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Resound On Production: Lesson #2

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Resound
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Resound returns to share his wisdom in the world of music production... In lesson 2 we get back to basics. Open your ears.

The process of making music has become increasingly more visual in the past decade or two.
The fast computers and big-ass screens arrived and we have been thrilled.
Couple that with the huge developments in the software department and we are now living in a world of opportunities. We’re also being treated with ultra-precise visual feedback of everything we do inside a DAW.
But gosh darned!! Me thinks it’s not always a good thing!
Too much we look. Too little listen.

The folks who are just starting out in music production might never learn to LISTEN properly.
And even those of us who have been around longer are getting fooled by the fireworks.
Peeps getting detached from what they hear…
And ultimately, music suffers.

I’ve noticed visuals tricking me in tons of situations. A few examples:
I easily tend to EQ by the curves shown on the screen and not so much by what I hear.
I can get bored with how an arrangement looks, no matter what is going on inside the blocks I see on the screen. And then the worst happens: I change the music for the wrong reasons.
Heck I swear sometimes the prettier plugins even sound better.
This goes on indefinitely. It happens everywhere.

It just goes to show how visual we are as creatures.
But our brain has limited processing power.
When we put our focus on something.. It’s taken away from something else.
And it is my experience that when it comes to receiving visuals and sound simultaneously…
The visuals tend to get the upper hand.
I get it 100%… Evolution made us like that – you don’t wanna bump into a tree when being chased by a sabre-toothed tiger.

So here’s the deal: the more we look, the less we hear.

Yes, by all means, use the visual feedback to your advantage.
But please, make it work for you and not against you.
Don’t get trapped with looking when you should be listening.
Learn to listen (yes it’s a skill). After all, all your audience has is what they hear.

Here’s a few concrete tips to help you out:
•Turn off the screen every now and then. Even better: Close your eyes. Just concentrate and listen.
•Use plugins that force you to make decisions based on what you hear instead of providing visual feedback. I love using old style EQ’s such as the PSP NobleQ for example (of course there are situations when you actually want the visual feedback – choose your weapons accordingly).
•There are many controllers and instruments out there that will give you physical control of things and free you from looking at the screen. There is something deeply gratifying about that. Personally I have recently become a big fan of the Native Instuments Maschine. It’s a brilliantly designed tool that frees you from the screen, forces you to listen and brings tons of fun back to making music.
•Use visual feedback tools (such as spectrum analyzers) mainly to confirm what you hear. Don’t make mix decisions based on what you see (unless you must due to a poor listening environment).

I’ll leave you with this thought:
Throughout history many of the most respected and successful musicians were blind.
Blind musicians and composers have always made big contributions to the development of music in many cultures.

They had the Biwa Hoshi in Japan.
Kobsarz in Ukraine.
Many great blind composers and musicans have shaped classical music in Europe.
Ireland has a tradition of blind folk musicians.
Not to mention the exceptional achievements of many blind African-American musicians.
And the list goes on…

Just have a think about that!

For loads more music production tips by Resound, check his website at www.resoundsound.com.