Monthly Archives: October 2017

5 Mechanisms Which Make Mountains Out of Molehills

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Producers are Often Tasked with The Challenge of Sculpting Masterpieces Out of Minimal Talent. It’s Just the Truth. 

Often, Clients Approach You with Visions of Grandeur and Projects of Epic Proportions, but What they Actually Bring to The Table in Terms of Creativity, Skill and Experience Usually Pales in Comparison. The Contention is Amplified When the Blessed Souls Possess The Monies to Pay. In Cash. You Definitely Want to Pay The Bills, But Your Name & Rep are On The Line If You Don’t Provide Them the Record They Already Hear in Their Heads.

Sure, there is a Plethora of Technology that will Smash a Vocal into the Right Notes and Nudge the Drums into a Perfect Time Signature, but No Amount of Convolution Reverb, Compression or Wacky, Bounced Delay is Going to Compensate for a Lackluster Performance.

And it’s ALWAYS Going to Be YOUR Fault when You Playback the Take. Many Singers have Only Heard their Vocals in the Shower, Car or Garage with the Rest of their Band through Loud, Over Equalized PA Systems that Have Not Told Them the Truth. So When Your U-87 Unmercifully Reveals the Flaws and Cankers in their Nasally Throat, Prepare For War!

Many a Producer Friends I Know Cram Psychiatry on the Side, Ready to Soothe the Savages, but a Few of Us have Learned a Five Principles to Employ Prior to Pressing Record.

1. Find the Gold in the Dirt

Believe Me, It’s in There and Not So Hard to Locate, if You Know Where to Look. The Way a Word is Enunciated or a String is Unscrupulously Plucked or the Way the Drummer Smacks Her Hi-Hat Every Fifth Beat Can be Transformed into Some Interesting Accents.

2. Strip It Down

Help Your Artist Dial Down the Notions of a 72 Piece Orchestra Until They’ve Tapped into the Techniques that Make their Tunes Tick. Spend Three Days Alone with the Main Instrumentalist / Vocalist Recording & Re-Recording Their Arrangements so You Can:

a) Allow Them to Get Used to Focusing on Their Own Playing & Parts and to

b) Begin Building the Song Around Their Foundation.
3. Refuse to Baby Them

Holding a Guitarist’s hand through a Take is One Thing. Nursing them is Quite Another.

Don’t Take Attitude or Temper Tantrums Lightly. There is No Amount of Money You Can Pay Me to Eat Someone’s Crap.

Their Deposit, Minus Time Spent is Always at the Ready to Return. The Producer has been Hired to Lead the Process and Often Lives It Well After the Session is Finished. If You are in a Business where You are Recording Two or More Different Clients / Bands in One Day, You Don’t Need One Prima Dona’s Debilitated Dysfunction to leak into Your Next Session.

Worse is when You return to Mix, you’ll often find that the Messy Mood was Recorded and Can’t be Edited Out… My Ace Engineer & Friend Jerry Thompson Once Encountered a Beautiful Songbird who Sang Exquisitely, Destined to be a Future Star, but Displayed such Snotty, Condescending Behavior, We Promised God and Each Other We’d Never Work with Her Again and Haven’t.
4. Pull Out All The Stops 

It’s Highly Probable that This Session Reveals that the Challenge is Focused as Much on You As it is On Your Client. This is the Zone where You, Yourself Must Stand and Deliver. How Creative Are You? Are You Able to Massage that Subpar Bass line into a Grooving Pocket or Nudge those Nervous Sax Noodles into Ferocious Roars!

You Have The Power, Mr. & Mrs. Producer, of Patience, Persuasion & Perseverance. Remember, You’re Always Beginning with a Blank Canvas. Your Unique, Steadfast Ability to Build upon the Blocks Given You is the Real Magic that Turns Songs into Standards.

5. Always Tell The Truth 

Sometimes, The Musicians, Singers or the Song Just Does Not Cut It and there is Nothing You Can Do. Recognize It and Bow Out on the Front End. If Asked, Provide Your Expertise with Grace & Truth as to Why The Project Won’t Work. Unless You Like Making Enemies, Don’t Recommend Them to the Producer Across Town. Give Them a Timeline in which They May Be Able to Return and Try Again and Then Shake Hands and Walk Away. They Will Grow to Respect You For Your Honesty and in many cases will become Better at their Craft If Only to Prove You Wrong, which is Still a Very Good Thing!

I Was Not Listening to Any Music as I Composed This Blog. I Wish to Dedicate It to The Memory of My Dear First Cousin, Lori Jean White, who Passed Away Peacefully Last Night…Sleep on Sis!

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Get Outta Da Way!

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In My Worldview, I Truly Believe That God Downloads SongsRight Into Our Spirits, Complete with Melody, Harmonies, Rhythm, Time Signature and Counterpoint and we have the Privilege of Labeling this Process Songwriting. I’m of the Philosophy that in Every Composition, the Piece Itself Dictates what It Needs. Music & Lyrics Guide Us through their Verses, Chorus and Bridge to its Conclusion. Beats & Notes Fall from the Sky while sitting at My Keyboard, Bass or Drum Kit and Sometimes while racing around 680 South enroute to the bakery, forcing me to hum & grunt into my phone to preserve the concept.

The Most Important Lesson I’ve Learned as a Composer/Producer/Musician is to Shut Up and Get Out of The Way. In Many Ways I’m Only an Observer; in others, a Mere Participant – Never Demanding or Micromanaging the Moment. There’s an Art to Waiting for the Score to Let You In on its Desires and sometimes it could make you wait for months. Patience is a Virtue.

In Every Session I Produce, I Invite Each Musician & Vocalist to Perform their Own Narrative for Takes at a Time, without providing a single instruction. It’s Their Interpretation I’m Most Interested in Capturing. Their Voice, Their Heart, Their Imagination. I’m In the Room Foremost as an Eyewitness and Secondly to Facilitate the Best Possible Outcome of Their Expressions. The Song Always Alerts Us as to What Does & Does Not Work.

The Best Producers, In My Opinion, are those who as Quincy Jones once stated, “Always leave space for God to walk through the room…”      There are far too many tunes (again, in my opinion) that bear the Fingerprint of the Producer, while Ignoring the Original Intent of the Composer and the Purity of the Artist – unless, of course, they are one and the same. Ahmet Ertegun, Stewart Levine, Nile RodgersArif Mardin and the legendary Norman Whitfield all are/were Patriarchs rather than Dictators. This Approach Allowed Them to Auspiciously Produce Artists Across Multiple Genres, without Dogging the Groove. Of course there are many Producers who Thrive on a “Signature Sound” that made their records work Beyond Various Platforms, but when the ‘sound’ faded, so did their opportunities.

Creatively, The Producer’s Ultimate Role is to Allow the Session to Simmer; Creating an Atmosphere of Freedom & Collaborative Communication, where Each Member becomes Adept at Paying Complete Homage to the Every Aspect of the Song.

Get Out of The Way! 

I Was Listening to Jeff Lorber Fusion’s “Water Sign” on Vinyl while Writing this Blog.

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EMOTIONAL PRODUCTION

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The Approach to Music Production is just as Multidimensional as the stars in the heavens.

As I leaf through Rick Clark‘s over sized Mixing, Recording and Producing Techniques of the Pros,” it’s fascinating to explore the psyche of these Masterminds and Gauge their Approach. Obviously as One Not Yet Included in such a Stellar Institution of Greatness, albeit hopeful, I am Grateful for Every Opportunity to Produce Outstanding Songs by Serious Artists of Various Genre.

At the Genesis of Every Session, the Fundamental Framework I Build Upon is the Emotional Journey the Listener will traverse as the Song is Played. My Goal is ALWAYS to Reproduce the Exact Feelings of Joy, Anger, Sadness, Betrayal, Devotion, Militancy, Encouragement, Strength, Remorse, Warmth or Flavor the Songwriter(s) Intended to Convey. One Million Repeated Listenings of the Recording Must Evoke these Same Emotions, or I Have Failed, whether the song Sells One or One Hundred Thousand Copies.

I Perceive My Position in the Studio as Tour Guide, Ushering the Musicians, Arrangers, Vocalists & Engineers through an Expedition of Finding Moments. Every Chosen Person, Instrument, Sound, Note, Effect & Ambience will lend itself to the Nuance of Multiple Moments, Creating Symbiotic Memories that Outlast Lifetimes. Those are the Snapshots that Take Your Breath Away and Force You to Immediately Rewind the Song or a Section of the Tune to Allow Your Brain to Process What Your Heart Just Heard and then Begin Again.

Perhaps I am being melodramatic in My Interpretation, but I Offer No Apologies. Often Before Discussing DAWs, Plug Ins, Mic Techniques, Mixing & Mastering and the Usual Banter with Various Producers, I am Always Most Interested in the Range of Emotion sought after and how they wished to reveal them, even (especially) if they’ve chosen some Non Traditional or Outdated Means to Do So. In Berry Gordy‘s autobiography “To Be Loved,” he talks about how the Classic Motown Producers used to sit around the table and Vote On the Upcoming Release. Mr. Gordy stated the Main Question asked would be ‘If You Were Starving and Only Had Enough Money to By a Sandwich or This Record, What Would You Do? If the Vote was for the Song, They’d Release It! Hence the Company’s Enduring Legacy.

David Byrne confesses in his book “How Music Works” what most Producers already know. A “Tight” Recording or Performance has Nothing to do with Meter. It has Everything to do with The Groove! Singing or Playing in Front of or Behind the Beat or Harnessing a Vibe as Sloppy as Gravy Foaming Down a Mountain of Mashed Potatoes Feels as Wondrous as Classically Trained Precision if You’ve Channeled the Proper Emotions.

God Bless the Sacredness of Music Production and the Solace of a 3AM Session where the Sweat is Soaking Through the Walls…

Here are a Few Examples of Moments I’m Blessed to Have Captured:

Hermeneutics (SounDoctrine feat. Keith McKelley, Cliff Barnes, Derek Dixie & Paul Douds)

Meant2B (SounDoctrine feat. Keith McKelley, Stefano and Jazmine)

Source (SounDoctrine feat. Michaela Write)

Maranatha (SounDoctrine feat. John Thomas)

Stop On By (SounDoctrine feat. Eric Tyus)

I was Listening to “Elegant Gypsy” by Al Di Meola on Vinyl while composing this blog…full of Multiple Moments!

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The ONE Thing…

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Much Love and Many Prayers to the Victims and Families who Lost Loved Ones in the Senseless Las Vegas Tragedy. My Heart Goes Out to All.

During September, we discussed Four Avenues EntreMusicians are able to Journey and Advance through simply by Applying Ourselves and Owning the Occasion. Just BE!

My Focus Today is to Zero In on the Truth that the Most Successful EMs, once Defining & Honing their Niche, Strengthen their Artistry by Building a Brand on One Singular Component. Just because we possess the capacity to perform 20 tasks simultaneously does not mean we should. Nor should we attempt to be known for more than One Great Consistency (think Michael Jordan in Pro Baseball), unless our Multifarious Talent IS The Brand (Think Prince).

Develop & Grow Your Specific with Eagle Eye Precision & Dedication as It will be that One Thing that People will Remember You for after you’ve left Our Planet. If for some reason folk should Remember You for Two or More Qualities, it’s most likely because they are corresponding, like “Husband & Father,” “Scientist & Researcher” or…”Multi-Instrumentalist.”

I Constantly Ask Myself if I Am a Composer // Music Producer // Drummer // Booking Agent // Manager // Actor // Event Coordinator // Publisher,  all the while maintaining my identity as Jesus Follower // Lori’s Husband // Father of Three Daughters // Pastor // Bible Teacher.

My Personal Identity aside, I Am Foremost a Music Producer. As an EntreMusician, this is the One Area I Continue to Maturate. Constantly Working with Extremely Talented Songwriters, Arrangers, Vocalists, Musicians, Artists, DJs, Engineers and Technicians Provide Me Exceptional Outlets to Experiment & Improve My Game. Interestingly, I Live & Think as a Music Producer in Every Area of My Life, especially as a Pastor – but that’s another blog…

What About You? What’s the ONE THING You Work At Harder than Any Other and Wouldn’t Mind Being Remembered For?

I was listening to Dave Grusin & Lee Ritenour‘s Exceptional “Harlequin” on Vinyl while composing this post.    

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