Try as you might, you can’t be a machine that only thinks and cares about music. Sometimes sitting a tour out or taking a few months off of making music is the best thing you can do for your career.
Jamie Ehrenfeld is the founder of CORE Music NYC, an artist services agency incubating upcoming musicians and teams committed to community engagement. She has worked as a music educator with the featured programs at Eagle Academy for Young Men and City as School.
Ethan Hein is a Doctoral Fellow in Music Education at New York University. He teaches music technology, production and education at NYU and Montclair State University. With the NYU Music Experience Design Lab, Ethan has taken a leadership role in the creation of new technologies for learning and expression, most notably the Groove Pizza. He is the instructor of the free Soundfly course series called Theory for Producers. He maintains a widely-followed and influential blog, and has written for various publications, including Slate, Quartz, and NewMusicBox.
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We here at Soundfly always recommend that you read as much as you can about your craft. There’s no reason to stop learning, stop improving, or stop seeking better, more efficient, and more creative ways to make musical work. So without further ado, here are five essential recommendations for the mixing engineer’s bookshelf.
Without the internet around to provide an unbroken timeline of artistic events to a potentially endless landscape of wandering eyes, records that couldn’t achieve access to a viable fanbase in the 1980s have mostly, inevitably found themselves buried in the sands of time forever. Many creative masterworks, no matter how well-appreciated at the time of their initial pressing — if mismanaged by independent, boutique labels that couldn’t stay afloat financially — have either approached or gone completely off the cliff edge of existence. But thanks to the interplay between user-submitted content on the web and the way platforms help listeners discover it, some records do actually manage to climb back out of the sand.
The Røde Podcaster is a dynamic microphone specifically designed for podcasters. With a tight polar pattern and frequency response custom-tuned for recording vocals, the Podcaster delivers broadcast-quality sound with a plug-and-play USB connection. An internal shock mount helps reduce noise when adjusting microphone placement. Equipped with a 3.5mm stereo headphone output and built-in volume control, the Podcaster has everything you need to get started quickly.
Who knew treadmills could be so fun? This classic, viral music video features such a simple yet quirky concept, but with choreography that blows the mind apart. After 17 attempts, OK Go was finally able to capture a single, continuous shot of the entire impressive choreographed performance. Unlike some of the other videos here, this doesn’t have any deep, significant relevance to the song’s lyrics, but… who cares!
Ryan: Working with Storm was awesome. He was always prepared and enthusiastic about learning and willing to put in the work to get through obstacles in his production. We focused on hip-hop production and Storm really went in on the concepts. His sampling, drum programming, and use of 808s are top notch. Can’t wait to hear how his instrumentals develop as he works with more vocalists and rappers down the road.
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Whether that means using “children’s instruments” like toy pianos, ukuleles, tambourines, etc., or instruments that look and sound retro, like jangly Rickenbacker guitars, these elements help paint a delicate picture of the sound world you’re trying to create. As another example, my parents played a lot of country when I was growing up. So whenever I hear pedal steel guitars and tight harmonies, the combination always brings me back to my childhood living room.
The group was formed in 1966 by Mingiedi Mawangu, a member of the Zombo tribe. He began his musical career transcribing traditional Zombo music that was originally played by an ensemble of horns made from elephant tusks to be played on likembé. While he played with many different ensembles, it was his album, Congotronics (named after the way he’d jerry-rig different electronics together to make working parts) that eventually afforded him his international acclaim. In 2010, the band collaborated with Herbie Hancock on The Imagine Project and earned their first Grammy.
Not many musicians actually think to look here for some reason, even though PROs often have access to the most professional, most successful, and most charismatic artists and songwriters on the scene. Each of the above blogs focuses on a different aspect of musicianship and message too, so it’s really worth checking out all three!
To really understand why, let’s look at one song where the verse and chorus really do act differently and serve different functions, and look at how they interact with each other; let’s take a look at “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by late great Whitney Houston.
The odd timing, as the sequence starts on the “4” beat of the end of the solo, instead of the expected “1” beat, catches the ear off guard and adds to the mystical feel of this little interlude. The icing on the cake can be tasted when the bass doubles the notes from octaves below it — though at the start of the third octave, Jones dips back to the third below it, and finishes his last arpeggio back at the top of the second octave, instead of continuing on to the top of the third with Page. It’s a wise decision, as the widening gap in pitches helps accentuate the guitar’s rise to its zenith. It’s yet another classic example of Jones’ flashy but never overdone playing.