May 19, 2013
I’ve always preferred to be behind an instrument or digital audio workstation rather than a microphone. However Lay It On The Line sees me recording a duet with Sarah for the first time.
The music for LIOTL one came from one of a selection of compositions I wrote for a corporate promo. This composition wasn’t used for the promo in the end but I decided to use the chords as an idea for a song. I took the chords and penned some lyrics one afternoon along with a basic melody. I played the demo to Sarah and she offered to sing with me on it. I’d imagined she would sing it solo but she persuaded me to duet with her in the end.
Now I’m out of my comfort zone!
We decided to sing the same melody, albeit an octave apart as our voices seemed to compliment each other without resort to harmony. I also added a little orchestration to fill out the transitions a little and hopefully add some interest.
At 2:52 LIOTL is short in length but we hope it will form the basis of something a little more adventurous in a more elaborate version to follow!
All material copyright © 2013 Hudd Sounds.
April 5, 2013
Following our first collaboration on Experienced Eyes, Sarah and I are delighted to release a followup single this week called You Me?.
We’ve got a lower paced 80′s electronica vibe going here (I hope!), with the drums programmed on the classic Roland R8, combined with a solid flanged bass line throughout the song.
The song also making use of a Moogerfooger Low Pass Filter along with multi-tap echo effects on the guitars.
The Roland R8 supplies a couple of other effects through the course of the song, pitched using the Roland R8′s own pitch function.
You have to be patient with this one – Sarah’s vocals don’t appear until 1:26 – just enjoy the guitar filtering effects up until then! When the vocals do come in they are deliberately sparse to leave you wanting more… There’s a little ‘vibe’ effect on Sarah’s voice at the end of certain lines too. And why not!
We hope you enjoy it – if you do please share!
March 11, 2013
I’m renovating the house at the moment, so the place is littered with all manner of related detritus: brochures, drawings, B&Q receipts. And paint charts.
I also write songs, and inspiration comes from a variety of sources: people, events, people, the news, people, the weather – OK, mostly people!
My songwriting technique often revolves around a guitar or piano riff and a bit of interplay with another guitar, or bass line. I then mumble along a rough melody to the hook and the words start forming from there. Usually this might be mixed with some phrases I’ve read in a book or newspaper; or perhaps something I’ve overheard or remembered from a conversation, meeting or other event.
I’m rarely stuck for ideas (luckily), but the other evening I was looking at paint charts – like you do – and to my surprise they were full of potential lyrics and ideas for songs.
I thought the Crown charts above were quite mainstream but the Farrow & Ball paint charts I also looked at would perhaps be more use for folk songs, with names like: Blackened, Lamp Room Gray, Pigeon, Cinder Rose, Borrowed Light, Litchen, Railings and Arsenic to name a few.
So from now on if I ever need a little inspiration to complete a song, the first place I’ll turn to is a Farrow & Ball or Crown paint chart – depending on the style of music, of course…
January 24, 2013
As well as vocal performances on Experienced Eyes, Sarah also wrote the the lyrics for the track. When I was playing around with initial ideas for the song on the guitar and bass back in April 2012 I called it Experienced Eyes as a working title. Sarah took this cue, penned the rest of the lyrics, and the title stuck.
Drums and strings play a major part in the music composition. I also have a little double-tracked 12-string guitar in there to emphasise some of the transitions. Synth bass plus upright double bass complete the low end section. In addition there are cymbals, a gong, and some scratching effects in there too. The song is based on a Fmaj7 / G6 repetition with ever-changing bass notes for a circular progression. Sarah’s powerful voice was tracked on it’s own except for the end section where we double tracked the vocal for a little harmony on the repeats.
Experienced Eyes is a combination of midi instruments and recorded drum/cymbal loops. Sarah’s voice was recorded via a Neumann TLM-103 and TL Audio valve processor. I used my old favourite Logic Pro workstation and RME interface to record, arrange, mix, and master the track at Dreambase Studios. Adam Audio speakers were used to monitor, but I tend to check the mix in a variety of locations before the final mix – car, laptop, phone, headphones, ghetto-blaster, etc.
I took the photo below whilst walking the dog on an industrial estate one afternoon. This became the front cover for Experienced Eyes. The font is Bauhaus Med BT.
I first met Sarah when she was performing in the play Be My Baby at the local ‘theatre in a pub’. A few weeks later I was contacted by Sarah’s father to ask me if I’d like to play drums and write songs for a new band he was setting up with Sarah and and bassist Stu. We all met one evening at a local pub and had a first practice. I was immediately taken with Sarah’s dynamic delivery, coupled with a wide vocal range that made her performances seem almost effortless. From there the aforementioned NewQuay Times was born.
Sarah is a regular performer in the Swindon Young Musicians Jazz Orchestra and is a soprano in the senior choir at Royal Wootton Bassett Academy. She has also had a number of acting roles, both in school and with professional theatre groups.
Look out for further electronica/dance collaborations in the near future…
All Material Copyright © 2013 Hudd Sounds E&OE
August 27, 2012
I haven’t written here for a little while due to to other projects, including a house move. However I watched ‘Parade’s End’ last week and then, a day later, the comments regarding the sound of some of the dialogue. As a result I just have to speak in defence of the entire sound crew and point the blame to other areas.
In fact, some of the comments regarding the sound quality such as bad mix, levels too low, etc., underline how little many understand about sound – even that of their own voices. In my opinion the main problem here was the slightly inconsistent performance from Benedict Cumberbatch (in the main). He was dealing with a tricky-to-deliver accent and at some points I thought the voice was simply too theatrical. This led to certain sentences, particularly at important moments being delivered in a less than clear manner. Cumberbatch is a fine actor, but in this role he looked a little uneasy with the character I thought. The movement of his mouth was also restricted, I suspect, due to the accent and characterisation here. This certainly doesn’t help with our understanding of the dialogue, regardless of it’s overall level.
I’m sure the sound was recorded and prod mixed correctly from the outset via boom and/or radio mic, but if the performance is mumbled, etc. there’s little that can be done to help it. Dialogue delivery isn’t just about level – it’s the attack, sustain and decay that’s important too. One option would be to ADR (dialogue replacement) certain sections but not all directors/producers are keen on this method as the loss of adrenaline in the recording studio can lead to a less than impassioned performance. There was ADR in this episode, as there is in many productions, and most people don’t notice post sync dialogue anyway and would assume it was done during the recording of the scene on set.
In any case sound often gets the lowest attention on a typical production. Why, when it constitutes more than 50%* of the finished article? Sound adds the emotion to the picture so why are budgets and time being reduced on the sound side. Crafting a convincing soundtrack (i.e. one that no one notices but thoroughly enjoys) takes time, effort and great understanding from the entire sound crew. So please can we all, from Directors and Producers, to the viewing public please remember the love and effort thats gone into creating the soundtracks that we all take for granted these days.
*OK, so I’m slightly biased!
The opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author.
June 15, 2012
Just realised my goal of a blog-a-month has passed, with May being non-existant in terms of content. June is well and truly here (you’d never know it from the skies) so I thought I’d bang something brief together about the speakers I use.
Loudspeakers are always an emotive subject. Audiophiles, mixers, musicians: they all have their own favourites. And will fight to the verbal death to defend the make and model which floats their own auditory canal. Speakers are like cars – not just because they are potential pub talk – but because we get to know speakers (much like cars). We understand the frequency response (driving characteristics?), we appreciate the look (the curve of the bonnet?), we know how hard to push them (handling?), and we know what they excel at best (city car or load lugger?).
I’ve listened to a fair few speakers in my time (here’s a small selection):
- Those ‘no-brand’ biege ones you used to get with IBM computers: OK if you turned up the treble, right?
- Tannoy Westminsters in my local music recording studio: lovely, big and warm sounding.
- The Yamaha NS10‘s in the same studio – OMG, what’s that flat sound?
- Home made hi-fi boxes with 2-way Morel drivers: I thought they were amazing, but then I did build them….
- Shermann Audio touring arrays: use 2 for my bands PA – they are very crispy.
- Huge 3-way JBL screen arrays in cinemas: close to a hifi sound from a horn loaded enclosure.
The last speakers mentioned are probably those I’ve listened to most from my thirteen years as a sound consultant at Dolby Laboratories, setting up cinemas and film mixing theatres all over the world. I’m referring to horn-loaded systems in general, not just the JBL brand: Martin Audio, Altec, KCS, etc. Horn-loaded HF systems have been used in cinema playback systems for many years, and the smooth response in the 2kHz and upwards range always impressed me, especially in the latest systems. During my time at Dolby I also setup studios with dome tweeters and I could never get the smooth response I really desired and had heard in the cinema.
That is until I came across Adam loudspeakers. I first demo’d the A7′s at a studio in Denmark. I was immediately taken by the smoothness in the the all important upper frequencies of the dialogue spectrum – this was what I’d been looking for and they seemed to closely resemble the response of the best horn-loaded cinema speaker systems. And all this from a near-field speaker with a very small footprint – with ‘foot’ being the operative word!
I started using the A7′s when I set up my own sound studio, quickly moving onto a complete 5.1 setup of Adam’s. I did experiments between the studio and local cinema in order to best set up the speakers in their environment from both a level and equalisation stand point. The first feature film mix I did on them bore out the capabilities of these speakers. The dialogue I’d mixed in my small studio translated beautifully into the cinema environment with little ‘pre-emphasis’. This is important as I didn’t want to have to over or under-do anything in my own studio in order to have good playback in the cinema environment. I needed my small studio to be faithful to a larger cinema space and it’s systems.
Apart from careful setup of the speakers, a big contributor to the success of these units are the ribbon tweeters. They appear to come as close as possible to the horn-loaded systems found in cinemas, making film mixing a thing of confidence, even in a smaller room.
And their capabilities don’t stop there. At Dreambase Studios we don’t just do cinema mixes: we also mix audio for DVD, broadcast and the web. In each of these areas it’s vital to know what levels you need to be monitoring at to get the best delivery. The Adams certainly make that task a lot easier. You are given a head start on frequency and transient response so you only have to worry about the monitoring levels before you start creating for your chosen delivery medium.
In fact the Adams are so detailed, they playback every little click and pop that might be missed on traditional dome tweeter systems – this allows for a thorough and effective ‘technical’ cleanup of audio, as well as a creative one.
So there, I’ve evangelised about some speakers. I’m so used to these speakers now I wouldn’t consider any other make when it comes to near or mid-field monitoring. In a professional production environment you want speakers to help you both creatively and technically. To this end, the Adams come as close to providing both of these requirements in equal measure as any speakers I’ve listened to.
Long may they continue and make my job just that little bit easier!
The opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not represent official policy or endorsement of any of the products mentioned.