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Showing most liked content since 06/23/2017 in Blog Entries

  1. 5 points
    I took early retirement by means of voluntary redundancy today. The consultation was last Thursday and my employment ended today. Said my goodbyes to some great workmates and took all my 'stuff' home. It looks weird. All this stuff that doesn't belong in the house is here. Not just tools & books, but works mug, cutlery and tea caddy etc. I've worked with some of these fellows for more than 30 years. Its pretty emotional, and leaving is a bittersweet experience. I will meet up with most of them in a weeks time anyway for a dinner. Another retiree, from a month ago, will be there too. I don't ever expect to set my alarm for 6.am again. Nor work 12 hours in a day. There is plenty to do at home. All the stuff I tried to do but never finished. In fine weather I will be out trying to sort out the garden. When its inclement, I'll be inside decorating. When I dont want to work, I'll indulge in my music. Outside I'll continue (with more regularity) both my karate & dance classes. That will get me out 4 times a week. I hope to meet up with family & friends more regularly as well. I have engaged an independent financial adviser to look into my pension options. I met with a couple of them, but this one was recommended to me and he's been helpful already. So many conflicting feelings right now. Happy, sad, excited, tired...
  2. 2 points
    I've just had notification that my song "Don't take too long" is under consideration for the American artist Faith Hill's next album. I won't know until the beginning of August whether it has been successful or not. Here is the lyric. Wish me luck. Don’t Take Too Long Lyric by: Raymond Fry & Steve Manning Verse 1: As you step into the future I may never see, Let yourself become the person you could really be. I know the days move slowly as you wish away your youth, Beware of those who claim that they alone have found the truth. Chorus 1: Don’t take too long to realize that you're strong, Don’t let people fool ya, when they tell ya you're wrong. Don’t take too long to see we’re not inside the Matrix, love is real, Don’t take too long to find that scars can heal. Verse 2: If you find that there are roads which you must walk alone, Try to find a self that you can truly call your own. If after failed relationships you can't bare them any-more, Don’t take too long to realize that love’s worth waiting for. Chorus 2: Don’t take too long to realize that you're strong, Don’t let people fool ya, when they tell ya you're wrong. Don’t take too long to see we’re not inside the Matrix, love is real, Don’t take too long to find that scars can heal. Bridge: I can see your natural spirit clearly shining through, And I’m so proud that I can spend this precious time with you. Believe there’s not a single problem you cannot surmount, And while this life caresses you, make every moment count. Verse 3: Wish I had more to say, wish I had more to give: A mothers inspiration for every day you live. And I hope that when the course is finally run, You’ll look back and say “Those days were good, and I was loved”. Chorus 3: Don’t take too long to realize that you're strong, Don’t let people fool ya, when they tell ya you're wrong. Don’t take too long to see we’re not inside the Matrix, love is real, Don’t take too long to find that scars can heal. Outro: Don’t take too long to realize you're strong, Don’t take too long................................... © Copyright worldwide all rights reserved
  3. 1 point
    IsoVox 2 Review Getting a good vocal sound takes a lot of preparation. The size and shape of te room you record in, the ambient noise from electronic and other sources. In a home studio environment the issues are multiplied. For a start, not everyone has a dedicated studio, and even less are acoustically treated to both reduce spill onto recordings, and spill from the studio to the outside, or to shape the sound recorded by dealing with hot frequencies and reverberation. IsoVox have presented a solution, the IsoVox 2. Read the Songstuff IsoVox 2 Review.
  4. 1 point
    When I was first creating music as a teen, I would do whatever I felt when I mixed, I had no fear, no method, just feel. None of these mixes were as they should be, but many of them were very vibey. Then I met a producer who mentored me 5 years and taught me all kinds of things about mixing. None were very easy to implement, but his ideas of sonic correctness, creating space, making room, what eq does, what makes a good mix, what makes a bad mix etc. These ideas went whirling through my head, I decided "he makes good productions, he knows what he's talking about" and began implementing such ideas when I mixed. I'm not saying these ideas were bad, but they took over, and I lost something. My mixes just got worse, and worse, and worse, I began to fear mixing, feel it was never ending, and never release my songs, I am still kind of at this phase, but I'm nearing the end of it. Recently, I've begun asking God to show me what it is I'm missing in my mixes, and whether or not you believe in the source this is how He has been changing my thought patterns and I'm hearing improvement. I feel like rather than the rigid philosophies that my producer taught me, the philosophies I get through faith are more life engaging and freeing. So here are some things I believe I have learned. They are true for me, and apply to me, decide for yourself if they may be true for you. 1. Do not FEAR your controls and do not believe in "perfection". There is no perfection, there are vibes and you are pulling them out of the frequencies you have to work with. If you strive for perfection you will nitpick and pull yourself out of a creative and inspired mindset and into a scientific and rigid one. Fool around, play with the controls, have fun, see what can be done. You can't screw up what isn't right yet, just be sure to remember anything you may want to get back to before you tinker with it. 2. PAINT. Every sound has a shape, a thickness, a weight, a color, a coolness a warmth, a tone, use these to paint a picture. Rather than focusing on one single instrument at a time and thinking "How can I bring that out" or "I want to hear more of the umph of this sound" or trying to emulate things you imagined in your brain, try to listen as a whole and paint a picture. Once you get it in the ball park volume wise, what kind of picture do you have? Is it flat? Hollow? Not giving you a feeling? Boomy? What do your ears want to hear, and I don't mean idealistically. It's not what your brain wanted to hear when you wrote the song, or imagines on the radio, what does your brain want to hear from the real sounds coming out of your speakers. examples: There's no rhythm, I'm not feeling the beat. It all sounds apart from each other, there's no congruency. My voice is piercing. 3. MIX FROM THE HEART. If you are trying to emulate something you've heard or a band you want to "beat" or your motivation is to be the most "slammin" or "poppin" or whatever it is, you are probably not being very realistic and not getting very good mixes. Center yourself, be honest, quench pride, now listen, and pull out something that is compelling. This is your chance to make yourself feel something from your creation, come to that with reverence, awe that you are allowed to do something so expressive and wonderful and now see what can be done! See what can be done! 4. LEAVE NOTHING OUT. Keep a watchful eye over your whole creation, don't let anything go left amiss, it's easy to think guitar and bass or voice and piano are all there is and then Mr. Hi Hat or Ms. Snare are destroying your whole world. Be conscious of your entire creation from the commanding guitar solo to the sprinkles of a shaker. You can liken this to the love you would put into fine cooking or building a home, love your entire mix. And if you don't love a part? Get it out, and replace it with something you do love. 5. KNOW WHEN TO QUIT. Your brain is a divinely created machine, but it is still a machine and one that isn't even functioning at high capacity! (various reasons, wrong thinking, state of the environment, health etc) Sometimes the desire to finish is so strong that we keep going even when we know we aren't having fun, aren't feeling it, we're tight. It's always good to stop then, even if it's 5 or 10 minutes, just be peaceful, let your brain stop straining, get back to the essence of your song, all of mixing should be a joy, if it's a chore, stop. 6. LISTEN HONESTLY. Sometimes I find myself mixing as I think about other things, mixing but focusing on the sounds and not the feeling, and the whole time I'm telling myself "this is sounding pretty good, it's going alright, I'm making progress" but in reality I'm aimlessly making changes, mixing but not LISTENING. You've got to let your song take you on a journey, that means learning to space out, not having expectations, not dwelling on the last moment, not anticipating the next, but LISTENING. This is also a huge part of hearing the voice of God but that's for another blog and possibly another forum But yes these principles apply to life but they apply to mixing as well. Being in the moment, having a still heart, closing your eyes and being taken off on a journey, this is how you will know if you are really getting what you want. I think sometimes it's easier to just pretend the journey is going how we want and not listen for fear of disappointment, but if you have faith you can correct the problems and achieve your goal, it's the only way to truly know what's wrong. You have to be unafraid to close your eyes and objectively listen and see if you are happy with the journey you've created, if not, don't fear the correcting process, it's how you grow as a mixer. You tinker, honestly, and are unafraid to acknowledge the flaws. And DON'T be afraid to re record, sometimes you can't make a sound work because the sound ITSELF doesn't work. 7. KNOW WHEN TO QUIT FOREVER. A mix can always be changed and made better, but usually by the time you have something you can really live with (if you're being honest with yourself and it gives you good feels every time you hear it) the audience would rather just have it than have you tinkering away forever. At some point you have to consider it good enough to put out there, and this is usually when you are already happy but your brain keeps wanting to go "weeeeell... I mean maybe I could get that just a liiiiiiittttllleee more" or when you start to think it's ready but say "well it doesn't sound like this band..." or you get fearful people will compare it to *blank*. At that point? Just put it out, if there's something wrong with it the people may tell you, but who cares, we get better at mixing by sharing mixes, you won't bust out of nowhere with perfect sounding songs, you will grow and grow and grow forever and ever. Amen. Most churchy mixing post ever hahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahhahaahahahahaha Deal with it. I might make more of these as more come, let me know what you think my friends.
  5. 1 point
    Tip #1 - The music industry is a business. That's important to understand because....if you deal with it as anything other than a business, you will almost certainly fail. If you've had very little business experience or lack a basic understanding of how they operate, you need to learn. Why? As I said above, you cannot succeed in something without first possessing a basic understanding of what it is. Talent, musical proficiency dedication to your goals & self-confidence are prerequisites, not your ticket to stardom. Think of them in as you would a college degree. The degree itself guarantees you nothing....other than the opportunity to compete for what you want. Intangibles such as "creative integrity" may have value to you & your peers, but NOT to a business. As a general rule, businesses care about 2 things - making money & saving money. When you present yourself to industry representatives, keep that in mind. If you can convince them of your ability to accomplish one or both of those goals, that should get their attention. If you're unclear about how someone might "save" a record label money, I'll leave you with 2 examples: Think about the huge growth of the pop, rap & hip-hop genres in recent years. The bulk of the music & arrangements for those genres is created via software & sampling. That means fewer session musicians, less studio time and lower overall cost of production. They're able to sell those CDs & downloads at a competitive price, but the profit margin is higher because of the lower production cost. Do you really believe that change in public buying habits was a lucky accident? If you happen to be an artist with a huge online fanbase/following (Justin Bieber), that's tangible selling point. A huge ready-made fanbase means lower promotional cost for the label....again, saving them money. Tip #2 - Beware of the "Scamortunity" As you might guess, the term is meant to describe a scam disguised as an opportunity. What does a scamortunity look like? Not an easy question to answer, since they come in many forms. As a general rule, the more unbelievable the opportunity looks..... the more skeptical you should be the more extensively it should be researched the more reluctant you should be to participate In other words, if it seems too good to be true, it almost always is! Most cons (scams) are designed to take advantage of existing vulnerabilities. In the case of songwriter/musicians, those vulnerabilities are well known & numerous. Don't allow belief in yourself, belief in the uniqueness of your creations & desire for recognition to become liabilities in your quest for success. Remember....the music industry is a business & should be dealt with as such. In business, opportunities rarely come looking for you. Don't expect them to seek you out in this industry either. With very few exceptions, they won't! Tip #3 - Nothing is owed to you. Many in this business develop the attitude that the world/industry owes them something. Simply put, that is not a productive mindset & will do nothing to further your career. Countless hours of dedication to your craft, skills, talent & creative ability are prerequisites....not entitlements! Virtually every one of your competitors (fellow musician/songwriters) has worked as hard as you have....sometimes harder. Those prerequisites earn you the right to compete, nothing more. View them as you would a high school diploma. That diploma doesn't earn you money, it does get you a job & it won't guarantee admission to the college of your choice. But without it, you don't even qualify to compete for those things, because the majority of your competitors have one. Forget about concepts like fairness. The world of business is based on many rules, but fairness is not one of them. Tangible results rule the day. Tip #4 - For God sake, spend a couple dollars & get your finished material properly copyrighted. We're only too happy to spend hundreds of dollars on a smartphone that'll be obsolete next year. ATM fees, wireless streaming fees, credit card interest, bank overdraft fees, apps....all things that we've come to accept as unavoidable expenses. BUT....when it comes to spending $35 to legally protect our own artistic creations, we'd rather not. Seriously....$35??? That's the current U.S. Library of Congress online filing rate for multiple works by a single author. To the best of my knowledge, a Library of Congress registration is the only universally recognized method for proving legal ownership of a work. There are viable legal reasons for choosing this method & I encourage you to verify that for yourselves. Here are a number of direct links you may find useful: United States Copyright Office http://copyright.gov/ Why Should I Register My Work? FAQ page http://copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-general.html#automatic Copyright FAQ - http://copyright.gov/help/faq/index.html Electronic Copyright Office tutorial - http://copyright.gov/eco/eco-tutorial.pdf Online Copyright Registration - http://copyright.gov/eco/ Tip #5 - Remember...it's all about the vocals ! It’s common for recording songwriters/bands to underestimate the importance of the primary vocal track. Bottom line….it’s "Priority #1" and should be treated as such. Why you ask? Simple! To the ordinary listener, it’s the single most important thing. Non-musician listeners focus the majority of their attention on the vocal (singer). Sure…everything else matters! Just not as much. Common Reasons for Substandard Vocals: · Internal Band Dynamics - every member of a band wants to feel like their part is essential to the success or failure of a project. Unfortunately, nothing outranks the melody & the singer's presentation of it. Yes…a strong vocal can benefit from a great musical arrangement. But, if the vocal’s substandard, the best arrangement/performance in the world won’t save it. · When recording demos or finished material, vocals are one of the last things to be dealt with. If you’re working in a pro studio, you’re probably paying an hourly rate. If that is the case, you should budget your session time carefully. You can’t afford to blow the majority of the budget on preliminary musical tracks. When that occurs, the natural tendency is to rush the vocal recordings. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen friends make this mistake! Remember, if that vocal isn’t done reasonably well, everyone loses. Take whatever precautions are appropriate. When it’s all said & done, that vocal track will represent your song. Shoot for the highest quality you can reasonably achieve. Tom Hoffman Songstuff member profilehttp://www.tune-smith.comhttp://www.youtube.com/user/DrumStuffTH *This article is the result of a question posed on the Songstuff boards. John Moxey asked the question, these were my responses.
  6. 1 point
    Subject Matter Written, recorded & copyrighted in 2003, "Borrowed Time" was inspired by an actual event…the death of my boss Fred Marshall. Several years prior, Fred had been diagnosed with lung cancer. Once traditional treatment had failed, Fred received the bad news. There was little more medical science could do for him. For all practical purposes, he was living on borrowed time. He knew the "what", but not the "when". Grant it, Fred wasn't the first to receive a terminal prognosis & he wouldn't be the last. But, I couldn't help wondering....how does someone come to grips with that? What's it like to live with that knowledge? Questions worthy of a song, don't you think? I did In the end, Fred lost his battle with cancer. The day of the funeral, our company closed so that everyone could attend. He was laid to rest in his hometown, several hours North of St. Louis. As you might expect, it was a very quiet drive back. Since I was a passenger...with the back seat to myself, I made good use of the time. I wrote the majority of this lyric. Given the circumstances, it seemed a fitting activity. Lyric Livin’ on borrowed time Not sure how he’s gonna use it Livin’ on borrowed time Knows he can’t afford to lose it When life gives you a surprise It can open up your eyes Should already be…part of history Dead & gone before his time, but he’s… Livin’ on borrowed time Not sure how he’s gonna use it Livin’ on borrowed time Knows he can’t afford to lose it Livin’ every day In a different way Cause he’s never sure How much longer he’ll survive Told him he’d be dead last year Doctors say the end’s still near Still he’s tryin’ to…use the time to do All the things he holds so dear, cause he’s… Livin’ on borrowed time Not sure how he’s gonna use it Livin’ on borrowed time Knows he can’t afford to lose it Livin’ on borrowed time Livin’ on borrowed time Copyright 2003 – Tom Hoffman Personal Insights Back-in-the-day, I participated in a number of songwriting competitions. The Billboard World, Song of the Year, American Songwriter, USA, UK & Great American to name a few. Out of all the songs I entered, “Borrowed Time” scored the highest ...one of 5 finalists. The most traditional, mainstream song I’ve ever created…and they liked it best? Go figure! Take from that, what you will. Musical Fundamentals Genre was an easy decision. Given the subject matter, traditional country was a perfect fit. It’s set in the key of G…a commonly used country key. BPM = 104 …a comfortable, easy-going pace for this type of song. Structurally, it is different. Following a brief introduction, it flows immediately into a chorus section. That’s not unheard of, but it’s certainly not the norm. For this particular song, I thought it was an excellent choice. It allowed one of the primary “hooks” (the song title) to be heard almost immediately. Instrumentation Choices Fender Strat Acoustic Bass + Harmonica (Hohner) & Keyboard Strings (Yamaha P-80 digital piano) Production: Tascam 788 Performance Credits: • Guitars, Bass, Drums, Harmonica, Keyboards – Tom Hoffman • Vocals – Tom Hoffman YouTube Video Version (*includes full song) - https://youtu.be/EbeVOh7m5FE Tom Hoffman Songstuff member profilehttp://www.tune-smith.comhttp://www.youtube.com/user/DrumStuffTH
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