Work Flow

It is a Sunday night and just got home from an event where I mixed front of house.

I saw an old colleague and they said that wanted to experience the same sound the last time at the helm . That was my original intent going after my live sound with the same basic principles of studio mixing the sound went pretty good.

However the feel was different. I went through the set in my mind and analyzed everything I did then I realized that one of the key things was arrangement . The last time the band played the songs were in a lower key that made it more comfortable for the singers. And also the drummer was more comfortable with that previous set.

Because the bass player and the drummer were able to really get tight the rhythm section of that set was really solid thus giving the ability to polish that section of the song. As a result I remembered the melody section and the singers were. more comfortable the energy was just right .

My point live, in the studio or even in your production section your arrangement will be key in helping your mix come together.

Remember to check ,does the main melody have room  along with the dominant instrument of the song does the rhythm section of the song give you a sense of rhythm that you can’t deny?

I will talk about these sections of a song and how it works together for a great song  and post it @ www.empowermediamusic .com but for now it definitely will help you  in getting your mix tight and feeling good

Empower your dream…..


Hi… Family  just continuing from the previous blog on having to much music.

Now ,this is a very touchy topic because music is and will always be extremely subjective and we as creative creatures strive to express ourselves .

In relation to our topic the general rule thumb that has been a staple wherever I go is ….. When you are noticing the music more than the song itself. This concept I learnt playing @ an event over 8 years ago. The other keyboard player and I  were trading advanced chords during a song and after the set a nice lady walked up to us after and said what you guys were playing was so pretty I forgot to pay attention to the singer .

This  could be taken as flattery but knowing what the singer wanted from us left us feeling rather guilty.

From that point on i vowed not to be that person again only putting what the client wanted and what is needed.

Most songs that live and strive in the pop ratings have at most 4-7 chords .

Of course there exceptions to the rule Stevie wonder , Pink Floyd
The earlier Luther Vandross stuff.
But if you really listen to those songs you hear the music almost move out of the way of the melody and where things like the horns move with the last notes of the bass or vocals

Next time when your music is playing listen to how the main melody ties in to the song melody and how the supporting instruments pick up certain parts of your main melody.

When is there too much music in a song?

I know in my daily journey as a music producer that little conductor on my shoulder  that doubles as a music police per say is always watching and monitoring what I come up with.

I decided a long time ago to study and learn from all the greats. From musical scores that give you goose bumps to pop songs that have your players worn out.
I noticed the common thread on all of them  . Like the keystone in a bridge or building it sat there just playing this role .
This little simple melody  by it self it sounds catchy like a nursery rhyme .
Every hit song that you can think of has this anchor point that every thing revolves around ….. A musical solar system .
I will go more into detail in my next sharing but I just wanted to get your mind going on this topic.


Hi Family …………..I know it has been a while since the last blog ……my bad 🙂

I just finished working on song for a Rap Artist (click here for a sample of the song) and was checking how it sounds in the usual places .

You know the car the boom box the neighbors home stereo  etc.

Just when I thought that I had achieved what I was going for i put in a old c.d. from  ll cool j his first album .

Then it hit me this sounded really good ….. but it was lower in volume to what I had done.

This got me thinking and then I put in a Michael Jackson CD I love the engineering on this album.

Interestingly enough that Cd was lower as well but the music felt good and punchy.

I went back to my old books and course material on mastering and realized I had fallen prey to a methodology called” Loudness Wars”.

Trust Me there are lost of resources out there on this topic so …the short of the long story is this;

A great deal of artists, labels,unaware and uneducated  listeners assume that Loud =Good

But what of the cd Like Michael Jackson compared to music that is put out today no real music lover can deny the visionary music, engineering , and mastering of Thriller .

However if you crank up the volume on thriller and once your system can handle the pressure you enjoy the nice lows and smooth vocals  and milky high frequencies .

Put in a Pop Cd today it is 1 automatically loud 2 you may have to turn down your volume sparing blowing something and 3 your start to notice sooner or later that it is almost wearing your ears out to listen to just 1 song in is entirety .

That is what is called ear fatigue , I always tell persons at training seminars our ears are organs …
not muscles.

The  prolonged exposure to music with no dynamic range i.e. the range between low passages and high passages takes a toll on your ears and eventually your hearing is damaged … a casualty of the loudness wars.

And a sad reality is that research has shown that there is not proportional relationship to sales,

Realizing the cries of those who enjoy and listen to music faithfully , modern music and media players actually remove the excess volume crushing.

So why do people still try to make loud recordings?
1. Fear……..of not seeming competitive and as a result worthy to catch the listeners attention
2.or criticism  that their baby their dream their musical representation will not be received by the rest of the world.

These are just the main ones here but the reality is this , If your melody and your music work together in such a way that once anyone who hears it for the first time can enjoy, relate, escape and repeat what you said then your mission has been accomplished.

So applying this to my situation I tossed what I done repented and went back at the single from an aspect of what feels and sounded good given that type of genre,

It took me only a few hours and when I was done I achieved the warm sounding clean sound .

I sat in my Jeep and cranked it up to 1000″ just kidding” and it sounded glorious :)))))))

I sent the song off to the client and they loved it I just heard it for the first time on the radio and it  sounded just as I sent it .

Realize that  your music needs to have the sonic character of you words and your melody.

Now way A singer/songwriter’s song should be loud as or louder that Death Metal.

Its like making sheep roar………IMHO.

Today is the deadline

Today is the deadline.


It is gone ……… finished………now, a memory living in our minds about what did or didn’t do.

But like most creative people we wonder if I did it the other  way or what if i tried the new thing that I just learnt 5 minutes ago? I am even more rested now and I can REALLY do something worth mention on this project but, the Song/ Songs/ Album was turned in 10 minutes ago.

Yes there is some really fancy “term” out there that can fit what we all have been through in our creative process but i like to call it “Our Passion”.

I  Remember the first time I produced a track , it was on an old casio keyboard and a Boss Drum Machine that belonged to my older brother.  He had just showed me what this little black box could do and I had just finally memorized the first piece to sesame street. So I decided to replay the little piece I remembered from memory with the 80’s type beat I heard my brother play from the Boss Drum machine.

Not knowing anything about tracking or recording, my tape player had a built in recording option
(I may be giving away my age here), that allowed me to put down the idea in my head.

I kept that recording to myself for 3 months and it only to 5 min to record!!.

Why? …. we all know.

You ask yourself the questions……..

How does this sound?
Is it Horrible?
What could I do here different?
I wonder how it may be received?
Should I throw this away and start over?
Could I do that but better?
I am being to picky?

This is just a short list but you get the point.

The good news is , this is normal. The Bad news it will never stop.

When people get completed work from me, it is only really completed until a new idea comes to mind.
And that was a concept a Producer / Mentor of mine said. You really don’t get that revelation until it happens. You see the clients face light up and they are gung ho with the next step and you feel that pride that you just created something that brought joy to that person and no amount of money can replace that feeling.

Then tomorrow comes and your mind reflects on previous events and then………it happens.

My mentor taught me that nothing creative is ever done and that those questions are an important  part of what  drives our creativity. It is not our insecurities or “fears” as some may say. It is our desire to relate the joy of what we feel inside to the rest of the world.

Take joy in realizing our creativity is not logical and as a result not easily measured.

Today we are  just a little different than who we were yesterday, and most certianly, tomorrow.
“Empower…..your dreams”

How Did They Do That?

Everyone in the creative field asks that question. Especially when it is the first time we are encountered with it. Actually in most aspects of the professional world people may ask that question, but we will stick to Music Production.

I recently finished working on a reggae song and the client wanted  a Bob Marley type sound on it. So to oblige my customers request I went to doing my home work. I listened to the songs on Itunes (which i had recently discovered degrades the songs just a bit but we will talk about that later ;)), borrowed my brother’s cd and listened to radio to get as much reference points as possible.

For the most part it was pretty consistent on all mediums . Then I asked myself the  title of this blog.
I tried various eq’s in the song and also tried the different mediums to my disposal to get that sound.

And then I stumbled upon an article that I wish I had copied for you guys to see for yourself the results.

An engineer who’s name I cant remember anymore told me about tape saturation. Now this term is pretty well known in the music industry but it is still not that well documented for easy retrieval.

The short of the long story is to get that sound you can use a plugin like the one in the waves bundle and work with your bias setting.  Small alternating settings will really emulate the mechanical personalities of the real tape machines.

Some high end studio still have the original Tape machine to run their audio through but those things are very big, cumbersome, and expensive to maintain. Did i mention that to repair them requires a special patience and is not for the faint of heart?

Every genre of music has it’s  own unique sound and  every single person working on that project is unique . All these things come together to get the end result so don’t kill yourself over copying to the exact detail something that is already done.

Going for the feel or idea is fine and the journey even though frustrating is worth it at the end.

Once your client is happy and pleased with your results you have done your job and …Empowered……their dreams.