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Posts Tagged ‘album’

Trent Reznors new approach to creating music

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

“You know, I spent years of my life listening to Pink Floyd’s The Wall when I was however old I was, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, whatever. I didn’t have access to that much music. Music was an investment. If I spent eight, ten dollars on an album I was gonna listen to it even if it sucked. I was going to listen it until I liked it, you know? I read the liner notes, I read the etching on the vinyl, on the inside ring. I lived with that material, it became part of me. And I don’t mean just that, but the consumption of music was different.

Today, where you’ve got an iPod that’s filled with music you didn’t pay for, and everybody’s… it’s just a different consumption model, between youtube and the internet and people sharing files. Competition for your attention; people spend less time with music. And hence, as an artist that spent years on records, it’s somewhat defeating when you spend a year and a half on an album to get it just right, and it either leaks or comes out, and gets judged and dismissed in the first half a day, forgotten a week later.

That was a long setup for me saying – I thought it would be interesting to look at an album more like a magazine. Let’s do it, not carelessly, but let’s NOT look at it as the next thing that’s my big statement for the next four years of my life. Here was a very intensive and creative six-to-eight weeks of my life I had, as an album. Here it is. It’s free. That’s what The Slip was. It’s fun to do, it was interesting to see if it could be done. I’m proud of that record, it was fun to make. The self-imposed pressure was also matched with [the fact that] if it sucked I didn’t have to put it out.”

– Trent Reznor, Nine Inch Nails. Read more from the source of this quote here.

New Release: Meditations of the Spirit in Chinese

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

A Chinese CD, ‘Meditations of the Spirit’, which I collaborated on with Elika Mahony, and produced and engineered has just been released and sold out in less than a month!

All the songs are in Chinese with a few bilingual songs.  The lyrics are from the profound and highly spiritual Baha’i writings, and some compositions are translated versions of songs from Elika’s Fire and Gold album.
The project involved highly talented musicians and artists – the very talented Cheng Lin graciously agreed to sing on the CD and Jin R plays her original beautiful Yang Qin compositions.  Phil Morrison and Keith Williams generously added their gift of talent to the CD too and Siria Rutstein, the youngest of the group, contributes her magical voice to the mix.  Jimmy adds a few of his compositions and Flamenco guitar player, Eric Harper, adds to one of  the tracks.  We also have 2 talented ladies singing in Chinese – Zhao Li and Lily, with Elika Mahony singing one of the songs in Chinese and a part in Arabic on another.

You can find more information about the songs here and can order them on that website.
To make orders in North America and other parts of the world, click here.

Chinese CD cover

We’ve been in discussion with the publisher to do another album like this due to the great response, but that is probably a few years off as this was an exhaustive project.

Is professionally produced music important anymore?

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

I’ve had no problem getting work as a music producer, even in a recession. I’m working on 6 albums and keep getting calls for more, but then I’m cheap as far as many music producers go with my experience. Most of my clients hire me because I also compose and engineer in my own studio, so I’m a one stop shop.

This regular work has in no way filled me with delusions about the importance of professionally produced music to the general public though. I have found myself asking more and more, what is the point of what I do for artists anymore? Is there a future in professionally produced music? Do the majority of people care?

Before you scoff at this question, peruse these valid issues that have partially led to it, such as:

  • The decline of record labels and shift of the industry into the hands of DIY artists with limited budgets
  • The proliferation of affordable music production equipment and software allowing artists to Do It Themselves at home
  • The popularity of live, reality ‘Idol’ type music shows and Youtube
  • The proliferation of poor quality music formats like 128 kb MP3 files
  • The popularity of poor quality music playback devices like iPods with headphones
  • The question of the value of music in a world of free downloads

One could argue that people are used to professionally produced music, and so they will still demand it, despite the shrinking budgets for artists and music lovers. There is no question that the world is shifting towards enjoying more music than ever before, and that music is increasing in popularity.

But my most significant argument for the rapid decline in value for the music producer is, given the above, can the average person even tell the difference between music with no producer and that which is professionally produced? Will they be disappointed with acoustic versions of songs?

Tests I’ve done have proven the answer is no. Most listeners primarily want to hear the singers voice, and the melodies sung with simple instrumentation, and everything else seems superfluous.

I think a producer contributes significantly not just to the quality of sound of the music, but to:

  • The performance, emotion, and confidence of the performers
  • The arrangement of the song, including lyric phrasing and song structure
  • The melodies and musical instrumentation of the song
  • The accuracy of pitch and timing and sonic quality of the recorded parts
  • The range of tone across the frequency spectrum of the music
  • The mood, feeling and energy of the song

But of course, I’m biased! And as illustrated, these are decreasing in importance to the general listener.
In industries like film, TV, and advertising, these elements have become standard, so there is no question that they will require professionally produced music.
For music in general though, the question remains, given it is proven most people can’t hear the difference, is there a future for the professional music producer?
Will a shift in the importance of the arts and education in society affect the demand for musical perfection only an experienced producer can provide?

recording in bedroom

My latest production, ‘Fire And Gold’ by Elika Mahony

Sunday, March 2nd, 2008

Over the last 3 years I have been producing an album that is quite different than what I usually do by the very talented composer, pianist, and singer, Elika Mahony.
I have blogged last year about some of the challenges of producing an album like this, and about how intense a project like this can become.
With it’s combination of electronic elements with piano, live cello, guitar, and flute and other exotic live instruments such as Persian santur, nay flute, and Chinese erhu, I have to say that this album, called ‘Fire And Gold’ is not only the most diverse and elaborate production I have worked on, but one of the most expensive. But it has done extremely well, selling over a thousand copies shortly after release thanks to Elika’s innovative music promotion techniques worldwide. You can listen here.

For those who are familiar with the musical styles I usually produce, the classical and new age overtones of this spiritually inspired Baha’i album on the theme of tests and difficulties of life may not be your thing. But you will most likely still be able to appreciate Elika’s sweet voice and elegant melodies.

Elika is also using some of the latest online music promotion techniques such as selling electronic versions of her songs online by donation, and offering discounts for multiple CD orders. One of her fan’s have even created a music video for one of the songs, This Is Faith.