Unit 12: Week Two

Performance lesson – 15/1/18

This lesson i rehearsed through the song Rory and I have been working on, Rory decided that he wanted to change the verse to 7/8 timing. Therefore, we spent time just rehearsing the verse, i struggled as i have never played in this time signature before. I also rehearsed with Jacob this lesson, he wanted to show me some more different ideas for me to play around with ideas.

Midi lesson – 18/1/18

Not much went on this lesson. I spent time running through some of my own ideas for possible songs. They are still very rough at the moment and i’m still trying to figure out where to take them. Besides that, i spent some time on focusing on the written work.

Recording Lesson – 19/1/18

I recorded a drum demo for Luke and Hallum’s song. This is a song they had wrote based of a really short drum demo which i recorded on the first lesson back. We only used two Rode NT2A’s as room microphones, one inside the booth and one outside to pick up natural reverb. This lesson also gave me a chance to write down the structure and practise it a few times. We decided we were going to record the real drums the following Friday. I also ended up recording two drum demo’s for Jacob’s songs. One of them was a new idea, another was re-recording a demo which we had already done. It wasn’t perfect and we are still uncertain about a few parts, however it is only pre-production and it is well underway.

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Unit 12: Week One

Performance lesson – 8/1/18

During this lesson, we spent the beginning having a pre- production as a whole group. We talked the album and the gig and how it is our choice where we’d like to perform. We also assigned the project leader which is Hallum.

Then Rory and me showed Hallum initial ideas for a song that he will be producing. Hallum, helped us out with structuring ideas and whether to add certain parts (such as drum fills, certain riffs) or to keep it more simple. I then spent the rest of the lesson rehearsing with Rory and we managed to finish the first half of the song.

MIDI Lesson – 11/1/18

This lesson i went down to studio 4 to work on some ideas for Jacob’s songs. I took part of the kit from studio 1, to be able to record some simple drums for the demo’s. We only used an SM57 as an overhead (Experimenting with Hallum and Luke’s idea) and then a D112 for the kick drum. We recorded a few takes so i can figure out parts and play around a few ideas. The quality didn’t matter as much as it was only demo.

During this lesson i was also asked to record drums for a Uni student, which i took the oppertunity and did. We changed the microphone set up and put the SM57 on the snare and then added two C430’s for the overhead. The drum part for the song was really basic and the same throughout the whole song, so it didn’t take long. However, it’s always interesting recording different drum styles for different people.

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Recording Lesson – 12/1/18

I worked on drum parts for another one of Jacob’s song. We set up an SM57 on the snare, D112 on the bass drum and then just a Rode NT2A as a room microphone. The structure to this song was a little more complex, so  ended up just sitting in the studio by myself  so that i could figure out and write down the structure and where to add certain fills. After running through it a few times, we recorded a take for the demo. Also this lesson, i spent time with Rory finishing the structure to the song we’ve been working on. I wrote down different ideas that we both agreed on not only for playing, but for the recording side too. For example, having certain sections fade in.

 

 

Performance Lessons (9/10/17 – 20/11/17)

Objectives:

-To have an understanding of what is required to achieve the unit by December.

-To rehearse your audio/visual project

  All of these lessons were pretty much the same tasks each week, with only a few differences. The lessons through October  weren’t the greatest, due to the guitarists were still learning and figuring it out the parts they would be playing. Meaning for me, i didn’t really have much to do. During the lessons, each group would take turns to run through their sound to picture song several times. We’d have the video up on a projector, with the backing track playing out with the metronome and we would all just play along. However, come November, we are fast approaching the gig. In the gig we will not have the video to look at, as the screen will be playing behind us, also the metronome will not be playing out loud. As that means that the audience would also be able to hear it. Therefore, for the gig, all the drummer have to wear headphones, which the metronome will be playing out of alongside the backing track. However, the metronome is ONLY coming out of the headphones. This is because on the logic file, you pan the metronome to one side, meaning it only comes out of that one side. This means that the rest of the guys also can’t hear the metronome. Therefore, they have to rely on me to know when to change and to stay in time. So during rehearsals, we only had the backing tracks playing aloud and practised it how it would be on the gig. It was obviously harder at first and even though we were doing it, it wasn’t sounding amazing. However, each week you could hear the improvements and the performance really coming together. Alongside this as we added to the track in our recording lessons, we had more sound effects and backing guitars on the backing track, which really added to the performance. In the lesson on the 20th November. The first run through sounded great, we all played confidently and perfect timing. There was even a point in the track, when the metronome and backing track had stopped coming through my headphones and obviously i was the only one who could hear it. But i was just enjoying playing too much to bother to stop everyone, so we carried on. Somehow, when i could hear the metronome and track again, we were still in time. Which proved to me how far we had come in the past few weeks.

MIDI Lesson (9/11/17)

Objectives: -Revise and develop mixing techniques using current project

This lesson rather than go down to the studio whilst the other guys started recording guitars. Being in a studio wouldn’t have benefited me at all, as i know how to set up and record guitar and the guys didn’t need me to be there, as there is three of them who know what to do. I probably would have ended up just sitting in the studio. Therefore, my plan was to stay in the MIDI room and work on mixing, as it is one of my weakest skills. I decided to work on mixing drums first, as i am a drummer and i had never really worked on mixing drums properly. For me i feel like it is better to get the best recording you can rather than a ‘that will do’ attitude and rely heavily on mixing to get a great sound. The track i was practising my mixing on was a recording that me and a couple of friends had recorded during the summer. I had recorded the drums for it and it wasn’t the worst recording, but looking back i’m definitely not satisfied with it, but it is a good track to practise my mixing on.

As the drums have so many different parts with different sounds, although you want to mix it as one instrument.The way i approached it was working on each different part first, starting with the bass drum. In this lesson i learnt how to use a test oscilator, which when used properly can really give you a great sound.

First you send the selected channel to a bus. On that bus add a test oscilator and noise gate, side chain the noise gate to the selected bus. This then makes the oscialtor play every time  the kick drum hits , otherwise it would just be a continuous noise. Then on the test oscilator, set the frequency to how you want, for me i set it to 50, this is the main part of learning how to use a test oscilator. Then you can play around with the attack, release and hold on the noise gate.

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Recording lesson (3/11/17)

 Objectives:  – Revise and Develop recording skill/techniques

– Add to the sound to Picture track

In the lesson we recorded bass in the studio 3 using a D112, an SM57 and a D.I box. We spent a lot of time setting up and trying to get a good sound, there seemed to be a lot of technical difficulties for some reason. We spent the majority of the lesson chasing a good solid bass recording. We tried different microphones and placing them in different places, as this we part of the lesson objective; to revise and develop recording techniques. One of the microphones we had tried was an Audio-technica kick/tom mic, we tried placing it in different places on the amp, but it just wasn’t giving us a great sound.

We did about two takes but due to time we left it at that, meaning in the end we didn’t get the greatest recording but it wasn’t the worst. However, we still had guitars to worry about putting in the track and decided that when mixed the bass will sound better. Even though this is a bad way of recording music, it had to be done due to time restrictions.

Recording Lesson (13/10/17)

Session Objectives:

1.Remember to scrutinise -Mic Choices -Mic Placements -Pre-amp choices -Pre-amp Settings

2. Evaluate Project Progress; -What you still need to do? – When will you achieve this by? 

3. Arrange & Develop backing track

This lesson went really well. Our plan was to record some Percussion instruments to add to certain parts of the track. We used a conga, tambourine and a two little shakers.We recorded them in two different takes. Joel recorded the tambourine, whilst i recorded the shakers at the same time. Then we did another take for the conga. At first, we were going to use an SM57 for under the conga. However, we set up a Rode NT2A condenser microphone, which picked up the sound quite well and thought we would just stick with that. We tried having the conga’s right in front of the microphone, however, the sound was causing the levels to peak in logic and didn’t sound to great either. After a trying different set ups, with moving the microphone or the conga. We put the microphone at the right corner of the booth and then the conga at the opposite end. Even though they weren’t near each other, we got a clear sound and it wasn’t peaking on logic. After we finished recording percussion, Joel and me were in the booth making sound effects. At first, it was a joke and we were only having fun, however, it added really well to the track and went with the visuals at certain parts. When you listen to the track, you can hear takes of me screaming, Joel making airplane sounds and just whatever random noises we could think of. Even though this sounds like a joke, with added effects such as delay and reverb and  when mixed properly with the track, it sounds really good.

MIDI Lesson: First Two Weeks ( 21st and 28th September)

We spent the first lesson deciding on what videos to would be good to use. We wasted quite a bit of time on this, as initially we were all just showing each other videos that we feel would be ‘cool’ to use, not even thinking what we would do musically with it. Then With Ben suggesting that we think about what type of music we would want to play and then think of a video that could work well with that. They all suggested SKA and even though i don’t listen to SKA, i have no problem playing it and would enjoy it at the same time. Then Jacob also suggested funk, which i completely loved the idea. As my drumming tends to naturally be quite funk influenced. Therefore, we agreed on the type of music. Then Joel had the idea of using a scene from the TV show ‘Rick And Morty’. The idea was great and we could all see it working. However, we had to see if we had the teachers permission. As their was some doubts on whether it was appropriate enough for the audience we will be performing to. Luckily, they were okay with the video and we are allowed to use it.

 

Second Week (28/9/17)

Objectives: Get a simple DI bass recording for the sound to picture song. – Run through the song and figure out possible different drum parts, to be able to record next lesson.

This lesson Jacob recorded the demo parts such as guitar and bass. For me it was about figuring out what i could play and figuring out the structure. I wanted to play along with the track but the studio with the drums was already being used. So i booked it out for after the lesson and waited. I then spent about 45 minutes in the studio.  I spent twenty minutes listening to the song and writing down ideas:

Intial ideas (may not make sense, however, it helped me remember different parts/ideas).

I ran the logic track and then went in the drum booth with the sheet. Listening to it through the headphones, i played along and tried different variations of beats and fills. I only ran through the track about three times, as i didn’t feel the need to run through it more times. I already knew what i was gonna play and was confident to record it the next day.

Overall, this lesson was really useful. As i got to run through the track without any distractions and play along. Therefore i had met the objective set at the beginning of the lesson

Recording: First Week (29/9/17)

Session Objectives:    Consider backing tracks  –Develop A/V (Audio visual) project with recording focus  -revise recording techniques 

Even though this wasn’t officially the first Recording sessions back. It was the first one for me and the first one where we had actually used the studios. Either way, this was such a productive lesson.  Our aim was to just use the whole lesson to record drums for the sound to picture song. Whilst Jacob re-recorded a bass demo using the D.I. box, i set up the drums for me to record on. Joel got all the microphones, stands and cables. It was quite a simple set up. I used a D112 for the bass drum as well as having an SM57 inside the Bass drum . I feel like having the SM57 adds to the sound of the bass drum, whereas just having the AKG D112 gives you quite a flat sound (depending on what type of drum you’re using). For the overheads, i used two C430’s, and had them quite spread out to get a good stereo sound. I had two D40’s for the Only two toms i was using, and then two SM57’s, one for the snare and then i wanted to mic the hi hat.

Even though usually people don’t use a microphone for the hi hat as they feel like the sound is picked up by the overheads anyway and it tends to bleed. However, as the type of drummer i am. I feel like it is important as it captures certain accents that gets lost with just using the overheads, then when it comes to mix it, you can’t just increase the Hi hat volume, the whole sound gets turned up. Therefore, even if when you use a microphone for the hi hat and it makes it too loud, you can just cut the track out. We run the Bass drum mic’s through the top TL Audio Ivory-series Compressor, The overheads through the Focusrite pre-amp, we decided to experiment with the focusrite, as it gives you quite a sharp sounding recording. Then the snare and toms just through the bottom TL Audio pre-amp.

I didn’t get to learn massive amounts of how to to get a great sound from all of these and how to setup the  patch bay, as i was in the booth playing for Jacob to set up the levels. Initially, Joel was in there, as i wanted to be outside the booth to learn setting up. However, again it depends on the type of drummer you are recording and i went in the booth instead of Joel. I am quite a hard hitter; therefore, if we had setup levels for how Joel plays drums, we may get a great sound with compressors and what not. but when i would go in to record, the levels on logic would most likely peak as he was hitting the drums differently. However, our aim is to not waste time and just get it down and there will be plenty over times that i will be able to learn and improve my skills on the producing side of things.

The recording session went great. As i had already ran through the track once before the day prior, i already had an idea on the structure and what i would be playing on the song. To help me out i also added in simple midi drums a bar before the song would change. This was so i knew when the song was about to change to the next section, i did this because the song has different styles of music. Such as; ska, funk etc,etc. Therefore, i have to change my style of playing several times in the song. This helped me massively during recording.

Recording drums would not actually take as long as they would in the first year. We went through the song once before getting the final take. The drum was all in one take, rather than recording the different parts separately. We got a good sound that fits well with the track and once all the other instruments are recorded, it will work really well with the video.

 

Performance Lesson: MY First Week (2/10/17)

Technically, this is the third lesson back, but i missed the first two lessons as i was ill. However, i was still up to date with all the work and knew what was going on. This lesson was quite straight forward for me. As it was mainly for Joel to figure out guitar and vocal parts with the rest of the group. Even though i could sit around and help figure out parts, from working with them before. I feel like they do a great enough job adding their creativity to whatever project they’re working on, that I’d rather focus on learning my parts and trying to play it to the best possible.

Especially with this track, as it is sound to picture. Everyone can be trying to add all their ideas into the mix and the whole aim of the objective gets lost and the sound and picture don’t end up working together. But mainly because i already loved the way the song was heading and didn’t feel the need to add anything.

Anyway, the main part of the lesson was running through the song live with the video, in the performance hut. Toby played the track through logic, but just muted the drum recordings and bass. So all that was playing was the video and the metronome. Jacob played the bass, Joel was figuring out guitar parts and i was on the drums. We ran through the track times and i found it really useful, as it is quite a diverse structure and  even though i remember what the changes are, it is hard to remember when they are. Therefore, running through it live helped give me an idea.

Unit 8:Research

Inspirational Musicians

As my role during unit 8 has mainly been recording drums for a variety of different people, i have been watching different videos or reading interviews of some of my favorite drummers. Even though the genre didn’t really have anything to do with what i had to record. At the beginning of the unit i was really into the band ‘Machine Head’, one of the main drummers i have been looking at is ‘Dave Mcclain’. I watched the ‘Making of Unto The Locust’ (album), in the DVD  it shows Dave recording drums for the album, what drums he used, what type of tonality he was going for (The link for the 20 minutes documentary is down below).I also read an old ‘Rhythm Magazine’ i had found, which has an interview with Dave, where he talks about certain Microphones he uses and different factors that contribute to a good drum recording.

 

One of my favorite artists period is ‘Kendrick Lamar’. As well as doing computer based music, he also uses a lot of live instruments in his recordings and performance, he is very Jazz based in a lot of his music. As i am a huge fan of his music, I’ve researched a bit into his drummer ‘Tony ‘Rico’ Nichols’ by watching videos of his playing and talking about his set up and what cymbals he uses.In the videos Rico doesn’t actually play any Kendrick’s songs. 

 

Even though there are a lot of Hip Hop artists that use live instruments. I appreciate the fact that Kendrick has brought Jazz music more into the mainstream world. Jazz has always played it’s influence in the genre, however, i feel like with the new age of technology and modern equipment that can be used to create thousands of different sounds, Hip Hop has taken into that direction. However, even though Kendrick isn’t the only artist who does it, but he is the most well known to do it. He has used the key elements of jazz to create his music. In some songs you can even say he is rapping over Jazz music. This is key in songs like ‘How Much A Dollar Cost’. If you listen to his album ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’, you will hear the Jazz elements alongside the modern day hip-hop and it works really well.

 Improvements compared to previous unit

During unit 5 when i recorded there were certain aspects that i wanted to improve. For example, when i recorded for Jacob, we didn’t record drums for the whole song. We’d copy certain parts such as the verse or chorus, instead of just recording a different take. We only did this to save time as we had more things to do, with only a short amount of time left. Jacob and me both agreed that this was a lazy way to do things and either though it does work, it is better to either do another take or just record the song in one.

In all the recordings that we did before Unit 8, we could never seem to get a great bass drum quality during recording. It always seemed too come out quite flat. Therefore this time instead of just using an AKG D112, we put a Shure SM57 inside of the bass drum. This worked out really well. We got much more of the sound and it gave the bass drum much more of a punch at the end of the recording. Also instead of sending the inputs through the pre-amps and then straight into the desk. We decided too run the bass drum and the snare through the pre-amps and then through the compressor. The compressor helps tain the recording, in other words meant that the it kept the levels fairly equal.

Drum Tuning

The Pearl drum kit in the studio isn’t tuned very well and tuning drums is not as easy as tuning a guitar. I haven’t done as much research as i should have for tuning. However, after i had recorded most of my drums i found a page on drum tuning by Pearl (link below)

http://pearldrum.com/media/education/drum-tuning.pdf

For the future i am definitely going to make sure i spend more time on tuning drums. During recording throughout the year, i realized how important it is to make sure the drums a tuned. It always depends on what type of drum sound you are looking for. However, if the drum skin is too loose it is going to make the drum sound very flat, and if it is too tight it can be quite off key in compared to the other instruments, Or it may just not sound nice in the mix. The main drums i seem to have problems with tuning is the high and mid toms, they seem to be the ones which sound off tune compared to the rest of the kit.

Instead of excepting how the drums sound, next time i am going make sure i can get a very tight and clean sounding recording.

Drum sounds/equipment

With choosing drum equipment, it always down to preferences for every different drummer. I’ve used both Zildjian and Sabian cymbals, I enjoy using either one of them. Personally, I’ve enjoyed and got a better sound from using Sabian, however, this is a bit of a biased opinion as i have used much more Sabian then Zildjian. But judging on the Zildjian cymbals i used (can’t remember which series), i didn’t like the sound i got from them as much.

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In the studios their are two kits that are set up, which are, The Pearl Export studio kit and then the Yamaha in the performance hut. I enjoying playing the Yamaha kit more then the Pearl, because of it having a much more of a live and punchy sound. Where as the Pearl kit sounds quite flat overall, meaning we have to mic it and produce it quite a lot to get a decent enough recording to use. I’d rather prefer getting the most natural sound of the drum kit for recording, this also beneficial for playing live, as it would sound more similar to the recording. However, this is again down to preference on what you prefer as a drummer. I have not yet recorded with Yamaha kit, as i haven’t had the chance, due to not having enough time and it being used by other students.

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In the future i am definitely looking forward to record with Yamaha kit and see how great of a recording i can get.

Drum technique/ Rudiments

Drum technique is something that i find very important for playing. Personally, i think each drummer has their own technique and they should focus on improving their own technique and be influenced by various different musicians, rather then imitating other drummers. This is what defies the difference between a good drummer and a not so good drummer. For myself i think it is important to play as tight as possible and play clean, meaning not sounding messy and sloppy.  For every drummer i think that knowing your rudiments is important, as it is a basic technique that is very diverse for playing. You can use rudiments in almost anything you play and all i takes is practice. Rudiments are mainly what i base most of my playing off, you can use it both hand and also mix it up with foot technique.

There are so many different rudiments out there. The main ones being Paradiddles, flams and single and double stroke rolls. Their are different variations of each of these rudiments. Simple-Rudiments

 

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