ALL WORK AND NO PLAY…
I have just returned from five months overseas and have beencatching up on back issues of Mix. I thought PaulLehrman's article on repetitive injury syndrome in the August 2000issue was riveting. It was a validation, of sorts, for me. I havebeen ashamed to admit to myself, and others, that hours of pressinglittle buttons on my Yamaha 02R, ADAT BRC and my computer mousecould bring a grown man to tears. How many other engineers andmusicians out there also fear losing their careers to RSI andtendinitis? It is not a trivial thing, and I hope to see similararticles in the future.
I would also encourage you to do a feature article on audio prosand musicians who are also parents, spouses, gardeners,runners… you get my drift. The pressure in our business to be“24/7” is incredible, but there are other choices.Success can be measured by means other than an SSL console and abottomless mixing budget.
Tom, our “Fast Lane” columnist, Stephen St.Croix, has written articulately about the importance of a balancedlife for members of the audio industry. Last October's issueincludes a particularly incisive column on the subject.
RAVES FOR A MIX MASTER
In my experience, not enough credit is given to those who trulydeserve the accolades, while marginally talented people get thebulk of the attention in the music business. Frank Filipetti is oneof the truly deserving.
It was gratifying to read the article on Frank [March 2001]. Iwas fortunate, as a co-producer (along with my business partner,John Vanore), to have worked with Frank on Michael Crawford'sOn Eagle's Wings (Atlantic Records) in 1997. As producers,John and I had been given wide latitude in trying to create anethereal classical crossover CD (with elements of pop thrown in)that reflected Michael's boyhood in England as a chorister inBenjamin Britten's choir, while keeping his finely honed Broadwayvocal chops in full view.
With pre-production done at Ocean Way in Nashville on the thenbrand-new Sony Oxford, we eventually wound up recording theorchestral tracks at Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin on 2-inchanalog at 30 ips, and then we cut the majority of the vocals andsome instrumental overdubs at Sony Studios here in New York City ona 3348. All of the tracks from Ocean Way and Dublin were combinedonto the 3348. It was not an easy project to pull together from amixing standpoint.
While hunting around for the right mix engineer, Frank's namecontinually came up as the guy for this project. Afterconferring with Michael, we all agreed to use Frank for themajority of the recording. (Because of an earlier game plan withthe label, Mick Guzauski wound up doing the two pop tracks for us.Mick did a great job as well.)
Within the first five minutes of working with Frank at RightTrack on the Neve Capricorn, we knew that we had picked the rightperson. As he listened down to the tracks, I could see that heimmediately “got” the concept. Within the first twodays, the rough mixes were sounding great. As the project went on,we all came to appreciate Frank not only as an extremely talentedengineer, but as a truly good person — the type of personthat you'd always want on your project no matter what thematerial.
While Frank is dead-on in terms of his use of digital technologyand his discussion of it, I think another important point for yourreaders and one not really touched on in your article is Frank'suse of reverbs. To my ears, all of the best mix engineers have aunique and extremely musical approach to using reverbs, not onlyfor ambience but for EQ, instrument placement/depth and, for lackof a better phrase, the “X factor.” While most homerecordists (and even a lot of good pro engineers) dial-up as manyreverbs as they can get their hands on, engineers like Frank usereverb like a paintbrush. Also, many engineers hope to correctthings in the mastering, never realizing that what they thoughtthey had is no longer there. And, should you think it's the gear hehas, trust me, it really isn't the gear at all; it's the way heuses it and his music sensibilities.
I hope that Mix will revisit Frank on the reverb front.This is truly an area that needs more attention and one that willhelp your readers' mixes sound more musical.
Finally, check out Frank's work on James Taylor's DVD Liveat the Beacon. I've never heard a better sounding liverecording — ever.
New York City
DON'T QUIT YOUR DAY JOB
In Jim Stagnitto's letter in the March 2001 issue regardingcopyrights, intellectual property laws and the future networking ofthe music industry, he states: “… an increasinglynetworked world will accelerate the discovery, rediscovery andcross-pollination of all types of global music, and music loverswill have instantaneous, pervasive and (darn near) free access tothis content.” And: “I would humbly submit that peoplewho produce music for a living are going to remain very much indemand…”
This is possibly so, but how good can the music be if musicianscan only create it in their spare time, away from their day jobs? Iagree that losing the corporate suits in charge of the mindlesscommercial music scene of today would be a good thing. But even themasters of old were paid and, in some cases, “kept” bymonarchs or other patrons. You can't create music, or any art, onan empty stomach. The Internet may put the music back in the handsof the people, but without copyrights, intellectual property lawsand proper financial compensation, Mr. Stagnitto's world ofdiscovery and cross-pollination may be populated by nothing morethan hobbyists.
L. Anthony Johnson
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