CREATIVE AT THE CORE
I am the guitarist on the Neville Brothers' Yellow Moon and Bob Dylan's Oh Mercy albums. I just wanted to say thanks for the great interview with Malcolm Burn [“Producer's Desk,” August 2004]. I have not been in touch with him in years, so it was great to find out what he's up to. Malcolm was such a pleasure to work with because he and Lanois come from a musician's point of view as opposed to being technicians. Your interview made that very clear. It is very enjoyable to read about guys like that. From working with them all on Yellow Moon and Oh Mercy, I can say that there is no better team than that of Lanois, Malcolm and Mark Howard. Thanks again — wonderful interview!
ADDING GREEN TO YELLOW MOON
Willie Green might be surprised to hear he did not play drum kit on the Neville Brothers' Yellow Moon album, as suggested by Malcolm Burn. He is clearly heard on some of the tunes, including the title track, and is credited as such.
BEHIND THE MUSIC
I just read the Stephen St.Croix cliffhanger, “I Can See for Miles and Miles…Part One” [July 2004], in which we are all waiting until the next issue to see which keyboard is best at being the state-of-the-art sampler/synth/workstation/multitrack composer editor. [I thought], “Wouldn't it be great to be able to have your favorite controller that was exactly right for the instrument you are choosing to emulate, be it a guitar controller, breath, weighted piano action or plastic keyboard action?”
Then I realized that, well, that's not only possible, but people have been doing it for years. And all it takes is any of the compositional programs like Pro Audio 9, Sonar or Cubase; a decent audio interface; MIDI interface; a little setup; and the magical ingredient: a template. One can set templates for any configuration they choose, and you can have many templates ready for any musical style that pops into your head.
The bottom line is that people will always write in pretty much the same way if they are using MIDI composing tools — that part hasn't changed much through the years. It's good to develop a system that works well for the individual. People put way too much importance on having the latest and best piano sample, using massive memory to make yet another fake piano sound. St.Croix says he's spoiled when it comes to voices used in composing. Indeed, a true purist will only use a real piano if they want a piano sound.
There's nothing wrong with wanting the latest and greatest keyboard, it's just that there's a new one coming out every week. Part of the problem is that so many people are having new gear thrown at them that in trying to keep up [with the pace of new technology], there is no time left to spend making intelligent music.
The general emphasis is shifting away from writing and learning to play an instrument (witness the decline of music departments in public schools) and to manipulating things electronically. The result is that we are getting less and less real music and more and more regurgitated garbage.
Music can be composed with the simplest of tools. No DAW or workstation is required. When you look at the technology being used today for composition as opposed to years ago, we truly are spoiled.
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING HONEST
I just read Stephen St.Croix's piece, “I Can See for Miles and Miles, Part 2” [August 2004]. I'm glad when a magazine prints something that may not be palatable to major advertisers, but in the long run provides constructive criticism that leads to better products.
Mix is the only magazine I can read these days. Stephen St.Croix's articles are the first thing I read, every time.
Keep up the good work.
IVL Technologies Ltd.
NAME THAT MIC
In your July issue's “Letters to Mix,” [reader] Nick Joyce corrects [N.E.R.D. front-of-house] David Haines' categorization of the Beyer M88TG as a ribbon mic and says that “…the M88TG is not a ribbon mic but a dynamic.” Well, Joyce is correct in saying that the M88 is not a ribbon, but he has confused the issue, because ribbon mics are also dynamic. The output voltage is generated by an element moving through a magnetic field as opposed to condenser where a voltage is applied to polarize a flexible membrane to act as one side of a capacitor to produce an output voltage. Perhaps Haines was referring to another mic and Joyce meant to say dynamic moving-coil mic? Why a Beyer M88TG would get “thrashed” is open to discussion. I've used it on snare, kick and vocal without a problem.
AudioMagic Inc. (Boston)
EX-BROADCASTER WEIGHS IN ON CLEAR CHANNEL
I have been a subscriber to Mix magazine for years. I'm not exactly in the recording business, but was in radio broadcasting at the technical level. Until recently, for 20-plus years, I've always found the magazine resourceful.
“The Fast Lane” and “Insider Audio” are by far my favorite sections. I usually find Paul Lehrman's writings to be insightful and accurate.
However, this month's article on live concert recording states, “Clear Channel owns about 1,200 radio stations, roughly one-third of this country's stations.” That percentage is not even close to the truth.
According the FCC's most recent total, accurate as of March 2004 (and available at www.fcc.gov/mb/audio/totals/bt040331.html), it lists 11,005 commercial AM and FM radio stations in the country. Because Clear Channel is in the commercial and not the non-commercial radio business, I left out the non-commercial stations. I was unable to confirm the Clear Channel total of 1,200 stations, but that figure has been commonly published. That puts Clear Channel as owning 11 percent of the commercial radio stations in the country. Ten percent vs. one-third [of all national stations] is a considerable difference.
Please don't take this criticism as a support for Clear Channel or several of the other large broadcast groups' actions. Their actions are precisely why I'm no longer in radio broadcasting.
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