Pat Blythe – Momma can you hear me? …..and music

Here I am, Tuesday afternoon and I’m not sure what to write about. I usually have a thousand ideas racing through my brain leading up to today. But as I sit in my usual spot on the couch I’m drawing a blank!

Top of mind has been my podcast. Now that I have two episodes out and number three in the works, it’s actually been fun learning new software and understanding more and more of the editing, tracking and mixing that creates not only the podcasts but ALL the music (and audio) we listen to. Whether it’s one track or eight tracks, mono, stereo, splice-and-dice tapes, there is certainly an art to this, and one I am only just beginning to learn, appreciate and understand. As I type, I think I know where I’m headed with this one……..

So here’s my take…..

I don’t want to bore you with all the nitty gritty details but attempting to apply my 40+ years working in technology…..not as simple or as straightforward as one might think. Why? Because it’s not just about your ears. It’s about gut feel and instinct, it’s about using all your senses…..it’s about the conversation.

Whether it’s an orchestra, a band or simply vocals, it’s the conversations the drums are having with the bass or the vocalist, the guitar with keyboard, the flute with the cello, the orchestra with the rock band, or even the vocalist within themselves….it’s the continued ebb and flow of conversation(s) that create the mood and ultimately the music/song we hear. It’s up to the audio engineer to understand that conversation, in whole and in part, to capture it all and create the final product…..while still retaining the heart of the music. Or is it?

What’s the difference?

Audio engineer? Sound engineer? Recording engineer? These are three of the “titles” given to the folks at the controls in the engineering booth at your local recording studio. It can get confusing to people like me, wondering if there is a difference or if you’re using the correct terminology. So…..because it’s February and I’m only missing Groundhog Day by three days, it’s down the groundhog hole of research I go. Lord knows that when you walk the walk you gotta talk the talk….and not sound like a complete idiot!

According to a site called Music Needs You, many of the skills, roles and knowledge of a “sound” engineer and an “audio” engineer overlap, the differences are subtle. “Both are involved in the production of good music” and are an “integral part of every modern multimedia experience.”

First up to bat are “audio engineers”, also known as “recording engineers”, two terms that are actually interchangeable (vs. sound/audio engineer which are not).  According to Musitechnic, “The recording/audio engineer is responsible for involving all aspects of an audio application and the quality of the recording. Recording, balancing and adjusting the sound sources, audio affects”. Career Explorer chimes in with “audio engineers work with the technical and mechanical aspects of music and sound – nothing else.”

Audio/recording engineers are the folks most closely associated with studio work….the folks frantically waving at you from behind that huge pane of soundproof glass because they somehow just lost that amazing solo you just played!

Side note: Another area of audio engineering is the design, development and build of audio technology. These people hold scientific engineering degrees in either signal processing or acoustical engineering.

Tongue in cheek(y)…..

Apparently, (according to a number of sites I visited) “sound engineers” don’t just work in music. They are also responsible for “sound design”. The following (in italics) from The Balance Careers, sound engineers “will also control and design the sound for conference and seminars, they do the set up for sound check and live mixing.” They are the people whom you typically see behind the sound board(s) at any live entertainment production.  “They have a solid knowledge of sound reinforcement systems when working at music concerts, theatre, sports games and corporate events…with their trained musical ears and knowledge of acoustics; (their role is to) generate the best sound quality for various venues. Sound engineers also work with composers to design the sound for movies, videos, games or television.”

Oh….there’s more!

Next we have the “mix engineer”. Music Gateway….”The mix engineer combines the various discrete audio elements in order to create the desired sound…whether it is the energy of a live concert, the artistic intention of an album, the atmosphere of a movie, the drama of a play or television show, this basically sums up the mixing engineer’s mission. The mix engineer is the one who will tweak and treat the tracks recorded by the recording engineer. This job also asks for a great artistic sensitivity and requires extensive technical knowledge.” I think that pretty much sums it up.

All these roles can (and are often) handled by one individual, since hiring an entire team of these professionals is for most artists more of a luxury, and usually reserved for the larger venues and tours.  It’s expensive and often requires sponsors and funders with deep pockets.

Domenic Troiano with Canadian producer Jack Richardson recording with the Guess Who in 1974

…..and let’s not forget the “music producer”. Creative leads, project managers….the music producer will oversee the recording, mixing, arranging and managing both the individuals involved in the project, but also the creation and creative direction of the of the final product. Many are also good sound engineers which enables them to provide advice and direction to the artist(s).

This is just an overall, high level view, from the top of Mt. Everest view. I’m sure many of you familiar with the entire minutia will have something to add. Right now, this is all my brain can handle. Learning the ins and outs of Studio One and understanding the basic basics is where I’m at…..but it’s a starting point.

Stuff…..

The past eleven months have not passed in vain for many of us clearing out attics, opening up boxes that haven’t seen the light of day in decades, emptying out the basements and sorting through thousands of photos with faces you’ve forgotten peering out at you. Caught up in the memories and the nostalgia, the purging process can decelerate quickly, (oxymoron?), becoming rather protracted and before you know it, it’s already February!! Well, my sister is attempting to help my mom go through an overwhelming amount of “stuff”. She’s 91 (my mom, not my sister!), a depression baby and so keeps EVERYTHING!  If that piece of ribbon is six inches or longer, well…..it’s sure to be useful for something…..sometime…..maybe. My sister is not so inclined to keep it but my mom, however, needs to check everything and well….the process slows down to a virtual standstill. So, to let me know how things are progressing, my sister sent me the following meme.

Podcast update…..

The second episode is now available. The goal is one per week, published at 6:01am every Tuesday morning. We’ll see how that goes. There have been downloads from Thailand, Italy, Britain, the U.S. and Canada…..an eclectic mix for sure. Any comments or feedback is welcome and if you enjoy them, please share away. Canada has produced, and is producing, some of the greatest musicians in the world. Celebrate it!

I won’t be posting the following links in every column. If you’re interested in what the artists have to say, chose whichever platform you prefer and then select “follow”. You’ll receive a notification every time an interview is published so you’ll never have to go hunting for it. These are fixed links specifically for Luvthemusic. It’s going to be an interesting journey!

PODBEAN

https://luvthemusic.podbean.com

TUNEIN

https://tunein.com/podcasts/Music-Podcasts/The-Pandemic-Interviews—Conversations-in-a-Chang-p1403185/

SPOTIFY

https://open.spotify.com/show/0TzFSLXGsKdecqTVMqVIOw

GOOGLE MUSIC

https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9mZWVkLnBvZGJlYW4uY29tL2x1dnRoZW11c2ljL2ZlZWQueG1s

AMAZON MUSIC (requires listener to sign in to Amazon)

https://music.amazon.ca/podcasts/adc9a2ba-b0b5-4e8b-8c76-3322c6336637/The-Pandemic-Interviews-Conversations-in-a-Changing-Time

iTunes

https://podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/the-pandemic-interviews-conversations-in-a-changing-time/id1551840191

The following video gives you a fantastic bird’s-eye view of how an incredible, ground-breaking recording is made.

The Making of 10cc’s I’m Not in Love

The News – July Talk

Use My Voice – Evanescence

A brief chat with John Lennon on the contributions of George Martin

John Lennon on George Martin (BBC)

A History of The Beatles – Walk Off the Earth

I follow bassist Leland Sklar on YouTube and today’s feature is Robbie Williams, and this particular song.  If you’re not familiar with Sklar…..he is a well-known session bassist who has performed on more than 2,000 albums over his 60 year career, a career that began playing bass with James Taylor. He’s also toured with Toto and one of my favourite drummers, Phil Collins. Sklar has some great stories to tell.

Robbie Williams – Revolution

Robbie Williams/Revolution – Leland Sklar

Domenic Troiano was a member of The Guess Who for two albums. Flavours in 1974 and Power in the Music in 1975. Both were produced by Jack Richardson, who mortgaged his home for the first Guess Who album because he believed in the band so much. You can hear Troiano’s fabulous guitar worth throughout both albums. A close collaborator with Cummings, Troiano co-wrote much of the material Cummings, including the lyrics.

Eye – The Guess Who

Dancin’ Fool – The Guess Who

Songs for Lovers – Old Armando Had a Farm – Dirty Loops w/Henrick Linder (bass) and Aron Mellergard (drums)

Singer/songwriter David Blamires “shoots from the hip” in this one. Straight and to the point!

The Goodbye Song – David Blamires

Yeah Right – Evanescence

Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay sane.

Cheers!

=PB=

Pat’s column appears every Wednesday.

Contact us at: dbawis@rogers.com

dbawis-button7“Music and photography….my heart, my passions.” After an extended absence —  33 years as a consultant and design specialist in the telecommunications industry — Pat has turned her focus back to the music scene. Immersing herself in the local club circuit, attending the many diverse music festivals, listening to some great music, photographing and writing once again, she is eager to spread the word about this great Music City of ours…..Toronto. Together for 34 years, Pat little-red-headed-dancing-girlalso worked alongside her late husband Christopher Blythe, The PictureTaker©, who, beginning in the early 70s, photographed much of the local talent (think Goddo, Frank Soda and the Imps, BB Gabor, the first Police Picnic, Buzzsaw, Hellfield, Shooter, The Segarini Band….) as well as national and international acts. Pat is currently making her way through 40 years of Chris’s archives, 20 of which are a photographic history of the local GTA music scene beginning in 1974. It continues to be a work in progress. Oh…..and she LOVES to dance! 

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