Hiatus

Posted in Randomness on July 2, 2009 by Chris Bracco

sorry, but i’m going to have to take a month or so off from this blog. My band has ALOT going on right now (new EP, websites, graphics, merch, shows, etc) and I really need to focus on that for now.

Be back soon!

_chris

Recording A Demo CD

Posted in Music Industry, Newbies, Recording Techniques with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 27, 2009 by Chris Bracco

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(Image from http://www.associatedcontent.com)

If you’ve ever been in a band, or attended any sort of event with local music, you have surely crossed paths with “demo cds.” Unsigned bands have been using these for decades, whether it be on vinyl, cassette or CD. They are an excellent promotional tool great to hand out to fans before, during and after shows.

Demos can be created in many different ways, but all too often bands are overwhelmed by the process and don’t even know where to get started. Here are some guidelines to head you in the right direction:

1) Pick the Recording Venue: Where are you going to set up shop? Do you have the cash to book studio time, or are you planning on recording from home? If home, try to find a room in the house that is relatively dead (low echo/reverberation). If you are a one man show (acoustic guitar/singer), recording from home would suffice. If you are a twelve man bassoon army, it may be worthwhile to save up some dough and hit up the studio.

2) Choose the Recording Method: This depends largely on your budget and your style of music. Hardcore punk band crunched for money? Record live. Pop music intending to be radio friendly? Multi-track that shite.

3) Choose Recording Equipment: If you book studio time, you should check out the studio prior to your recording session to see what kind of equipment you will be able to use. If you are looking to do a home job, there are several options both cheap and expensive:

– Super Cheap: Purchase a voice/mp3 digital recorder and stick it in the middle of the room. Results will probably be crappy, but if you have virtually no money to spend, it’s better than nothing!

– Cheap: Record one of your gigs. Talk to the sound guy and see if you can work out some deal to get a recording of your show. If possible, see if they can record straight from the mixer, that usually yields better results. Nice sound guys will do it for free 🙂

– Moderate: Rent/Purchase an 8 track recorder and some microphones. Recording equipment is pretty cheap nowadays, you can usually rent or purchase everything you need from your local music store. Ebay is a good resource as well for used gear. However, this could be difficult if you do not know how to set levels correctly or use EQ effectively. Do your homework before jumping into this option!

– Expensive: Buy a computer, audio interface (sound card), sequencing software (Pro Tools, Sonar, Cubase, etc) and some microphones and create your own budget home studio! Record into the sequencer, and either mix & master the tracks yourself or send them to a studio. This will run you at least a few grand, especially if you don’t have a sufficient computer for recording music. Check out Tweakheadz website for some excellent example home studios.

-Very Expensive: Book studio time. It’s expensive, but can yield great results for your demo. Just make sure you prepare thoroughly so you don’t have to book too much extra time to finish your project.

4) Mix & Master: Record labels and fans won’t expect your demos to sound perfect, so these steps are as critical as the actual tracking. If you can put together a rough mix by yourself, more power to you. If not, there are some studios that will offer mixing & mastering services for relatively low costs, just search around your town for them.

_chris

American Idol 2009 Finale Mishaps!

Posted in Music Industry, Randomness with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 21, 2009 by Chris Bracco

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bada-bada-bada-bada-bawwwwaaaa……..ooh-woo-ooh-woo-ooooohh…….(my rendition of the theme song hehe)

Okay so I was forced by my family to watch the American Idol Finale last night. There were some excellent performances, I’m not going to lie, but it really just isn’t my cup of tea. So, because of my relative disdain for pop music, I would like to highlight some of the funny/crazy/dangerous mishaps that occurred last night.

1) 2 hours before the show even started, stage manager Debbie Williams fell off some retractable unnecessary staircase and suffered a huge gash in her leg that required a trip to the emergency room and lots of stitches.

2) Also hours before, a large, random, most likely useless tower decided to fall and shatter into a million pieces all over the stage. CLEAN UP ON AISLE “SELL-OUT!”

3) The audience was not permitted inside the venue until 20 minutes before the show started, causing ushers to disregard tickets and have people just sit wherever the hell they pleased.

😀 This is gettin good.

4) During the show’s “Golden Idol Awards” the winner for Outstanding Female, Tatiano Nicole Del Toro, took the microphone from Ryan Seacrest and started singing and strutting all over the stage. TOTALLY UNPLANNED. I was laughing my face off. hahahaha. Security was trying to usher her off the stage and she would pull some sweet spin moves to dodge their attempts. Eventually they just cut to commercial mid-performance because they didn’t know what else to do. She is my hero of the week.

For those of you who didn’t watch, I suggest to keep your eye out for a vid to pop up on youtube showing this funny mishap with Tatiano Nicole Del Toro. Good stuff.

_chris

Vocal Session Preparation — Important!

Posted in Recording Techniques, Tips & Tricks on May 19, 2009 by Chris Bracco

Lets face it — preparation for anything tends to be kind of a bitch. Practicing all the parts of the music to a metronome, setting up microphone stands, setting levels/compressors/effects, laying carpets and other ghetto ways to deaden ugly frequencies. All in hopes that it will make your music sound sexier.

Last summer, while recording my band a few demo tracks, I seriously underestimated how long it would take to prep for each recording session. It was the sole reason our demo project turned into a rush job, and our recordings definitely suffered because of it!

Vocals, in particular, were a super-robo-bitch. It figures I’d find an article giving advice on how to prepare effectively NOW, and not 6 months ago. Anyway, this little ditty makes some excellent points that I’d like to share!

Microphones

1. WRITE DOWN THE LYRICS!! There’s nothing worse than a singer showing up for a session thinking he knows all the words and starts brain farting all over what could have been some great takes.

2. Set up the microphone prior to the session. The microphone should be positioned accordingly and the preamp levels should be set to some sort of baseline level so only minor adjustments need to be made once the sesh starts.

3. Patch reverb into the monitoring chain. Not necessary but it helps the singer and you get an idea of how the track will sound in the final mix

4. Digital sessions are organized and ready for playback. In the actual project file in whatever sequencer you are using (ProTools, Sonar, Cubase, etc), make sure to create several empty tracks in advance so time isn’t wasted moving things around during the session. Also, make sure you are able to playback the entire mix when needed – freeze some tracks if necessary!

5. IMPORTANT – MAKE SURE THE VOCALIST IS COMFORTABLE. Keep extra people, friends, enemies away from the session. The last thing a vocalist will want to hear is people cracking jokes about the session. Make refreshments available too! (water, wine, lemon juice, whatever their preference).

6. Don’t make them practice too long beforehand. Vocalists tend to give their best performances during the 1st hour of recording. Don’t waste it with a bunch of do-re-me’s.

7. NO Negative Feedback! Don’t tell a vocalist that a take was bad, or flat, or sharp, or poopydoodies. He/she will most likely start to hate you. Keep everything positive, compliment them when you hear something you like and ask them what THEY thought of the take if you thought something was off. Usually they will admit it.

8. Is the material ready? Are the melodies tight, rehearsed and polished accordingly? Is the singer satisfied with the arrangement of the lyrics? These questions must be addressed pre-session. I know from experience with my band because we skipped this vital step and ending up having to tailor some things here and there. This took lots of time, and our recordings suffered.

“Success always comes when preparation meets opportunity” -Henry Hartman

_chris

Top 10 Ways to Destroy Earth!

Posted in Randomness with tags , , , , , , , on May 10, 2009 by Chris Bracco

For some reason I recently felt the need to know how to destroy our planet. I mean hey, you can find out just about anything on the internet, why not look for something crazy every once and a while?

BOOM!

It took me about 5 minutes to find the top 10 ways to destroy our lovely home. Turns out it is a lot harder to do than originally thought!

One of the methods is to simply have no method. Just wait around, and hope that all 200,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 atoms in our planet spontaneously cease to exist. What?! Yeah, its possible; the chances are greater than a googolplex to one. Your chances of winning the lottery and getting struck by lightning within the same hour are exponentially better.

My favorite one by far requires only a light bulb. Yes, theoretically you can destroy our planet with a stupid light bulb. This theory claims that the vacuum within a light bulb contains enough energy to boil every ocean in the world! The only reason nobody has tried this yet is because no one has figured out how to harness this energy. Once you figure that out, stick this energy into a power plant and let the reaction run out control. KABOOM! Goodbye, Earth.

Here are some other methods from the article in case your interested:
http://www.livescience.com/technology/destroy_earth_mp-1.html

Disclaimer: yeah…don’t try any of these at home. 🙂

_chris

PSU’s Music Scene is Getting Molested.

Posted in Penn State Stuff with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 1, 2009 by Chris Bracco

The State College music scene is taking another hit. A huge hit. And I thought Asher Roth was bad (he performed last night at Wallypalooza for ONLY 40 MINUTES….some headliner, huh).

Nittany Booking, one of, if not the best music promoters in State College, may cease to exist after this semester. Why, you ask? Garrett Bogden, founder, is graduating. FUCK!!

They have come a long way since 2006, booking several national acts and excellent local talent at venues throughout downtown State College. They put on some great shows here, it really sucks to see them go. Garrett said that Nittany Booking is “basically over,” it really sucks that he didn’t groom a replacement or wants to keep the company alive in some way. If I had more than a year left here at PSU I’d consider taking the reins!

Anyway, here’s some details from an article in The Collegian: Clickity Click

I’d rant some more, but there is no time! Damn finals week.

_chris

Microsoft Surface Demo (CES 2008)

Posted in Randomness with tags , , , , , , , , on April 29, 2009 by Chris Bracco

Where the hell have I been the past year and a half?! Microsoft Surface?? Wow, I feel very stupid and out of the loop, this thing is so cool! A touch screen table computer. Sweet. Here’s a video demo of some of its uses:

The capabilities of this thing are really just insanely awesome, I really like the wine demo towards the end of the video.

I can’t wait for the future to get here. God I’m such a geek, somebody save me PLEEASE. 🙂

_chris