page 145 in less than a heartbeat. Eat your heart out, modern media! (Readers of the ebook version possibly have the best of all worlds, of course.)

For the book, we have kept the same basic tone as the video. We hope it is both intriguing for the new- comer to recording and interesting to the seasoned professional. We’ve dug a little deeper into all aspects of recording technology. Chapter 1, “A Brief History of Recording,” may still be a relatively brief version, but it’s now not quite so “on a pinhead.”

A question that often cropped up on the video series was, “How do I use the videos? What order should I view them in?” Sensing potential for the same line of enquiry here, here’s what we recommend you do.

This book does have a logical flow of chapters. First we look at how sound is created and how it behaves, before moving onto the different sources, components, and equipment involved in making and reproducing sound recordings. With these pieces of the puzzle in play, we then look at all the processes involved in manipulating sound recordings, such as EQ, reverbs, delays, compression, and so on. Then we look at how the various types of sound sources respond to the various processes and how they are best applied for particular sonic needs.

The rubber truly hits the road when human beings are tossed into the mix and we actually have to record real live musicians sitting there right in front of us. We look at drummers, guitarists, bass players, singers, choirs, keyboard players . . . all of whom can have very different mindsets, roles, temperaments, and functionalities.

Finally, even though the word “mix” is now more of a formality than the “performance” process it used to be in the days of analog technology, the mix is still the point where decisions and choices have to be made. And that, in itself, is an art and a science.

So if you can, read this book from here . . . right through to the end—at least once.

Learning anything—especially something as nuanced as sound recording—is a journey, and that journey is half the fun. You can fly from Paris to Istanbul, or you could take in the delights of Lausanne, Milan, Venice, Belgrade, and Sofia along the way by traveling on the Orient Express—same destination, but a very different experience.

As with the Orient Express, a top-to-toe read of this book will introduce you to topics you may not fully appreciate the first time around. But you can always come back to Venice and look at its sights and virtues. Although we will try not to dazzle you with clever-sounding words and concepts, important messages can be missed if you speed by too quickly.

Finally, a great debt of gratitude is owed to the many engineers, producers, and artists we interviewed for the video series, whose words of wisdom are included here. Music is so often best when it’s a team sport, and although there are actually some incontrovertibly bad ideas (e.g., don’t try recording a kick drum with a ribbon mic), sound recording is definitely NOT a place for closed minds.

Experimentation—within some context of tried and tested sound practices—should always be on the menu.

You’re in good company. So enjoy your journey.

Riff Notes: A New Series

This Fall, Hal Leonard Books will release three new publications as part of the new Riff Notes series. Acoustic Guitar Basics, Electric Guitar Basics and Guitar Strings Basics are designed to teach readers all they need to know about choosing a guitar or guitar strings strings and how to perform proper maintenance on their equipment. Authors Phill Dixon and Chris Jones tell us more!

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Many shoppers can be overwhelmed by the size, selection, and noise level of a guitar shop. New players and even experienced players can sometimes be unsure about which questions to ask, or are hesitant to ask too many.   Just curious about guitar strings? Interested in the acoustic guitar, but maybe just the electric? Riff Notes offers a simple but thorough introduction to each topic, giving the reader enough information to help him or her feel more confident but not over-loaded.

Authors Phill Dixon and Christopher Jones have years of experience at Guitar Center helping thousands of new and continuing musicians explore, play and take home their first, second, and ultimate dream instruments. Riff Notes puts that knowledge into writing giving readers easy, quick-to-read expert advice in a series of short and fun, topical reference guides all about guitar-related musical equipment.

Designed to easily fit in guitar cases or gig bags, these booklets introduce the guitar world with simplified terminology and explanations, practical applications and tips, and are written in an easy and conversational tone to engage the reader. Perfect for both novice and experienced players alike, the series includes shopping advice, fun facts, and trivia to engage readers of any playing level. Coming this November: Riff Notes, published by Hal Leonard.

Listen: Cary Ginell on Inside Art

Cary Ginell spent a half-hour with Dave Drexler on “Inside Art” on KSDS in San Diego talking about The Evolution of Mann. Cary never lets us down with his great interviews. Give it a listen!

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>>LISTEN HERE<<

More than any other musician, Herbie Mann was responsible for establishing the flute as an accepted jazz instrument. Prior to his arrival, the flute was a secondary instrument for saxophonists, but Mann found a unique voice for the flute, presenting it in different musical contexts, beginning with Afro-Cuban, and then continuing with music from Brazil, the Middle East, the Caribbean, Japan, and Eastern Europe. As Mann once said, “People would say to me, ‘I don’t know where you are right now,’ and I would respond, ‘And you’re not going to know where I’m going to be tomorrow.’” A self-described restless spirit, Herbie Mann also was a master at marketing himself. His insatiable curiosity about the world led him to experiment with different kinds of sounds, becoming a virtual Pied Piper of jazz. He attracted thousands to his concerts while alienating purists and critics alike. His career lasted for five decades, from his beginnings in a tiny Brooklyn nightclub to appearances on international stages. “I want to be as synonymous with the flute as Benny Goodman is for the clarinet,” he was fond of saying. By the time he died of prostate cancer in 2003, he had fulfilled his desire.

The Future of the Music Business

In December, Hal Leonard Books will release the fourth edition of The Future of the Music Business by Steve Gordon, an invaluable guide on how to succeed in the ever-changing music industry. Here’s a look at what’s new in the fourth edition.

The Future of the Music Business

4th Edition

Similar to prior editions, the purpose of the fourth edition of the FUTURE OF THE MUSIC BUSINESS, which is scheduled to be published in December 2014, is to provide a roadmap for success in the music business – not only for musicians, songwriters and producers – but also for entrepreneurs and industry professionals. Technology has profoundly changed the recording industry and the music publishing business.  Entirely new rules, business practices and  models have emerged at breathtaking speed including in the several years since the publication of the third edition in 2008. The fourth edition explains the most recent rules,  business practices and models, and offers insights into how to take advantage of them.

Part I provides an overview of the basic rules and business practices that apply to the record and music publishing business today. We discuss how copyright law protects  songs and recordings, standard contracts including management, label and producer deals and the most recent rules and business practices that apply to the new means of distributing music, that is, downloading, streaming and webcasting, and how those rules differ in foreign countries.

Part II is intended for producers of audiovisual works such as films, documentaries, and television. This section includes information on audio-only projects such as compilations and music sampling, special projects such as musical theatre and fashion shows, and stand-alone digital projects such as web series and digital sheet music. The emphasis is on how producers seeking music for their projects can save money.

Part III offers a history of the recording industry’s struggle to come to grips with the digital era,  analyzes the current state of music piracy, explores various current  controversies, and provides some hope for the recovery of the record business.

Part IV provides a “how to” in the digital age on topics ranging from ranging from how to write hit songs in the digital era to using digital tools such as YouTube to succeed to how to use a music education to succeed as a creator or music business professional.

DVD and two free CLE credits: Attorneys will be able to obtain two free CLE credits by viewing the DVD included in the 4th edition. The DVD contains a conversation between myself and Bob Clarida, a leading copyright litigation lawyer and adjunct professor at Columbia Law School, about Robin Thicke’s copyright infringement case involving his monster hit “Blurred Lines” and Gaye’s song “Got to Give It Up.”
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Norm Stockton and the Art of Groove

While there are bass guitar instruction books everywhere, none of them seem to tell you exactly how to “make the phone ring” as a bass artist. Norm Stockton, merited bass musician and instructor, understands that that adding personality, emotion and soul to bass music is the most important skill a player can have – he calls this the ability to groove. Norm teaches his students how to transcend the more technical components of the bass to help them create a piece of music that draws the audience in, especially in a setting where multiple instruments are playing together.

“If you don’t already have it,” Norm says in his book, The Worship Bass Book, “I want to encourage you to develop and nurture a passion for the groove. Getting right in there with the drummer and locking down a really solid and great feel is the most fulfilling musical experience a bassist can have, and that is the primary thing that other musicians pursue in a bass player.”

The Worship Bass Book is a fun and practical book that covers the essentials of bass playing, including phrasing, style, drum and bass synergy, and solo arranging. It is a comprehensive look at all things bass in a digestible, yet broadly informative format.

And what’s more, Norm never stops teaching! He has his very own instructional website called the Art of Groove which offers advice, not only about playing the bass, but on how to market yourself as a musician, how to broaden your musical horizons, and how to get the most out of your instrument. Learn how to groove with the free lesson below, and be sure  to grab a copy of Norm’s book.

 

 

 

Happy Birthday, Mr. B!

Today would have been the legendary Billy Eckstine’s 100th birthday! Yesterday, Tom Vitale of All Things Considered did a great segment on the talented and suave musician in which Cary Ginell, author of Mr. B: The Music and Life of Billy Eckstine, is featured. Please enjoy the slideshow below!

 

 

 

Audio courtesy of NPR

Images featured from Mr. B

The Pensado Awards

Last Saturday heralded the very first Pensado Awards show, a show designed to “acknowledge today’s emerging brand of music professionals.” Dave Pensado (a hugely recognized professional mixing engineer) and Herb Trawick, co-hosts of the popular youtube show Pensado’s Place created the event to “celebrate the uncelebrated”, or to acknowledge those in the music industry that go unthanked and unrecognized despite their skills. Nick Messite from Forbes wrote an impressive article about the event, which you can see an excerpt of below. Pensado and Trawick are also the authors of the upcoming publication, The Pensado Papers, coming from Hal Leonard this October. Read the rest of the article here!

How The Pensado Awards Leveled The Playing Field – And Spoke Truth To Power

Last Saturday night, in the ballroom of the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica, a few hundred people—some of them famous, others far more important than famous—gathered to acknowledge a truth in today’s music industry: the times, to misquote a modern day bard, have a-changed.

Yes, it’s a telling moment when Ron Fair (Chief Creative Officer/Executive Vice President Virgin Records/Capitol Music Group) steps to the podium and proudly proclaims, “This business belongs to the people who love it the most—to the kids not shackled by the old industry models.”

Such a statement—from such a key player—is a powerful validation to the as-of-yet nameless up-and-comers in the music industry; to employ a biblical simile, it’s tantamount to the lion lying down with the lamb.

The venue for this statement was the inaugural Pensado Awards, an event designed to put a public face on those who work behind the scenes in the music industry—men and women who toil in windowless caves for eighty hours a week, who make daily peace with the relative obscurity to which they’ve been relegated, who forego friends and family in favor of deadlines, tinnitus and carpal tunnel syndrome—and who do so, much of the time, to polish the products of pop superstars, many of them vapid and half-talented in nature (in my estimation; no mixing engineer has ever bashed his or her client to me, on or off the record).00120020

But unlike the vast majority of award shows, this ceremony wasn’t about honoring insipid quasi-talents. Instead, the Pensado Awards attempted to give a hand up to the people in this business without whom there would be no business at all: the songwriters, engineers, producers, educators, entrepreneurs, assistants, interns and runners of today and tomorrow (Kendrick Lamar might have been robbed of his Grammy, but he got his Pensado Award).