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Monday, December 7, 2009

Scenes From the Front Line...

Just an FP Quickie here. Thought I'd post a few pics of 'Sycamore' from my MacBook Pro's perspective (I'm such a geek)....

Scene #1:

Here is Logic 9's 'Arrange Window' that shows a lay of the land. ('Logic 9' is the computer software I use to do all of my recording projects.) Each horizontal section (shown in various colors) represents an individual track in the song. For example: one of the main vocal tracks, or maybe the bass track, or any of the various drum or guitar tracks, etc.. Worth noting here is that there are so many tracks in this song that my laptop's screen cannot show them all at once. I have to scroll around to see everything as needed. As such, the tracks you see in this picture comprise only of the vocals and some of the guitars. The bass and drum tracks are located farther down in my 'Arrange Window' and they essentially double the number of tracks you see here. I think 'Sycamore' is up to around 70-ish tracks so far. We'll probably hit around 100 or so by time everything else is recorded and in place. Lots going on....and lots to mix.

Scene #2:

This second scene is of Logic 9's mixer. Each track has a corresponding 'mixing channel'. 70 tracks = 70 mixing channels. Each 'mixing channel' is called a 'channel strip' and each channel strip has its own volume control/slider, a pan control (controls left-right placement of the track), a 'Record' button for arming a track for recording, a 'Mute' switch, a 'Solo' button (if you want to isolate a particular track to hear it sans any other tracks), an 'Input' button (for when you want to listen to say your guitar playing while it is being fed through Logic without actually recording anything), and a myriad of other useful settings for the esteemed mixing engineer to use at his or her discretion. One of the more important items on each 'channel strip' are the slots for 'Effects Plug-ins'....See below.

Scene #3:

This last scene is a shot of some of my favorite 'Effects Plug-ins'. Each Effects Plug-in is a unique software program that is hosted inside Logic 9. Each plug-in usually has a specific purpose in mind. Some plug-ins might be designed to distort a track in a cool way, or perhaps to add some echoes to a track, or maybe to make a track seem 'larger than life' by spreading it out more, etc.. Just like Apple always says 'There's an App for that' regarding their iPhone, there is a plug-in for just about every sort of sonic trick or effect you can imagine. I literally have hundreds of plug-ins on hand and it is always just a matter of knowing each plug-in's strengths and weaknesses and then choosing the 'right tool for the right job'. The plug-ins shown in this last picture (starting at the top left and going around clock-wise) are: 1) Stillwell Audio's 'Rocket Compressor', 2) Apple's 'Enverb' Reverb, 3) TC Electronics' 'M30 Studio Reverb', 4) Nomad Factory's 'Blue Tubes Tempo Delay', and 5) Apple's 'Ensemble' effect. I have spent more money on plug-ins than for any other sort of software. And while most people usually think of spending their extra money on new gadgets or toys, I usually think of what plug-ins I'd like to have next. Granted a plug-in only sounds as good as the person running it, but there is much to be said about getting what you pay for. In a way, plug-ins are the heart and soul of a modern studio's arsenal. Plug-ins have made life easy for many a recordist, and one can never have enough plug-ins....

So there's a quick tour of my world as I work on new recordings. Fortunately I am growing quite comfortable wearing multiple hats as a producer, engineer, guitarist, singer, songwriter, band correspondent and media guru, and whatever else needs to be done. FP is at the center of all of those facets of my creativity and I'm loving the journey along the way. And if a guy can enjoy his work, what could be better?

Still singing away....

~ Todd

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