Adventures in Sound

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I got nothing left to lose…

To finish off the Uni year, I made one more video for your viewing pleasure. This one’s just me sitting at my piano playing a cover of a song by one of my favourite singers in the world. I hope I do him justice. I tried to illustrate in this video how with simply a good instrument patch and some EQ, compression and spacial knowledge you can make a simple song sound huge in any modern day home studio. Thanks for watching, see you soon.



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Where do you picture yourself in…

Considering how much has changed in how we consume music in the last decade, one can only assume in five years time the climate will be vastly different again. Throughout the last fifty years these changes have been exponential and will likely to continue that way. However, despite CD sales dropping greatly (in first world countries especially) in the early 2000s, we’ve actually seen a rise in the last couple of years, reflecting perhaps consumers’ reaction to wanting to make up for dropping revenue for artists. Vinyl also has seen a rise in sales since the mid 1990s after it was predicted that the format wouldn’t survive that decade.

Personally I think subscription-based streaming services are the way of the future for music. Considering how easy, cheap and guilt-free it is to purchase a dirt cheap Spotify subscription, I’m surprised the whole population hasn’t jumped on board yet. However, I don’t feel this is going to be the be all and end all of future music consumption. Some people will still always want a physical product, which is why vinyl has continued to sell, and I think that’s likely to continue, especially if vinyl player manufacturers continue to be innovative with creation of the machines. CDs will continue to sell, albeit more highly in countries with less internet access, and hopefully people will still buy from online distributors (such as Bandcamp) where the majority of the money goes directly to the artist. I believe a combination of methods are needed to keep a healthy and growing marketplace for musical product.

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The future

It’s coming to the end of the semester at University, which is why I started this blog in the first place. You’ll see some articles and discussions littered throughout my posts, but I have always tried to approach this blog as something universal, not just focused on Uni tasks in particular. With that in mind, I’m going to keep this blog going post-Uni. The Whalers album is still in the depths of pre-production – I estimate that it will be around a year before the album is actually released, and documenting the recording process thus far has been a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to continuing to explore the advantages and limitations of online collaboration and recording over state-lines. Expect one last video before the end of this week discussing the future of this project. Stay tuned…

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The Making of the Motorcade Part 4

Here it is – a full song for your listening pleasure. Despite the band being a 4-piece, we very irregularly get to be in the same room together, consequently this video features only two of us (Nick Russell and me). This is still only a preproduction version of the song ‘Stepping Stone’, but we’ll be tracking each song from The Motorcade in this fashion so the band can develop the songs together, and we have a concept of how the album will fit together as a whole. Even since this recording we’ve altered the arrangement after listening back and hearing what is working and what isn’t.

For this recording, Nick performed all the sequenced parts (strings, oboe, flute, drums) and sang lead vocals. I played guitar, bass, piano, organ and sang backing vocals.

I think you’ll all agree the main star of the video is Nick’s adorable cat, Jovie.

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Virtual (Reality) Music

The last 12 months have been my first foray into online music collaboration, as has been detailed in quite a few of my blog posts. Albums I’ve done including the second inuette record, the latest and the one currently in production by the Venice Whalers, and the new 1.1 Immermann LP have been/are being made across state-lines. In the past we’ve been sending session files of Logic Pro and Reason to each other (via the web and physical flash drives), adding our bits and sending them back for evaluation and further addition.

Recently I’ve discovered a piece of software called Ohm Studio, which allows multiple users to enter a DAW interface and edit a piece of music together in real time. Once audio has been recorded by one user it appears in the interface of all other users in the project. In addition there is a chat sector where users can communicate ideas while collaborating. I was excited to have a play around in the software, as it opens up a universe a potential when it comes to collaboration – boundaries are destroyed as far as with who you can work with.

Ohm Studio is not the first software to take advantage of online collaboration, with programs such as NetJam dating back to the early 1990s, but from what I’ve seen it is by far the most advanced. While still in beta mode, the software is available free to trial, with options for yearly subscriptions or (for a limited time) a lifetime subscription.

The interface for Ohm Studio is easy to use and familiar to users of any other DAW. I found my way around it incredibly quickly on my first use. You can also use any existing VST plugins with the program, plus easily edit both midi and audio data. There are also a number of inbuilt midi instruments and softsynths ready to use, which makes instantaneous recording and editing even easier, as midi information takes up so little data space.

I’m incredibly excited about the possibilities this program presents, and I guarantee you will see future projects of mine completed with the help of Ohm Studio.

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Musical Synchronicity

Even if you’ve never sat down and put on a Beach Boys record, you would probably recognise every one of their greatest hits, although perhaps not with the original lyrics. The Beach Boys’ songs have been licensed out and used for countless commercials, marketing schemes and jingles. In the last decade their songs have been used on TV to sell products for Cadbury, Coca-Cola, Carpet Choice, Bob Moran Tyres, Sunkist, Pepsi, The Good Guys and Babybel Cheese. With everything from the original versions simply licensed for use to bastardised lyrical versions that require a frontal lobotomy to extract from your skull, The Beach Boys have never shied away from allowing their songs to be used in many mainstream product commercials. Incidentally, I fucking hate the Beach Boys.

Another song that has embedded itself in public consciousness largely due to its licensing is “I Still Call Australia Home“. The Qantas marketing strategy has employed the use of this song since 1998, and continues to do so today. The song was written by Peter Allen in 1980 but is so heavily featured by Qantas in their on-location TV advertising that its hard not to conjure up images of the white-kangaroo-on-a-red-flag when you hear that familiar refrain.

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The Global Music Scene

In the past, certain cities or geographical locations have been implicitly tied into musical styles and even movements. Who can think of grunge without thinking Seattle, Gangsta Rap without thinking of the division between East and West coast USA, or blues without picturing New Orleans on a Saturday night? Since the globalisation of music culture and the internet, music has become less instantly tied into a particular place, although specific cities or countries can still be associated with general music trends. This is often seen when a city produces a number of sequentially successful bands, like what Australia has seen over the last few years in Perth and Brisbane. Style and genre don’t matter as much, as music these days (especially since the internet) seems to capture a wider audience who interpret it how they choose, rather than a small, dedicated group of hardcore fans who live their lives according to the specific message in the genre. When a particular style begins to inhabit a global consciousness and ‘take off’, these fan bases are more widespread, and the impact is seen globally rather than being traced to a particular place. The ’emo’ movement initially stemmed from California and the Midwest USA in the 90s with bands such as Jimmy Eat World and Weezer, but you see the adoption of this style and culture worldwide, from Europe to Australia to Japan.

This doesn’t, however, diminish the connection that fans feel to each other. If anything, musical globalisation makes it easier to find likeminded enthusiasts to share your love of a style, even if they are across the other side of the world. Maybe instead of tying music trends to geographical locations, we can now tie them into specific corners of the internet.