Learning to Listen

Class #11 Notes

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Optimistic - song (kid A album)
  • Tom (soprano?) loves dry vocals but brings out reverb in the chorus
  • vocals, drums,  lead guitar & bass guitar; synths
  • great sound on the toms; snare joins the vocals at the chorus
  • warm jazz-like drum tone
  • sounds like a jam session brought into a multi-tracked studio recording session with various sound and accompanying vocal harmonies & aftereffects (like space echo)
  • very sonic & covers a full hearing spectrum
  • repeating phrases; alot of push & pull (cohesive band)
  • “phrygian” sound:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phrygian_dominant_scale



Band – Helmet


track produced by Steve Albini:



singer – Page Hamilton





Class #10 notes

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The Brute Chorus – UK Band

Chateau – Original Mix

  • circular (almost jazz-like) structure
  • takes you on a ride – draws the listener in and out
  • mastered relatively quiet (5 on a scale of 1-10)
  • Vocals are atonal (out of key on purpose)
  • bass guitar keeps time
  • keyboard maybe – there was a high pitched ping song
  • kick drum, cimbels felt more on the right
  • wood block or something similar percussion
  • synthesized drum mix
  • electric lead guitar solo
  • feels like a studio recording (multi-tracked/close miking)
  • blues riff
  • Jack White influence?

U2 – Achtung Baby

click here to go to YouTube full album

  • re-amped vocals (gritty vs sonic)
  • re-amped guitar
  • 1991 recording (so not a plug-in)
  • “mids” give away reamping; lots of air
  • sound “tinny”

Sigur Ros – Brennistein & Varuo

sonic sound

When critical listening gets the boots

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IMG_4931 (640x478)
 Walked to the mall not quite blindflolded
 listening to music on headphones and thinking about
 a good spot
 to close my eyes and sink into the song
 Made a stop at the ladies’ room and had a seat
 Glancing over the the left i noticed a pair of boots
 through the bottom opening of the partition and realized
 i was not alone
 Had a feeling they had been there for sometime
 How long?  What had they heard while they were there? 
 Creeped me out but i waited a while anyways – for the flush
 Not a drizzle, not a breath, not even the sound of a boot shuffle
 Creeped me out some more
 Took my time and washed my hands a couple of times to pass the time
 and checked out the power hand dryers
More silence
Left the room and stuck around for a while with an eye on the corridor access to see signs of life, but there were none

Class #8 notes

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Monday March 17th

Happy St Patty’s Day!




(played at the Oscars)

Artist:  Pharell Williams

  • vocals are driving the song, not the music
  • ABABC song structure…Stevie Wonder inspired but today’s pop sound
  • melodine instead of autotune.  More electronic
  • tonal kick drum
Tips when recording Drums…
  • tuning is essential -loosen or tighten to achieve desired tone, to remove a “note”
  • use tape, sand bags, sound deadening cloth etc etc to isolate sounds and remove bleed
  • at the end of a drum recording session be silent for 30 seconds or so to capture the final note
  • get a bit of room sound
  • capture each individual drum/cimbel for one”strike” in case you have to replace a problematic sound
  • capture kick and cimbel struck together (for one “strike”)




Read in WordPress “Setting up a studio” & then write out your own version “1 page”

How would you run your studio?  Don’t screw up the vibe!!

7 recordings of mono drums – same instrument, different placement




Class #7 Notes

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Critical Listening –in Class

Sea Change – Beck

synth/keyboards, drums, bass guitar
vocals -unique voice
psychedelic, airy
radiohead influence
studio recorded
reverb, effects, delay, echo
 "shoe-gaze" gendre


“somewhere unforgiving i will wait for you”

Published Album Reviews:

The Ithacan



Class Notes #6

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Band – Darcey’s

recorded live at the Museum – Kitchener

single mic hats no control
you can hear the room – very large room
drums, guitar, keyboards, vocals
close miking on drums (spot miking)
guitar delays/verbs/distortions sounds live not plug ins
very little separation between instruments gives away that it is recorded live
vocals boomy not very bright
new terms:
  1. "concept record"
  2. "jam band"

Blindly folded into the pillow – week 6

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Had a rather unexpected event occur this week to add to the mixed bag of chronic pain challenges (and trophies) accumulated over the years. Usually a new one springs up every decade.

A chiropractor once warned me that working in heels, carrying children on one hip, favoring one shoulder to carry handbags and other nasty female habits would lead to painful surprises down the road. Thanks tips

You forgot to mention poor posture at the computer workstation

pain showed up out of nowhere to bite me in the arm 
tossing task items and "to do" lists 
into the abyss of the demoted

gotta get to the root of the pain
and study its path 
can i hear it now that i am learning to listen?
longer and deeper 
over and over and over for three days 
and three nights

it wasn't that hard to listen, 
especially to the screaming
to hear the sizzle of current flow along a broken pathway 
restricting circulation, crippling connectivity 

a new dialect of the language of body mechanics 
not movement?  interesting
Thoughts rise up
mingled with emotion
and i listen 
to the sound of throbbing 
under the load of blood flowing faster, faster
till the sound is so much louder
than pain

Was gonna write about listening to the sounds of silence in the house after the furnace gas regulator valve crapped out on family day,

but figured that was rather low key by comparison.