One thing these days that lots of people have complained about is extremely loud mastering of music and how it tends to kill the song. I’m someone who has heard many a song released where the mastering and/or mix was so brick wall limited that it ends up sounding distorted, lacking dynamics, and it’s disappointing. It destroys the vibe of the recording, all in the name of attempting to stand out above all others when broadcast to the world. The end result of these loud mixes that are overly compressed and limited is one of making the song sound small and shitty. Small and shitty is not necessarily the result any self respecting musician would ever want for their releases. However, many record labels now force this concept of “make it LOUD” to the mixing engineers and the mastering guys.
Once in a while, a mistake can lead to a new discovery about how to approach doing something. Said mistake can end up starting a new way to look at a problem. Such is the case with an approach George Leger III stumbled upon while putting his mastering skills to the test for my song Touch. I have a version of Touch that has been mastered by the great John Rodd. But before I end up releasing the song, I’ll consider going with a second master based on George’s new technique. To put it simply, it’s mind shredding loud mastering, without sounding distorted or compressed.
Watch as I get George to discuss the process of super loud mastering he stumbled upon, to my buddy Jesse Stern, who is also the co-writer on “Till We Meet Again.”
So we can get the low down on all this trickery.
Well really all it is… is this is a 32 bit hard… uh, software mixer right.
But because it’s 32 bit, you can crank the crap out of the levels internally. So I can take this fader and ride it up to say +9. And it won’t clip.
It chops the top off, but it does it in a way that it doesn’t sound dynamically compressed.
Like a soft clipping type thing?
So you can push it up and it sounds loud without sounding [distorted] compressed. Or distorted. Jody was just like: I don’t know what you did man, but the file you gave me, the mastering… It’s the loudest I’ve ever heard and it’s like doesn’t sound bad at all. It sounds great.
Well, yeah. He did a master of Touch.
That he gave back to me and I was like it was just… what did I say? Mind shredding loud?
Yeah. It was super super loud. [it was so loud…] I didn’t even realize I had done this when I did it. Until I went back and looked and I went, oh wait a minute I didn’t go through this whole thing that I thought I was going through.
And I’m looking at the meters of my thing and my meters are still going up and down with all the dynamics. I’m like how the F^#$ is it so God damn loud!
Yeah. And not like: Phhhhfffftttt! Like crushed. Normally you do that and it gets crushed. What I discovered is that you can actually use this internal little mixer to jack the heck out of your levels, but it doesn’t distort.
And it doesn’t sound compressed.
It is really cool. Cause it’s like you can add 6 to 9 db of limiting without it sounding at all like that’s what you did. The nice thing that I like about the master that I did is… The attack of the kick and the snare are still there. Dynamically it’s like BAM BAM it just sounds so good. I couldn’t believe it. I was like, what the hell.
Okay, are we ready?
We’re ready. We’re ready. Anybody ready?
Have thoughts on loud mastering for your music – chime in in the comments below. I’m happy to discuss.
New Song Finished
Touch is in the can! Which means I’m happier to start talking about it. That’s right, the mix is off to the mastering engineer and will be back in my nimble lanky fingers within 24 hours! Actually I already hear a mastered version but opted to tweak a few things about the mix before putting the fork in it. Happily the mastering engineer is going to rerun it for mastering.
Who Was Involved
Touch as it’s called, was written by yours truly. That means I created all the music and vocal melodies, plus the lyrics.
The rapper is a bloke from Los Angeles who goes by the name Jacarri. He did tweak some of my lyrics I. The bridge to better suit his flow.
The idea for using a rapper in the bridge of the song came from Brian Austin Whitney.
My partner in crime in making the recording sound insanely great is George Leger III.
The awesome mastering is done by the infamous John Rodd.
Who Did What
For the recording of guitars, bass, drum programming, mouth noises, synths and other FX – I put on my alter ego hats and laid down parts for each. I also did an enormous amount of singing over the course of 4 days. Also did the final touches of the releasing mix. It added up to a few tracks north of 100 tracks in the mix. Largest mis I’ve ever done.
George did some additional drum tweaking, sound switching, vocal engineering, and some other various things. He also did some premixing on the track.
Jacarri brought some rapping skills to the tune.
John Rodd brought the final mastering touches.
I have to thank George, John and Jacarri for putting in some fantastic work on making this song as awesome as possible. Plus I need to thank a bunch of people who took valuable time to sit and listen to various mixes to determine which one should be the released version of the song.
I’m getting a real fuzzy feeling about the whole thing. I get even warmer thinking about how hot the video is going to be.
Maggie May Cover
I’m not often prone to doing cover songs. Mostly because I’m usually so busy writing and creating new music. However, I’m being asked more often to realize songs by other people. Thus, right now, you get to witness an experiment utilizing the power (or lack thereof) of the internet. I’m posting a video on YouTube of myself doing a Maggie May cover of Rod Stewart with my friend Chris Hellstrom.
Mind you, be aware neither Chris or I had ever “Jammed” over Skype before. We now know why. It’s not an ideal way to play music live, specifically because of the massive delays between participants. Chris and I did our best to make it work and there are a few stumbles. That’s to be expected when you’re flying blind. There’s so many variables that apparently go into this. Connection speed, something that isn’t as much an issue for me as it was for Chris. I enjoy a speedy 10Mbps up and 50Mbps down. Chris on the other hand not so much. Video obviously adds a lot of data to the bandwidth. I hear there are other things like data packet loss and such. Either way, if Skype really wants to make it’s world domination complete, they will have to figure out how to reduce these delays down to milliseconds. Enjoy our little escapade.
Since I’m a glutton for punishment, I just made arrangements to do this again with another friend. The twist is next time I’ll be playing guitar and he’ll be singing. My goal is to gather video from both sides so it can be side by side.
For now, I’d be happy to have you share this barebones rendition of the infamous (well, ok, it’s famous) song written by Rod Stewart called Maggie May.
p.s. – don’t tell Rod I screwed some of it up.
p.p.s – this was posted before the video went entirely live on YouTube, so you’re an early watcher!
Doling out the news… That’s what’s happening. Since the last post about song seventeen, I’m now on the final leg of the preproduction stage. That’s the word finally song eighteen is “I Miss”.
The song underwent a bit of a transformation. I changed the rhythm of the piano part. In a way it’s a bit more simplified. It also changes it from feeling too much like a song from the 80’s in it’s rhythmic value on the piano.
Lyrically it has stayed the same. I’m positive they were right the first time.
Vocally is where the most change happened. I’ve added an insane amount of vocal harmony. Think Queen, if you’re familiar with them. It’s going to be vocally HUGE. It will be interesting to see how it vibes out in the studio with extra singers on it. I’m thinking it will have somewhere in the neighborhood of 160 tracks of vocal harmonies. Big big big.
There it is. The last song on the list for the new CD/release. Song eighteen is called “I Miss”. Now it’s a matter of hunting down that investor money. Once that happens, I’ll be heading into the studio and pumping out these tracks with pure awesomeness.
Stay tuned for another update in a few days.
Call it a momentary lapse of reason. I have realized that I didn’t give a timely update on when I got the last couple of songs done. I’m writing it now, song seventeen finalized is “You Can’t Hear”.
There is no excuse. I got wrapped up in throwing together another tune for fun. I’ll give the update about that track in the new few days for sure. Mostly likely Tuesday.
For “You Can’t Hear” it got a little bit of lyric treatment. Not much. Minor tweaks and a setup for another section where I’ll be bringing in a rapper who’ll knock it out of the park.
Sonically the song is getting a bit of a makeover. I’ll be tapping a keyboard playing friend that lift the chorus to new heights rather than sticking with the clavinet part I’ve got. I believe I’ll also run with live drums on it instead of the programmed sounds it’s set with. Mostly due to the fact that it’s hybrid rap and rock.
That’s about the size of the changes there. I’ve got one more song to be talking about in regards to this next release. Stay tuned, but for now, you’re in the know with the fact that song seventeen finalized is known as “You Can’t Hear”.
Productive day yesterday. Got a lot of calls made. Emails sent. Even got to finally sit with a bit of a tune and spruce it up. That would be why I can say song sixteen finalized is Stand My Ground.
This particular song underwent a slight transformation. I had to tweak a few of the lyrics. I felt it needed a little more cohesion in the presentation of the words. It’s now got that. Such that it remains universal and personal at the same time. Without being overly vague. Though it still has a strong sense of metaphor. Which is to say, I hope it’s not too clever in it’s telling of a story now.
The arrangement got shortened a little. I decided it didn’t need the Pre Chorus going into the second Chorus. It appears only before the first Chorus.
Sonically, I’ve made my notes of things that I wish to have happen once I hit the studio to be recording the final version. In the meantime, I’ll be sitting down to song 17 today, it’s got very minor tweaks. Who knows I might be announcing it tomorrow. Then I’ve saved the toughest song for last…
For now, you’re in the know that the sixteenth song finalized is Stand My Ground. Have an awesome day!
Bing, bang, boom. Been an interesting few days with a bunch of requests for some music to fit a few commercials. Fingers crossed that at least one of them get’s pics for some of the opportunities. Yesterday I got to put the final touches on to a song that got a bit of a major rewrite lyrically. Now I have song fifteen done before the Super Bowl.
This latest in the quest for the final 18 songs is now called “Brighter Side of Success.” The original title was “Imagine Life.” Fortunately that has changed. Changed in to a much better song lyrically. Stronger. More cohesive. Also, more positive. That’s a plus. It was good to reexamine the nature of the tune and what it should have been from a lyric standpoint.
Musically, I didn’t have to change much of it at all. In fact, there were only some very minor melody/rhythm of vocals tweaks to accommodate the new lyrics. I think it was pretty darn strong musically. Though I do think I will add some stuff in the studio once all the bed tracks are tracked. Maybe a synth or two here or there. But otherwise, it’s to remain a solid uptempo pop rock style tune that stays in the bass, drum, guitar, vocal realm.
Now I can sit for a day and take in the mother of all football games – The Super Bowl. Interestingly enough on iTunes my versions of San Francisco 49’s and Baltimore Ravens “Do You Want To Play” are hot on the popular meter right now. I’m making an educated guess that fans of both teams are picking up their respective versions to pump themselves up for the big showdown!
Which team you rootin’ for? 49’s? Ravens? I’m actually more interested in the commercials and seeing huge plays. My team isn’t there, crud.
Enjoy the Super Bowl, and stay tuned for next week should see at least two of the last three, if not all three of the tunes to complete the 18 to be finalized for the recording process. Remember “Brighter Side of Success” is song fifteen done and it’s right before the Super Bowl! Hell Yeah.
Gandolf the White has struck! Apparently the Weather Channel decided to start naming winter snow storms. The humor is, this one hasn’t been all that insane and yet it has a name, Gandolf. I didn’t even get to see the start of the snowing as I was holed up in the den working so I could write this: the fourteenth song finalized is “Things We Left Unsaid”. That’s right, another song into the fire from the frying pan.
This song is one of those songs that underwent a rather strong amount of changes, comparatively speaking. It got a major facelift on the lyrics so that the words were more focused. Especially the Verses. The tone of it changed from a protagonist and antagonist switch in the Verses to simply a one point of view – that really helped the focus. The Pre Chorus then got a rewrite to make that transition work going into the slightly tweaked Chorus. Mostly because the Chorus had to reflect the change coming from the verse. The other change in the Chorus came from a slight rewrite of the title. Coming from “Things Left Unsaid” going to “Things We Left Unsaid”.
Musically speaking, I decided to down-step the song a full two semitones. What brought this part of the rewrite? Well… The Verses stayed the same melodically. The Pre Chorus stayed nearly the same, there was a slight adjustment to the melody and rhythm based on the new words and wanted a better swing into the Chorus. The Chorus ended up getting an entire facelift melodically. The main reason for it was two fold. One, I wanted a way for it to stand out more from the Verses. The original version had some interesting lines but they didn’t stand too far apart from the Verses rhythmically. Now, the melody is fashioned to have a much much stronger hook. Not only rhythmically but also melodically. This is where the key change had to happen for the song. Where I took the Chorus melodically was becoming a tad to straining to sound powerful in a full voice fashion. Thus stepping the song down two semitones put it back into a range that gives the Chorus full power.
The added bonus of bringing the key down of the song is that now the guitar parts sound beefier! That helps the vibe of the groove too. I can’t explain why, but it feels way better now. Thus the fact that people liked it enough before to vote the song into the final round, now it’s become a real contender to make the final cut and be a bonafide hit.
I’m much happier with the overall state of the song. Arrangement-wise the song a way more traditional in it’s situation. However, I think once in the studio it will get a little extra window dressing. Though that comes down to how it’s reflecting once it’s finally re-recorded.
To close out for this update, I’d like to happily send you on a merry way – hopefully you’ll be one of the people to enjoy the snow, especially if you’re headed to Sundance! Until the next update (coming soon) be in-the-know that the fourteenth song to get finalized is “Things We Left Unsaid”.
Cue the twilight zone theme… Cause if you’re superstitious, then today is the kind of announcement you might not want to hear. However, I am not superstitious. Thus I’m A. O.K. with writing that the thirteenth song finalized is “Jupiter Bowl”.
The song is my first co-write with a musician by the name of Mark Luna. An absolutely fantastic singer and amazing writer. When we first met and chatted on the phone Mark wanted to hear some of my music before agreeing to pen a song with me. After hearing some of my original work his response was: “We could do some serious musical damage together.” That phrase sticks with me. What a compliment coming from such a talent like him.
Jupiter Bowl is not about the planet. Nor is it about a bowling alley. No. It’s about the place located atop the Park City Ski Resort.
The goal in writing the song was to capture the vibe of Jupiter in the summer. The off-season. What strikes me about this song is that Mark and I discussed every detail in the lyrics, the tempo, and the concept of the arrangement. Way more so than any other co-write I’ve ever done. It was magical. Much like my early memories of hiking up to Jupiter Bowl.
For the most part I’m sticking pretty strong to the original demo version we did. It’s so powerful despite it’s lazy acoustic nature. Then again, isn’t that what nature is? Powerful with such beauty. Again it’s another song that I can’t wait to fully realize in the studio with a group of players. Anticipation is the word!
One funny thing I can think of right now, is there there is going to be that “What the hell did he sing?” type of thing that will happen with this song. Much Like “Blinded By The Light” where people think it’s saying wrapped up like a douche, when it’s actually deuce. I know this because a couple of peeps have already said it. While I understand where they’re coming from – I do believe it’s going to be alright and I’m going to let it slide. Create the controversy!
Rounding out the beginning of the teens is the thirteenth song finalized, “Jupiter Bowl”. Until tomorrow or the next day – Stay tuned.