BACK IN THE DAY
I appreciated Gary Eskow's nice piece on Booker T and The MG's' “Time Is Tight” (“Classic Track,” April 2007). There didn't seem to be much confusion about the origin of the group's name back in 1965, when the singles from their second LP, Soul Dressing, were riding high on the charts. The liner notes for that LP read: “MG stands for Memphis Group. That's the city where the group met and where their records are made. If the full name of the popular combo was used — Booker T. Jones and the Memphis Group — they would certainly have space problems on the marquees of the theaters they play.”
Here's an interesting aside to that story that illustrates how different the music business was in the 1960s. Back in those years, you could literally ring up Stax on the phone and ask to speak with Duck Dunn or Steve Cropper. If they weren't in session, they would answer the call and just chat. My closest friends at the time were aspiring white R&B musicians in Baltimore. They would frequently call Stax to talk with the musicians about their latest records, instrumental techniques, arrangements, etc.
I called Dunn several times just to talk about anything related to music. He was invariably generous with his time and encouragement. When my friends' group, the New Apocalypse, cut their first record (around 1970), they called Cropper to talk about it and he invited them down to Memphis to visit the studio. A memorable trip followed. I didn't make the trip with the band, but the engineer from the studio where they recorded did. He went on to achieve more than a bit of success in years to come: George Massenburg. Back in those simpler and more innocent days, there was very little distance between young professionals just starting out and the successful musicians they idolized.
Gotham Audio LLC
Just read Frank Filipetti's short article about sagging music sales (“Current,” April 2007). We need to hear more of these ideas from leading music industry people. And hopefully, they themselves will sit down and discuss these issues, make proposals, do what needs to be done to bring us to the next level. It may be a difficult and long battle, but if they don't start, nothing will happen.
HALFTIME SHOW BRINGS THE MUSIC BACK
This is in response to the “Letter to Mix” titled “Not So Super Super Bowl” in the March ‘07 issue submitted by Bob Spangler, wherein he bemoaned the lack of audio quality of the mix for Prince during the halftime show. I, too, often feel let down by the audio in live performances on television, but the Prince set was an exception. In recent years, more often than not, live mixes usually comprise a huge kick, a huge snare and a dry vocal all the way up front, with the melodic- and chord-producing instruments barely audible, buzzing somewhere off in the distance. Okay, so you can feel the beat, but any chance at raising some goose bumps is totally out the window.
In contrast with Prince, we were treated to strong echo-laden guitar and vocals with a little bit of dirt thrown in to pump up the energy level. Ahhh, it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and nearly restored my faith in humanity — just the way a big rock show is supposed to. I congratulate whoever was responsible for that mix. My guess is that Prince had some input about what he wanted prior to the performance and that he was thrilled with the result. I hope that some of the young sound engineers out there will take a hint from that mix and begin to restore some of the “music” into their mixes.
Ray J. Kozora II
Incidental Sounds Co.
TALKBACK: HEARING HEALTH
The past few months, we have been asking you, our readers, to give us your stories — whether interesting ways of recording or videogame audio highlights. Here is one letter we received with regard to our latest “Talkback”: hearing health. — Eds.
In my studio, I handle fatigue in various ways. First, if I have been at it for a while, say an hour, I make sure I rest my ears for the same amount of time by reducing main speaker volume to a bare minimum. Even 15-minute intervals will do justice. This theory works best when you're alone in the studio, of course, but can be used with others around you cautiously as you can get gripes from a client or singer who is with you.
Secondly, for many years I recorded the singer in the control room with me as I have a personal studio that doesn't have a separate room for recording purposes. I became accustomed to lowering the main volume to “nothing” so I wouldn't get any monitor leakage through the mic. At the beginning, I used headphones, but then I got used to nothing at all. Turning off the volume when recording became a norm. I actually felt physically better after a session. When the time comes, you always have to play back your material to check it.
Lastly, for those gigging out there, test this theory: On one night, use a pair of earplugs and see how you feel the next morning. Then the next day, don't put them on and see if there is a difference.
Our March article on native processing included information on various native DAW programs, but omitted Pro Tools LE. While Pro Tools LE (and its M-Powered cousin) use native processing, these only function using Digidesign or M-Audio hardware. The article's intent was to spotlight software having no proprietary hardware requirements and this should have been made more clear in the text. We regret any confusion this may have caused. — Eds.
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