Music Production and the role of the producer

Lullabies for Cynics, now to be a full album

During the last 18 months I have been in the recording studio to record a wealth of material for The Small Change Diaries. Our debut album “Adam Blames Eve” had 13 tracks, five of which have already been played on BBC Introducing! We just completed the first three tracks for what will be the second album “Lullabies for Cynics” which will be released in 2016. The music production is key to creating the best possible end result for the album.

the small change diariesThere are a number of very definite stages in creating an album and for me it is a fascinating process. Firstly of course you have to write and rehearse the material. The more practice the better and there is a massive psychological relief in finally recording a song that has been “hovering overhead” for a period of time! It’s a similar feeling to signing off on an article, but a hundred times more satisfying! The second stage is recording in the actual studio. When recording with The Small Change Diaries we record the bass and percussion first before adding other instruments and then finally recording vocals. Once we have all these separate tracks we can look at the quality of each individual track before starting the “music production”

“Produce the music” – The role of the producer

Music production is literally what it suggests: “producing the music” Part of this is of course the mixing, but mixing is the final stage. Before then there are a wealth of different considerations, all of which shape the final sound. I have always made a point of sitting in on all the sound engineering for The Small Change Diaries tracks and it’s obvious to me that a great producer is essential to produce the music. A fellow musician once somewhat naively suggested that we could record and produce the album ourselves by just buying a few high end mics. I responded that I could also build my own house if I had the inclination and enough time, but this ignores the whole skill level needed in such situations, so the suggestion is supremely daft, although well meant…

Giving direction

music productionA great music producer will also give direction to the musicians like a movie director. The producer knows exactly what’s needed to get the best take and to get the best performances from the band. Such individuals have excellent technical knowledge as well as the ability to connect with the musicians. Being in the recording studio can sometimes be a stressful experience, so it’s essential that the recording artists are able to relax enough to really deliver their very best. Pacing during the whole recording process is essential and a great producer always knows how to use time to best effect and how to keep the band on track so when it’s time for the production aspect of the process he or she have everything they need in place.

UAD Plugins for getting the best sounds in music production

One of the game changers in music production is the introduction of the UAD plugins. These allow any music producer to use classic recording techniques. This is from the UAD site and explains how since 1999 UAD have create software that emulates the classic analogue tools used in many great recordings!

“Universal Audio was founded in 1958 by M.T. “Bill” Putnam Sr., the Universal Audio name and company have been synonymous with innovative recording products for more than 50 years. A favorite engineer of Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Ray Charles and more, the late Bill Putnam Sr. was a passionate innovator who is widely regarded as the father of modern recording  — with many of his legendary studio and equipment designs still in use today.

Specifically, Putnam was the inventor of the modern recording console, the multi-band audio equalizer, and the vocal booth, and he was the first engineer to use artificial reverberation in commercial recording. Alongside his friend Les Paul, Putnam was also involved in the early development of stereophonic recording.

Universal Audio Inc. was re-founded in 1999 by Bill’s sons, James Putnam and Bill Putnam Jr., with two main goals: to faithfully reproduce classic analog recording equipment in the tradition of their father; and to design new digital recording tools in with the sound and spirit of vintage analog technology.”

Crucially this technology is now affordable, BUT if you want to get the best from such technologies, you need somebody who knows these inside out! Music production also takes time and often musicians don’t have the funding and/or patience to go down this route in the short term. My advice is whenever possible to save up or crowdfund to make this happen. A great music producer makes the difference between creating a good record and a great record! We are lucky to have the ongoing support of Carl Rosamond who has been in the business for many decades and is essentially our “North Star” when it comes to recording our material.

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