Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What is Musicality for Engineers?

I have worked throughout the audio and music industries in a technical aspect and met some of the most brilliant engineering minds, as well as some of the most amazing artistic talent you could ever hope to find.  The key difference between the two groups is how they go about constructing a song.

Let’s take, for example, your unknown singer/songwriter.  What is it they concern themselves with when constructing a song?  Most of the time, you will find that a singer/songwriter will look at the arrangement of the music and the lyrics as their primary focus.  You’ll note that the lyrics are usually trying to convey a message, a feeling, or just reach their audience in order to form a bond of relation.  As much as we all like to think we are completely and totally unique individuals, we have often gone through amazingly similar experiences as our lives progress.  These lyrics allow them to generalize their story and create that shared experience with the audience.  

Looking at the arrangement of a song gets a little more complicated as it depends on training, vision, and the ability to play a musical instrument, sometimes more than one.  Many engineers are musicians in their own right that can help in the development of the music, but often don’t have the understanding of how an artist wants to orchestrate and arrange a piece.  The top engineers listen to a song repeatedly in order to make sure that there is clarity between the instruments and the voice, that the instruments all sound like they are meshing together in a particular space, while trying to make it sound as grand as possible.  Engineers want to hear subtle tones on the far left and far right of a stereo pair of speakers.  They want to hear the big bass hits that cause people to get up and dance.  They also want to be able to hear the intricate finger work of an acoustic guitar.  It is the understanding of how to place these recorded sounds in space that makes an engineer great. 
These qualities that I’ve talked about above are what music is all about.  Creating that environment that draws a listener into your song, developing an instrumentation that complements the message you want to convey, and finding a way to deliver your message.  Everyone has their own take on how music sounds and every opinion is valid in its own right. 

What I’m hoping to do here is provide a service to those of you out there seeking help in finding out why a song “isn’t working” or what it is about a recording that could be tweaked in order to achieve that grand nature.  What I am offering here is the chance to have someone listen to the music you write with a critical ear and a place to get that third party perspective.  Essentially, treat this like a final listening process from an educated outsider that can help solidify the album that you want to make and might catch a few details that managed to slip through your grasp during the creative process.  When it’s all said and done, I’m here to listen and offer my perspective to the music you create.  I won’t be comparing you to other artists, or critique the song as a reviewer would.  I will be objectively analyzing the product that you put in front of me in order to try and help you develop a product that represents you to the fullest of your capabilities.  

I truly believe every song has an opportunity to be brilliant; all it takes is putting the right pieces together to achieve that.  I’m just looking to help those of you that aren’t sure where to go.  So if you have a song, send it in.  I will be someone to listen, someone to help you figure out what can make the song great, and someone to offer a direction.

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