Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tim Cannon Producing In a Little More Detail

I thought I might talk in a little more detail about one of the songs on Tim Cannon's album and the changes that have been made to the song during the production process. The song which I think has undergone considerable change is 'High Hopes'. Originally, I considered this song to be a bit of an adult trapped in a childs body with refined melody and lyrics, with harmony that to me, didn't do them justice.
Below is a sample of the original recording made as a demo of the song.

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First thing we set about doing was removing the acoustic guitar and reharmonising the melody to emphasize the emotional rise and fall of the lyrics and melody. We separated the verse and chorus harmonically by making the verses quite static, removing the dominant chords from the demo and creating a rocking harmonic movement (backwards and forwards). The release comes with the chorus. Moving to the key of the relative major the chords have much more movement. We altered a few of the chords to give it more of a dramatic feel. For example, instead of repeating the first two chords of the chorus, we went to the minor iv chord (f minor) and then back to the relative major (c major). To me, this makes the chorus sound like it's heaving like someone taking deep breaths.
Below is a sample of the original band arrangement. It's worth noting that we used the vocals from the original acoustic guitar demo. Because this was not recorded with a click, I had to cut up each phrase and place it on the grid so that I could use sampled drum kits and midi instruments and edit sections much easier. The playing on the demo is very rough but it illustrates some of the changes that I have been talking about.

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Tim was pretty happy with the transformation at this stage, so we decided to workshop "High Hopes" as a band, using this as a reference point. If you listen to the recording below you'll hear the result of the band workshop. Players were: Tim Cannon: Bass, Stewart Taylor: Acoustic Guitar, Mark Leahy: Drums & myself on Piano.

Straight away you can hear that we have done away with the brushes idea from the demo above to give it more of a drive/groove. The tempo of the song is also slightly faster to make sure that it doesn't plod along too much.

Another arrangement change that was made is to this version was the rhythms in the chorus. In the previous version (above), the guitar was strumming in 1/8 notes (quavers), strings were playing 1/4 notes (crotchets) and the piano was playing ever 2 bars. This was re-arranged into the following: Piano to play in 1/8 notes (quavers) and guitar to play in 1/4 notes (crotchets) and no strings. We decided that the aesthetics of the album didn't allow for string ensembles and so arranged the other two instruments (piano and guitar) so that each part would contrast to the verse part. However, this creates an interesting effect because throughout the entire piece, you always have the 1/8th note pulse weather it's in the hi-hats, guitar or piano. This helps to both move the song along and to create intensity.

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So, now that you have had a little insight to some of the decision making process from initial idea/demo to pre-production, you can have a listen to the current album version of "High Hopes". This is unfinished, un-mixed and un-mastered but I hope you can see the progression of the song.

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- Andrew

Thanks to Mindy McAdams for her very helpful tutorial on how to use this flash audio player.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Co-Producing with Elodie Adams

I was recently in the studio co-producing with singer/songwriter Elodie Adams. We recorded three tracks in total to form her first EP. The first track (Staring Game) has an interesting blend of jazz and pop. Instrumentation is Piano, Drums, Bass and Voice. We ended up really going for a sort of swing big band vibe but with only a 4 piece band. I’m pretty happy with the way things turned out and the feel that we were able to achieve.
The second track (If You'd Let Me Love You) is just Piano and Voice. Its quite a long track with quite a free flowing waltz feel. This was quite tricky to record as there was no tempo grid so the right take had to be pretty much perfect. It has a bit of a free section in it where the piano and voice are interacting with each other in a sort of simultaneous call and response fashion.
The third song (Angel) is a slow lilting song which we had to rush due to time restraints.
You can hear the songs at Elodie Adam’s MySpace page or on iTunes. Elodie Adams

- Andrew

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Old News? Battle of the Choirs - Battle Cry

Back in 2008 Channel 7 was running a choir competition called, "Battle of the Choirs". If you search YouTube for "Battle of the Choirs" you should find lots of videos of the weekly competition.

The choir who won the competition was the University of Newcastle Chamber Choir which coincidently I used to sing in back when I was living in Newcastle studying at the Newcastle University Conservatorium.

Through some of my studio contacts, I was asked if I could record the piano/keyboard parts for the album of the winning choir to be co-released with the announcement of the winner of the competition. We recorded the album with PLW in South Melbourne as instruments only with the intent that the choir would record their parts later in Sydney.

It was an interesting experience as I think there were only 2 musicians playing in the studio at any one time because of different availability. It was pretty high pressure stuff with almost no time to record. You can see a snippet of footage of me recording "Playing to Win" with Phil as the engineer below in this YouTube video.


- Andrew

Sunday, September 13, 2009


For a number of months I've been playing with a new band called Shero. We have had a number of gigs at the Espy and Revolver at which we have been well received. Adam Shero Baluch (songwriter and front man) has his debut album under his sleeve and is continuing to write new material for album number two.

I'll be sure to post more info on Shero as it happens, but in the meantime check the Myspace and Facebook pages for upcoming show dates. You can also follow news updates about Shero by clicking on the link to the Shero Facebook page on the left of this site.

- Andrew

The Roaring Years (for now)

Well, Friday 14th August saw The Roaring Years play their final gig in their hometown of Newcastle, NSW. There were over 400+ friends, family and fans who turned up for an emotional farewell.

I've been playing with The Roaring Years (formally Dirty Pink Jeans) for the last two years and before that, I was involved as a session player on their EP "Dance".

Since James and his wife have moved over to Italy to further their respective artistic careers, the band is on an unknown path. We may get together again sometime in the future, we may not. One thing that is certain though is that I have a lot of fond memories with this band and look forward to any time where we can get together again.

- Andrew


A little while ago I recorded some keyboard/piano parts for Kingbayler's up and coming EP, "Bleary Eyed Girls and Boys". They were recording it at one of my favourite little studios (Supersonic Recordings).

The EP is a mixture of styles from Motown inspired pop songs to brooding emotional, almost progressive songs as well as Kingbayler's well established groove/pop songs.

There are six tracks in total and it's obvious to anyone familiar with Kingbayler's earlier material that the boys are definitely broadening their musical scope and experimenting with new ideas.

They tell me that the release date will be late September/October but other than that, I don't have any more details. At the time of writing, Kingbayler's website did not have any of the new songs from "Bleary Eyed Girls and Boys" but I imagine that it will be soon.

UPDATE: The Kingbayler boys have just announced that "Bleary Eyed Girls and Boys" and their 2004 release "Sections" are up on iTunes.  Below is a ling to the iTunes store where you can check 'em out.


- Andrew