Category Archives: Other Topics

David Bowie’s Creative Process

While cruising the internet, I came across this fascinating video from 1997, David Bowie’s “Inspirations.” (Hat tip to the always excellent website, Watching the video, we get a glimpse into Mr. Bowie’s creative process. What really impressed me was how he constantly pushed himself out of his comfort zone in order to grow as an artist. Whether you’re a Bowie fan or not, this 15 minute video about art and creativity is well worth watching. Enjoy!

Rudy Van Gelder Interview

Rudy Van Gelder and Wes Montgomery

Rudy Van Gelder and Wes Montgomery

Tape Op Magazine recently added their extensive 2004 interview with Rudy Van Gelder to their web archives. I highly recommend this interview for recording enthusiasts. Mr. Van Gelder was the man who recorded so many of the greatest jazz records of all time, including John Coltrane and his classic quartet recordings for Impulse Records.

Introduction to the Tape Op Interview:

Rudy Van Gelder’s legend looms large, yet he has avoided most interviews throughout his 50-plus years in the recording biz. He has never discussed his techniques, and even in the following interview he didn’t divulge details. Van Gelder is best known for the LPs he recorded in the ’50s and ’60s for the Blue Note and Prestige jazz labels. In his youth he built a recording studio in his parent’s house where he recorded Miles Davis and many others. Having outgrown the first home studio, he built his own recording studio/complex/home in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, which remains. The scope of Van Gelder’s work is unknown, but it’s a foundation for the maps, legends and history of the music of John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and others. Van Gelder’s work is both intimate and mind blowing, and he might be the greatest recording engineer in jazz history.

Got to the Tape Op Site to read the rest of the interview.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Tape Op! In the U.S. there are free subscriptions for the print edition.

Steve Albini on the State of the Music Industry

Steve Albini recently gave the keynote address at Melbourne’s Face the Music Conference about the state of the music industry. Steve Albini, unlike many prognosticators who long for the old days of record company dominance, sings the praises of our modern internet model. Here’s an excerpt from his speech from The Guardian.

I work every day with music and with bands and I have for more than 30 years. I’ve made a couple thousand records for independent bands and rock stars, for big labels and small ones. I made a record two days ago and I’ll be making one on Monday when I get off the plane. So I believe this puts me in a pretty good position to evaluate the state of the music scene today, as it relates to how it used to be and how it has been.

We’re all here to talk about the state of the music scene and the health of the music community. I’ll start by saying that I’m both satisfied and optimistic about the state of the music scene. And I welcome the social and technological changes that have influenced it. I hope my remarks today will start a conversation and through that conversation we can invoke an appreciation of how resilient the music community is, how supportive it can be and how welcoming it should be.

It is definitely worth reading the speech in its entirety. Albini makes some valid points, most of which I agreee. (Except for his bashing of Prince!)

Spam Spam Spam Spam

We interrupt your musical programming for this brief rant about Spam.

Since I use WordPress for this blog and my regular website, I use the Spam catching plugin called Askimet. It works wonderfully weeding out all of the spam comments that most websites have to deal with on a daily basis. With Askimet, I can simply delete all of the spam with a simple flush click. This is useful, considering how much spam I get. For example, at the moment, I have 381 spam comments current held by Askimet. (That is a 3 day accumulation!)

Sometimes I like to check out the contents of the spam comments before I delete them. I did this today and found some very strange comments. I suspect there are some issues with these spamsters with their English translation. Here are a few examples of the strange posts I find in my spam filter:

Someone from “Cheap Uggs” (WTF is an Ugg?) wrote the following messages:

It might appear a little bit of unfamiliar getting hold of your new my father big boy pants to have dad’s Day.

I studied the first magnetic generator somebody decided on.

Columbia used to sell large sweatpants which is need favourable rates, and yet that doesn’t look like leading them to presently,

Talking about waxing poetic, eh?

Someone named “Gospel” added:

F*ckin’ amazing things here. I am very satisfied to peer your post. Thank you a lot and i am taking a look forward to touch you. Will you kindly drop me a e-mail?


your dog’s first football casino shoe, the entire chat the superstar, was already released with 1917, although the man about your great outcomes Charles H Taylor was to enter the image a long time newer.


Anyway, you get the point. Thank goodness for Askiment!

End of Rant!

Alan Lomax and the Music of the People

Roots music and folk music are the songs of the people. I think it is important to look back at the musicians who came before us to understand how their musical contributions helped shape the songs we sing and play.

Alan Lomax was one of the more prolific “folklorists” who helped document and preserve many of the treasures of American and International folk music. For those of you not familiar with Mr. Lomax, check out his Wikipedia Page:

Alan Lomax (January 15, 1915 – July 19, 2002) was one of the great American field collectors of folk music of the 20th century. He was also a folklorist, ethnomusicologist, archivist, writer, scholar, political activist, oral historian, and film-maker. Lomax also produced recordings, concerts, and radio shows in the U.S and in England, which played an important role in both the American and British folk revivals of the 1940s, ’50s and early ’60s. During the New Deal, with his father, famed folklorist and collector John A. Lomax and later alone and with others, Lomax recorded thousands of songs and interviews for the Archive of American Folk Song at the Library of Congress on aluminum and acetate discs.

If you have some time, please check out the vast collection of videos on Alan Lomax Channel on Youtube.

Breaking down David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”

Here’s a clip with Simon Wood going through the original tracks from David Bowie’s classic song, “Space Oddity.” I always find it useful to hear the individual elements of the mix in order to gain a better understanding of the song as a whole. I am especially fascinated the supporting musical elements that make the song, what it is. Note the really excellent bass and drum interplay near the end of the song. H/T Drew Dundon.

Case Study: The 15 Year Evolution of a Song

In the Beginning

In the late 1980’s, while I was living in Pennsylvania, I took my first step into the world of multi-track recording. This is when I purchased a brand new Tascam Porta 05, 4-track cassette recorder. Armed with my new 4 track, a bunch of blank cassettes and a couple of cheap Radio Shack dynamic mics, I started my home recording odyssey.

4 track goodnees

Tascam Porta 05

Continue reading

Dearly Departed Gear: Five Things I Should Have Never Parted With

When thinking about some of the musical gear I have parted with over the years, I sometimes feel remorseful. Sure, there were things I acquired that I am glad I got rid of. (For example, an old Behringer Mixer that was a noisy as Niagara Falls. Good riddance!) There are other pieces of gear, that in retrospect, I wish I still had. At the time, I am sure I had good reason to get rid of some it – financial needs, efficiency or helping out a friend. However valid the reason may have been, I still can’t shake my feelings of regret. Here’s a list of five pieces of gear I wish I still owned:

Premier Spring Reverb Unit

Continue reading