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Most of the music I record is Pop, RnB, and Hip Hop. I’ve been the recordist for Akon for over a year now. I’ve recorded Dizzee Rascal, SisQo’, Becky G, Ozuna, and countless other incredible vocalists. I say all that to say this: I record a lot of vocals in genres which are heavily vocal-centric.

Recording vocals is an interesting process. There’s a technical side and an artistic side to it. There’s an ideal way to do it, and a practical way to do it. Ultimately as an engineer or producer, it’s our job to facilitate the artist’s performance, so we’re always catering to that.

Let’s start with … Continue reading

I really enjoy experimenting with creating textured guitar tones. Most recently, I added a little texture for Elizabeth and the Catapult’s new record on a song called Magic Chaser.

Elizabeth was looking to add some sustained ambient guitar tones in the second verse of the song. It really didn’t need much. But, with minimalism comes refinement.

I thought I’d share some of my go-to setups for creating guitar textures. A lot of these tips are somewhat gear-specific. It’s certainly possible that similar results can be achieved with other products. But, I can’t guarantee.
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There are so many miscellaneous items you need in a recording studio. Many of them are pretty small and get easily tangled.

I find that clutter really screws with my head on a session. For instance, I use a lot of guitar pedals. Not at the same time, but different pedals for different sounds.

A lot of pedals come with specific power supplies. Nothing inspires screaming at the top of your lungs like trying to separate a bunch of tangled power supply cables.
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There are many things you can absorb from listening to a reference track: rhythm, form and dynamics just to name a few.

Lately I’ve been getting into the habit of writing out what I call the tone palette of a song. It’s simply writing down how many instruments and what they are in any given production.

A painter doesn’t usually paint with every single color. They make specific decisions. Production is no different — you have to consider that the instruments aren’t always individualized. They congeal together. This is the goal in a great recording: when everything becomes one.
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The word “wizard” tends to conjure images of old, bearded Gandalf types casting spells in Middle Earth or some other fantasy land. The Wizard we’re about to introduce you to, though, is the beautiful daughter of Beres Hammond, and, as far as we know, Jamaica’s only working female music producer. Just a few years removed from her first production credit, for the title track on her father’s A Moment in Time album, she’s already got a sound of her own (think Timbaland meets dancehall) and a growing resume that includes the entirety of Mr. Lexx’s upcoming Lexxicon album, and her cousin Courtney John’s latest effort, The Courtney John Experiment. She’s also produced remixes for Nelly Furtado. Our Martei Korley visited The Wizard at her sonic lair—her father’s Harmony House Studio—for her first ever photo shoot, after which I spoke with her about her unusual name, her unique position in the Jamaican music world, and life with Beres.
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By Ian Vargo

Vocoders can now be heard pretty often in popular music. Dating back at least 40 years, they have been used by influential electronic artists such as Kraftwerk, legendary songwriter and drummer Phil Collins, and more recently by forward-thinking pop performer Imogen Heap. Although the vocoder effect eventually found its way into our music production toolbox, it was originally intended for a much different purpose.
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By Eric Tarr

Audio engineers play an important role in three parts of the process for creating music. These parts are recording, mixing, and mastering.

Sometimes three different engineers, who specialize in each, complete these parts separately. Sometimes the lines are blurred between the three distinct phases.

Regardless, it helps the mastering phase to have a great mix. Similarly, it helps the mixing phase to have a great recording. Therefore, it can be helpful to keep the big picture in mind.
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