A note for the composer!

Always nice to get a note such as this!

“Hello Tom,

I just wanted to thank you for all the fine editing you did on my compositions.
It looks all very nice.
Best wishes for 2018 !!

Chiel Meijering”

I had the pleasure of recording some of Chiel Meijering’s works at Auer Hall on Oct. 28th, 2017. Very enjoyable music to listen to, and great performances by soloist Kathleen McLean on bassoon!

The most rewarding thing about my work at Sweet Owen Sound is getting to hear music and performances like these. If you’ve found this post I hope you will go ahead and listen to these recordings. You can watch Perpetuate Transmigration here or watch Star Pulse here! I hope you enjoy these as much as I do!

Starpulse

Kathleen McLean, Associate Professor of Bassoon at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music is the soloist in the premiere performance of “Starpulse” by Chiel Meijering. The composer attended the performance in Auer Concert Hall on Oct. 28th, 2017. The concert included an Indiana University Student String Orchestra directed by David Jang.

In this performance one of North America’s most acclaimed orchestral bassoonists plays a work by one of the Netherlands most performed composer. For more information on the soloist and composer you can read the concert program HERE!.

To visit Kathleen McLean’s website Click Here! To visit Chiel Meijering’s website Click Here!

You can view the performance on YouTube in HD Click Here!. If you are using a mobile device you may want to watch the embeded video below.

Sweet Owen Sound recorded and produced this video on behalf the artists and thanks them for their permission to post it here!

Perpetuate Transmigration

Kathleen McLean, Associate Professor of Bassoon at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music performs “Perpetuate Transmigration” by Chiel Meijering. The composer attended the performance on Oct. 28th, 2017 which included an Indiana University Student String Orchestra directed by David Jang. Audio and video recording by Sweet Owen Sound Recording Studio, Spencer IN.

This is an amazing piece of music by Chiel Meijering and a great performance by Kathleen McLean. It seems to capture the attention of everyone I’ve played it for in the studio. I hope you will enjoy it as well.

The embedded link below will play well on mobile devices, otherwise you can see this video in HD : HD Video at YouTube!

Here is a link to the Recital Program which includes notes on Kathleen McLean and Chiel Meijering as well a the names of the student orchestra members.

For more information visit Prof. McLean’s website www.kmbassoon.com or the composer’s website www.chielmeijering.com.

Audition Recordings

Sweet Owen Sound provides audio and video recording services to Jacobs School of Music students entering International Competitions, auditioning for graduate schools and professional positions. I’ve made audition recordings for Jacobs School of Music, Julliard and the New York Philharmonic, to name a few.

Anyone interested in this kind of recording will know that editing of the musical performance is not allowed. The test is to see how well one can play a piece in a single take. Additionally JSoM allows the students to scheduled rooms for two hours, which means that there is very little time to waste. Each piece is usually played two or three times. For the musician this can be a very stressful undertaking, similar in many ways to giving a recital. This was take one of ten that were made of four different works in October of 2017.

For Sweet Owen Sound the challenge is to get into the room and be set up as quickly as possible. Experience and detailed planning allows me to get the job done without creating additional stress for the student. The audio in this example was recorded at 96K/24 bit on a Sound Devices 702 recorder. The microphones are AKG 414’s that were mounted on an eleven foot stand in ORTF, and set in figure of eight mode. Video was captured on a Nikon D800 36 megapixel camera and recorded on a Ninja Atamos II in ProRes 422 (1920x1080x30fps). I also brought a small Mole-Richardson fresnal lamp for fill light.

This recording captured a very live room sound. A more focused sound with less room reverberation is easily achieved by switching the microphones to cardioid or super-cardioid mode.

I appreciate the kind permission of the artist to allow me to post the video as an example of my on location recording capabilities.

July 2017

As my birthday was approaching, thoughts about how I would like to celebrate the day settled on taking pictures of our dogs and recording “I Can See Clearly” My thinking was clear, you can never have enough good pictures of your dogs, and it was time to record this song:Sound Cloud, Tom Yeiser, I Can See Clearly Now.

About the song

Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now” is and has been a favorite song. It helped introduce Reggae to the U.S. in 1972 and is one of those iconic vocals that is hard to forget. The chord changes in the bridge were pretty cool and the use of accordion and hand percussion introduced my ears to world music.

Rambling production notes

I wanted to take inventory of where my music skills are today. I spent some time learning the bass part and drum part the way I used to learn songs when I was playing in bands in the 70’s and 80’s. I think I’ve continued getting better at figuring things out, so that is something to be thankful for. I love how this bass line locked with the kick drum. It is hard for a song to groove without the groove.

It is probably a bad idea to pick a song to cover with a vocal that is as stylized and perfect as this one is. I am not a great singer, although I am happy to report that auto-tunish software played no part in this recording and digital intervention in general was kept to a minimum. It is a pretty old fashioned recording in that respect. The key of E is not great for me either and as the years stack up the top end of my voice is disappearing. Anyway, despite it all I like the vocal, it is where I’m at.

Greg Mongolds’ Mossman guitar is heard on this track. I hadn’t realized until a moment ago when I checked the tag in the sound hole that it was built in 1972. I guess I can feel like there has been some synchronicity at work here. I think the guitar and the solo sit in the track pretty well. Pop song scholars will note that I added the solo and repeated the bridge. It’s a tuff song and I think it can take it.

I’m not sure if it is a quirk or a foible, but I’m not fond of pop song fade outs. I worked out a clean end and could see clearly how that messed up the song. So as I’m fading out, it probably is OK to let this track fade out too.

The synthesizer horn part in the bridge was the thing that was shocking to my ears back in 72. It reminds me of the first synthesizer I ever really heard and played which was an Arp Odyssey that Conrad and Sons Music loaned to New Albany High School in 1975 for our production of “Jesus Christ Superstar”. We were the second High School in the U.S. to put the show on, and part of the production costs were paid for with money from the National Endowment for the Arts. My sincere thanks to the generation of parents that paid taxes and didn’t mind enriching the lives of kids at my High School, and my thanks to a music department that could put on something that was kind of controversial at the time. Well done.

I’ll will eventually get back on the topic, but I played bass in Superstar, and even though there were lots of pictures of the show in my Senior Year Book, not one photo of the band was included.

Returning to “I Can See Clearly Now” the synthesizer part now seems a bit too prominent. While it was way out at the time it is a bit dated and the incredible vocals are kind of too far back in my opinion.

Bringing this to a close

I hope Beth and I will get around to doing another photo shoot of our dogs because I know I will treasure those as long as I live. What I learned spending time with this song, the process of recording, and producing something I like to hear was a good way to mark a birthday.

Finally I saw some press about Johnny Nash last year, he was alive (I hope he still is) and doing some studio work. This song was kind of a departure from his earlier work, which I don’t know very well, if at all. But this song was interesting to me. Let’s see Nixon won re-election in 72, Vietnam and Watergate were dominating the news, I spent the summer in Bloomington.

I Can See Clearly Now

As my birthday was approaching recently, thoughts about how I would like to celebrate the day settled on taking pictures of our dogs and recording “I Can See Clearly”  My thinking was clear, you can never have enough good pictures of your dogs, and it was time to record this song.

You can hear/download the track on my SoundCloud account “Tom Yeiser”. Here is a link: Sound Cloud, Tom Yeiser, I Can See Clearly Now.

About the song

Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now” is and has been a favorite song. It helped introduce Reggae to the U.S. in 1972 and is one of those iconic vocals that is hard to forget. The chord changes in the bridge were pretty cool and the use of accordion and hand percussion (bongos I’m guessing) introduced my ears to world music after a steady diet of two guitars a bass and drums.

Rambling production notes

With the number of years piling up I wanted to take inventory of where my skills are today. Even though I’ve played the song for years I spent the time to learn the bass part and drum part the way I used to learn songs when I was playing in cover bands in the 70’s and 80’s. I’m probably quite a bit better now than I was back then, so that is something to be thankful for. I love how this bass line locked with the kick drum. It is hard for a song to groove without the groove.

I realize that picking a song to cover that Johnny Nash sang is probably a bad idea. I am happy to report that auto-tunish pitch correction type of software played no part in this recording and digital intervention was kept to a minimum. It is a pretty old fashioned recording in many respects. All in all I like the vocal, despite age taking it’s toll it’s real and it’s where I’m at.

I played my friend Greg Mongolds’ Mossman guitar which was built in 1972.  I hadn’t realized until a moment ago that the guitar was built the year this song was on the radio. I guess I can feel like there has been some synchronicity at work here. I think the guitar and the solo sit in the track pretty well, even though the Mossman’s voice would have have liked a new set of strings. Pop song scholars will note that I added the solo and repeated the bridge.

I’m not sure if it is a quirk or a foible, but I’m not fond of pop song fade outs like Johnny Nash’s version has so I worked out a clean end. It didn’t take long to see clearly how that messed up the song.  So I let this track fade out too.

The synthesizer horn part in the bridge was the thing that was shocking to my ears back in 72. It reminds me of the first synthesizer I got to play with. It was an Arp Odyssey that Conrad and Sons Music loaned to New Albany High School in 1975 for our production of “Jesus Christ Superstar”. I played bass guitar in the production. We were the second High School in the U.S. put the show on, and I’m pretty sure the high school received some grant money from the National Endowment for the Arts. My sincere thanks to that generation of parents who paid taxes and enriched the lives of kids at my High School. Also my thanks to a music department that could put on something that was kind of a reach. Incorporating a rock and roll ensemble into the pit band and doing the Andrew Loyd Weber play about Jesus were both kind of controversial at the time. Well done.

I’ll will eventually get back on the topic, but I was amazed when my High School Year book came out and even though there were lots of pictures of the show, there was not one photo of the band included. The B3, the Arp, the Steinway, the Bassman amp, the telecatser. the showman amp, the strings and horns, and a dozen or highschool musicians who really stepped up were left out.

Returning to “I Can See Clearly Now” the synthesizer part now seems a bit too prominent. While it was far out at the time it sounds a bit dated and the incredible vocals are kind of too far back in the mix in my opinion.

Bringing this to a close

I hope Beth and I will get around to doing another photo shoot of our dogs, because I know I will treasure those as long as I live. What I learned spending time with this song, the process of recording, and producing something I like to hear was a good way to mark a birthday.

Finally I saw some press about Johnny Nash last year, he was alive (I hope he still is) and doing some studio work. This song was kind of a departure from his earlier work, which I don’t know very well, if at all. But this song was interesting to me. Let’s see Nixon won re-election in 72, Vietnam and Watergate were dominating the news, I spent the summer in Bloomington.

Personal Headphone Mixes

Starting in April of 2017 Sweet Owen Sound has started using personal headphone mixers controlled by the musician in the studio.  My previous system has great sound quality but had to be mixed from the control room.  The new personal mixing system greatly speeds up getting the headphones right and allows much finer control.

In my consulting work I’ve recommended and installed headphone systems in churches that have a band on stage. They really solve a problem for modest acoustic spaces with drums, electric guitars and vocalist who want to hear themselves. However for my studio the high cost and unremarkable sound quality kept me from investing.

Recently the Behriger Powerplay P16-I and P16-M components came to my attention. They have a great feature set and are easy to use. The mains section has a 3 band EQ (with a parametric mid-range), a limiter,  and master volume. The channel selector has an illuminated button for each of the 16 channels, stereo pan and volume. You can solo and mute channels. The best feature of all is that they sound great.

Book some time and see how well it works!

 

What microphones were used in Adam Cantors Sceyence?

Adam Cantor recently asked me what microphones were used in his recording Sceyence.  Here is the recording chain including the microphones, premaps and digital converters usedWarning don’t try this at home or you will make an incredible recording of your refrigerator and every other machine running in your house and neighborhood, not to mention cars, motorcycles, lawnmowers, chain saws, and airplanes nearby.  For more information see my post Rationalizing priorities in choosing a room to record in .

There were 4 microphones used throughout the recording.  AEA R84 ribbon microphone, a stereo pair of AKG414s and a DPA 4099G.  The AKGs and the DPA are condenser microphones.  An AEA TRP (The Ribbon Pre) preamplifier was used for the AEA R84.  The stereo pair AKG 414’s and the DPA 4099G were using preamp channels in a Focusrite ISA428.  Lynx Studio Technology converters were used for each microphone.

The three microphones that are heard on every track are the R84 and the AKGs.  They were set up in a Decca Tree. The R84 was the center and the AKGS were wing mics.  If you are recording in a great room this set up will give your recording lots of character.  The fourth mic, the DPA 4099G is an equally incredible mic, which I often use as a single mic on a guitar.  In this case it is only heard on a few songs where the register changes and the tunings did not generate even tonal performance.  This mic was included in sections where the delicate nature of particular section of music and the register of the guitar needed different equalization.

ThomasFYeiser_OCAG-25
The incredible AEA R84 Ribbon Microphone.

Rationalizing priorities in choosing a room to record in

Let’s assume that you are a mature musician who is fully in command of your musical skills. You have the ability and depth to express music, and you are ready to make a recording. What is the single most important recording decision you can make? Is it the type of recording equipment, the engineer you choose, the brand name of the microphones, preamplfiers, digital converters, the phase of the moon or something else that will play the largest role in determining how good your recording will sound?

Since we live in a consumer world music stores, on line retailers and the manufacturers of recording equipment will suggest that purchasing the newest computer, recorder, microphone, software, or desktop device will allow you to create an amazing sounding recording in the privacy of your own home without knowing what you are doing. So like sheep we go and buy equipment.

The first ‘recording’ mic I bought I brought home, set it up in my beautiful front room of a 1927 craftsman style home and made an incredible recording of my foot tapping the floor, cars driving by and the refrigerator turning on and off. It was a great experience which I learned a lot from. After I turned off the refrigerator and placed put a rug under my feet I made an even better recording of cars driving by. A slightly less obvious problem was that my voice and guitar didn’t sound right no matter where the microphone was placed or how much post processing I could apply.

Way back in the 70’s when I attended IU School of Music I took a graduate level course on Acoustics that John Nagaoski taught. The subject of the class was Sabines’ formula RT60, which explains how interior architecture affects the way sound sounds in a room. As I started researching what it took to build a great recording studio I found books by F. Alton Everest including the ‘Master Handbook of Acoustics’, and several other relevant titles. It turns out that the basic design tool was Sabine’s RT60 formula, and understanding the relationship of room dimensions, materials, and the use of passive architectural devices to tune a room was what made a great room to record in. Rooms turn out to be just like the body of instruments. Take the strings off of one guitar and put them on another guitar and they will sound different. Take an instrument into two different rooms and it will sound different in each room.

So I think the single most important choice you have to make regarding how good a recording will sound is what room are you recording in. To pick a room start with a few simple questions. Does the room keep outside sounds out? Does the mechanical systems of the building create noise inside? Most importantly does the room alter the way music sounds in it? With these questions in mind you will find that it is hard to retrofit acoustic improvements into inadequate structures, and that the sexy equipment that manufactures advertise to ‘home recording artist’ simply cannot alter the fact that your room does not sound good.

For audio recording purposes residential structures simply fail. They are too light to keep outside sound out, the mechanical systems are too noisy, and the relationship between internal dimensions and the acoustic properties of the materials used guarantee failure. Churches and Concert Halls also generally fail. Building code requires these rooms to be able to get people in and out quickly in case of emergencies. Lots of doors means lots of noise. The heating and cooling systems are designed to recover quickly when the room fills or empties and tend to be noisey. The expense of adding an acoustical consulting firm and the additional materials required to build a great sounding room means there are very few great sounding rooms built. Modern churches in particular could care less about good acoustics since they are going to buy huge sound systems that simply overpower bad acoustics.

If you read this far you ought to come visit Sweet Owen Sound. It is not huge like the big studios that are falling like dinosaurs, but it was carefully designed to reject outside noise, has extremely quiet mechanical systems and has a frequency response that is balanced and neutral. By design the RT60 (reverberation time) is appropriate and optimized for the recording of a string quartet. It is a superb room to record in.