Comparative Analysis of Stravinsky’s “The Rite Of Spring – Part 1: Adoration Of The Earth Dance Of The Young Girls”

It was much easier to define each conductor of this piece if I used a specific section. In the audio tracks, Bernsteins is about a three minute section opposed to Boulez’s minute and a half rendition and Solti’s two minute version.

Each conductor has their own style when it comes to re-working someones masterpiece and Rite of Spring is no exception.

Leonard Bernstein’s version of the piece is at the pace that I have come to love for the music. I like that the music is a little slower than most renditions of the work. Because of it’s slow pace, accents are brought out into the score more and create more tension and dynamics.  I believe it is the speed that actually helps the movement in the piece. Overall, the balance of the instruments and the dynamics of the orchestration is amazing. Also, it should be notes that out of all three versions of this song, this sounds the most polished and well recorded. One final thing that sticks out to me from this piece is the clarity of the instruments, specifically the brass. Because the brass is so clean and clear, it create more tension in the music as you continue listening.

The second recording is the same section from a conductor named Pierre Boulez.  His version of this piece was much faster. I found that this version of the piece was not as dramatic or dynamic as Bernstein’s version. This seemed very technical and in a way, it seemed to be a way for Boulez to show off how fast he could do the piece.  It’s obvious that he demanded perfection from his orchestra due to the lack of emotional content that is present in this very dense, overbearing version of the piece. Something else that was disappointing in this piece is that every instrument was intense. It was disorienting to be on the listening end of this song because it became harder and harder to enjoy due to the fact that every instrument that could make sound was blaring. Also, I couldn’t help but think of Beethoven after he had gone deaf. It seemed like the orchestra was desperately trying to keep up with the perfection and tenacity that Pier was bringing to the composition.

In Georg Solti’s rendition of the piece, compared to the other two this one falls somewhere in the middle. There are strong accents to each pulse within this movement which is great and it also has extreme dynamic range between instruments. This rendition also seemed to have a pretty flawless orchestra performing for it and was technically perfect however it was able to capture the emotional context of the music. Also, something that I really enjoyed was the additional layers in the strings section. Solti really brought out the tremolo in the strings and this added a lot of depth and clarity to this particular part of the movement.

After listening to each of these recordings and seeing which each one had to offer, I would say that my favorite version is Leonard Bernstein’s rendition. I enjoy the amount of dynamic range, the recording quality of the piece, the space of the orchestra in the recording and the overall tempo. When I first heard his version of the score it really shoot my emotions. I was unprepared for the pure raw power of the dissonant chords and the intense bass. I really enjoyed each version, but I particularly loved Bernstein’s version.

Digital Instruments In A Very Real World.

Music In Flims

When films arrived on the scene in the early 20th century one thing was established very quickly…what do we do about this loud projector noise!  The solution? Music. Putting music over movies has been a practice almost as long as movies have been around.

“Before the age of recorded sound in motion pictures, efforts were taken to provide suitable music for films, usually through the services of an in-house pianist or organist, and, in some cases, entire orchestras, typically given cue sheets as a guide.” (Wikipedia)

Orchestral scoring was once viewed as a very specific skill and potentially expensive. In the 1950’s you had Bernard Herrmann scoring Psycho with a similar feel to “The Rite Of Spring”.

In the 1970’s you had John Williams scoring Star Wars and Jaws.

The Invention of Midi

In the early 1980’s a brand new technology was created called MIDI. MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. It’s primary use was that of synthesizers, which we should all be familiar with because of the “sound” of the 80’s.

MIDI “… is a technical standard that describes a protocol, digital interface and connectors and allows a wide variety of electronic musical instruments, computers and other related devices to connect and communicate with one another. A single MIDI link can carry up to sixteen channels of information, each of which can be routed to a separate device.” (Wikipedia)

The Digital Impact

Over the last 10-12 years the digital impact of the computer world has really taken off.  I remember when I used the built-in MIDI on my original PC and it sounded awful. As time progressed, people started to use MIDI while composing for film and television. Ultimately it made it possible for a low-budget show or movie to be scored at a fraction of the cost. Most recently, this is how a lot of professionals have begun to creat mock-ups of theirs scores and even implemented digital samples into their final mix.

What is a Sampled Instrument?

“A sampled orchestra is a close imitation of a real one, or rather, the special-purpose recording and triggered playback of the sounds of individual orchestral instruments (or section of instruments). The playback of the sounds is accomplished by a new musical performance on a keyboard or with another type of midi- or non-standard digital controller. The way the samples are made ready for a composer’s use – the sound sourcing process – is fairly simple and standard:

First, high-quality recordings of individual notes played by various instruments are made, one by one across their entire musical range, capturing each note performed with different expressions and techniques, possibly using different microphone setups and even various spaces (concert hall, performance stage, studio, etc.).

Secondly, the combination of the hundreds of recorded samples are organized in a digital sample player (hardware or software) in order for the appropriate notes (samples) to be played back when striking the keys across a keyboard (or other midi controller) with various strength.” (Sampled Orchestras)

That explanation is a great introduction to what will be referenced in the rest of this post.  It’s important to note that all of these samples are recorded in various ways and depending on the pack that you purchase, and how you play it, drastically changes the outcome of the final composition.

The Unreal Orchestra (Sampled Instruments)

Hans Zimmer (an Academy Award Winner composer) has always been at the front of digital composing. He is known for mixing the real and unreal world of instruments. In his personal studio he has a massive wall of gear that will ultimately give him the sound he is looking for.

In one of his recent endeavors, he wanted to give people the opportunity to use sampled libraries to create more realistic scores when the budget doesn’t allow for a full orchestral session. The first volume of this has been recently released and you can watch a short video on their concept and the making of their samples below.

This is an all new percussion pack from Hans Zimmer’s collection.

Here is an example of an all orchestral score done with various different sample libraries, including the most recent Hans Drums.

*MIDI Composers Tip

“If I want a dramatic crescendo in the trombones,” says Cornish. “I raise the volume with MIDI, but also I use the mod wheel to crossfade to louder samples, which changes the timbre from light to aggressive — much more realistic.”(The Unreal Orchestra)

Changing Everything

Not only does this affect the big studios, not having to pay for full scored orchestras as often but this has also changed the face of the studio. Dave Porter, known for writing the music for Breaking Bad has a great studio that he made out of his two car garage. He has all the gear he needs and used real instruments combined with sampled instruments to create a seamless musical experience. Check out his studio below!

 

Conclusion

This revolution of incorporated sampled orchestras into real orchestras and even the lack of real orchestras in todays film and television world is amazing. One of the best things about it is that it allows for young composer especially to get their hands dirty and start composing for short films, student films and even commercials.

 

Finally, check out action strings.

Week 7: Classical (Orchestral) Music Recording.

When the average person thinks of Classical music, the common stereotype is someone sitting in a comfy chair in a robe with a cigar drinking a glass of scotch. Though this may be an accurate stereotype in some situations, let’s look beyond that. In the realm of Classical music there is one pure truth. Make the recording sound like the live performance.

Classical Music is still one of the purest forms of natural talent and should be treated as such.

“It is not an overdubbed, highly processed sound like some other genres. Any experienced engineer who works in any of these styles will tell you the “Classical” approach is different right at the start of the process in that musicians will always prefer to get it right in the first place: onstage, as an ensemble” (Hannigan, Weston Sound)

When you decide to attend a symphonic experience (Seattle Symphony) you have a few expectations. These expectations contain that the audience member expects perfection in the music, skilled talent and an experience that will be a great memory.

“The classical audience comes to expect perfection, as well as a quiet, calm comfortable listening environment. It is that very environment (and performance discipline) that dictates this different approach than all other music recordings.” (Hannigan, Weston Sound)

The environment is very important for Classical music, most times, the audience goes to a beautiful Hall and sits down in a crowded room and listens to the symphony for a couple of hours. Sometimes, a visual element is also present, I’ve even seen full film scores played while accompanied by the film itself.

When it comes down to recording Classical music, the goal of the engineer is to give the listener that “Live” experience. Even though the listeners say they want a “live” experience, in reality, they actually want a studio experience that sounds live. As an audience member you have a filter that lets you ignore someone sneezing or coughing or dropping something on the ground. In the world of technically dynamic microphones, there is no such luxury or filter.

“…we humans process so many things at once. A well placed, single-source stereo pair of omni-directional microphones knows no such selective/human filtering.” (Hannigan, Weston Sound)

From my research I found that the most standard way of recording an orchestra has been either with two omni-direction microphones near the sweet spot of the auditorium or a tree-pair (Three microphones) with a left, center and right microphone to capture the orchestra.

“An omni-directional stereo coincident microphone pair is still the main component of our live recordings. But when required, it’s a missed opportunity to not expand the process further with spot mics, sectional, sub-group (and choral) mics, and even ambient mics out in the house – often dedicated to the rear, or ‘surround” component of 5.1 mixes, or just for natural reverberation and applause mics. Modern electronics, preamps and balanced cables with lower noise floors, with unlimited additional “virtual” digital tracks in the recording process all add up to more flexibility, and zero sonic tradeoffs.” (Hannigan, Weston Sound)

Overall, the quality of recording Classical music is somewhat demanding because of the expectation of the quality of technology. Listeners are wanting an immersive experience when they listen to music and engineers have the ability to accomplish that goal.

Week 6 – Album Review: The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady by Charles Mingus

Live listening notes:

2 trumpet
1 trombone and tuba
3 Reeds
1 Soprano, Baritone Sax and Flute
2 Tenor Sax, Flute
3 Alto sax
Rhythm section
Piano, classical guitar, bass and drums
Recorded in 1963
The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady
Album first listen
The brass on the hard right is scratchy and bulk.
The stereo field is wide
The constant build creates  tension
The left stereo field has way more movement than the right side at first
There are a lot of slow, methodical phrases
“Back to the drum opening – 12:8, 6:8, 9:8, 3:4 –  whatever musical stenographers may care to title what the composer heard in his head, is part of a very old idea that someday all good music will return from its assorted labels which inhibit it with fashions, styles, and certain celebrated rhythms of pounding exactness that lead this composer to believe that either the musician or the audience playing or liking such repeated debuts of so-called musical inventions must be nuts to need drums, bass, guitar, and piano to pound out the already too obvious time night after night ’til actually if sanity can’t be sustained one begins to like it without twisting or even dancing, popping fingers, or at least working out one’s frenzy in ye old brass bed mama.” (Liner Notes)
The ending of this paragraph is a very true representation of how the music affects the listener. I enjoy that the author stats that one begins to like it without twisting or dancing. It’s such a great statement and straight forward thought.
The music is spread out well through the field.
There is very specific seperation between various frequencies.
“Time, perfect or syncopated time, is when a faucet dribbles from a leaky washer.”(Liner Notes)
This is a great way to look at the elements of this song, the various inflections and uses of time and syncopated rhythms impact the entirety of the composition.
Track 2
Piano heavy still pretty heavy in the left stereo field
The echo and call is great
Lots of sax on the left and brass on the right.
Sounds like footsteps
The muted instruments provide the character
Walking
The drums and the muted trumpet. Sounds like a voice talking
The bass line grooves well the whole time
Track 3
Opens with piano very classical with runs and chords
Shock of an entrance
The flute mimics the piano melody line
The tempo changes are fascinating
This melody is my favorite
Utilizing the stereo field
Classical spanish guitar comes in
Clean, clear runs off the original melody line
Mess of sound but somehow consistent
Started loosing attention due to trance
The amount of theme repetition is great.
Bass line going so fast sounds like heavy metal
Track 4
Bursts of instruments
Bass solo clean clear
Never settles
Classical guitar changes with them
The mix hasn’t really changed
Lots of movement, the drums are rolling off the toms
The return to the melody after it’s trip to crazy town was extreme
The copying instruments
The heaviness of the drums coming out of the break were very heavy and pounding.
The muted instruments talk to each other
I love the gaining speed moments into the slow release
The ending with the sax now in the right
Great Quotes in the liner notes:
“music will make another turn in this century so that people will know how serious spontaneous composition “improvisation” really is and not just how loud and long it swings or how we swing and sway.'”(Liner Notes)
This is such a great statement, from the beginning Mingus wanted to challenge the average music listener with his sound. In the end, I believe he did.
“The three reeds, baritone – Jerome Richardson, tenor – Richard Hafer, and alto – Charles Mariano, were placed in what I called a V balance with the tenor sax at the V’s bottom and the baritone and alto closer to the mike. My reason was that I wanted the tenor sax further from the mike, softer of course, if one is inclined to believe that presence need be obvious. The notes written for tenor were considered in the voiced reed section’s overall effect as an illusion of sound-overtones coming through between the baritone and alto that are non-directional so as to give the sound of more than two obvious saxes playing but with possibility of being perhaps four or five.”(Liner Notes)
This is such an interesting way of recording these instruments. The fact that Mingus used overtones in the music in order to make the band seem bigger and more dynamic is incredible.
“Don Butterfield opens on contrabass trombone with pedal point blast. The contrabass trombone to my knowledge is as rare to find as is a player such as Don. He has refused to play the instrument when requested by rock and roll promoters as a gimmick of odd sound that might start a fad and promote the sales of a million or so records. Don, aside from pedal point notes of both contrabass trombone and tuba, is written in counter lead and center tones on tuba to spread my voicings and help form the illusion of spreaded brass or full ensemble. Don plays two tubas at once with one mouthpiece. Yet it’s difficult to catch him doing this. It’s easy when he takes off a night though to realize that last night there were two tubas and tonight there is just one.”(Liner Notes)
The pedal blast is to what I was referring to earlier in this post. It reminded me of the first iterations of Hans Zimmer’s score of Inception. Also, the fact that he was able to play two instruments to help form the illusion of spreader breads is such a great concept and really adds to the composition as a whole.
“…heard it in my mind’s ear. Also for helping to show that modern music is not owned by adolescents who can’t or won’t play plunger or bend a brass instrument to sound other than what it sounded like in parade bands.”(Liner Notes)
What a great statement from an artistic genius. He was always wanting more for music, he reminds me of a love stricken husband who is frustrated that his wife (music) is not living up to her potential.
 “Classical guitar was originally heard and written as in this composition but played by piano at the Vanguard. I wrote the guitar solo; Bob Hammer wrote the one bar modulation going into and the two bars leading out of the guitar solo on the B side from a Spanish piece I’d written some time before.”(Liner Notes)
This was probably one of my most favorite moments in the entirety of the piece. I love when the guitar comes in, for me, it grounds the composition and gives you a different flare in a moment that desperately needs it.
“This music is only one little wave of styles and waves of little ideas my mind has encompassed through living in a society that calls itself sane, as long as you’re not behind iron bars where there at least one can’t be half as crazy as in most of the ventures our leaders take upon themselves to do and think for us, even to the day we should be blown up to preserve their idea of how life should be.”(Liner Notes)
It is important to point out that these are the thoughts of a genius. He was not finished with music, he heard more music in his mind than people needing water. He constantly wanted to continue to press on and make more music and transforming that music onto records.
“He seems to state that the black man is not alone but all mankind must unite in revolution against any society that restricts freedom and human rights.”(Liner Notes)
In the review of the piece, this quote defines the entirety of the record quickly and perfectly. Mr. Mingus was a tortured man and music was the only thing that made sense.
“In all three tracks of Side I there are recurrent themes of loneliness, separateness and tearful depression. One feels deeply for the tears of Mr. Mingus that fall for himself and man. There can be no question that he is the Black Saint who suffers for his sins and those of mankind as he reflects his deeply religious philosophy. His music tells of his deep yearning for love, peace and freedom. A new note has crept into his music. Where once there was a great anger now one can hear hope. As with much of his past music, Mr. Mingus cries of misunderstanding of self and people. Throughout he presents a brooding, moaning intensity about prejudice, hate and persecution.”(Liner Notes)
Music has such an intriguing way of getting the composers feelings out onto a pice of paper or through the fingertips. The loneliness that is present in this record is not hard to find and is demonstrated obviously and beautifully through the record.
“The deep mourning and tears of loneliness are echoed and re-echoed by the instruments in Mr. Mingus’ attempt to express his feelings about separation from and among the discordant people of the world.”(Liner Notes)
Overall, this record presents some incredible musical ideas and is simply too good to pass up. If you have any interest in Jazz, this is a must listen.

Week 5 – 78 RPM

The History of the 78

The 78 record was made around 1898 and continued into the late 1950s and playing at a speed around 78 revolutions per minute. The most common material that these records were made of is called shellac. This is a brittle material which uses a shellac resin.(Yale, 2014)

 

78s have various sizes, however, the most common sizes are a 10inch and a 12 inch diameter. The 10 inch records could hold about three minutes of recordings. The 12 inch record could hold about four to five minutes of recording time.

“Earliest speeds of rotation varied widely, but by 1910 most records were recorded at about 78 to 80 rpm. In 1925, 78.26 rpm was chosen as a standard for motorized phonographs, because it was suitable for most existing records, and was easily achieved using a standard 3600-rpm motor and 46-tooth gear (78.26 = 3600/46). Thus these records became known as 78s (or “seventy-eights”).”(Yale, 2014)

INTERESTING FACT

Due to the events of World War II, Shellac was in demand, therefore companies started pressing 78s to vinyl pressings.

 

Before the 1930’s, 78s were recorded by having the talent sing or talk into a big horn, their own voice was the power  that directly vibrated the recording stylus. Once this was vibrating, the stylus would cut the wax of the master record. These discs are known by audiophiles as “acoustic” recordings.


 

78 recordings are fascinating. It’s really the first step to all of the other steps that needed to happen in order to make the possibility of portable music. This was one of the first (if not the first) ways in order to record sound directly on to a recording medium.

This is a phenomenal short film from 1946 about 78s. It’s certainly worth the watch.

Sources:

“The history of 78 RPM recordings.” The history of 78 RPM recordings. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Aug. 2014. <http://www.library.yale.edu/cataloging/music/historyof78rpms.htm&gt;.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week 4 – “Bad” Jazz

First, It should be stated that when I say “Bad” jazz, I’m simply referring to the sound quality of the recording.

Things I’m listening for:

Are the instruments clear?

Is there any signs of clipping?

What is the instrument orientation like in the environment?

Does it sound good?

These are a few questions that I’m asking in order to locate “Bad” jazz.

On my quest to find some “Bad” jazz, I was led to the live recording of the Miles Davis Quintet, they were recorded live in 1969 in Europe. I choose this recording because I found the recording to be harsh and amateur. For example, during the drum solo, I found my self wanting it to be louder, clearer or even cleaner. Once the drum solos are over and the rest of the instrumentation comes in, you can hear faint echoes of a crowd that is there. The crowd was not incorporated into the recording very well, they sound very distant and disinterested.

The saxophone in this recording seems to hit the threshold of pain while listening to this recording. It’s full of clipped notes and unbalanced noise. Half way through the recording I didn’t even notice that there was a piano in the mix! The stand up bass is in the background and sticks out, however it is easily covered up by the unbalanced mixing when the trumpet comes in.

The trumpet (even though the featured instrument at times) seems tremendously overwhealming.

One of the main reasons that I think this recording lacks a good quality is because it’s not only live, but it’s recorded in Mono. This automatically limits the engineer in not being able to create a space in which the listener can relate to in reference to where the instruments are.  Compare this recording to a Rudy Vangelder live recording and you would be astonished!

Mono mix vs. Stereo mix Comparison of “Little Deuce Coup” (1963) by The Beach Boys

The beach boys have been apart of American culture since the early 60’s. It was their close knit harmonies and fun attitude that brought them instant popularity among the youth culture in America.

An interesting thing about the 50’s and 60’s is that music was undergoing a transition in how it was mixed. Most artist from the beginning of recorded sound until the 50’s and 60’s were recorded and mixed in monophonic traditions.  When the stereo mix came out, engineers didn’t know what to do with it. In fact, a lot of time the Mono mixes had the bands approval and the stereo mixes were something that the studio produced so they could sell it.

Below are two Youtube clips featuring the song “Little Deuce Coupe” from the 1963 capital records Lp. There are two versions of this song in which I will be comparing, a monophonic version versus a stereophonic version and the difference between them. Take a minute to listen to both versions.

MONO:

STEREO

Mono: The mono mix of this song seems to be overall well balanced and simple. The vocals are clear and the harmonies add a nice addition (which was their signature sound). The drums are apparent but not overwhelming and the guitar is crisp and add color to the fun culture of the song.

Stereo: From the opening of the song it’s apparent that the voices are now in stereo. The vocals stand out in an extreme way from the rest of the music. It’s almost as if Capital decided to just put the voices in a stereo mix and leave the rest in Mono. The music seems to be at the same level as the monophonic mix and doesn’t seem enhanced in any way. In the vocals specifically you can hear the inconsistencies in the recordings. The pops and slobber from the singers is also present which I found to be very distracting. One last comment, the lead vocal seems to be time delayed in each side to give a greater stereo effect.

After examine each track, it’s easy to see why a lot of people enjoy the original mono mixes over the remastered stereo releases. A lot of this music was actually meant to be heard in mono, so let’s keep it that way. However, as a Beach Boys fan I think I would love to listen to both side by side and do a comparison of the entirely of the record. Luckily, I’m fortunate enough to own the mono vinyl pressing and can’t wait to go and listen to it once again.

“Deathbed” by Relient K: An Epic That Was Ignored.

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In 1998 a four piece band (now five piece) out of Canton, Ohio emerged. Their name, Relient K. The name came from an old Reliant K automobile that one of the band members owned at the time. However, due to trademark issues, the band couldn’t maintain the same spelling, thus the reason for their “misspelled” name.

It’s often rare that a band will stick together for more than 15 years and continue to grow and get better at their craft. Relient K went from starting in a garage/studio at one of the bandmates dads house, to selling out massive venues and playing with the likes of Paramore, Fun, Mae & Switchfoot.

In March of 2007, the band released their fifth studio album entitled “Five Score and Seven Years Ago”. This was the first full length album they created with Capital Records after they had completed their contract with Christian label Gotee Records. This album is a fully produced (maybe a little over produced) mainstream record with tons of great riffs, lyrics and creativity.

Throughout the entire discography this band has recorded from 1998-2013, there has never been a song like “Deathbed”.  I won’t go far enough to say that it matches the epicness or raw creativity of something like Queen’s anthem “Bohemian Rhapsody”, however I will say that from a story standpoint and production standpoint, this song can compete.

Let’s get into it. Below is the song which you can listen too while continuing to read the post. It’s a 14 minute event so make sure you have some time to listen to the entirety of it. (NOTE: Lyrics are at the bottom of this post)

Analysis:

As the song begins we hear a person walk into the studio and sit down at the piano. This creates a certain expectation about the experience that we are about to have. A slow, soft piano quickly crescendos into the atmosphere while retaining a pianessemo level and quality. The piano is warm and calming as well. The first lyrics spoken establish that the song will be from the characters perspective. The first few lyrics are dark and cold, the character is reflecting on his own mortality. As the piano drives the moment, the reality of the audience’s darkest fear is revealed, this character is going to die alone. The opening lines of this song are actually the chorus that finds itself in the midst of the story, as this first chorus concludes, the next movement begins.

As if to catch the listener off guard, the music turns bright and happy instantaneously. It’s at this point where our story actually begins. The character gives us context of what year the story is starting which gives us a reference to how old the character is. This section has heavy pop piano with string swells and punchy drums. This is symbolic of the beginning of a story which has hope and promise.

Once out of that section, a flute begins to combat with the punchy drums and the lyrics demonstrate loss, and so does the fullness of the arrangement. Harmonies shape the melodic contour and become a soothing voice to the character.

At the next age jump in the lyrics “By forty seven I was fourteen”, The vocal and strings come together to convey the start of where the characters journey started to get affected by his own selfishness. It’s in this moment that we learn the character was a chain smoker and alcoholic.  Once this is established, the music breaks down to only vocals, piano, organ and bells. I think the bells symbolize the passing of time (in this case Christmas) and how the character feels that time is too short and his time has been wasted.  The music here is focused and contains heart.

As we move into the next section, we return to the chorus with an ever building brassy section that is constantly crescendoing without ever getting to the full fortissimo. At this point, the chorus is pulsing, as if the listener is feeling the last heart beats of the character.

Once we exit the chorus, a new chapter in the characters life has started and with that, a new musical idea. An instrument that sounds like a Harpsichord is introduced into a whirling motif that gives the audience the idea of a whirlwind, which is appropriate considering the character (at 21) has impregnated his girlfriend and must marry her. This is show through the lyric “It’s easier to be sure you love someone when her father inquires with the barrel of a gun”.

The next shift of music occurs when the songwriter brilliantly uses the word harmonious while an a cappella arrangement takes center stage in the music. The piano comes back in the back ground as the character becomes more frustrated with his life. The music returns to an edgy punch which reflects the characters emotions of anger, fear and regret.

As we return to another verse of his story, another instrument is introduced. This instrument (has a bright timbre and pierces through the music) is highlighted as if the instruments in the song are evolving at the same rate as our character.  We are then given an insight that the character is now a divorced and alone alcoholic. This lyric leads us into the chorus.

At this point, the chorus is mostly consumed with string instruments and piano and vocal. There are accents throughout this section, reflecting the characters frustration with his own life. As the chorus builds, various instruments that we heard before are now coming together. Flutes, voices, piano and strings and even some brass are now entering into the final plea from the character.

Suddenly, everything is taken away and we return to piano and vocal. The character begins to reveal his real fears about dying in relation to Jesus. The music seems to grow warm with emphasis on it’s hymn-like quality. As the piano glissandos and the strings provide a bass for the environment, the character is now encountered by Jesus.  As soon as Jesus enters the scene, acoustic guitar enters into the music, created a soft, touching moment. Jesus takes our character back to the moment in which he claimed redemption.

The music is only piano and voice at this point, it’s warm, gentle and inviting. A drum kit appears in the music to add extra emphasis on this moment. Once the beat is established, strings well up and symbolize the joy of the character as he realizes that he is not alone.

For the final chorus, the music is simple as a piano and toy xylophone are played. This is a moment of the characters last breaths of life. The character then begins to talk in past tense for his departure is beginning.

In this emotion section, the music begins to build and swell. Cello is highlighted for a brief moment and the music gets bigger by the addition of drums. As the characters journey to heaven is happening, the music feels inspirational, full and bright. The introduction of horns and brass are present. The sound become rounded and happy. The character is finally discovering love for the first time, and being loved for the first time.

Once the character reaches heaven (musically), we are pointed back to the person of Jesus. Jesus (Jon Foreman from Switchfoot) gently sings:

“I am the Way Follow Me
And take My hand
And I am the Truth
Embrace Me and you’ll understand…”

As the song comes to an end, piano voice and strings gently lead you out as the story comes to an end and the listener has just completed a long and emotional journey.

This song is breathtaking and there is no way to hear everything in one listen. It’s worth breaking down and hearing it in it’s full quality.

Here are the lyrics if you want to read along while listening.

“Deathbed”

I can smell the death on the sheets
Covering me
I can’t believe this is the endBut this is my deathbed
I lie here alone
If I close my eyes tonight
I know I’ll be homeThe year was nineteen forty one
I was eight years old and
Far far too young
To know that the stories
Of battles and glory
Was a tale a kind mother
Made up for her son
You see
Dad was a traveling preacher
Teaching the words of the Teacher
But mother had sworn
Went off to the war
And died there with honor
Somewhere on a beach there
But he left once to never return
Which taught me that I should unlearn
Whatever I thought a father should be
I abandoned that thought
Like he abandoned meBy forty seven I was fourteen
I’d acquired a taste for liquor and nicotine
I smoked until I threw up
Yet I still lit ’em up for thirty more years
Like a machine

So right there you have it
That one filthy habit
Is what got me where I am today

I can smell the death on the sheets
Covering me
I can’t believe this is the end
I can hear those sad memories
Still haunting me
So many things
I’d do again

But this is my deathbed
I lie here alone
If I close my eyes tonight
I know I’ll be home

I got married on my twenty first
Eight months before my wife would give birth
It’s easier to be sure you love someone
When her father inquires with the barrel of a gun
The union was far from harmonious
No two people could have been more alone than us
The years would go by and she’d love someone else
And I realized I hadn’t been loved yet myself

From there it’s your typical spiel
Yeah if life was a highway
I was drunk at the wheel
I was helping the loose ends
All fall apart
Yeah I swear I was destined to fail
And fail from the start

I bowled about six times a week

The bottle of Beam kept the memories from me
Our marriage had taken a seven-ten split
Along with my pride the ex-wife took the kids

I can smell the death on the sheets
Covering me
I can’t believe this is the end
I can hear those sad memories
Still haunting me
So many things
I’d do again

But this is my deathbed
I lie here alone
If I close my eyes tonight
I know I’ll be home

I was so scared of Jesus
But He sought me out
Like the cancer in my lungs
It’s killing me now
And I’ve given up hope
On the days I have left
But I cling to the hope
Of my life in the next
Then Jesus showed up
Said “Before we go”
“I thought that we might reminisce”
“See one night in your life”
“When you turned out the light”
“You asked for and prayed for my forgiveness”

You cried wolf
The tears they soaked your fur
The blood dripped from your fangs
You said, “What have I done?”
You loved that lamb
With every sinful bone
And there you wept alone
Your heart was so contrite

You said, “Jesus, please forgive me of my crimes
Sanctify this withered heart of mine
Stay with me until my life is through
And on that day please take me home with you”

I can smell the death on the sheets
Covering me
I can’t believe this is the end
I can hear You whisper to me,
“It’s time to leave
You’ll never be lonely again”

But this was my deathbed
I died there alone
When I closed my eyes tonight
You carried me home

[Jon Foreman of Switchfoot sings, as the voice of Jesus:]
I am the Way
Follow Me
And take My hand
And I am the Truth
Embrace Me and you’ll understand
And I am the Life
And for Me you’ll live again
For I am Love
I am Love
I, I am Love

iPhone: How It Changed The Face Of Recording Music.

In 2007, the music industry was changed forever, even if the music industry didn’t noticably recognize it. It was late June when tech company Apple and it’s late CEO Steve Jobs introduced the world to “an iPod, A phone and a breakthrough internet communications device”.

This device within a few weeks became one of the top selling smartphones in the world. It was one of the first times in history that a device this small and smart was creating billions of possibilities, not only with businesses and tech, but with music.

 

Initially, the iPhone was used as an iPod, a web browser and a phone. It wasn’t until the updated version of the iPhone (iPhone 3G) became available that recording on the iPhone was possible. It all started with the voice memo app that Apple implemented into it’s future phones. The app is still on the current iPhones and many people and professionals that use this app specifically for quick song ideas or demos.

Initially, the music world hadn’t been affected by this little portable studio device because the necessary element hadn’t yet been implemented into the phone. What was that missing element? It’s known now as The App Store.

The App Store opened a year after the iPhone had been announced in early July, 2008. This is the force that was able to propel the iPhone and it’s incredible potential into the music industry and the prosumer industry of creating music.

Once developers recognized the potential of the iPhones capabilities to be a small, portable studio, thousands of apps started appearing on The App Store promoting endless possibilities of recording music at a very low cost.

At first, most of the music recording apps were very minimal, for example, Yamaha made an app that would record at 44.1kHz at 30 minute intervals using the onboard microphone in the phone.

As the apps became more advanced, more options were available. An App named “Fourtrack” became a very popular way of recording music onto iPhone platforms.

Once these apps took over on the iPhone interface, hardware developers started creating hardware to attach to the iPhone to encourage better quality recordings. These hardware elements enabled consumers to attach MIDI devices, TS and even XLR connections directly to the phone. Below I have included a few of the most popular hardware add-ons featuring the products of iRig.

iRig MIDI

iRig XLR

iRig TS

 

Currently, all of this technology (iPhone, Apps, Hardware) are easily available at a very low cost while retaining quality of 16bit, 44.1kHz (CD quality) audio. The downside however is that for every -6dB you loose a bit of resolution, so in theory, the quality isn’t actually up to cd quality with only using the phones technology.

In 2011, an Alabama based band called “One Like Son” decided to record their entire 11 track album only using iPhone technology, apps and hardware. They released their iPhone created album “Start The Show” on January 17, 2012. Initially, I was weary of the quality of sound or the depth of the record, however, to my astonishment, the record is a success. Reocrding on an iPhone in theory sounds easy enough however the band ran into tons of issues when putting everything together. The band is quoted as saying

“…recording tracks using only applications was much more difficult than we anticipated.” (Mashable)

Obviously, taking on a challenge as difficult as recording an entire album using an iPhone sounds overwhelming, however, they accomplished it, and elevated the quality expectation for mobile recordings.

Here is a teaser for their record and below that is a making of video for their title song “Start The Show”.

There have been numerous bands and artists that have used the iPhone to create music and Mashable highlighted a couple of the bands and the key apps that “One Like Son” used for their record in their article about recording.

“The band primarily used iPhone applications such as FourTrackMultiTrack DAWAmpKit and ThumbJamGuitarJack allowed the band members to record their music by plugging in real instruments and microphones to an iPhone.

While on the road in the U.S., The Gorillaz also spent time recording an album on the iPad as sort of a music diary. The 88 also recorded popular hit “Love is the Thing” on the iPhone using FourTrack.” (Mashable)

 

Conclusion

The iPhone completely changed the course of phones, internet, video and music. This invention created the ability for people to create no matter where they are and who they are. It’s a double edge sword though, there are some really talented musicians that now have a medium to get their talent out in front of people, however, on the other side, there are some awful musicians who can now produce their music and send it out into the digital world…which has cluttered the music scene.

This is a very exciting time to be a musician and songwriter, so many things are possible and the technology is so advanced now that we have the ability to have an entire recording studio in our pocket, and here’s the kicker…it’s good quality.

Sources:

Pan, Joann. “Band Records Entire Album On IPhone.” Mashable. N.p., 17 Jan. 2012. Web. 19 July 2014. <http://mashable.com/2012/01/17/first-iphone-recorded-album/>.

http://onelikeson.bandcamp.com/album/start-the-show