Friday, September 5, 2008

Our latest Hockey Night in Canada Theme Song submission

New semester now underway - Audio Engineering 5

It seems like it was such a long time ago since I'd been in the studio but it has only been a month. Yesterday (Sept 4th, 2008) we kicked off the beginning of our new semester. Our instructor gave us the details of what will be happening in this semester and it looks like it will be awesome.

One of the projects in particular is very exciting. We will be producing/engineering this years "Stop the Rain" benefit concert. This concert features 4 bands. We will be recording the entire show as well as providing videography and lighting. For me this is an awesome opportunity to get outside of the studio and into a live environment and for a great cause to boot.

Stop the Rain Project is dedicated to humanitarian causes. Our Bandaid Benefit Concerts raised over $10,000 last year. Currently we are providing financial aid to 10 single parent families in India, funding 90 school age children in Costa Rica and helping supply a local food bank in the Greater Vancouver area. Greg Reid

This years concert will be on November 30th 2008. Check out this video from last years show. This song is featuring my instructor's band (Stop the Rain band), Greg Reid on keys. The second video is Elijah's Cry.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Thanks for stopping by Liona Boyd

The other day I received an interesting e-mail from none other than Liona Boyd. She had been researching Melodyne and had come accross one of my blog entries. This was a very exciting moment for me as I have been a very big fan of her music for over 25 years. I was equally thrilled to find out that she had listened to our music.

Liona has a huge list of awards including; Five-time winner of the Juno Award for Instrumental Artist of the Year, Guitar Player Magazine's Gallery of the Greats, Five-time winner of the Guitar Player Magazine's, Classical Guitarist of the Year, The Order of Canada, The Order of Ontario, Vanier Award, Women Who Make a Difference, Artist of the Year, and Honorary Mayor of San Antonio, Texas, Four Honorary Doctorate of Law degrees, One Honorary Doctorate of Music degree, Prix "Esprit du Ci├Ęcle".

She has also done a number of collaborations. Most notably with; Yo Yo Ma, Eric Clapton, Chet Atkins, David Gilmore, Georges Zamfir, Gordon Lightfoot, Sir Andrew Davis, Al Di Meola, Steve Morse, Strunz and Farah, Jesse Cook, Pavlo Johannes, Linstead Innis, Oscar Lopez, Ron Korb, Paul Anka, The Canadian Brass, Tracy Chapman and Michael Kamen.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Concert Photo's - Canada Day Celebration

Hey all,

I went to a local Canada Day celebration yesterday and took some pretty cool concert photos. I have always respected Bob Rock as a producer but he is also an awesome musician.

Pictured below; Bob Rock, Paul Hyde, Mike Reno, Paul Dean and Wil. The last picture is me with Elisse Estrada.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Too busy doin'....

I thought I would make a quick post to let you all know that I haven't fallen off of the planet. Truth of the matter is that I have been so busy with school and homelife that I haven't been able to write much to my blog lately.
Hopefully during the next couple weeks I will be able to catch up. Thanks for hanging in there.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Mushroom Studio's - Vancouver, Canada

I can remember many years ago, driving down W. 6th Street in Vancouver and seeing the big backlit Mushroom Studio's sign (wonder what happened to the sign anyways... isn't there anymore). Just the sight of the studio sign triggered memories of one of my favorite bands, Heart. Heart and the Mushroom label were synonimus at the time. The music during this era was very electifying to me. In some ways Mushroom Studios was very much a part of my childhood as I grew up living with the music that came out of this studio. As a producer/Engineer, this was truly something that I have wanted to experience my entire life.

Upon entering Mushroom Stuidio's I could quickly confirm that all my favorites had been there. Chilliwack and their "Dreams, Dreams, Dreams" gold record was displayed as expected. Tom Cochran and Red Rider, Marcy Playground, Loverboy, Prism and many other great records that I had forgotten about were recorded here as well. With all this history painted on the walls how can you not hear the music?
*In 1946, one of Canada's first studios named Aragon Recording Studios was opened in Vancouver, aided by Al Reusch. Reusch was a musician, big band leader, and one of Vancouver's first DJ's. By 1954, Reusch acquired sole ownership of Aragon Studios which would lead to the construction of Mushroom Studios.
The current home of Mushroom Studios was built in 1966 at 1234 West 6th Avenue, Vancouver. Built by Aragon from the ground up as a first class audio recording studio, it was an orchestral recording room for special sessions by the Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC). Howard Tremaine consulted on the original acoustic design and equipment installation. One of the first clients was Diana Ross and The Supremes, and later Led Zeppelin would also record there.*

This is the first of several blogs that will be writing as a result to my weekend full of rubbing elbows with some of the great producers and engineers that have worked in Vancouver.

During the next few days I will be writing about my experiences with Mike Fraser (AC/DC, Led Zepellin, Metallica, Aerosmith) Jeff Dawson (State of Shock, Daniel Powter, Holly McNarland) Roger Swan (K-OS, Swollen Members) Devin Townsend (Lamb of God, Bleeding Through, Darkest Hour) Ben Kaplan (Chevelle, Trapt, Shakira) GGGarth Richardson (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rage Against The Machine) Howard Redekopp (Tegan & Sara, New Pornographers)
*Information obtained from Wikipedia

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Audio Engineering Session 15

In this session we picked up where we left off from last week. Sophie and I were using ProTools for our mix. Later in the session I had a really good chance to talk to Greg about EQ and how to notch out the various instruments so theye each have their place in the mix.

When we recorded these tracks we had already applied some EQ to get us close to where we wanted to be so we had a lot of headroom to work with. We started by tweaking the kick and snare a bit. Then moving on to the bass.

I will try and hunt down a good EQ guide as I know that I have one around here somewhere. Anyways, the idea here is that by using EQ you can create space in your mix for various instruments to be heard without it competing with other instruments that are in the same frequency range.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

New Music West 2008

I have only recently heard about this music event that has been held in Vancouver for the past 18 years! I am pleased that I have finally found out about this event taking place on May 14th through 18th. From the looks of their website, it looks like it will be awesome. This is The largest and most influential new music event in Western North America. There will be over 200 bands playing in over 30 venues. For $30 you can get "all you can hear" wristbands. Well, exciting as this sounds it is not the only reason why I am excited to attend. I'm attending a couple of the workshops that are happening over the weekend. Every year New Music West puts on these amazing and exclusive workshops. I won’t be missing my chance to meet and learn from the top producers and coaches in the world, inside some of Vancouver’s best music production facilities!! How about you?

Of course there is the music as well. Past performers have included: Nickelback, Marilyn Manson, Gene Simmons, Perry Farrell, Swollen Members, Sam Roberts, The Flaming Lips, Frank Black, Hot Hot Heat, Matthew Good, Run DMC, Metric, Mark Farina, Blind Boys of Alabama, Midnight Oil, The Trews, Stars, Liz Phair, Modest Mouse etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. I wonder who will be there this year??

Here is a link to the schedule

...and this is a link to this years lineup and finally the link to the main page

Monday, May 5, 2008

Interactive Frequency Chart

A few session ago we were talking about fundamental frequencies and their associated harmonic content. This image represents the best chart that I've been able to find on the web... but wait, there's more. If you click on this link you will be able to access a fully interactive frequency chart.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Audio Engineering Session 14

In this session we all shuffled around which audio application we were to use. Emile and Cash on Sonar, Greg and Jessie on the V-Studio, and Sophie and I were are on Pro Tools.
For us to be able to mix last weeks tracks we first had to use a ripper tool which converts Roland's proprietary file format to WAV files. The ripping process only took about 2 minutes.
Once we imported all the tracks into ProTools we gave it a quick listen. It sounded really good without any tweaks. This was because we spent some time last week capturing great sound right at the source.
I hadn't had a chance to hear the piano tracks up until now. As mentioned earlier, we used a pair of AT 4033's (see session 13 for more on mic'ing the piano). Click on the player to listen to the raw piano tracks. No effects have been added. The tracks have only been panned hard left and right. It should be noted that this is not a stand alone piano piece. I simply solo'd the piano from the multitrack session.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Rest in peace my friend

On this day 2 years ago I lost a very close and dear friend. I wrote this song as a tribute to him. Chuck, I still miss you my friend. May you rest in peace.

Monday, April 28, 2008

How to make a record (1937)

An associate of mine found this little gem on YouTube. I thought I would post this video here as it serves as an important reminder of just how well we have it now when it comes to recording albums on PC's. Without a doubt this confirms that it really DOESN'T suck recording on computers.

So without further ado, let's roll the calendar back to 1937 and see how they made records back then.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Audio Engineering Session 13

The first thing we did this class was a de-brief of our previous tracking session with Greg's band. We reviewed the workflow and came up with a basic strategy that should be used to maintain order and to stay calm. We were told that when recording a rock band, the most important thing is to get a great drum take. All the other instruments/vocals can be re-done easily as everyone was in separate isolation rooms.

An important aspect of tracking is communication. It is important for the engineer to make the musicians feel comfortable. This will bring out their best performance. It is best to keep everyone well informed about the tasks at hand and what will be happening next. If a lot of focus is on the drums for example, you can let the other musicians know that they can kick back and get a coffee. Tell the bass player to relax for 15 mins while the headphone mix is being dialed in. Without a doubt a good Audio Engineer will be able to bring out the best in them and not make them feel like they are under a microscope in a fish bowl.

Tracking can get quite stressful. There are a lot of things going on at once. A clearly defined plan is very important. Most of your energy needs to be directed at making a great mix. This is the ultimate goal in any tracking session. Of course there are several other aspects of major importance (mic placement, tuning etc), in the end a great mix will be inspiring to the musicians. Everything else will fall into place rather naturally if your energy is focused on the mix.

After the debrief we moved onto layering some additional tracks for one of Greg's songs from last session. We did some backing vox first. Greg sang into an Audio Technical AT4033.

After a couple of takes we moved on to recording the piano. We used a stereo pair of AT4033's. These were placed about 10 inches away from the strings. One on the low end and one on the treble end. Now then, Greg has been playing piano forever and this is a very nice piano in a very good room so as one would expect, the piano sounded great!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Meet the band!!

Wow, can't beleive that it took until now for me to introduce our band. Talk about lack of self promotion! Ok, well, Don, Ken and I have been jamming and writing music for some time now. About 5 years. Mind you we have been saying 5 years for awhile now.
Don is the mastermind behind all our songs. He has been playing guitar forever. For whatever reason, Don and I seem to click when it comes to writing music.
My daughter Chelsea has been working with us on a lot of our songs. Her vocals really help shape the sound of our band.
Our EP will be available in the next couple of months. Signed copies are already being distributed. So, that's like 4 copies now so don't hesitate or this spindle of CD's will be gone!

Monday, April 21, 2008

The London Project in.... Germany??

Last week The London Project was lucky enough to receive some airplay in Germany of all places. This just goes to show that the Internet is playing an important role in the Indie music scene.
Click on the link below to hear the German introduction to, and the song, "I Know She Understands" as aired in Germany.

“Well, we are here with a combination of German and English. And now I will play another song as Lonnie is here; and Lonnie is from ‘The London Project’ yes, and the song is I know she understands.”

“Yes, Lonnie also is from Canada, British Columbia and the band with members Don, Lonnie and Chelsea, work together on rock-genre music of the 70’ies, 80’ies and 90’ies. Now we will listen to “I Know She Understands“ and have fun with “The London Project” – Lonnie is in the chat room here.”

After the song “Fantastic music here from The London Project, thank you Lonnie that was great music with your band, congratulations”.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

My concert experiences in Vancouver

One of the advantages to living in a city like Vancouver is the access to great music! Much of which is either free or at low cost. My first example great value was this free Canada Day concert in Cloverdale. Ian Tyson, Wide Mouth Mason, Kim Mitchel and check out this video of the headliners, April Wine.

My favorite concert to date would have to be the Dark Side of the Moon with Roger Water's.

Nickelback (I know, I know, w/e) put on a kick ass show. The sound of Kroeger's PRS going through those Mesa Boogies in that drop C! Rock and Roll!!

The Blue Man Group were and incredible experience. I highly recommend this show to anyone.

This video of Heart was made up of the photos I took of their performance at the River Rock Casino in Richmond BC

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Audio Engineering Session 12

No theory this week, we jumped right into tracking Greg's band. I appoligise in advance for the picture quality as they were taken with my cell phone.

Our instructor, Greg, is in a 3 peice band and they have been preparing for their upcoming benefit gig, "Stop the Rain". This was an opportunity for them to rehearse and for us to apply our recently aquired knowledge to a real world situation.

We started by setting up the drums for Trevor in the main live room exactly as we have in the past. (Mic and positioning details are found in previous blogs so I won't go into detail again in this one). As we have experienced a few times now, the Ayotte kits are a PITA to setup. These Ayotte kits may be fully adjustable but without a doubt are one of the more complicated kits to setup.

The bass player was setup in the air lock off of of the control room. He (John) was play an awesome Ricky through a Sansamp so his setup was fast and easy. Greg was in one of the other isolation rooms playing his Godin through a Roland BR-8 and into a Roland amp which we mic'd up with a SM57.

The next step was to create a decent headphone mix for them to monitor with. We began with the drums. Adjusting the levels for each one of the mics, one at a time. Then we introduced the bass guitar into the mix and once again adjusted the levels. Finally, we adjusted the levels for Greg's guitar/amp and the vocals. After about 45 minutes we had what we thought was a solid mix for them to monitor with but found that the output to the headphones was not loud enough. The output from the V-Studio on it's own simply didn't have enough power to be heard over the drum kit. We quickly inserted a headphone amp to increase the output to all the headphones. This gave us more than enough volume and we were ready to start recording.

The band played 4 songs and we tracked 2-3 virtual tracks of each song. By the time we finished tracking our session was over so we didn't have any time to review what we had recorded. We will do this next session.

Monday, April 7, 2008

G&L Tribute Invader XL

There is a little bit of a story behind this guitar. When I attended the NAMM Show in 2007, I knew that I was going to be meeting with Dave McLaren, President of BBE Electronics/G&L Guitars. What an opportunity I thought. Not only getting a tour of the G&L factory but possibly being able to wrangle myself a good deal on a new axe while I was at it.
I began searching the G&L website in anticipation of what would be my next guitar purchase. I quickly fell for this beautiful translucent red Invader XL. Cash in hand I thought I was going to score. Dave informs me that G&L has discontinued this model. Oh shit! What am I going to do now? No fear cause Dave pulls through. Turns out that he has a hand selected guitar sitting in his office. How much do you want for it Dave? Well how about... FREE! Wow, much too cool. Turns out to be a demo model that has been Plecked, complete with good ole Leo pups.
While I was at the G&L factory, I was privileged to be able to take a look at Leo Fender's vault.
Well enough of the nostalgia. Time to talk about why I like this guitar so much. In Leo's later days he spent a lot of time refining pickups. I had always loved the sound of Fender pickups during the peak of his career. The Invader XL had these hand wound G&L pickups that sounded great. Hand-wound in Fullerton CA. However, most of the G&L guitars were wired with these Fender alnico pickups, What I especially liked about this model was the ability to split the pickups using a second selector switch. For that true Fender Stratocaster sound, you have to try out a G&L.
Here are a couple of videos that I made of the tour I went on at G&L. The first one shows you the guitar manufacturing process. The second video is Leo Fender's lab. The lab had remained untouched until last year. Our group was one of the last to see the lab in it's original state. It has now been moved to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Audio Engineering Session 11

Theory for this week filled in a couple of blanks that we have had left over from previous sessions. First thing we did was finish ofF the acronym for the seven characteristics of sound (WAVEPHF). We now know these characteristics as Wavelength, Amplitude, Velosity, Envelope, Phase, Harmonics and Frequency.

One of the blanks we filled in was "Harmonic Content". In this example we will use "whole number multiples" of the A note. The first harmonic is the fundamental note. The remaining harmonics follow this example;
A = 110 Hz = 1st harmonic/fundamental, A = 220 Hz = 2nd harmonic, E = 330 Hz = 3rd harmonic, A = 440 Hz = 4th harmonic, C# = 55o Hz = 5th harmonic, E = 660 Hz = 6th harmonic,
G = 770 Hz = 7th harmonic, A = 880 Hz = 8th harmonic.

One example that was used to illustrate harmonic content was by using a piano. Upon striking the A note, you could hear the various harmonics as the note rang out.

The next item to discuss was "envelope". Envelope is also known as "loudness contour". There are three properties on an envelope. These are "attack, decay and release". A piano can be used to illustrate these envelope properties. When the keys are first struck, until the time the note reaches maximum amplitude, this could be considered the attack. The decay is the time this note will ring out and the time it takes to fade away. If the noted is "choked" then the time it takes for the note to finish ringing out is called the release.

An "envelope generator" introduces "sustain". In the case of keyboards for example, the envelope would be "attack, decay, sustain and release".
Now that we have moved on from the theory aspect of the session, it was time finalize our mixes. We began opened up our mixes where we left off last session. I found this illustration that provides a visual representation of mixing.

With many thanks to Greg, I have included a version of my mix which can be heard using the player below.

I have also posted a seperate track of the drums only. You can find the "drums only" version in the previous Audio Engineering Session 9 below. Next week we will be recording Greg's band doing a live set.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Presonus V-Fire

The FedEx guy was kind enough to drop off a new piece of gear at my house today. I had been anticipating the arrival of my new V-Fire. What this piece of gear will do is allow me to connect my VS-2400 to my PC running SONAR 6. This is kind of a big deal for me as it really opens up new doors. Now I can use the Roland as a control surface for SONAR and I can feed my M-Audio cards into my VS-2400.

Tape is tape, right?

From the tips department - lol

I saw my roll of tape on the counter and decided that I would write a quick blog about it. You see, when it comes to using tape on your audio gear you don't want a bunch of residue left behind. Traditional masking tape will dry out and become a real problem to remove. To avoid this I use a special type tape meant for this exact purpose. I happen to use Intertape by Intertape Polymer Group but really my point is, use the correct type of tape (found at any pro audio store) and save yourself from trying to remove glue and crap from your gear. Grab a Sharpie and you are reading to go!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Audio Engineering Session 10

Mixing! W00t! My favorite part! I've always liked mixing. Back a few years ago, well ok. more like a lot of years ago, I used to mix my own party music on cassettes. I had a couple of turntables and an old Radio Shack mixer. I used to love doing my own crossfades. Some of the crossfades even started to have a life of its own. Anyways.. I guess what I'm try to say here is that it has captured my interest for over 30 years. Ha, even did some DJ'ing back in the day. Before I get to wrapped up in the past, let me get back to the session...
Now that we have all the pieces to make a song it was time to put it all together. The instructor gave us individual wav files from the previous sessions. We then imported the wavs into Sonar version 2.0. Yup, Sonar 2. Ok well now, gut reaction is, I'm on version 6 now, how can I benefit from using version 2. What is this antique piece of software? When I compare version 6 to version 2, there is not a lot different. In the end, you can acheive the same results. The biggest difference is that you can run earlier versions of software on REALLY cheap (old) machines. In our class we used a P3 with 256 Mb RAM. Keep the chuckles to yourself, in the end we were able to create a great mix. This reinforces the fact that it is the person behind the console, not the equipment that make a great mix.

In the end it is about having a great mix. Don't fool yourself into thinking that mean mixing with the latest, greatest software.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Applying new mic'ing techniques

Well I wish I had a room like we have at school but since I don't, I have to work with what I have. I snapped this picture as a reminder for mic placement. In our last session we were able to get the overhead mics 8 from the space between the kick drum and the snare. In my room I can only get them 6 feet away. I will be recording the results tomorrow at our band practice.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Headin' down TheSixtyOne!

We've had this membership at for quite awhile now. I thought I would place a couple of tunes on the site and see what happens. Turns out that there is quite a bit of traffic on the site. So, I decided to upload a bunch more of our songs.
TheSixtyOne features a unique voting system that evens the playing field for everyone.
If you haven't checked out the site before, here is a great place to start

Friday, March 14, 2008

Dustin, you're holding back on us!

During last night's drum tracking session I had a chance chat up our session drummer. What I didn't know was that I was chatting up a champion runner. Not only a champion runner but a runner that is sponsored by the company I work for.

BC Blind Sports and Recreation Association congratulates athlete and member, Dustin Walsh, one of the award recipients at the 2005 Premier’s Athletic Awards.

Dustin Walsh was among 82 recipients recognized for their outstanding performance during the 2004/05 competitive year. A commemorative plaque with each athlete’s photograph and list of sport achievements will be displayed at the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame and Museum in B.C. Place Stadium for one year.

...oh, and he's an awesome drummer as well!

Audio Engineering Session 9

This weeks session involved tracking drums using a session musician. The first part of the session did not go as smoothly as we had liked however. We had to do a bunch of trouble-shooting before we could proceed. Through the process of elimination we were able to determine a problem with mic wall plate "B" which inevitably delayed us by a couple of hours.

Once we identified and solved the problem with the wall plate it was full speed ahead. By this time our session drummer (Dustin) had plenty enough rehearsal time and was able to crank out a couple of "keepers" within the first couple of takes.
In the end patience prevailed and we were able to get Greg's song that much closer to completion.

Here is a drum only track using the room mics only. I will post a mixdown of the entire kit in a later blog.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

NEW! From Celemony (makers of Melodyne)

Every once in awhile new software comes out that really makes you say wow! This is one of those times. Celemony will be releasing a new version of Melodyne this fall. For those of you not familiar with Melodyne, it is a software program that allows you to correct vocal performances by using pitch correction. Of course it will do even more than that but its main function is to be able to correct/tweak an otherwise good performance, making it even better. I'm sure you can imagine how helpful even this current version can be.

This fall Celemony will be releasing a new version featuring Direct Note Access. Direct Note Access is a technology that makes the impossible possible: for the first time in audio recording history you can identify and edit individual notes within polyphonic audio material. The unique access that Melodyne affords to pitch, timing, note lengths and other parameters of melodic notes will now also be afforded to individual notes within chords.

Celemony has a great video that shows how this new technology will work and you can find it here;

Friday, March 7, 2008

Argue Street EP - The London Project

Be sure to check out our tunes by clicking on the iPod looking player to the right

Audio Engineering Session 8

This sessing we track drums using the Roland VS-2480. We used the 8 builtin pre-amps. I didn't catch the name of tom or room mics but we used a SM57 on the snare and an AKG D112 on the kick. The tom mics were Audio-Technica ATM250's (I think, gotta confirm that. They were definately ATM's though) and the spaced pair room mics were AKG C451. We left 1 channel available to use if needed on either the hi-hat or the snare. We decided after hearing our setup that we didn't need it (this time).

The AKG D112 was placed in the kick drum about 4" to the left of the beater and about 6" away from the drum head, angled towards the beater.

The spaced pair of condenser mics (AKG 451) were placed 8 feet from the centre of the kit pointing at the space between the snare and the kick drum. They were 60" from the floor.