New Monday

New Monday is our audio and production weekly newsletter that we send out every Monday. It's full of ideas and inspiration and things to listen to.

Steve Albini

 New Monday #13

May 13, 2024

Happy Monday!

Steve Albini died last week at 61. He was a superb audio engineer and by most accounts, a lovely person.

He was outspoken and had no time for stupidity or unscrupulous behavior. Needless to say, he had a negative opinion of the music industry.

He loved music, loved musicians, loved rock, and loved doing his work, which was engineering. Although he is called a producer by some, he thought “producer” was a dirty word and an exploitative job. He was an engineer, damnit.

He was a huge influence on recording, especially in the 90s.

Here’s a compilation I made of some of the more interesting and useful videos and articles covering various aspects of this complex man. Lot’s of How To stuff, but also some of it is pretty funny.

Start Here

If you’re unfamiliar with Steve Albini, start here, with this video of him with Anthony Bourdain!

Albini was smart and a nerd about everything - he’s even nerdy about the sandwich.

Engineering

Must read article on engineering - Great article - he covers literally everything he does in the studio. You’ll learn a ton from this.

Video: Steve on the Job and Equipment - More good info and ideas.

Mr Albini always had a very well thought-out approach to everything he did, and of course especially to recording. I’ve selected a few clips for you all that illustrate his thinking, and also are useful for you developing your thinking.

Techniques

On tuning drums

Phase when mic’ing drum sets - he’s talking a lot about absolute phase here.

Mic’ing Snare Drums

How to Clean a Console and Outboard - this is REALLY useful

How to Mic a Speaker Cabinet - man, he goes into depth and is an excellent teacher.

Gear

Mr Albini had an interesting taste in equipment. Here are some links to some of the stuff you see in these videos or that get mentioned in articles.

Neotek was a Chicago-based maker of recording consoles. They went out of business, were taken over by a company called Sytek (which was actually formed by former Neotek employees). Sytek too is now out of business.

Neotek Elite II Consoles

Sytek MPX-4 preamps are spectacular. Incredibly clean with super fast response. They pop up on eBay and Reverb from time to time. Performance up there with an API.

Those strange looking black speakers on the bridge of the console I know quite well: B&W 805v’s. Wonderful speakers with a very sophisticated internal design. The 800 Series of speakers had a sort of honeycomb internal bracing system that resulted in an almost non-resonant cabinet.

The Really Nice Compressor - awesome and cheap.

On Business and Relationship

Advice for bands

The Adventures of Steve Albini

Above all, we lost a good human being who lived life well. Rest in Peace, Mr. Albini.

Steve Albini does his George Martin (the Beatles Producer) impression.

Albini and friends on Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend
They prank Gene Simmons... this is really funny!

Steve on speaking Italian

Steve interviewed by a cat

Steve gets philosophical?

Take care of yourselves.

Warm regards,
The guys at Korneff

Good Karma, old and new

 New Monday #12

May 6, 2024

Happy Monday!

We hope you’re on the receiving end of some good karma. We at Korneff are, and we hope it spreads to you all.

KARMA POLICE

What a great song. I remember hearing the original when Radiohead was ruling the alternative airwaves in the late 1990s. A simple pop tune taken up a notch with wonderful production and a grinding to a halt sort of ending.

Listen to Radiohead’s Karma Police here.

You might have heard a recent cover version of it by Pierce the Veil, recorded by none other than... our Dan Korneff.

Listen to Pierce the Veil's Karma Police here.

Another killer production, huge and heavy but with a lot of the flavor of the original.

Karma Police Drums

We’ve got two blog articles for you, one for the Radiohead original, the other for the Pierce the Veil cover version. Both articles focus on the drum recording techniques involved, and each article has ideas and techniques that you can use.

Read Radiohead Karma Police post

Read Pierce the Veil Karma Police post

Back Issues, New Format

This little newsletter has been growing and people keep asking to see previous letters. So...

Click here to see back issues

We are still experimenting with the format. We’re thinking of featuring a different picture at the top each week. We’d like to show a picture of a studio with a coffee cup, so there is a nice Monday morning work vibe. We’d like to feature pictures of YOUR beautiful studio. And we think ALL studios are beautiful. So, please, send us a picture of your studio with a coffee cup in it, and we’ll see if we can make this work.

Have a great week.

Warm regards,
The guys at Korneff

V - IV, John Barry, BBC’s Soul Music

 New Monday #11

April 29, 2024

Happy Monday - got your coffee? Evidently I've had too much of mine  because this week's New Monday is manic and all over the place.

Sick of I vi IV V or John Barry’s Secret Chord Progression

There is entirely too much I-vi-IV-V happening in pop music today, in pop music in general.

Yes, it is the chord progression of hits like this, and this, but it and its variations are overused. Here’s an article on how often Taylor Swift has used it. And here’s a video on how often she uses a slight variation on it (I V ii IV).

If you’re looking for a different progression to base your stuff on, try this: IV - V. You can also call it V - IV or  I - bVII or bVII - I.

Call it what you want, the idea is moving between two major chords a whole step apart. It’s easy, very handy (especially if you’re a guitarist), and has a TON of great songs written using it.

On Broadway - original Drifters version sort of hides it a bit, but the George Benson version makes it more obvious.

My Generation - V - IV with a bass solo.

LA Woman - this song is almost one chord, the IV - V only happens on the chorus.

And there’s still more... Reelin’ in the Years.

IV - V or V - IV has a modal quality to it —Mixolydian to be exact. It also doesn’t have a strong sense of resolve. Songs written with it can seem like they’ll go on forever.

More Allman Brothers???

I promise I’ll stop with the Brothers next week, but for now:...

The song "Dreams", on their first album, is a IV - V for almost the entire song, including a fabulous extended solo by Duane Allman. Very modal and vibey recording. Great vox by Gregg.

Dreams

I couldn’t resist running "Dreams" through my instant-this-sounds-better workflow of the Puff Puff mixPass into the El Juan Limiter. And I made a short video of that too.

John Barry, the God of V - IV

Film composer John Barry was a top film composer. He won a bunch of Academy awards, scored the James Bond films, etc., etc. Huge name and a great musician.

He deployed IV - V often. It’s the cornerstone of the soundtrack to the James Bond film “You Only Live Twice.”

Nancy Sinatra sang the original version for the film. The distinctive opening riff is V - IV.

Bjork did a breathy, moody remake.

John Barry, though, outdid himself, on the soundtrack for "The Midnight Cowboy". His "Theme from the Midnight Cowboy" is one of the most gorgeous things ever written. It features the most lonely sad harmonica on the planet. If there’s only one thing you listen to today, it’s this.

John Barry plays Theme from Midnight Cowboy.

That song makes me cry. And here’s something else you can cry over!

Music has a tremendous effect or Fun with the BBC

Several months ago I wrote an article on the Johnny Nash hit “I Can See Clearly Now.” A producer from the BBC, Mair Bosworth, read it, contacted me, and I was honored to play a small part in a podcast about the song. The podcast is less about the music or recording and more about the almost supernatural effect the song has on people’s lives. The podcast is incredibly moving and worth a listen.

The podcast, on BBC’s Soul Music, is here.

Shout out to Mair Bosworth at the BBC. Soul Music rules!

And... I couldn’t resist running I Can See Clearly through the Puff Puff. That plug-in is amazing.

Probably too many links and ideas this week, but I got excited. There’s so much to listen to and to learn.

Have a great week.

Warm regards,
The guys at Korneff

We love to hear from you all. Send us your V - IV progression songs. Write some!

The Puff Puff, Dickey and the Allman Brothers

 New Monday #10

April 22, 2024

Happy Monday!

Two things this week: we released a new plug-in, the Puff Puff mixPass, and Dickey Betts, the guitarist from the Allman Brothers Band, died at age 80.

The Puff Puff mixPass

Our latest is a dynamics processor. Using waveshaping, the Puff Puff adds harmonic content to "puff up" the apparent volume of a signal. It's not a compressor or a limiter, rather the opposite, but it has a similar effect: it makes things LOUD.

It also has controls to add character to things—distortion, overdrive and all sorts of fun sonic garbage.

Check it out here.

I also made a video using it to enhance an Allman Brothers Band live recording. More on that below...

Dickey Betts and the Original Band

Forrest Richard Betts... a great player and a great songwriter—he wrote a lot of the best-known Allman Brothers Band songs, including their biggest hit, Rambling Man.

80 years is a pretty good run for anyone, but especially for a rock star who has had... adventures.

The original Allman Brothers Band line-up, brothers Duane and Gregg, drummers Butch Trucks and Jai Johnny Johanson, bassist Berry Oakley, and Dickey Betts, are generally considered about the best rock band the US ever produced.

The evidence is a bunch of live recordings from The Fillmore East, which was a concert hall in NY city that was open for a scant four years but is still remembered for the quality of the performers it attracted, and especially for the Allman Brothers performances. Their 1971 album Live At Fillmore East made the band's career, and the album is one the best live rock albums recorded.

The original lineup of ABB was a spectacular band. They had the power of Marshall amps and the listening skills of a top-tier jazz group. They had two fantastic guitarists, a killer rhythm section, and the most authentic-sounding white blues singer imaginable.

The Allmans played The Fillmore East a number of times, including the two nights that were recorded for the live album. They also headlined the closing, last show at The Fillmore East on June 27th, 1971.

The Allman Brothers Live - a bootleg

Duane Allman died young and left a huge legacy that, while well deserved, has somewhat overshadowed Dickey Betts. Dickey was a great player, perhaps not as adventurous as Duane, but technically probably better. Duane actually remarked a number of times in interviews that he thought Betts was the better player of the two. We hear about Duane Duane Duane, but what about Dickey?

We have this: I found a bootleg from that last performance at the Fillmore, and pulled out a bit that features both Duane and Dickey rocking out with the band and also in solo segments. It's amazing playing, to my ear better than anything on the great live album.

The guitar sounds are phenomenal as well: both are using Les Pauls through cranked-up Marshalls, and it's the damn voice of rock 'n' roll. Dickey is over towards the left, Duane is on the right.

Duane is amazing, but Dickey SCREAMS on this recording.

Fixing with the Puff Puff and friends

I ran the recording through a couple of our plug-ins. The guitars sound great, but the drums are lost, so I did what I could. I made a video of how I enhanced it, and also I put the finished recording up for the world.

I used the AIP, the El Juan, and the Puff Puff. It’s a deep dive.

The video is here.

Duane died about four months after that last Fillmore gig, Berry Oakley a year after that. The band persevered, with Dickey Betts assuming the mantle of leadership for a decade. Butch Trucks and Gregg Allman died in 2017. The last living member of the original powerhouse that was this fantastic group is Jai Johnny "Jaimoe" Johanson, age 79.

The original members remain family, naming their kids after each other.

RIP Mr. Forrest Richard “Dickey” Betts.

Have a great week. Celebrate your friends.

Warm regards,
The guys at Korneff

We love to hear from you all. Write even if you don’t have much to say!

Taxes and Taxman, Wow - use a moving coil microphone

 New Monday #9

April 15, 2024

Happy Monday!

If you’re in the US, still working on your taxes or did you get them done?

TAXMAN

I remember hearing this song for the very first time. I had just bought my very first record, which was Revolver, by The Beatles. George Harrison’s song Taxman was the lead-off track. It began out with some strange noises (analog tape decks ramping up to speed) and a weird count-in, and then BANG!

I made a special version of Taxman for you all.

There was an awful Beatles cartoon series in the late 60s. The voices all suck (except for Ringo), the animation is awful, but the music is good. Especially if you swap in better versions of the song... and then run the audio through the El Juan Limiter

Check out Taxman here.

It still blows my mind. Damn! That’s PRODUCTION. Guitar solos by Paul McCartney, by the way. The whole album is great.

Revolver changed my life.

WOW, man

It has been all WOW WOW WOW Thing at Korneff Headquarters for the past few weeks. Finally, I got a WOW Thing video done. I used it in some non-typical ways — it definitely isn’t a plug-in that only does big guitars. There are a few hacks in the video too, as well as Luke ADHD moments.

Watch the Wow Thing video here.

By the way, the introductory low price goes away April 19th.

Breaking Rules with Moving Coils

The WOW Thing became a thing when engineer Randy Staub used it on Metallica’s Black Album. He also used a Shure SM7 on the hi-hats. Not the usual thing you see.

The SM7 was Michael Jackson’s main vocal mic. Kind of a strange choice, especially since that mic is relatively insensitive and MJ used to make all sorts of weird little noises. Or maybe that was why they used an SM7.

Dan’s go-to acoustic guitar mic is an AKG D160. The Beatles loved this one, too. Luke's go-to acoustic guitar mic was the AKG D224.

Sometimes, actually very often, a moving coil is a better choice than a condenser.

Here’s why you should use Moving Coil microphones.

We love your comments and questions. Please feel free to write us, we love hearing from you.

Happy April 15th!

Warm regards,
The guys at Korneff

PS.. we have a new plug-in coming out soon. I used it on the music on that Taxman cartoon. The voice acting and cartoon soundtrack went through the El Juan, but the Beatles song went through something else. Any ideas as to what? Send us your guesses!

Hendrix in the West, an artistic principal, use plug-in backwards

 New Monday #8

April 8, 2024

Happy Monday!

The spirit of rock 'n' roll and playing live continues with this AMAZING video...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HldgxyA2XiQ

This is the definitive version of Johnny B Goode. Yes, Chuck Berry wrote it, but Hendrix blows the doors off of it.

How to Structure a Guitar Solo

Hendrix does two guitar solos, in the middle and at the end. Each solo goes through the changes (the chords of the song) three times. Each time through, he manages to drop a bomb of a solo that's different from, and yet similar to, the other solos.

This is a producing/artistic concept I'll dig into more later that we'll call Diverse in Unity/Unified in Diversity.

Each individual time through the changes has a sustained note opening, followed by a contrasting section with more of a flurry of notes. Each time through the changes follows that formula, with some minor variations. This is a "unity" aspect that locks the solos together and allows us to hear them as one complete statement.

But each sustained opening is different from all the others, and in the middle solo, the drama and energy of each time through increases. The first time he wobbles the note around in the midrange and keeps the fast stuff in the same general area. The second time through is more aggressive, opening with a dive bomb and playing more complex patterns after that. The third time he kicks a wah in—using it more like a treble boost—and plays a bunch of piercing  high stuff. It's very dramatic, building up like a train heading at you.

The ending solo is similarly increasingly dramatic - in the middle he plays with his teeth (and yes, he's really playing with his teeth) and ending with an unaccompanied speediest, followed by the entire band hitting the last note perfectly.

I think my favorite moment, though, is right after the last note ends, Hendrix checks his tuning. It's sort of like, "Oh, back to business here." I love that.

So, next time you're in the studio and things are boring, or the guitarist has more ambition than ideas, think on Diverse in Unity/Unified in Diversity.

Use Our Plug-ins Backwards

To make the Hendrix video for y'all I took video from one source and audio from another, but even then it didn't sound all that good to me. So, I ran the entire thing through our EL Juan Limiter, and what a difference.

I also realized that both Dan and I tend to use our plug-ins backwards from the way they're laid out. So I made a video of our "reversed workflow" for you and explained a few things as well.

Click here for Using the EL Juan Backward video 

By the time a lot of you get this we'll be in the middle of an eclipse. Crazy times! Last week an earthquake, this week a lunar eclipse! I wonder what might happen after that...???

As always, we love to hear from you, so please write us with your comments and ideas. We’re all ears.

Warm regards,
The guys at Korneff

Fugazi in a Sundress, TV music, cutting Vox, AI sux

 New Monday #7

April 1, 2024

Happy Monday!

First: watch this before you read on any further:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIZD9WFpWZo

***************************************************************

I want to be reincarnated as a high school girl in a sundress and sandals, rocking out to Fugazi.

This thing is so damn HUMAN. This clip embodies the fun and camaraderie of rocking out in the band. Playing in a band. Remember: you don’t “serious" music, you play music.

Lead singer is a killer. She has a sincerity about spelling out how she’s going to do what she wants with her life.

Drummer is a killer, too. I wrote more about why he’s good and what is the takeaway if you’re recording/producing.

TV Themes and Songs

TV themes have gotten REALLY short. This has to be a byproduct of Instagram and TikTok and I don’t think I like it. I remember tv theme songs that were fabulous songs, like this and this.

However, some of these short themes are wickedly good as well as wickedly short.

Two of my faves, Better Call Saul and The Lincoln Lawyer.

Great little, distinctive bits of production/writing.

Perhaps think about getting good at making music like this.

Why are these things so effective?

1) There’s something familiar about them. When we think we’ve heard something before but we’re not sure, our brain tends to lock in on that: It's like a puzzle.

2) Cool sonics and sounds that are interesting. Both of these are using non-standard instrumentation, and again, our brain likes to puzzle out, “What is that?"

3) Strong moods that sum up the show. You can tell from the themes that 'Better Call Saul' is set in the West and has a sense of humor, and that 'The Lincoln Lawyer' is slick and mysterious.

Remember: our brains love questions and a sense of what comes next. Think about that next time you’re writing music or producing something.

AND... I couldn’t help it. I downloaded the themes off Netflix and they sounded AWFUL, like this...

SO I confess... I ran them through our new WOW Thing and then through the El Juan Limiter and they sounded much better! Here’s a before and after I made...

​​​​​Cutting Vocals

We kinda touched on this a few weeks ago, that vocals need to be thinned out somewhat in the mix to get them to sit right (and easily).

The problem is standing too close to the damn mic. BACK UP.

Click here for more thoughts on this.

The struggle against our eventual robot overlords continues

Another AI product aimed at making creative work fast, cheap and coincidentally, uncreative?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tL5X8kuuGs

Contrast that crap to the Cleveland School of Rock Video we started with and be glad you’re not a robot.

At your request

You can now see back issues of New Monday online here: https://korneffaudio.com/new-monday-newsletter/

We are experimenting with the format a bit. Do you like long emails with a lot in them, or shorter emails with links that lead off to other content, so you can choose what interests you? Please let us know what you like.

Dan and Luke

Mix like Blur, and a question for Dan

 New Monday #6

March 18, 2024

Happy Monday

Uh oh! We’ve wound up in Britpop, the early 90s music movement that brought the world bands like Oasis, Pulp, Suede, the Verve and Blur, amongst others.

Britpop is very English, with songs about English themes sung with English accents and harkening back to the English Music Hall tradition, which was the Empire’s version of Vaudeville. Obviously Britpop builds on music by The Beatles, Queen, 10CC  and David Bowie, but also stuff from the 80s like The Smiths, XTC, the Cure, et al. Blur in particular channels Mott the Hoople. Singer Daman Albarn does a killer Ian Hunter impression.

Aside from Oasis, none of these bands did much in the US, which is a pity because there is some first-class songwriting, and, like a lot of music out of England, fantastic production.

Especially Blur. If you’re into extravagant production, listening to Blur for a few days will definitely give you a bunch of ideas.

Here are some mixing takeaways from several days of squinting at the Parklife album from 1993. By the way, these are just good mixing ideas in general.

The more sources you have, the more they should be MONO

And this makes sense if you think about it: stereo mic’ing adds width and phase shift and ambiance, all of which will turn into sonic clutter as more and more of it gets added in. So, think one mic, one source, or 1 input one keyboard/amp simulator. On most of the mixes on Parklife the drums are mono down the center.

Think CONTRAST rather than Reverb

You’ll get more depth and drama out of a mix when most of it is dry and only a few things have reverb on them. Again, the more stuff you throw into a mix, the more things get masked, and reverb and echo really mask things up. Listen to good mixes and you might hear a very wet drum sound in there, but chances are it only sounds wet when it’s highlighted by the arrangement. When it’s part of the mix, dry it up. When it’s by itself, wet it up.

Think CONTRAST Left and Right

Use the left and right and down just leave stuff in the middle. Especially on songs that are headphone ear candy. Parklife has things panning everywhere, in some cases languidly migrating from one channel to another. It’s fun! It’s interesting! It’s easy to automate!

Often on Parklife, a percussive part might be on the left, and something smoother and more sustained on the right. Or a percussive part is layered over a sustained part of the same channel so the two parts contrast rather than combine.  In general these guys not only thought about what they were playing, but how it was going to fit into the big picture sonically.

CONTRAST by Sections

Contrast by sections. The verse has a distinct sound from the chorus. Perhaps the verse sounds spacious and the chorus sounds claustrophobic. There are clicky guitar parts on the verse and legato parts on the chorus. Change things up, in other words.

THIN Things Out!

Good lord, if there is one thing to remember it is this!

​​​​Everything is thinned. There’s an octave between 200Hz and 400hz, and there’s an octave between 2000hz and 4000hz. But one octave has only 200 little frequency guys between the two while the other has 2000 little frequency guys in there. But what is up above 2kHz? Cymbals? Violin overtones? Annoying keyboard patches?

Contrast that to what’s down between, oh, 150hz to 900hz. Like, EVERYTHING lives down there. Just about every instrument or vocal range has most of its fundamentals in that range. It's like the kitchen at a party: everyone wants to be in the kitchen. So, to get ridiculous clarity, either you arrange things — not everyone gets to be down in that area at the same time — or you have to thin things way way out. So, the bass gets its little own space, the guitars get their own little space, etc. Think of an elevator. There’s a weight limit. You can have a lot of people in it, but they have to be skinny.

Thin out the vocals. If you back a singer a few feet off the mic in a pretty dead room you get a thinner vocal that blends well in a mix and doesn’t have a huge amount of muddy warmth. Yes, you can shelve out the bottom end, but it is better to just not record what you don’t want. In general, to me it sounds like Blur isn’t constantly close mic’d. There’s true acoustic space involved.

Focus Focus Focus!

Parklife (and really, almost any good record) is mixed like someone directing a movie. During a movie, the director points the camera and tells the audience “You’re looking at this now.” A good mix works the same way: you’re listening to the vocals now, and now you’re hearing a drum break, and now it’s a guitar solo, etc. In other words, the listener is guided. The arrangement does this, and the mixing does this. PICK what is important. Make it louder. Change what is important on occasion. Let importance shift from part to part.

A Question and an Answer

We got an interesting question last week. Loyal reader Keith asks: “What plugins does Dan use? Is only Korneff or does he use others? The answer: Dan uses mainly Korneff stuff. In fact, often we develop a new plug-in because Dan has been using something from some other company and wants to improve on it. So, Keith, Dan uses the plug-in he designs all the damn time. And Luke almost exclusively so because he doesn’t feel like wasting time auditioning things. He just wants to rock and roll.

A Question for YOU

New Monday keeps evolving. We need some feedback from you all on how to make it better and more useful to you. We want you to be excited and inspired at 10am on Monday when you check your email. What do you like? What do you want more of? What do you want less of?

Dan and Luke

3/11, mic'ing guitars

 New Monday #5

March 11, 2024

Happy Monday. It’s March 11th.

​​​Happy 311

Oh no! 311 the band?

Yep! They celebrate their existence with a concert every 3/11 since their start in the early 90’s, although this year they celebrated yesterday in Las Vegas.

These guys were all over the radio in their time and were a counterpoint to grunge.

Oh that snare! It’s one of the most distinctive things about a 311 record. Instantly recognizable with a ton of ping and ring. I love snare sounds like that. Anyway, check out this short vid with 311 drummer Chad Sexton: it’s not the snare. it’s how he hits it. He’s a great player.

VIDEO: Chad on how to hit it...

So, here’s 311’s Beautiful Disaster. Have a listen.

Let’s concentrate on dual heavy guitar parts.

Often, doubled heavy guitar parts turn into a bland, undifferentiated goopy wall of sound, like someone dumped gravy over everything on the plate so the potatoes taste the same as the beef.

The 311 guys manage to get something heavy and the gtr on the left is distinct from the gtr on the right. If you listen, you’ll hear the guitar on the right has more midrange to it and the one on the left has the mids scooped out. The sounds stand out from each other and yet interlock.

How to do this? Use different amp/guitar combinations. Change things up. Can’t use a different guitar? Change the amp. Can’t change up the guitar and amp? Swap in different mics. Stuck with the same mic? MOVE THE MIC AROUND. Record one with the mic close, and the other with the mic further away. Eq them differently.

Use Ray’s guitar micing trick

My friend Ray would unplug the guitar and crank the amp way up so that there was a lot of hiss (white noise sorta stuff) coming out of the cabinet. Then, he’d get down on the floor, cover one of his ears and move his head around closer and farther from the cabinet until the hiss sounded bright and warm - as full as possible, and then he’d stick the mic right in the spot where his ear was. and he got a great sound - full, with a good representation of the cabinet.

What was Ray listening for? On a 4x12 cabinet, Ray was finding where all of the speakers on the cabinet and cabinet resonances were overall very much in-phase.

Record one part Ray style, and the other do your usual mic stuck right up against the grill.

Here’s Steve Albini’s ideas on this exact topic

Here’s Dan talking about how he gets guitar sounds in a Podcast.

Last Thing

Click here: it’s Quick, Inane and Funny

How are we doing?

We love hearing from readers and we're always looking for feedback. How are we doing with New Monday? Is there anything you'd like to see more or less of? What aspect of New Monday do you enjoy the most?

Hit reply and say hello - we'd love to hear from you.

Dan and Luke

Happy Accidents, Gorillaz and EVH

 New Monday #4

March 4, 2024

Happy Monday. One thing leads to another.

​​​Happy Accidents

Honestly, this is the whole point: Letting shit happen and then recognizing that it's good shit (or flushing it if it's bad).

A happy accident is when something unintended turns out to be better than any idea you had or thing you tried to make.

A great song is a series of happy accidents connected by music theory. A great production is a series of happy accidents connected by moments of waiting for the next happy accident.

A good creative environment is one where happy accidents are encouraged.

Talent is recognizing happy accidents when they happen.

This whole newsletter is a happy accident. Because of google searches for Shaun Ryder last week, all sorts of content about him is popping up on my feed. Happy accident? Perhaps. But what is important is that I spotted it.

So... here Shaun Ryder discusses a GREAT happy accident:

Shaun Ryder Explains 

And here’s a link to the song he’s talking about:

Gorillaz ‘Dare’ video

Damn, that is a really catchy groove, Just two chords - like an A to a G. Gorillaz do interesting stuff.

Another fun one, this time courtesy of New Order. You wouldn’t think that a group that is sequenced and, well, orderly, would crop up here. But they do... a quick vid:

New Order Blue Monday

An Accident?

This popped up on my feed. I'm not a fan of the band, but this will scoop part of your brain out and smear it on the wall.

It's a room mic feed of EVH recording Eruption. From a talkback mic? Drum overheads? Miscellaneous leakage?

Whatever. It's spectacular playing, and in this recording context, it's pretty clear he dropped that solo like a bomb in one take.

On the album, with that goofy panning and awful reverb... the slickness of it makes me think it was "worked on." Punched in. Comp'd. Done with mirrors.

But the link below sounds like one incredible take. Leaps from one happy accident to another.

Eruption by Mic Leakage

Think about how the processing changes the perception.

Here’s a longer discussion of how this came to be.

Happy Accidents and AI

Just to tie the past few weeks together: AI can’t recognize a happy accident. It’s capable of screwing up, but it can’t decide if the screw-up is a keeper.

Remember you have a human superpower right now that gives you an advantage over AI. You have an opinion, and you have taste. Cultivate that over skills.

Dan and Luke

We hope you’re finding this monday thing inspirational and a little bit educational. Let us know how we can make it better.

Happy Mondays and some useful tips

 New Monday #3

February 26, 2024

Happy Monday. Hmm...

​​​Happy Mondays

We only just noticed that this email series shares a name with an English rock band from the 80s, Happy Mondays.

These guys were ahead of their time. They sort of “invented" their time.

Happy Mondays pioneered looping, often cutting up drum and bass drum parts into loops and then playing as a band live over them. The result is an interesting fusion of rock and dance music. The songs are more grooves than anything else, but the things they put over them are wild, noisy and yet musical. These are really interesting recordings.

DRUMS - Gary Whelan plays loops and then puts even more drums over them. And he’s a great player.

BASS BASS BASS - Paul Ryder is the god of simple, perfect bass grooves. He could have played for Motown.

VOCALS - Shaun Ryder is one of those vocalists who really can’t sing but somehow it works really well.

GUITARS - Mark Day is one of those interesting players nobody seems to know about. Cool guitar parts and sounds.

Ah, so much to steal... Enough - listen to this album....
Pills Thrills and Bellyaches

Mics leak from the FRONT... a recording tip

If you’re getting bleed into a cardioid mic, chances are putting gobos and stuff behind it to block stuff out isn’t going to make much of a difference.

Cardioid mics already reject sounds behind them really really well. Most of the bleed getting in from behind is going to be low frequency, and not much is ever going to stop low-frequency bleed because cardioids tend to go omni a bit at low frequencies (and low frequencies tend to go around or through objects without a lot of difficulty anyway. Hard to stop bass.).

So, where is the bleed coming from? It’s coming in the front of the mic, along with the sound you’re trying to record. It’s coming in “over your shoulder."

How to deal? First, there’s the direct-to-reflection ratio. Is the direct sound getting in a lot louder than the leakage getting in? Let’s call this ratio Acoustic Separation - the difference between the thing you want to hear and the thing you don’t want to hear.

Typically, acoustic separation is defined as 26dB: in other words, the direct sound should read 26dB higher on the meter than the indirect sound. In the studio, that’s pretty hard to get, but even a 10 or 15dB difference is going to be fine. Less than that and you will run into problems.

In the home studio, the best vocal booth you have is a closet stuffed full of clothes. Set up your mic facing into the closet - maybe a few inches outside of it but pointing into it and all the clothes. Then, stick your vocalist INTO the closet facing out at the mic. Yes, they should have clothes all around them. You’ll be amazed at how dead and clean that vocal will be.

Dan and Luke

Feel free to send us comments. We always love to hear from you.

From AI music to the Dyna Comp.

 New Monday #2

February 19, 2024

​​​AI Music

Undoubtedly AI is the future of music production, just like the microwave is the future of cooking.

Suno.ai is fun in a scary way. Make an account for free, put in a prompt, and get a song a few seconds later.

The prompt was “Romantic pop ballad about alien abduction.” The result is this link here.

It’s not bad, and there are even some interesting chord changes leading into the chorus that are stealable. Humans have written worse songs.

Sorta wish the lyrics were more like, “Gorgax strapped me to a table and pulled out a machine” rather than “Star crossed lover looked in my eyes” but perhaps the AI was set for PG.

What do you think? A good way to generate ideas? A fun thing to do on Valentines Day? A creative way to tell your boss to take this job and shove it? A means of singing goodbye to your career in music?

Will.I.Am has some very cogent thoughts on the topic of AI. See the short vid here...

All Hail the Dyna Comp

Exploring unintended uses of audio equipment ranks high among Dan’s top studio pleasures. Enter The MXR 102 Dyna Comp: a guitar compressor pedal from 1972.

It's far from being the most Hi-FI piece of gear but it possesses genuine character and is readily accessible.

The brain of this circuit is an OTA (Operational Transconductance Amplifier), which adjusts signal volume based on its input. An Envelope Detector calculates the magnitude of the signal and gives the OTA current feedback relative to the input volume, boosting weaker signals. The distinctive sound of this pedal is linked to corrective equalization which helps tone down the noise. This makes it a perfect candidate to "use and abuse" in unintended ways.

Dan’s fave use, believe it or not, is as a really aggressive vocal compressor. It's over the top, in a great way, and helps create unique sounds that catch your ear.

It's also been rumored that the legend Randy Staub used this as a kick drum compressor.

Don't forget, these things run at instrument level, so you'll need to convert to/from line level before you patch into your rig. There are dedicated devices that make this process simple, like the Radial Engineering EXTC. Or you can use a reamp and DI box to get the job done.

You can also just plug the damn thing in and see what happens, but whenever you do frankenstein games like this, don’t wear headphones and keep the speakers off or really low until you figure out if it’s working. You only get one set of ears.

Happy experimenting!

Dan and Luke

Feel free to send us comments. We always love to hear from you.

It's a Monday.

 It’s a New Monday

February 12, 2024

...and if you don’t, there’s an Opt Out link. We don’t want to waste your time; we just want to make it more fun and kinda cool.

VIDEO: Rick Beato interviews Robert DeLeo

Robert DeLeo was the songwriter/bassist for Stone Temple Pilots (and others). He’s a REALLY interesting composer and player. There’s a lot on how he approaches songwriting as well as recording and band history tidbits. Such a lovely person, and Rick Beato conducts sweet interviews.

Speaking of STP... this still sounds amazing:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hhu-OyHqZM 

Great groove. Wonderful lurking space on the vocals, cool chords on the bridge. Drums up a touch too much?  Hard to not mix drums high when the sounds are so good.

Article: Datamix Recording consoles

A brief history of Datamix console, Jimi Hendrix and master engineer Eddie Kramer.

Datamix was the first console installed in Electric Ladyland Studios, which was to be Jimi Hendrix’ personal studio.

Hendrix died soon after it opened. The studio became a fixture on the NYC recording scene for decades.

Datamix consoles seemed to sound ok but had a ton of problems. Interesting stuff. Anyone want a Datamix emulator plugin?

Here’s a pic of a module... looks inspired by a Trident A-range?

We Love This: LOATH: Is It Really You

Gorgeous melody, surprising chord changes. A great recording that YouTube mangles... sigh. Mixed by our friend George Lever.

Same thing on Spotify - less mangled than YouTube.

!!!!! Tip when cutting vocals

Don’t know why this works but it does.

Singer flat on a note? Have them stand on their tip toes when they go to sing it. Singer sharp? Have them bend their knees on the sharp note. Sounds dumb but it always works.

Have a great week.

Dan and Luke

Feel free to send us comments. We always love to hear from you.