Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Batman is Brückner

The movie trailer for the new Batman movie has an orchestral chord (in the last 30 seconds, over the title) that sends chills up my spine. After listening to it a few times, it started to sound familar, and after a few days of letting it roll around in my brain, I remembered where I had hear that before. It goes back awhile...

While a student at UBC, I met a friend who introduced me to classical music. While I had heard Beethovens' greatest hits and even heard of Mahler, the ones that I had never even heard of before were the last three symphonies by Anton Brückner. Like Mahler, these are big orchestras, with big, sweeping themes, and awesome brass sections.

Brückner's music you have to sit and listen to. You can't be doing something else. It ain't background music.  I have to physically prepare my space before listening, then need unwinding time after, with silence and no interruptions between. The music is that holy. I recall driving from Ottawa to Kingston for a rare performance of the 8th Symphony, and driving back in the silent glow of the event.

Even if you don't care to dive as deeply as I have, you should at least hear what might have inspired Hans Zimmer on this soundtrack.

Here's the link to Anton Brückner's Symphony No. 8 in C Minor, Movement 4 (Finale) on the iTunes Music Store. Listen with reverence.

Herbert Von Karajan & Wiener Philharmoniker - Bruckner: Symphony No. 8 - Symphony No. 8 in C Minor: IV. Finale: Feierlich, Nicht Schnell

Another rendition conducted by Carlo Maria Giulini on YouTube.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Sixteen Channel Recording Studio in a Volvo

It had been many years since I did radio spot production and studio sound on analog Neve consoles and Ampex multi-track tape drives, so it was with some worry and excitement I agreed to record my son's 5-piece metal band totally digitally.  After researching a bit I bought a used ProjectMix IO since it had both 8 inputs as well a control surface that worked with Logic Studio (I can't really mix with a mouse, and was spoiled by those nice old consoles...).

To get beyond the 8 tracks a rented a Motu 896 from L&M and spent a few hours reconfiguring its MOTU Audio Setup app to send all 8 channels separately through a beautifully thin piece of glass optical ADAT into the ProjectMix to give me all 16 separate input channels into Logic. With that many channels available, I could run 7 mics on the drums, and paralleled DI with mics on the guitars, plus one vocal.

So armed with a few SM57's, an AudioTechnica AT2020 for vocals, a couple DIs, an Apex kit and pencil condensor overheads, I ventured into the practice space. (The Apex DP2 drum mics are just ok, but I was really impressed with the Apex 185 pencil pair for the price)

To say that I was impressed is an understatement. The sound quality I could get from a couple $G's of equipment is amazing, and it all fits in the back of the Volvo (wagon).  I didn't imagine I could carry around a 16-track studio in my car and record 13 channels of 24-bit audio onto a Mac laptop.

Having fun, but wonder if I am a n00b or a seasoned amateur now. This stuff was pretty hard to figure out, so even as an electrical engineer with some years of experience it took some effort to get all this to work together - is it easy for other people or hard?