Learning to Listen

Feb 3rd Class Notes

Posted on Updated on

“Midnight Special” – class song for listening

(artist?  Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonny_Terry

here is what i heard:

  • harmonica, bass rhythm guitar, snare with brushes, lead & accompanying vocals
  • blues riff but kinda country sounding (very clear, warm vocals)
  • live off the floor with three or four microphones (perhaps a harmonica mic/ vocals & guitar)
  • mono recording

homework:

  • 20 questions bout mic tech (mono) -look all the way back to 1877 to 1930
  • more recordings, critical listening assignment & blindfolded listening 25 min

Listening (not quite) Blindfolded #2

Posted on Updated on

living near the Conestoga Parkway brings a variety of noise into my space which, admittedly, i have learned to ignore.

While taking a break from shoveling, i allowed myself to focus in on the sounds of moving traffic on the expressway.  I could easily distinguish between cars verses transport trucks, etc. and continued to listen until the sounds became even more distinctive and i could make out the difference in the sound of acceleration between what i imagined came from a four cylinder car from that of an eight cylinder car, the unique sounds of poorly maintained vehicles struggling to maintain speed, and the sound of a car driving at 100kph with a faulty exhaust system

Listening (not quite) Blindfolded #1

Posted on Updated on

My task was to size up a 2000 square foot warehouse converted into meeting space for sound quality in order to choose the best microphones and placement to record live action for a future video

A field recorder (Zoom H6) was placed in a central location to the action using three microphones in various locations to listen to the ambient noise in the space and become aware of what unwanted noise might be amplified by a microphone.  Headphones were connected to the recorder and i closed my eyes to allow for deeper listening as the action in the room began.  The main action was being projected from a speaker in front but  I was blown away by the variety of distracting noises that were being generated all around the room and easily amplified with the microphones.  There was the sound of moving chairs, rustling clothing, people getting up to grab coffee, whispering of semi-private conversations, coughing, cell phone noises, questions from “the floor” etc., and i was able to guesstimate what type of microphones would be best to record the action.  What was most impressive about tuning into the noise was the AWFUL sound of an overhead tube heater buzzing continuously the entire time.  This was the single greatest distraction of all and would have to be turned off to get decent audio for the future video recording session FOR SURE.

Class #2 Listening Exercise…the stuff and substance of music

Image Posted on Updated on

Kitchener Studio Project
Monday, Jan 20/2014
Sounds of a group of singers dancing & drumming in a communal celebration. Thoughts that came to mind while listening:
WHERE DOES THE SOUND RESONATE IN THE BODY?
THE GROUP IS THE INSTRUMENT
THE SOUND IS OPEN TO THE SKY
BUT IS CONTAINED WITHIN A CIRCLE OF MOVING PEOPLE
INTERSECTION OF HIGHER NOTES
USING THE VOICE AS AN INSTRUMENT
USING THE BODY AS AN INSTRUMENT
EVERYONE PROVIDING A CONTRIBUTION
FEELS LIKE A HEARTBEAT
SINGING DRUMS IN THE CENTRE
STORY UNITES
RHYTHM IS A POETIC LANGUAGE
CHANTING IS A GROUP RHYTHM
ORCHESTRA OF VOICES, CHOIR OF SOUNDS
 

                                                                                                                                                     RANDOM CLASS NOTES FOR FOLLOW-UP:

DEPTH OF FIELD IS SUPER IMPORTANT TO RECORDING.  DEPTH OF FIELD IS CAPTURED…NOT CREATED IN POST

LISTEN TO:  TOWER OF POWER (METERS?)  NEW ORLEANS STYLE DRUMMING THAT CREATES A SENSE OF SPACE

IF YOU CAN MASTER “ONE MIKE” RECORDING, THE REST IS EASY
THE ORIGINAL TRACKS TO LAY DOWN ARE REFERRED TO AS “BED TRACKS”

THE SCAFFOLDING THAT HOLDS THE MUSIC TOGETHER:

CONCEPT OR THEME

MELODY – (2ND MOST IMPORTANT QUALITY & WHAT MOST SOUND ENGINEERS STRIVE FOR)

RHTHYM – (#1)

  • IF YOU MAKE A MISTAKE IN DRUMMING, IT IS HARD TO RECOVER, OTHER INSTRUMENTAL ERRORS ARE FORGIVABLE
  • THEREFORE DRUMMER MUST BE ABLE TO KEEP TIME  TO MAKE THE RECORDING PROJECT WORK (& AVOID TIME CONSUMING REMEDIES)
  • KICK AND SNARE USED TO KEEP A NATURAL FLOW
  • “TIGHTNESS” IS RECOGNIZED AS A PRO QUALITY, & IS RADIO FRIENDLY

 HARMONY – (3RD)

  • ANOTHER MELODY
  • PADS THE NOTE MAKES IT RICHER, FLUFFIER; DIAD/CHORD/CHORD EXTENSIONS
  • INTERWEAVING, COMPLIMENTING IN THE SAME KEY

 LYRICS

  • THEY TAKE THE MOST TIME TO PRODUCE (FOLLOWED BY RHYTHM)

 DENSITY

  • HOW MUCH IS GOING ON?
  • TECHNIQUES INCLUDE FLATTENING (OFFSET 3-8 MILLISECONDS)  & ADDING MORE VOCALS
  • FLANGING & DELAY (DIVERSION OFF THE ORIGINAL SOURCE)

 INSTRUMENTATION

  • YOU EVALUATE YOUR PERFORMER (FATIGUE/STRENGTH) AND YOU MAKE INSTRUMENT CHOICES FROM THERE
    • THE MATERIALS THAT INSTRUMENTS ARE CONSTRUCTED WITH HAVE CHANGED (MAHAOGANY TO MAPLE, ETC)
    • PICK THE RIGHT INSTRUMENT…IT CAN CHANGE EVERYTHING

SONG STRUCTURE

LISTEN TO TOM PETTY – WALLFLOWER
 
PERFORMANCE

QUALITY OF THE GEAR & THE RECORDING

THE MIX

MASTERING

  •  TAKING YOUR FINAL MIX AND MANIPULATING IT, MAKING IT “LARGE”
  • LOUDNESS WARS?

PLAYBACK –  WHAT IS THE END MEDIA THAT THE PROJECT IS GOING TO BE LISTENED ON???  WORK BACKWARDS FROM THERE

RECORDING BIT AND SAMPLE RATE?

  • LOSSY (MP3 & AAC) VS LOSTLESS (WAVE & AIFF)
  • LOSING QUALITY OF AUDIO WHEN FILES GET COMPRESSED
  • CD QUALITY IS AT 16 BITS 44.1 SAMPLE RATE VERSES MP3’S WHICH ARE 128 & NOW 320

REVERB & ECHO:

SOUND IS DRAWING OUT THE ROOM (LIKE AN ARTIST) LETTING YOU KNOW WHAT THE SURROUNDING IS

WORKING WITH ROOMS IS AS IMPORTANT AS MICROPHONE TECHNIQUE

  • TEST OUT THE MID RANGE IN A ROOM
  • DO YOU WANT TO USE THE ROOM FULL SIZE?  HOW DO YOU DEADEN THE ROOM?
  •  COUNT OUT THE REVERB TIME (1SEC, 1.5 SEC?)
  • PADDING THE FLOOR DEADENS SOUND
  • BACKGROUND NOISE?  UNWANTED SOUNDS? LISTEN FOR FINE DETAILS

HUMIDITY & TEMPERATURE:

  • SOUND TRAVELS FASTER IN HEAT
  • HUMID SOUND IS WARMER, THICKER, LOOSER…INSTRUMENTS MAY SOUND A BIT OUT OF TUNE
  • AT 500Hz AND UNDER – HUMIDLY ROUNDS OUT THE SOUND BUBBLE

500-5000Hz ARE THE MID RANGE FREQUENCIES THAT ARE MOST PROBLEMATICAL,  ABOVE 5000 YOU ENCOUNTER VOCAL ISSUES,   BELOW THAT LIKE 40 – 100 (SUBS)

1000Hz IS THE HOLY GRAIL OF FREQUENCIES – EASY TO HEAR

ASSIGNMENTS FOR NEXT CLASS:

  1. BLINDFOLDED;  SPEND 15 MIN A DAY  LISTENING TO AMBIANCE AND TAKE MENTAL NOTES – WRITE ABOUT WHAT YOU HEAR
  2. QUIZ– RESEARCH 10 FACTS/FINDINGS ABOUT DAW AND POST ON WORDPRESS SITE BEFORE NEXT CLASS
  3. DOWNLOAD MIXCRAFT
  4. PERSONAL BLOG AND RECORDING DUE NEXT CLASS ALSO

Critical Listening Questions Kinda Sorta Practice#1

Posted on Updated on

dissect an audio example, write down and identify audio characteristics  OK i am gonna start with a Youtube video of a live performance so i don’t have to face any technical questions

Music chosen: 

Estas Tonne …Cuban Dance & Rhapsody in 1 (2011)    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-n7DIEZBb5U

Is the example bright, muddy, thin, warm, or maybe low or high in volume?  bright!

What is unique about the recording? Meaning does one thing pop out to you.  It travels

Can you guess the sample rate and bit depth? Or if analog, what kind of tape and ips? If vinyl what rpm? Maybe MP3? If MP3 then what did the example start at before it became an MP3?  omg will i be able to answer this question after the course?

Was it a live off the floor recording, or tracked? Both?  O.K. its live…(fixed)

What’s the temperature where the recording took place?  Probably hot under stage lights, no?

What is the vibe or mood of the example?  flowing alternately yet intuitively from joyful & carefree to arousing & aggressive

Do the sounds define a place for you to experience?  a place of aliveness and passion

How could you use the example in your own work?  it would be quite the workout