Discover more from Matthew Moran: Music & Musings
The Game is Afoot: Learning Music Production & Trippin' on my Vocals
About doing more and showing less
I could show you the two rough mixes I’ve sent to Chris, the guitarist from Sweden who’s working with me. One is Everyday Lies, the other is, The Night is Calling. These are two songs that were never completed from the studio.
But I have all the recorded stems and have set up projects to properly mix them.
STEMS: Stems are the individual recorded tracks from a song. So, for instance, with the above recorded songs, I have drums (several tracks), bass guitar, and acoustic guitar from the studio. It is likely I will keep the drums and re-record everything else.
Add to this, I haven’t published a YouTube video since September 25th.
I’m rarely on any social media these days. I’m working working for Meta - so, in effect, I’m on Facebook all day long.
I AM: Learning Music Production
I’m continuing a more intentional and directed deep dive into music production. Just learning how to treat drums seems like it may be a never-ending journey.
But it is one that I’m enjoying… becoming a bit obsessed over, actually. You can ask Deb because I’m annoying her daily talking about EQ and compression as art forms.
And the results are there - sonically. A couple engineers on a Discord server I take part in have messaged me, indicating I’m getting a great sound - professional, in fact.
I can hear it! But that also has it’s own “challenges.” Because I can “hear” more than I ever have, while mixing, I also hear what I can improve. This can be a bit maddening!
Can I fix what I hear post recording or do I re-record it?
This caused Tom Schulz, the primary songwriter, guitarist, and engineer for the band Boston, to become a hermit in the studio and fail to release albums on the schedule agreed to with the record company. When I say they were late, I mean, by years… decades almost.
But I won’t do that.
Below my signature, I’ve embedded a video from a guy named Gregory Scott - the founder/owner of Kush Audio. They produce gear and plug-ins. However, he provides a lesson on how to hear compression that is both fascinating and delivered with his soft-porn, alluring style. Watch two minutes of the video and you’ll understand what I mean.
Suffice to say, we are VERY close with Love Has Flown. I had hoped to have it completed this weekend but my Saturday, “mix after my 1 hour replace the kitchen faucet” project became a 3.5 hour ordeal. Of course it did. I should have anticipated that.
And then my “mix all day Sunday” became a, “help out with someone who crashed their car” day.
In short, life! Life happens and I have a job. So, unless there is a wealthy benefactor who wishes to underwrite the next several years of my life, music is tucked in between faucets and smashed cars.
I AM: Improving My Vocals
I wrote about the vocal coaching Deb and I gone to. Deb has a beautiful voice - truly. She doesn’t know that she does yet but hopefully, we’ll get her on a recording soon.
As I indicated in a prior post, I decided to commit to my vocal performances and delivery. Specifically to master certain things and to experiment with my vocal tone.
I get high with a little help from my friends
Note: If one is prone to moralizing lightly altered states of consciousness, skip this section or carefully step down from the rickety high-horse you rode in on. It’s got an ugly sway-back and bad feet. Don’t torture that thing.
There are occasions where Deb and I relax with a little puff from the “devil-weed marijuana.” We’ll sit on the bed and play guitar like two old hippies. We even thought about recording our conversations and turning them into a podcast: Stony Talk with Deb and Matt. It would probably be a hit, given the podcast world.
In any case, I told someone a basic formula for marijuana and making music.
One hit: You hear sound a lot. You hear nuances and tone. Different instruments through the mix.
Two hits: You come up with some interesting and, at times, good musical parts.
Three hits: You miss every cue, forget all your lyrics, and find yourself staring at controls on the screen and pondering why taking a shower takes so long.
All I’m saying is, know the formula.
Back to vocals:
A couple weeks ago I was set up to record. I’d done a few vocal takes. It was early evening. I took a hit.
A few minutes later, I decided to do another couple vocal takes.
The music sounded good in my headphones. I allowed myself to be lost in the feel of the song. I became a character - the character - in the song.
As I was singing, rather than the delivery of vocals for a recording, it became much more of a dance, of sorts. I was still singing the same melody but I started to feel and hear as though I was placing my vocals on and through the music.
Almost like riding a wave. As though my vocals, rather than sung with the music as accompaniment, was a part of the music itself. Which, by the way, it is.
It wasn’t that THAT particular take - or the next few - was remarkable. It was good though.
It was the feeling - the awareness.
I was “placing my vocals” into the song. Not just my vocals but the emotional weight of the story. I was both a character and the music.
“Dude!!! You are trippin’”
Neither smoking pot nor drinking alcohol improves vocals. They are a net loss in capability. Don’t miss the point.
That night was different for me. I thought about for the next few days.
I knew I had “seen” something in how I delivered my vocals.
The next time I recorded vocals, a few days after the above experience, sans any altered state, I experienced the same effect.
And that has remained true since that time. For me, it is exciting!
Which is to say, one does NOT need to be in an altered state to learn this or adopt it. That was simply a vehicle at that moment and time. Meditation or focus can give you the same, I’m certain.
I suspect, for the better singers of the world, this is something they experience - whether developed intuitively or through lessons.
I’m not claiming I’m Adele or anything. But it has made playing with my vocal recordings more interesting. It’s helped me place better vocals and better emotion into my recordings.
And so, while I want to, and will be creating some YouTube videos soon, my time and focus is being “mixed” - with judicious care. I want to give you more and, in the near future, I will.
I’m still working on my parable. It’s driven by world events and is difficult to write. Also, I haven’t given it the time it needs or deserves.
For now, mixing, singing, and the little kitchen or car disasters of life need my attention.
Thank you again for following me on this journey. And, if you want to geek out, watch the music production video below.
With Love and Gratitude,