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Taking it Apart: the Voice

Jared Taylor —  January 22, 2013 — 4 Comments
Part 8 of 8 in the series Taking It Apart

Nathan_Scott

If our job is to lead people in singing, then the voice is the most important source in the mix. We’ll suffer through mediocre floor tom tuning or a few missed beats in a clarinet solo, but if the vocals don’t sound right it’s game over.

Our ears and our brains are engineered for understanding spoken words, particularly consonants which are spoken at half the volume of vowels. In the consonant range we’re able to detect sounds 100 times quieter than other sounds and our sensitivity to pitch is 10 times more precise. This is why we have a strong negative reaction to a flat vocal but can barely tell if a bass guitar has been tuned in the last year.

We also know how voices should sound because we listen to them for 12 hours a day! Most of your friends can’t tell if the acoustic guitar was a little too bright but they absolutely know if they can’t understand the words. And they’re right! In this instance, as a sound person, you really are mixing in a room full of experts! And, because you need to be a chief expert among experts, I’m going to share with you some of what I’ve learned about the voice. Continue Reading…

Taking it Apart: Piano

Jared Taylor —  January 14, 2013 — 2 Comments
Part 7 of 8 in the series Taking It Apart

Piano-Kid

The piano is a big instrument! In terms of frequency range, its 88 keys start lower than a 5-string bass and top out nearly two octaves higher than the highest note on an electric guitar! It truly is an instrument built to fill a room!

A pianist often plays more than one part and is responsible for balancing them so, in some ways, a pianist has to mix their own instrument. This approach works splendidly when the piano is unaccompanied, but doesn’t always hit the mark in a rock band. There, the piano’s wide range can get in the way of other instruments. A pianist skilled at playing in a group navigates this by playing in specific frequency ranges, finding the right spot for the piano to shine amidst the other instruments. Continue Reading…

Part 4 of 8 in the series Taking It Apart

Bass

The bass guitar is glue that holds the band together.

I have no idea what this analogy means. I’ve heard it said about bass – and almost everything else on stage – and I cringe every time I hear it! But, I shouldn’t complain without an alternative, so I’ll offer my own view of how the bass functions in pop/rock music: Continue Reading…