Tips for making better home recordings

Always experiment! The only way to know what sounds good in your home studio and what to avoid is to try different approaches to the same thing you have always done. So much of your ability to create comes from trial and error and constantly honing your ears and your technique. As well as your skills of engineering, producing, and listening to other recordings you have done. So do not be afraid or as I say LAZY to try new things you maybe surprised at what you find.

Markallanwolfe.com

markallanwolfe.com

Focus on your instrument.
If you’re a vocalist preparing to record, warm up and do your vocal exercises. Maybe a throat spray to lubricate your vocals will help (though be wary of the sprays that desensitize your throat). Wear a scarf around your neck for a couple of days prior to entering the studio to help keep your pipes warm. And just do the basic stuff (avoid smoking, no dairy) to keep your throat moist and phlegm free.

If you’re a guitar player, change your strings before going into the studio – especially if it’s an acoustic guitar. If you’re a bass player and you don’t change your strings once a month, you need to change those strings before you bring that bass into the studio. It’ll help the tone, the output, and you’ll stay in better tune.

If you’re a drummer, change the drum heads. If the heads have been on for too long, they’re going to sound dull and they’re not going to stay in tune. Also, take time to tune the drums correctly – you may even want to tune the drums differently for different songs.

Move around the room
Physically move the instrument or amplifier to different parts of the room. It can make a big difference in the tone you get. If you’re recording an acoustic guitar, violin, piano, sax, or any acoustic instrument, and you have it up against a wall with a lot of glass and wood, you’ll get a more reflective sound than if you’re up against a baffle. If you’re recording an amp, don’t just turn the amp on, stick a mic in front of it, and hit “record.” The amp can sound totally different in different parts of the room, so play around with different spots until you get the right tone for the track.

For any performer, vocalist or instrumentalist, lighting control can also help set a mood. Recording a slow, sultry track? Dim all the lights, light up a candle, and get in the groove.

Move around the room
Physically move the instrument or amplifier to different parts of the room. It can make a big difference in the tone you get. If you’re recording an acoustic guitar, violin, piano, sax, or any acoustic instrument, and you have it up against a wall with a lot of glass and wood, you’ll get a more reflective sound than if you’re up against a baffle. If you’re recording an amp, don’t just turn the amp on, stick a mic in front of it, and hit “record.” The amp can sound totally different in different parts of the room, so play around with different spots until you get the right tone for the track.
Angle your amp
Raising an amp off the ground or angling it so the face of the amp is at 45 degrees can have dramatic effects, depending on the room and the amp. If you’re angling the amp, essentially you’re decoupling the amp from the floor. The floor may be wood, and it may have a resonant cavity below it that’s sucking away your low end, or adding more low end because it’s vibrating. By pulling the amp off the floor, you’re decoupling it. Even if you’re angling it, only part of the amp is touching the floor, so you’re basically removing the floor from the equation in terms of the tone you’re getting.Also, if you have an amp perpendicular to the floor, all the energy is going forward, and low to the ground. Let’s say you’ve got an 8′ ceiling. You’ve got many more options if the amp is kicked up at a 45º angle. Now you can put a mic up in the corner to get a little more of the room. If you’re going for a really tight sound, you might just want to leave it on the floor. Remember, in a studio they’re going to have a dead floor. They’ll have that under control so you wont have these pockets of resonance under the floor. Chances are, your home studio won’t be as predictable.

Mixing board

mixing board

Play with mic placement and angles
Mic placement and mic angles go a long way toward capturing different tones from the same source. For example, to help record a very sibilant vocal performer, try angling the mic up toward a 45º angle and you might find a lot of that popping and hissing goes away.

Mic placement

It’s been said before, but bears repeating—the best way to find the optimum placement of a microphone is to find the spot where the instrument sounds best. Do this by putting a finger in one ear and listening to the instrument with the other, moving around until you find the spot where it sounds best to you. Then put a mic in that spot.

I rarely use eq when tracking acoustics—so many tones can be achieved by placing the right microphone in the right spot that electronic equalization is usually unnecessary. For example, you might put a microphone 6 to 8 inches from the guitar, pointing at the neck about mid-way between the sound hole and the 12th fret.

When you listen to the signal, you may decide that the mic is picking up too much of the guitar’s low end—it sounds boomy. If this is the case, you could either point the mic farther up the neck and away from the sound hole (where a lot of the low end comes from), or you could pull the mic back another 6 or 8 inches (which will lessen the proximity effect of the mic). If the sound of the mic is too bright, you can move the mic closer to the sound hole or closer to the instrument. This isn’t an either/or choice; the character of the low end created by proximity effect is different from that attained by moving the mic closer to the sound hole.

Another approach is to use the off-axis frequency response of a mic to your advantage. Earlier I mentioned that cardioid microphones are more sensitive to sounds coming from in front than from the side; that’s true as an average, but many microphones exhibit a decreased sensitivity to certain frequencies as the source is moved off axis (that is, away from the front of the capsule). As an example, at 30 degrees off axis, a specific mic may be 2 dB less sensitive at 1 kHz, and 4 dB less sensitive at 10 kHz. For the user, this means that one way to change the sound captured by that mic would be to point it slightly away from the sound source.

Studio Mic

Studio Mic

Using Mic patterns to your advantage

Most microphones sold these days have a cardioid pickup pattern, which means that the mic is most sensitive to sounds coming from in front of the capsule, and is less sensitive to sounds coming from the sides and the rear. Most cardioid mics have a pronounced proximity effect, which means that the low end response of the mic is increased as it is moved closer to the sound source. But don’t forget that both omnidirectional mics (which are sensitive to sounds coming from all directions) and figure 8 mics (bi-directional mics which are more sensitive from the front and back and less sensitive to sounds coming from the sides) can be enormously useful, as I’ll detail in a bit.

Studio ambiance

You know, we’ve all read about those singers who recorded their hit song while surrounded by their necessities—their lava lamps, their incense, their ginseng tea and their aromatherapy candles; they want the darkened room, along with (I suppose) their bunny slippers, their spiritual adviser and the studio to be at 71.5 degrees and 42% humidity. Although this is cool to a degree somethings need to be and others are just personal preference. like if your just recording the music portion then yes I totally dig the whole lava lamps and stuff. I have them as well as different things to help stimulate the whole atmosphere.

With the singer I want light—enough light so that the singer can see their words, and, if they’re singing with a band, enough light so that all concerned can see each other. I’ve never been able to see that building a womb for the singer results in a performance any better than their performance while standing in the middle of a well-lit recording studio.

During the course of my years of recording I have taken a slightly different approach to things by experimenting in many different ways and encourage you to do the same.  I have sang and recorded my guitar in closets, bedrooms, laundry rooms and bathrooms. And you know what? They sounded great! I pretty much make sure that the vocalist has someplace to set their water (tea, coffee, or whatever), a music stand, a chair to sit on while they listen to playbacks, and off we go. Don’t misunderstand, though—I will try to make myself comfortable, but I have never seen the need to be straight by the book always. Sometimes the best recordings come by accident as well.

I will post more on this subject as time goes by, in the meantime I would be thankful for you to share some of your experiences if you would? What works for you? Where have you found the best ideas that work? Why not share them with the world for maybe someone can benefit from your experiment make a hit record and owe it all to you. Also all of the tracks submitted on this blog were recorded in my home studio,

Mark Allan Wolfe–www.markallanwolfe.com —wolfiesmusicpublishing.com

Mark Allan Wolfe

Mark Allan Wolfe

Advertisements

How Lessons from Van Halen can save you thousands.

So there I am getting my work done, looking for something to write about and BAM! There it is, the perfect video sharing a little about contracts and the importance of them by none other than one of Rock and Roll’s greatest showman and musical talent.

First, let me share a few thoughts about CONTRACTS. There you are a musician,composer, songwriter or an artist and you got some great things going on. You have been working your tail off pitching your music to all the right folks and been offered a contract! What to do? Most people that I have come across are so thrilled they do not take the time  to read completely thru the contract that was presented. They don’t even contemplate having a music attorney or any professional that has studied the legalese of written contracts to look at them.

I have been around a lot of contracts over the years both in sub contracting as a plumbing contractor and also as a composer and musician. Unfortunately, in this business as with any business you need to read the fine print. People may say one thing yet do another thing altogether different. So when offered a contract the best thing to do is read it thru and and understand it.

If you need to read it a bunch of times you need to read it a bunch of times. If you have access to a person who works in the legal profession or some one who has had dealings in the past with contracts that is someone with whom you should be speaking to about this and any other contract. Do not be afraid to admit to certain folks that you need help in understanding things. The first step in wisdom is the admittance that you do NOT know all things you are not omnipotent or omniscience.

I will share a bit more about this on my other blog or in another entry into this BLOG but I wanted to share with you as well this little tidbit of info from David Lee Roth of Van Halen. He tells a story about a certain incident concerning the candy  M&Ms and their Rider. For those of you who do not know what a “RIDER” is, it is basically a part of the contract stipulating what some request that the artist or band have as a pre requisite before performing and conditions for them to , with out the fulfillment of such a rider the contract CAN become useless and void. That is a discussion best suited for another time altogether.

Anyone familiar with rock and roll lore has undoubtedly heard the story of Van Halen’s classic tour rider. The rider stated that there could be no brown M&Ms in the backstage area, or the venue’s manager would forfeit all of the money from the show to the band.

Watch this little short, slightly humorous video and learn who sometimes these little RIDERS or sentences can mean the difference of a SMALL paycheck to a very LARGE BILL YOU OWE. They had the rider placed with in and it saved them from having to pay a lot of cash for something beyond their control.

Brown M&Ms from Van Halen on Vimeo.

I found this article at GUITAR WORLD from a blog posting written by Josh Hart . I thank him for this wonderful posting of the video clip. For it inspired me to share a little of the importance of reading your contracts. Guitar World .com is a great resource for musicians of all types and a source of learning about the music business.

TIPS and IDEAS on music submission

Tips on Music Submission

When sending your material out to a Publishing company, record label or any number of professionals who might help you in your promotion and exploitation of your music, you need to do it right. You need to take a few extra steps in making sure your music has a fighting chance. It sometimes does not mean a hill of f you or your friends think it is the next greatest hit, if it never gets listened to the CD becomes a coaster.

If you take these few steps with your delivery you may find you have an edge on your competition. Believe me there are millions of other folks who are out there who believe in there music the same way you do. Many will think all they need to do is to take a cd record an mp3 on it and send it with no letter or anything on it.

Make sure your songs are all mastered and are at the right volume, no pops,distortion or clicks. Try to select only the best tracks that give the best example of who you are and your sound.
Mark%20Allan%20Wolfe

When you place your music on a disc to mail out, be sure to write CLEARLY or to print out a sticker with all your contact info on it. I would make a suggestion to you. You spent all this time in creating the music and all this effort to trying to market it, why not spend a few more bucks and purchase the disc stickers for your printer? I was told once that if you just write on the disc with some scribbled letters, it gives the impression that you do not care that much about your music? I can see why. Remember you are trying to get people to listen to your music.

You want people to open there mail and be like “WOW these folks took a lot of time and effort into creating this package, they must ROCK!” By a fancy folder and nice printing pap cause remember you only have one time to make a first impression.Chilling out by a water fall Northern GA

When you send your email or EPK if you do not know what that is ( Electronic Press Kit) you need to make sure you re read everything. Do not make long statements about this and that, introduce yourself and give all your connection info and/or ask if you can submit material. Understand that many A&R,Music Mangers, Music Supervisors receive hundreds of tracks a day if not weekly. They need time to go thru the stuff they get and if your successful to have them open up your email or CD package, you do not want to waste their time.

TUNE PAKE    http://www.reverbnation.com/tunepak/3558037

When giving your links to sample your music it should take the person directly to the song or title to a music player. You should never assume that the folks are going to go surfing thru your website or have to jump thru hoops to sample your music. If they cannot find it with in a few seconds most times they will move on and your done.

So, please do not get angry with me and email me then tell me how mean or stupid I am. All of these ideas come from trial and error. I have experienced these first hand and have found out what works. Maybe not all the time but with trial and error you learn a little here and there.

At the end of the day it is always up to the music supervisor or the director on which song (s) will be chosen. No matter who makes it, how long you worked on it, if you dig it or not, if they do not dig it you are not going to change their minds. If it works with the picture in their eyes then there is no stopping the deal. So create your best, try hard, put your best foot forwards and keep on knocking until the door opens. It might take years but if you got the jams then eventually someone will listen if your humble, talented and have a teachable spirit.

For more info stop on thru again or visit www.wolfiesmusicpublishing.com or www.markallanwolfe.com for more. You are always free to visit www.wappublishing.com and also visit the other companies out around the webs nd be sure to share what you have learned with others.

Studio pictures from earlier years

Wolfes Den studio in the early stages

Some music samples for cues

I was working this morning searching for something and came across a websites which triggered my mind to post this sample song list of various song in stock at wolfie’s music publishing.com

Me and You soft rock / pop

On Time Electronic / Dance

Strike Force ROCK / Metal

A Child’s Prayer  Acoustic / New Age

Well I hope you enjoyed these few songs to get you going today and feel free to visit the sites to learn more about what we are doing, the music business and music for tv and film.

Mark Allan Wolfe

http://www.wolfiesmusicpublishing.com

Common Music Licensing terms

For those of us who need to be reminded of certain terms and for those of you who have never known but would like to know what certain terms are I thought it would be a great idea to post or re post this definitions of terms from <a href=”http://ASCAP.com”>ASCAP.com</a&gt; I am a member of this orginazation and I am very happy to be. So let’s dig in shall we…oh yes if you have any questions, thoughts or comments please feel free to share them with everyone they might be thinking the same thing.

<strong>ADI</strong>
ADI or Area of Dominant Influence is the geographic area or market reached by a radio or television station. It is used by advertisers and rating companies to determine the potential audience of a station.

<strong>Blanket License</strong>
“Blanket license” is a license which allows the music user to perform any or all of over 8.5 million songs in the ASCAP repertory as much or as little as they like. Licensees pay an annual fee for the license. The blanket license saves music users the paperwork, trouble and expense of finding and negotiating licenses with all of the copyright owners of the works that might be used during a year and helps prevent the user from even inadvertently infringing on the copyrights of ASCAP’s members and the many foreign writers whose music is licensed by ASCAP in the U.S. [see also Per Program License]
<strong>
Dramatic or Grand Rights or Dramatic Performances</strong>
ASCAP members do not grant ASCAP the right to license dramatic performances of their works. While the line between dramatic and non dramatic is not clear and depends on the facts, a dramatic performance usually involves using the work to tell a story or as part of a story or plot. Dramatic performances, among others, include:

(i) performance of an entire “dramatico-musical work.” For example a performance of the musical play Oklahoma would be a dramatic performance.

(ii) performance of one or more musical compositions from a “dramatico-musical work” accompanied by dialogue, pantomime, dance, stage action, or visual representation of the work from which the music is taken. For example a performance of “People Will Say We’re In Love” from Oklahoma with costumes, sets or props or dialogue from the show would be dramatic.

(iii) performance of one or more musical compositions as part of a story or plot, whether accompanied or unaccompanied by dialogue, pantomime, dance, stage action or visual representation. For example, incorporating a performance of “If I Loved You” into a story or plot would be a dramatic performance of the song.

(iv) performance of a concert version of a “dramatico-musical work.” For example, a performance of all the songs in Oklahoma even without costumes or sets would be a dramatic performances.

The term “dramatico-musical work” includes, but is not limited to, a musical comedy, opera, play with music, revue or ballet.

ASCAP has the right to license “non-dramatic” public performances of its members’ works – for example, recordings broadcast on radio, songs or background music performed as part of a movie or other television program, or live or recorded performances in a bar or restaurant.

Dramatic and grand rights are licensed by the composer or the publisher of the work.

<strong>Mechanical Rights</strong>
A mechanical right is the right to record and distribute (without visual images) a song on a phonorecord for private use. Mechanical rights or a mechanical license must be obtained in order to lawfully make and distribute records, CD’s and tapes. Recording rights for most music publishers can be obtained from

The Harry Fox Agency
205 East 42nd Street
New York, New York 10017
212-370-5330
http://www.nmpa.org/hfa.html

<strong>Music Publisher</strong>
A music publisher works with songwriters to market and promote songs, resulting in exposure of songs to the public and generating income. Music publishers “pitch” songs to record labels, movie and television producers and others who use music, then license the right to use the song and collect fees for the usage. Those fees are then split with the songwriter.

For more info visit <a href=”http://www.markallanwolfe.com”>www.markallanwolfe.com
</a>
<strong>Per Program License</strong>
A “per program” license is similar to the blanket license in that it authorizes a radio or television broadcaster to use all the works in the ASCAP repertory. However, the license is designed to cover use of ASCAP music in a specific radio or television programs, requiring that the user keep track of all music used. Also, the user must be certain to obtain rights for all the music used in programs not covered by the license.
<strong>
Public Performance or Performance Rights</strong>
A public performance is one that occurs “in a place open to the public or at any place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gathered.” A public performance also occurs when the performance is transmitted by means of any device or process (for example, via broadcast, telephone wire, or other means) to the public. In order to perform a copyrighted work publicly, the user must obtain performance rights from the copyright owner or his representative.

<strong>Record Label</strong>
A record label (or record company) makes, distributes and markets sound recordings (CD’s, tapes, etc.) Record labels obtain from music publishers the right to record and distribute songs and in turn pay license fees for the recordings.

<strong>Retransmission</strong>
A transmission of a performance is one that is sent by any device or process (for example, radio, TV, cable, satellite, telephone) and received in a different place. A retransmission is a further transmission of that performance to yet another place.

<strong>Sound Recording</strong>
A sound recording refers to the copyright in a recording as distinguished from the copyright in a song. The copyright in the song encompasses the words and music and is owned by the songwriter or music publisher. The sound recording is the result of recording music, words or other sounds onto a tape, record, CD, etc. The copyright encompasses what you hear: the artist singing, the musicians playing, the entire production). The sound recording copyright is owned by the record label. The copyright in the musical work itself is owned by the music publisher, which grants the record label a “mechanical” license to record and distribute the song as part of the record.

<strong>Synchronization or “Synch” Rights</strong>
A synchronization or “synch” right involves the use of a recording of musical work in audio-visual form: for example as part of a motion picture, television program, commercial announcement, music video or other videotape. Often, the music is “synchronized” or recorded in timed relation with the visual images. Synchronization rights are licensed by the music publisher to the producer of the movie or program.

Mark Allan Wolfe

www.wolfiesmusicpublishing.com

Making the music

So what can be said about this subject that has not been said already? I am sitting here staring at a blank page and rocking out to my Steely Dan collection listening to some oldies but goodies like, “Bad Sneakers” “Kid Charlemange”, and “AJA”. These songs being some of the best recorded by some of the best in the industry. The album AJA for instance garnering many awards for engineering and going down as an album that is one of the greatest in history.

On April 6, 2011, the album was deemed by the Library of Congress to be “culturally, historically, or aesthetically important” and added to the United States National Recording Registry for the year 2010.

In July 1978, the album won the Grammy Award for Best Engineered Non-Classical Recording. In 2003, the album was ranked number 145 on Rolling Stones “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time” list.

wolfies music publishing beach

wolfiesmusicpublishing.com

I know there are other albums or artist out there that are just as good if not better than my example but you get the picture. I am sitting here listening and asking myself , “What make a great song”, “Why are these songs so great?” Is it there musicianship, the musician, the engineer? the right songs at the right time, the right studio? or all of the above? I think it is the last ALL OF THE ABOVE.

I say that because you can as a musician and composer I make a lot of songs and record a lot of music for not only my self but for and of other people. I write songs as a song writer work with them, I work with other musicians and record them and all plus engineer the stuff I record both for them and myself. I know  a little about what goes into it.

I am not a super man being able to write or record hits ALL the time sometimes we suffer from writers block but l wanted to share with you a few ideas and thoughts in your journey and also remind you of some simple truths.

When your done reading why not take a moment to visit www.wolfiesmusicpublishing.com

Wolfies Music Publishing LOGO

Music to sync blog

1) Study your craft You need to stay on top of things and learn as much as you can about those subjects you want to excel in. This stuff does not come to you thru osmosis :0) You cannot just wish it to happen you need to work at it like anything else.

Find places online which teach it, write about, listen to stuff about it. When you find yourself being able to teach someone something you have learned you can rest in your heart that you are on the way to getting to where you want to be. The same can be said if you find yourself using those tools in your projects that you have read about or listened to in DVD or CD form.

2) HUMBLE YOURSELF When you think you know it all you are far from beginning I dare say you have not even enter kindergarten. I know that this will sound strange and forgein to a lot of you many will be offended. This is not what I am trying to do but I am trying to get you to hear what I am saying.

How many of us have heard or known of people walking into a flight instructor school saying, “I know all there is to know about flying, I can do it no problem” I never have heard of anyone saying this and if they did I would NOT want to fly with them. The same can be said of us when we fail to humble ourselves and walk into a studio situation or start to work on something and declare in our hearts or to those around us that we know ALL there is to know about it?

What happens is that everyone in the room knows you suck and no one wants to record with you. I know I was using extreme ideas but you get the picture, we need to recognise that we need help and are not afraid to ask for it. When you ask questions you show yourself to be wise and wanting to learn. When you make a mistake or admit you wwere wrong, you path the way to great success.

3) PRACTICE Finally something we all like to do, is practice or perfect our craft. To go over it over and over again until we get it in our sleep. TO the point where we do not even need to second guess yourself you just know it it becomes like breathing. even though it might hurt your fingers, mind or cause your eyes to blur from staring at the screen but if you take time out of every day to practice you will become GREAT. You will become successful if you practice these tenants to becoming the best.

I do hope you come by again and share your thoughts with me and let me know what you think. I am still endeavoring to put into practice these simple truths I just shared with you. I am learning to become nothing so I can become the best in everything. That is a mystery yet to be seen but I am enjoying myself along the way, making some great friends and hopefully some great music along the way.

Mark Allan Wolfe
www.markallanwolfe.com

www.wolfiesmusicpublishing.com

mark@markallanwolfe.com

Mark Allan Wolfe holding PRS

Want to play?