Since the early days of rock and roll one of the ways of getting heard on radio or a crowded Juke Joint was a simple trick. To be louder than your rival. It was a poke in the ear that said listen to me. In the good old days there was a certain limit to how loud music could be as the needle would just jump off the record due to over modulated grooves on a vinyl disc. With the advent of digital technology this is no longer the case.Its not to say loud is bad but to do it due to trends is tantamount to cutting your nose off to spite your face.
I shall be keeping the levels at a point where it most musical which is a balancing act between the mixing and the mastering stage.
Mastering is the last musical process in the chain. Its the stage where all songs are placed in sequence, tonally balanced, dynamically mapped and gap times tweaked. Its the stage where you chisel the sonic sculpture into the final product adding contour to the journey. Its the icing on the cake with every decision having direct consequences.
Unfortunately “Mastering” has also now become the stage where you try to achieve the highest possible level for your CD. Its a way of supposedly cutting through the polluted airwaves. Its a fallacy. The direct consequence of this is a lowered or flattened dynamic level and unfortunately its becoming quite standard . It has become a competition which has led to the “Loudness Wars”. Its not something I am going to be part of but more on that later.
Charlie and I had a blast recording my arrangement of Gershwin’s classic Summertime. At times it was hard to believe that I had a legend of New Orleans standing next to me but he was so humble and generous that it never seemed to be relevant. I have to say it was one of the easiest recording sessions I have ever had as he knew exactly what I wanted. Oh and did he swing!!!
Vocals and clarinet by Charlie Gabriel. Here he discusses his early years and mentors…
“RE: It dont mean a thing…”. Youtube.com. Uploaded by daveandrewvideos on Dec 13, 2011 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWLO3WV5Opk>.
While compiling the album credits today, it occurred that this album would have been impossible for me to do just a few years ago. Audio technology that is affordable and powerful enough, literally in the palms of your hands. So far on the album we have…..
Neil Conti – Drums – Montpellier – France
Dennis Elliot – Banjo – Virginia – U.S
Kurt Baumer – Fiddle – Texas – U.S.
Manu Delago – Hang Drum – Bern – Switzerland
Mike Stevens – Harp – Ontario – Canada
Shay Goodwin – Drums – L.A – U.S.
Lester Foster- Tap – New Orleans – U.S
Paul Oreilley – Guitars – P.D – Malaysia
and eventually Metropolis Mastering – London – U.K.
…… all via tinternet from the comfort of my home :0)
After a year looking for a tap dancer for the album, I finally tracked a busker down in New Orleans via YouTube with the help of Mike from Nola Studios. The intriguing thing is that these kids tap using crushed soda cans tacked to their soles and boy can they Hoof!!
Here is the moment when Mike actually spotted Lester “Happy Feet” Foster…
“Finding Lester “Happy Feet” Foster”. Youtube.com. Uploaded by daveandrewvideos on Nov 30, 2011 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6BGnc3wF-xE>.
After emailing several studios in New Orleans over the last few weeks I managed to get hold of Mike from http://www.nashvilleavesound.com . Mike runs his own studio by day and plays fiddle by night in his hot gypsy jazz band “The Courtyard Kings“. Passion, Technician, Musician…perfect!!
Not only is Mike helping me record the tap dance session for “The Jody Grind”, he is also off today to the French Quarter to help locate one of the many kids that busk around the streets in New Orleans. So hopefully we will be laying down some “Hoofing” once Mike finds the right kid with the right chops.
Yesterday Mike (who I shall introduce in my next post) and I discussed the various ways of recording a tap dancer which we hope to do over the next few days. The conclusion we came to was to build a Foley stage, basically a purpose built stage in the studio, to record these unconventional tap shoes which I will get to in another post. Today he sent me a picture of his efforts:
If the music business doesn’t work out I know what he could turn his hands to. Fine job Mike!!
I’ve been looking for a tap dancer for “The Jody Grind” for over a year now and think, know I have found my talent pool. These kids are from New Orleans and busk around the city with a difference. When you cant afford tap shoes you make them yourself. How? Easy! Crush two soda cans and tack them to your sole. “Hoofing” New Orleans style.
“New Orleans Tap Dancing”. YouTube.com. Uploaded by noisy70 on Jan 4, 2009 <http://youtu.be/uwVwra1sHGk>.
RE:MIXED “My Funny Valentine” by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. Based on an earlier version of mine I sampled two elements, the vocal and strings from the original 2″ analogue reel and am working on building a new arrangement around it.
This is the quintessential classic song and a perfect example of a tune that will always stand the test of time. What makes a song timeless ? I wish I knew as I would be writing them but I have noticed that they all have certain quirks that make them stand out from the pack.