Daily Archives: August 30, 2011

Digital Native Tongues

For whatever reason, I equate a lot of my experiences as a Beat-Play company member to several verses and hooks in my favorite songs.  I was born in ’77.  So, that sweet spot has EVERYTHING to do with A Tribe Called Quest, Wu-Tang Clan, The Jungle Brothers, Freestyle music, Gang Starr, Rakim, Big Pun, Biggie, and all of the other greats.  If you’re feeling me on this already, then read on.  If you’re a bit hesitant, then I invite you to step in; and understand why these pioneers have laid the foundation for elevated thinking and prosperous language skills.

And it goes a little something like this….

Lyrics from A Tribe Called Quest’s “Steve Biko”

Q-Tip simply rips it with:

Okay
I am recognizing that the voice inside my head
Is urging me to be myself but never follow someone else
Because opinions are like voices
We all have a different kind
So just clean out all of your ears
These are my views and you will find that
We revolutionize over the kick and the snare
The ghetto vocalist is on a state-wide tear
Soon to be the continent and then the freakin globe
Theres room for it all as we mingle at the ball
We welcome competion cuz it doesnt make one lazy or worn
We gotta work hard, you know the damn card
Try to be the fattest is the level that we strive
Try to be the fattest also to stay alive

This is the feeling and the passion that is communicated in every single one of our meetings.  Whether we’re tawkin’ about our Creative Designs, our Integrated Marketing plans, our Social Media tactics, our Web Development, or whatever.  We’re very fortunate to have a really strong support network.  This is a team of entrepreneurs and innovators.  There’s a magical chemistry that we’re brewing.

I remember when I first heard Tip spit this verse, I always knew that he would forever be a voice that leads a generation.  This verse kills in more ways than one.  4 highly essential things happen in one key exchange.  First, Phife’s dish to Q-Tip is classic:

Tip educate ‘em, my rhymes are strictly taboo

Fill ‘em with some fantasies and I’ll look out like Tattoo

Then DJ Ali Shaheed Muhammad just completely destroys it with the phattest jabs; he stabbed that record.    Then, Tip’s lyrics ignite the beast in just about anyone that takes their shit serious.  Peep the talented tempo and the BPM’s.  Fuckin’ Genius!  Finally, the Delivery is just pure HIP HOP.  That’s what’s up, and that’s what we’re all about.

*{pick it up @ 2:45}

 By: David Botero | Harrisburg | @DavewithMWL | Beat-Play & Music Without Labels, LLC

Dear Creek – “Dear Creek” [MUSIC]

Dear Creek

Dear Creek is a folk duo from Winchester, Virginia, who is accompanied by the Barefoot Wanderers, a collection of at least ten other artists, each of whom pitched in to make Dear Creek’s self-titled album a true masterpiece.  Combining folk with blues and jazz, the guitar with the harmonica and dulcimer, and flawless vocals with impeccable production Dear Creek and the Barefoot Wanderers create an incredible album. I really like track 2, Sunflower Seeds.

By: Elizabeth Stene | Beat-Play Ambassador South Africa | @LizMWL | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC

Perfect Monitoring [MUSIC HELP]

Think of your studio monitors as a window through which to view your mix. If that window is dirty or the glass warped, then your view becomes distorted. So In audio terms, working in an inaccurate monitoring environment means that every decision you make, be it balance, equalization or panning, is based on a distorted perception of your mix. The result will be mixes that will sound great in your studio, but don’t translate well to other systems. In this tip we’re going to explore the key factors involved and see what you can do to make the best of your monitoring situation.
Although The Yamaha HS80M monitors (above) aren’t ruler-flat they perform pretty well without any major peaks and troughs and a good bass extension. However the Yamaha MSP3’s (below) are somewhat less accurate with a more significant rippling across the mid & top end. The bass / lower-mid is somewhat recessed and the very low end rolls off early with a pronounced bass port ‘bump’
Room Acoustics:
Room acoustics play a significant part in shaping the sound that arrives at your ears. In addition to the direct sound from the monitors there will inevitably be some reflected sound bounced off walls, ceilings and any other surfaces in your studio. Because these arrive slightly delayed (having travelled further) they will cause phase cancellations / additions, affecting the tonal balance of the sound you hear. In the worst cases (think small box rooms with shiny wooden floors) the reflections may be almost as loud as the direct sound creating a very confused sound (like listening to your mix through a reverb plugin).
All rooms (and objects) will also have a what is called a resonant frequency, the frequency at which they will start to ring, a bit like a tuning fork. If your room exhibits an obvious ring then, again this can affect the accuracy of your monitoring. In the same way as you can identify frequencies to cut when EQing, set up a narrow EQ boost, turn up your speakers and sweep the EQ up and down, you’ll probably hear that certain frequencies jump out.
Full room treatments can run into tens of thousands of pounds, but there are plenty of solutions that you can implement on the cheap: Move your speakers away from walls to prevent any early reflections – particularly out of corners which will cause a noticeable bass boost. In an ideal world the distance between your speakers the nearest surface would be at least twice the distance between you and the speakers. If you have a shiny wood floor then a rug will make a noticeable difference with the added benefit of being cosy under foot and try to break up any other flat surfaces with furniture (a sofa or bookcase along the back wall is a good option).
With the home studio revolution the cost of actual acoustic treatment has hit the floor so for just over £100 Universal Acoustics offer a kit that includes 20 acoustic tiles and 2 bass traps. With tiles placed directly above, beside and behind the listening position a kit like this is a very cost-effective way to get a decent sounding room up to scratch.
If you’re going to get serious about treatment then it’s worth spending some time working out the flaws of your room and the designing a solution to suit that need, using a variety of tiles and traps to absorb and diffuse different frequencies.
Speaker Quality:
Perhaps the most obvious variable at play is speaker quality. In general the flatter the frequency response the better, as any significant peaks or troughs will result in the opposite peak / trough in the tonal balance of your mix – bright monitors will create dull-sounding mixes and visa-versa. You also want to use monitors with a decent bass extension, particularly if dance music is your thing, as the bass-end is always a tricky area to judge. A bass driver around 8 inches is usually provides sufficient reach, but you might want to complement smaller systems with a matching sub.
If a manufacturer doesn’t supply a frequency plot as part of their technical specs then that’s usually a bad sign, but specs should only ever be a guide, the real proof is in the listening.
Positioning:
You can have the flattest sounding monitors in the world but if you don’t position them and yourself correctly you won’t be receiving the full benefit. The ideal listener position is commonly refereed to as the ‘sweet spot’. If you imagine a triangle with speakers at two of the corners and you at the third, the distance from you to each speaker should be the same as the distance between the two speakers (probably around a metre for most home/project studios). The speakers should also be angled inwards to focus the sound directly at each ear with the treble driver at roughly ear height. Just as with microphones, the off-axis frequency response of speakers (i.e. outside the sweet spot) is often a lot more uneven.
It might sound obvious but you also want to avoid any obstacles, such as computer monitors or mixer meter bridges sitting between you and the speakers (an all too common sight even in commercial facilities). And you should lay out the rest of your kit so that during any critical listening you will be sitting in the sweet spot. As more and more production work becomes computer-focused the traditional setup of mixer between the two speakers and computer to one side is an increasingly imperfect solution.
Finally, you want  to make sure that your speakers are decoupled from the surface they sit on to avoid them vibrating in sympathy with your speakers and colouring the sound. Genelec’s 8000 series monitors feature an integrated decoupling and positioning system (called Iso-Pod)  that both minimizes vibrations and allows for precise angling of each monitor. But separate foam-based decoupling products are also available from companies such as Auralex that sit under your monitors and acoustically isolate them from the surface below. Beside the beneficial acoustic properties these will also help protect any other studio equipment on the same surface from potentially damaging low frequency vibrations.
Volume and Listening Behaviour:
Research by Fletcher and Munson in the 1930s demonstrated that the human ear’s frequency sensitivity varies with volume. These Fletcher-Munson Curves, as they have become known, show that at low volume we are most sensitive to the mid range and that as volume increases our hearing starts to flatten out. But monitor too loud and you run the risk of creating tracks that will sound bass-light in a typical listening situation. And of course there is also the issue of damage to hearing.
83db SPL has established itself as a good balance between a flat listening experience and safe listening level and in a future production tip we’ll run through how to calibrate your setup. An important part is working with at a fixed monitoring level and avoiding the temptation to gradually turn up the volume over the course of a session. So find a comfortable listening level and keep it there, only turning up when you need to hear the detail in a particular mix element.
Go forth and monitor accurately!
By: Shayne Byrne | Beat-Play Ambassador Ireland | @shaynewithMWL | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC

Wolftown – “Settle Down” [NEW MUSIC] [EVENT]

Wolftown

Wolftown is a promising new rock band out of Cape Town.  With edgy, bold sounds they are sure to make a footprint on the South African music scene.  All songs are written by the band, which consists of Sarah Pope (lead vocals and guitar), Damian Upton (bass) and Kyle Sanders (percussion).  When recently asked how they chose the name of the band they responded, “It has a massive meaning for us three. In this industry its dog eats dog and while preparing our songs for studio, we choose the name that we felt was the most dominant. We’ve worked really hard to be at the top of our game and we needed something to go hand in hand with all the hard work we’ve put in. So Wolftown is our way of representing our music, our passion, our past, our future.  See them live at Zula on September 16th if you’re in Cape Town!

 

 

By: Elizabeth Stene | Beat-Play Ambassador South Africa | @LizMWL | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC

 

Pure Solid – “Dub Lockdown” and set from Cold Turkey [FREE DOWNLOAD]

Pure Solid

 

Pure Solid is producer Damian Stephens (Dplanet) and VJ Anne-Sophie Leens (spo0ky). Together they create an intense audio-visual assault on the senses. Dplanet describes his musical style as ‘soundsytem music’, ‘robot army music’ or ‘dark’. This sound has influences of dub, grime, Detroit techno, Chicago house, acid, hip hop, juke and electro.  Spo0ky creates bespoke graphic design and video treatments that interpret and enhance the music, providing a powerful, immersive, hypnotic, audiovisual experience.  Check out the second track – Dub Lockdown – off their recent double EP Ghetto Dubs.

 

Cold turkey featured Pure Solid a few weeks ago, you can play or download their set.

 

By: Elizabeth Stene | Beat-Play Ambassador South Africa | @LizMWL | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC