Thursday, February 28, 2013

SHG Radio Show, Episode 154

Welcome to this week's edition of Subterranean Homesick Grooves™, a weekly electronica-based radio show presented originally on CHMA FM 106.9 at Mount Allison University in Atlantic Canada (but expanded to a distribution on other terrestrial radio stations), and also distributed as a global podcast through iTunes and numerous other sites. The show is normally programmed and mixed by Jonathan Clark (as DJ Bolivia), although some weeks feature guest mixes by other Canadian DJ's. The show encompasses many sub-genres within the realm of electronic dance music, but the main focus is definitely on minimal and tech-house, and a small amount of progressive, trance, & techno. Liner notes for this episode (SHG 154) can be seen below.

Para la información en español, vaya aquí.

By the way, if you're looking for DJ mixes in styles other than progressive/tech-house, check out www.djbolivia.ca/mixes.html. That page has a number of mainstream/top40 dance mixes (the "Workout Mix" series), as well as some deep house, drum and bass, and other styles.








Here's our Podcast Feed to paste into iTunes or any other podcatcher:
http://feeds.feedburner.com/shg

Older episodes of the show are not directly available from our main servers anymore, to conserve space for more recent episodes. However, all older episodes have been posted individually on SoundCloud, and also in archives of 25 episodes apiece (convenient for bulk downloading) from DJ Bolivia's Public Dropbox folder. That Dropbox link also has folders for individual tracks and remixes, project files and stem collections for producers who want to make their own remixes, videos, and other material. You don't even need to have a Dropbox account to download files from it.


Here’s a link so you can listen to the show or download it from SoundCloud:



Next week's show is going to be another one tied in with a video production, in association with a mini-series of YouTube tutorials that I'm about to produce to show people how to do live performances with Ableton Live. This is a series that I've wanted to do for almost a year, and I've had hundreds of people emailing me with suggestions for it.


Here are Track Listings for episode 154:

01. Oliver Klein, "What U Got" (Reset Robot Remix).
02. Jah Sound, "Tribal Freedom" (Lord Supzer Remix).
03. Juanito, "Los Montes" (DJ Koutarou & A Sugiurumn Remix).
04. Frankyeffe, "Dee Lay" (On Off Remix).
05. Groovebox & Sergio Pardo, "Osiris" (Original Mix).
06. Roderick Fox, "Hell Yeah" (Original Mix).
07. David Amo, Julio Navas, & Rober Gaez, "This Is True House" (Original Mix).
08. DJ Chus & Pepo, "Shopska Salata" (Vazquez Mix).
09. Marcelo Vak, "I'll Be Good" (Soneec Remix).
10. Andres Power & Outcode, "Gugu" (Original Mix).
11. Stefano Noferini, "Buhstyle" (Original Mix).
12. Umek & Tomy DeClerque, "Original Challenge" (Original Mix).






Here are links to either personal websites, MySpace pages, or [usually] the SoundCloud pages for a few of the original artists and remixers/producers listed above:



Oliver Klein (Germany)
Jah Sound (Colombia)
Juanito (France)
Frankyeffe (Italy)
Groovebox (Britain)
Sergio Pardo (Spain)
Roderick Fox (Netherlands)
David Amo (Spain)
Julio Navas (Spain)
Rober Gaez (Spain)
DJ Chus (Spain)
Pepo (Bulgaria)
Marcelo Vak (Chile)
Andres Power (Colombia)
Stefano Noferini (Italy)
Umek (Slovenia)
Tomy DeClerque (Slovenia)
Reset Robot (Britain)
Lord Supzer (Colombia)
Soneec (Hungary)


If you're a producer who is interested in submitting music for possible inclusion on future episodes of SHG, visit DJ Bolivia's SoundCloud dropbox. Please note that not all submitted mixes will be played on the show. If you have a track that fits the format (progressive and/or tech-house), then your chances of having the track featured will increase. Also, please send me a message through Soundcloud to point out that you put something in my DropBox, because sometimes my feed is pretty busy with shared tracks.

Subterranean Homesick Grooves is a weekly specialty EDM music show with a basic weekly audience base of about 1500 listeners per week through podcasting and direct downloads, another hundred or so listeners through SoundCloud, and an unknown number of listeners through terrestrial FM broadcast. If you're a radio station programming director, and would like to add Subterranean Homesick Grooves to your regular programming lineup, contact djbolivia@gmail.com for details. We currently release SHG as an advance download to a number of stations globally on a weekly basis (at no charge), and we welcome inquiries from additional outlets.

Go to the Mix Downloads page on the main DJ Bolivia website if you'd like to check out a number of our older shows, or visit our SoundCloud page for individual tracks and remixes.

We also have a file containing complete track listings from all of DJ Bolivia's radio shows, studio mixes, and live sets. The PDF version can be viewed from within your browser by clicking directly. Both the PDF and the Excel versions can be downloaded by right-clicking and choosing the "save link as" option:

View as PDF file: http://www.djbolivia.ca/complete_track_history_djbolivia.pdf
Download Excel file: http://www.djbolivia.ca/complete_track_history_djbolivia.xlsx









Follow Jonathan Clark on other sites:
        Twitter: twitter.com/djbolivia
        SoundCloud: soundcloud.com/djbolivia
        YouTube: youtube.com/djbolivia
        Facebook: facebook.com/djbolivia
        Main Site: www.djbolivia.ca
        About.Me: about.me/djbolivia
        Music Blog: djbolivia.blogspot.ca




Sunday, February 24, 2013

Radio Interview on the Ashish Ddavidd Show (New Delhi, India)

I just posted a recording online of a radio interview that I did the other day with Ashish Ddavidd, a well known radio voice in New Delhi. We did the interview over Skype, as I was in Nova Scotia at the time. Here's a link:


Ashish is the National Station Voice for 92.7 Big FM, & also a Radio Jockey at 102.6 FM Rainbow. Follow him on Twitter at:

            www.twitter.com/VoiceNinja




Follow me (Jonathan Clark) on other sites:
        Twitter: twitter.com/djbolivia
        SoundCloud: soundcloud.com/djbolivia
        YouTube: youtube.com/djbolivia
        Facebook: facebook.com/djbolivia
        Main Site: www.djbolivia.ca
        About.Me: about.me/djbolivia
        Music Blog: djbolivia.blogspot.ca


DJ Bolivia - Live in Ottawa, 2013-02-22 (Ritual Nights)

I just got back from a quick trip to Ottawa, where I was booked to play a show for Ritual Nights. This was another psy-trance set, which you can download below.




I was booked at this event by Ian Chardine, a promoter who helps with bookings at a couple events and venues in Ottawa. I think I've been pretty lucky with the promoters that have booked me in the past few years, because once again, things went flawlessly, from transportation to accommodations to hospitality.




This mix can be downloaded as part of an archive of all 28 of DJ Bolivia's available recordings of live shows, from the following Google Drive link:


The recordings are compressed as a RAR archive, which can be opened natively in Windows.  If you're using a Mac, you can use a free utility to open the RAR (popular examples are "The Unarchiver" and the "UnRarX" app).  The password to open the archive is simply 'bolivia' and the size of the download is 5.6 gigabytes.  If you have problems downloading this archive from the above Google Drive link, you can email DJ Bolivia at djbolivia@gmail.com for an alternate download link.

Additional information about finding any of DJ Bolivia's older mixes can be found at this link:


Thanks for your interest in these old historical mixes!


And here's a link on MixCloud:





Obviously, psy-trance is not quite my normal style for DJ'ing, since I usually play progressive-house or tech-house in EDM-focused venues, or more mainstream dance tracks at some other clubs. But this was my second psy-trance event in the past couple of months, and the high energy is pretty infecting. I think I'm actually going to try to play more psy-trance events and less tech-house in the future. If you want to check out a psy-trance set that I played recently in Beijing (China), after you're done on this page, click here for the Beijing set.

Anyway, here's the track list from my set:

01. S Range, "Kick Back" (Original Mix).
02. Lyctum, "Catalyzer" (Odd Sequence).
03. Coming Soon, "Ayahuasca" (Original Mix).
04. North Sector, "Spring" (Original Mix).
05. Jacob, "I'm Leaving" (Original Mix).
06. CoralMoon, "Circles Edge" (Original Mix).
07. Coral, "Neon Summer" (Original Mix).
08. 2minds, "In Balance" (Original Mix).
09. Delysid, "Traumatic Injury" (Amplify Remix).
10. Astralex & Riff Ruff, "Solid Layers" (Original Mix).
11. Ital, "Animated Sound" (Original Mix).
12. Shekinah, "My Way" (Original Mix).
13. Virtual Light & Te Tuna, "Castlevania" (Te Tuna Remix).
14. Sixsense, "Under Explosions" (Original Mix).
15. Sixsense, "Balbala" (Original Mix).
16. Cortex & N3xu5, "Auto Sync" (Cortex Remix).
17. Hypnocoustics, "Hippies In The Mist" (Original Mix).
18. Israeli Sphinx, "Rebuild" (Original Mix).
19. Kor, "Run Run Funky Rabbit" (Original Mix).

This set was mixed live on CD players. The venue had a Pioneer DJM-800 for a mixer, and a pair of CDJ-900's for decks. I took a signal off the record-out into a Sony PCM-M10 audio recorder.



Follow Jonathan Clark on other sites:
        Twitter: twitter.com/djbolivia
        SoundCloud: soundcloud.com/djbolivia
        YouTube: youtube.com/djbolivia
        Facebook: facebook.com/djbolivia
        Main Site: www.djbolivia.ca
        About.Me: about.me/djbolivia
        Music Blog: djbolivia.blogspot.ca
        MixCloud: mixcloud.com/djbolivia
        DropBox: djbolivia.ca/dropbox



Friday, February 22, 2013

SHG Radio Show, Episode 153

Welcome to this week's edition of Subterranean Homesick Grooves™, a weekly electronica-based radio show presented originally on CHMA FM 106.9 at Mount Allison University in Atlantic Canada (but expanded to a distribution on other terrestrial radio stations), and also distributed as a global podcast through iTunes and numerous other sites. The show is normally programmed and mixed by Jonathan Clark (as DJ Bolivia), although some weeks feature guest mixes by other Canadian DJ's. The show encompasses many sub-genres within the realm of electronic dance music, but the main focus is definitely on minimal and tech-house, and a small amount of progressive, trance, & techno. Liner notes for this episode (SHG 153) can be seen below.

Para la información en español, vaya aquí.

By the way, if you're looking for DJ mixes in styles other than progressive/tech-house, check out www.djbolivia.ca/mixes.html. That page has a number of mainstream/top40 dance mixes (the "Workout Mix" series), as well as some deep house, drum and bass, and other styles.








Here's our Podcast Feed to paste into iTunes or any other podcatcher:
http://feeds.feedburner.com/shg

Older episodes of the show are not directly available from our main servers anymore, to conserve space for more recent episodes. However, all older episodes have been posted individually on SoundCloud, and also in archives of 25 episodes apiece (convenient for bulk downloading) from DJ Bolivia's Public Dropbox folder. That Dropbox link also has folders for individual tracks and remixes, project files and stem collections for producers who want to make their own remixes, videos, and other material. You don't even need to have a Dropbox account to download files from it.


Here’s a link so you can listen to the show or download it from SoundCloud:



For anyone in the Ottawa area tonight (Friday, February 22nd, 2013), I'm playing a set at a psy-trance event called "Ritual Nights" at Cafe Eri, 953 Somerset St West.


Here are Track Listings for episode 153:

01. Hosh, "Venuswell" (Original Mix).
02. R2, "111" (Original Mix).
03. Clear Beats & Msc Admirer, "Amnesia" (Original Mix).
04. Spiros Kaloumenos, "Cloud Server" (Bodyscrub & MIDI Remix).
05. Loopfresh, "Kebab Surprise" (Original Mix).
06. Jorge Montia & Rober Gaez, "You Know Why" (David Herrero Mix).
07. Alessio Frino, "Ovest Is Back" (Angelo Dore Remix).
08. Glender, "Arabic Summer" (Original Mix).
09. Dee Marcus, "Our Mashine" (Original Mix).
10. Mladen Tomic, "Before Sunset" (Simon Doty Remix).
11. Dosem, "Smashing Society" (Original Mix).
12. Toris Badic, "Click Boom Bang" (Original Mix).






Here are links to either personal websites, MySpace pages, or [usually] the SoundCloud pages for a few of the original artists and remixers/producers listed above:



Hosh (Germany)
Clear Beats (Hungary)
Msc Admirer (Hungary)
Spiros Kaloumenos (Greece)
Jorge Montia (Spain)
Rober Gaez (Spain)
David Herrero (Spain)
Alessio Frino (Italy)
Angelo Dore (Italy)
Glender (Portugal)
Dee Marcus (Serbia)
Mladen Tomic (Bosnia & Herzegovina)
Simon Doty (Canada)
Dosem (Spain)
Toris Badic (Serbia)


If you're a producer who is interested in submitting music for possible inclusion on future episodes of SHG, visit DJ Bolivia's SoundCloud dropbox. Please note that not all submitted mixes will be played on the show. If you have a track that fits the format (progressive and/or tech-house), then your chances of having the track featured will increase. Also, please send me a message through Soundcloud to point out that you put something in my DropBox, because sometimes my feed is pretty busy with shared tracks.

Subterranean Homesick Grooves is a weekly specialty EDM music show with a basic weekly audience base of about 1500 listeners per week through podcasting and direct downloads, another hundred or so listeners through SoundCloud, and an unknown number of listeners through terrestrial FM broadcast. If you're a radio station programming director, and would like to add Subterranean Homesick Grooves to your regular programming lineup, contact djbolivia@gmail.com for details. We currently release SHG as an advance download to a number of stations globally on a weekly basis (at no charge), and we welcome inquiries from additional outlets.

Go to the Mix Downloads page on the main DJ Bolivia website if you'd like to check out a number of our older shows, or visit our SoundCloud page for individual tracks and remixes.

We also have a file containing complete track listings from all of DJ Bolivia's radio shows, studio mixes, and live sets. The PDF version can be viewed from within your browser by clicking directly. Both the PDF and the Excel versions can be downloaded by right-clicking and choosing the "save link as" option:

View as PDF file: http://www.djbolivia.ca/complete_track_history_djbolivia.pdf
Download Excel file: http://www.djbolivia.ca/complete_track_history_djbolivia.xlsx









Follow Jonathan Clark on other sites:
        Twitter: twitter.com/djbolivia
        SoundCloud: soundcloud.com/djbolivia
        YouTube: youtube.com/djbolivia
        Facebook: facebook.com/djbolivia
        Main Site: www.djbolivia.ca
        About.Me: about.me/djbolivia
        Music Blog: djbolivia.blogspot.ca




By the way, I've been working on putting together some more DJ tutorial videos lately. Here's a pair that went up this past week, about basic beat-mixing on CD players, or with vinyl records on turntables:








Monday, February 18, 2013

Ten Best House Music Documentaries

Beatport recently featured an article about the ten best documentaries of all time. You can check out their article here:

http://news.beatport.com/blog/2013/02/11/the-10-best-house-documentaries-of-all-time


If you want to check out any of the documentaries (I'm working my way through them right now), here are embedded links for each of the ten. However, the Beatport article/link above also has a few words about each video:



The Chemical Generation from Racket Racket on Vimeo.





















From Jack to Juke: 25 Years of Ghetto House from Sonali Aggarwal on Vimeo.




















Follow Jonathan Clark on other sites:
        Twitter: twitter.com/djbolivia
        SoundCloud: soundcloud.com/djbolivia
        YouTube: youtube.com/djbolivia
        Facebook: facebook.com/djbolivia
        Main Site: www.djbolivia.ca
        About.Me: about.me/djbolivia
        Music Blog: djbolivia.blogspot.ca


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Basic Beat-Mixing for DJ's: CD Players

Are you interested in learning more about basic DJ’ing? Well, I just finished another video for my “Learn to DJ” series. This one isn’t for absolute beginners, but it will be good for people who have already decided that they want to be DJ’s, and who have decided that they want to learn to beat-mix their music on CD players or even on turntables.

This video specifically targets people who are interested in learning to beat-mix or beat-match music on CD players in the traditional style, rather than using computer software to assist you. The majority of the video also applies to people wanting to learn to beat-mix on turntables, although I have a separate short video coming in a few days that explains some extra considerations for turntable beat-mixing.




When a DJ gets ready to perform, they basically have two choices:
1. Perform using computer-assistance, ie. with software packages such as Ableton, Traktor, Serato, or Virtual DJ.
2. Perform using physical equipment, such as playing vinyl records on turntables, or playing CD’s or USB-based audio on CD players.

My Videos Page on my main website has tutorial videos about quite a few of these branches of DJ’ing, so bookmark it and check out some of the other videos.




Vinyl is a more traditional media than CD’s. People were DJ’ing on vinyl and cassettes in the 1970’s. Technics came out with the SL-1200 turntable in around 1972, and it became very popular among DJ’ing over the subsequent several decades. CD players started to come into use in the mid-1980’s. Surprisingly (for many of today’s younger DJ’s), cassettes were more popular than vinyl or CD’s in the late 1980’s.

I’ve heard that turntables originally had pitch adjustment controls due to inconsistencies in the pressings of records, to “fix” mistakes in some pressings. I don’t know if that’s actually true, but DJ’s quickly learned that the pitch controls allowed them to adjust tempos, to match the speeds of different songs to each other. DJ’s realized that most of the time, if people were going to walk off a dance floor, it was at the end of a song. Beat mixing was born in an attempt to keep people on the dance floor, by eliminating the periods when a song ended and tricking dancers into sticking around for another song.

CD players with pitch controls came out in the late 1990’s. The Pioneers CDJ-500 was released around 1997. A few years later, the CDJ-1000 was released, and that eventually became an industry standard. CDJ-1000’s can still be found in clubs all over the world. A few years ago, the CDJ-2000 was released, which is the model that I used in this video, although not too long ago it was replaced by the CDJ-2000 “Nexus” variation, which among other things, has a much better display panel, and also allows DJ’s to play songs wirelessly from a nearby smartphone.


A big question that people frequently ask me is to make a recommendation about whether a new DJ should learn on computer software or on traditional equipment. The answer to that depends on the person. Mixing on a laptop allows you to bring more music, and the versatility of having software to assist you is helpful. If you don’t have to worry as much about beat-mixing, you can focus more on programming and stage presence. And buying a laptop is generally cheaper than buying all the rest of the traditional DJ gear that you might want.

However, there are drawbacks to laptops. You have to make sure you have a decent machine that doesn’t crash, with enough storage space, lots of memory, and a fast enough hard drive that you don’t get lags in the music during your performance. Some fans and purists look down upon laptop DJ’s because they have less versatility and skill than DJ’s that mix on vinyl or CD’s. And one thing that I think is really important to remember is that DJ’ing on a laptop isn’t nearly as fun!

But of course, CD’s and vinyl have drawbacks. For instance, you have to learn to mix. It’s not easy. Some people pick up the basics in a single evening, and others need a couple weeks to get comfortable with simple mixes. But after that, you still need months of practice to really get good at smooth-sounding mixes. The equipment is also fairly expensive, and not everyone can afford to have a full DJ setup in their own house or apartment. Also, a problem that many beginning DJ’s don’t think about is that after they get comfortable on their own equipment, they go to play at a club and they’re in a totally unfamiliar environment, perhaps with a completely different mixer and players and monitoring system, and it feels impossible to mix again. Until you start playing in top clubs that can afford high-end equipment, a DJ will have to get used to lots of different equipment configurations, and will have to get used to playing on different brands and models of equipment.

But the most important thing to remember about learning to beat mix on vinyl or CD’s is that it’s fun. So let’s learn.


There are two distinct styles of mixing CD’s (and vinyl). The first is what I call “radio style,” or a basic fade-in/fade-out approach. As one song starts to end, you start a second song on the other player, so the two songs overlap. In this style, you probably make no effort whatsoever to sync tempos, although with some songs, you might try to time the first beat of the new song to hit at a very specific time.

Beat Mixing (also referred to as Beat Matching) is the other approach, where you take songs with similar tempos and sync them so they sound like a continuous track. Beat mixing is the predominant style in clubs, parties, and at electronic festivals. It works with a lot of different styles of music, such as hip hop, house, techno, trance, breakbeats, dubstep, drum ‘n’ bass, electro, and mainstream pop/dance. Within some of those styles, there are massive numbers of sub-genres. For example, with house music, you’ll common find DJ’s segmented into deep house, tech-house, disco house, vocal house, progressive house, tribal house, and probably thirty or forty other subtle variations that I could list.

It’s probably useful for you to understand the distinctions between the various main styles, if you don’t already. Of course, that could take weeks to learn, but it’s kind of fun. A good resource that I’ll recommend you check out eventually is Ishkur’s Guide To Electronic Music. It’s tongue-in-cheek most of the time, but still contains a massive amount of useful information, and even experienced DJ’s and EDM fans can spend hours flipping through descriptions of various styles and listening to samples.

It’s also good to understand tempo ranges. It’s best to mix tracks within a fairly tight range. For example, no matter what your typical tempo is for a style, it can often be pretty challenging to beat-mix a track with another track that has a tempo difference of more than 10% from the preceding track. In fact, I’d say that a range of around 5% on either side of an “average” tempo for a genre is typically easiest. Of course, it helps if you know the typical tempos for various genres. Let me list a few:

      Hip Hop – 60bpm to 105bpm
      House – 115bpm to 135bpm
      Techno – 125bpm to 145bpm
      Trance – 130bpm to 145bpm
      Dubstep – 135bpm to 145bpm
      Drum ‘n’ Bass – 150bpm to 180bpm
      Electro – 125bpm to 135bpm
      Mainstream Pop/Dance – 118bpm to 132bpm

These are all my opinion only, and you’ll sometimes find tracks outside these ranges. But I feel fairly confident that 95%+ of the music in each genre lays within the ranges that I listed above. You’ll notice that Hip Hop has the biggest range. I actually think it’s by far the hardest type of music to mix because of that. You really have to know your music, and to go from a song in the lower part of that range to one in the upper, you probably need to play several other songs in between, gradually ramping the tempo up to where it needs to be.


Before I can demonstrate beat mixing on the equipment, it’s important to look at it from a theoretical point-of-view. There are two things that you need to understand about the speed of a record: the tempo, and what I loosely call the acceleration. If you know how a pitch control works, you’re probably really confused right now. There’s only one thing that you can adjust – the tempo! But you have to realize that you’re introducing another dimension into the equation when you start DJ’ing, and that’s the dimension of “time.” To change from one tempo to another takes time. It might seem almost instantaneous, if you move a pitch fader quickly, but it’s still a finite amount of time.

Let me use two airplanes that are trying to fly beside each other as an analogy, and let’s assume that one of the two (which I’ll call Plane “B”) is flying “behind” the other in its parallel flight path. What does Plane B need to do to start flying beside Plane A? Well, it needs to make not one but TWO speed adjustments. First, it needs to change its speed so it is flying faster. But before long, Plane B will catch up to Plane A, and unfortunately, if you don’t make a second adjustment, it will quickly get ahead of Plane A. So merely speeding up Plane B didn’t synchronize the two planes. The pilot had to speed up to catch up AND then make a second speed (tempo) adjustment in the opposite direction to slow down to the same speed as Plane A. A DJ has to make a similar pair of adjustments to match a lagging beat (Plane B) to the beat that’s going out to the dance floor (Plane A). But the DJ may have an additional challenge – he or she might not know exactly how fast Plane A is going, which means you don’t know exactly how much to slow back down to stay beside Plane A. Sounds confusing? Yes, it is.

I just illustrated the most common way for experienced DJ’s to beat-mix. There is a second way. Let’s say that you’re flying Plane B and you’re a little bit behind Plane A, but you realize that you’re flying at exactly the same speed, because you’re neither catching up nor falling further behind. This is good! This gives you information that you need – you now know exactly how fast Plane A is travelling. The corollary when DJ’ing is that if your incoming track is off-beat but it’s not falling further behind or catching up (it’s staying exactly off-beat), then at least you know what your final tempo on the new record needs to be once you’ve caught up. In this situation, you just need to catch up and then at the very instant you are caught up and beside Plane A (or the beats are synced with the two songs), you immediately cut back the speed on Plane B to what you have already learned is the correct speed (tempo).

For people beginning to learn to beat-mix, this is the way that they usually find easiest to learn, which is fine. They focus on trying to make sure that their incoming track is the right speed as the biggest priority, regardless of whether or not the songs are synced. Once you know that your two tempos are the same, you can quickly and temporary “pump” or “suppress” the beat to make it match that of the audible record. Of course, you can’t quite do that in aviation, so my analogy falls apart there. If an analogy was still possible, it would be like if Plane B was going the right speed but was behind Plane A, and a giant flyswatter gave it a smack and pushed it up beside plane A.

The problem that you’ll probably see with the first approach is that when you’re speeding up Plane B to catch up to Plane A, and then you suddenly have to guess at a slower speed to stay beside Plane A, you’ll probably guess too slowly, or too quickly. In that case, your plane either starts to slowly fall behind, or slowly get ahead. This is normal. You’ll think about things for a minute and try to figure out how quickly you’re falling behind or getting ahead, and then make a decision to make another pair of adjustments. You might have to do this several times. With each successive set of adjustments, you’ll hopefully get a better idea of what the proper speed needs to be, so you’ll get closer and closer to matching the speed of the first plane (or song). In scientific terms, when you’re trying to match the tempo of the first plane, you can think of that plane’s tempo and you’re trying to figure out what you need to do to make your speed revert to the mean. Sometimes you’ll undershoot, and sometimes you’ll overshoot, but with each adjustment you should be getting closer to knowing what to do to match the tempos perfectly.

It’s pretty hard to explain this stuff on paper. You should really watch the video, if you haven’t already. Hopefully it will make a bit more sense when I demonstrate rather than try to write it all out.


In this video, I was using a Pioneer DJM-600 mixer, and a pair of Pioneer CDJ-2000 CD players. These aren’t great pieces of equipment for teaching beat-mixing to beginners, for two reasons. First, beginners tend to be intimidated by all the buttons and knobs. Remember that most of them are just extra “fancy bells and whistles.” Don’t feel like you’re going to learn less if you’re learning on very simple equipment compared to these units. Simple is better, because you’ll focus more on actually figuring out how to sync the tempos of music (ie. beat-mixing) instead of focusing on the extra options on the mixer.

One additional problem with these units is that both the CD player and the mixer have displays which tell a DJ what the approximate tempo is. This is a terrible thing for beginners!! Don’t learn to rely on the BPM counters on your equipment when you’re learning to beat-mix. If you’re going to do that, you might as well just learn to play on a laptop. I highly, highly recommend that the first thing you do if you’re practicing on high-end equipment is to put a small piece of masking tape over every single BPM display! You need to be able to figure tempo differences out by ear. It’s frustrating, and it will take time before you’re comfortable with it, but you MUST figure this out on your own. I feel that relying on BPM counters is a terrible habit to get into. You’re only cheating yourself if you learn to DJ this way.

I didn’t use the cross fader in this video, and I explained why in the video. Basically, the cross fader is a useful asset, and is quite important in some styles. However, in terms of actual relative control during everything but a basic A to B mix, using the channel faders gives you a lot more flexibility.


You can improve your mixing skills by learning to use the EQ buttons while mixing, if that’s an option on your mixer. It usually is. Many mixers have three EQ buttons per channel (low frequencies, mids, and highs) but some low-end mixers might only have two, and other good mixers might have four or more. Rather than getting into this in detail, I’ll just say that when you’re mixing two tracks and they are not perfectly synchronized, it is usually the overlapping bass frequencies which sound most obviously out of sync, sort of like shoes in a dryer. So typically, if I’m mixing two tracks, I’ll bring the highs and mids of the incoming track up a bit so I can hear it better in the headphones and the dance floor can hear more clearly that a new track is coming in, and I’ll mix with very little bass in the incoming song until a point (usually on the first beat of any eight-group bar grouping). At that point, I’ll cut the bass from the outgoing song and bring in the bass of the incoming song.

You should also try to pay attention to the underlying rhythm structures of each song when you’re mixing. Synchronizing beats from one song to another is good, but it is much, much better if you can synchronize bars and sections too. Most types of dance music (drum & bass and break-beats are exceptions, and dubstep seems like an exception although it’s just half-time tempo signatures) are based on an eight-bar or sixteen-bar 4/4 time pattern. I can explain this better in the video, but essentially, if you’re working with a house/trance/techno track, listen for a point which seems like it’s intuitively the “beginning” of a section of the song. Often this is when a beat comes back in with significant other changes to the music, or after a breakdown. Treat that as beat one of bar one. Now start counting along with the beats in groups of four (each group is called a “bar” in music). You’ll essentially count the following pattern: 1 2 3 4, 2 2 3 4, 3 2 3 4, 4 2 3 4, 5 2 3 4, 6 2 3 4, 7 2 3 4, 8 2 3 4. The interesting thing is that when you get to the next beat, which would be the first beat of bar nine, you’ll often notice that the music changes. Neat, eh? Most good dancers and DJ’s already know about this phenomena, even if it’s intuitive and they don’t realize that they know it. A DJ will get to the point where they are always counting bars and beats in the back of their mind. It actually gets frustrating at times when you’re out relaxing at a club and you can’t stop yourself from counting beats, even though you wish you could forget about the counts and just enjoy the music.


In the video I also went into a brief explanation of Groove Riding, which is what many professional DJ’s end up doing because they’re extremely comfortable with beat-mixing. Basically, groove riding is using the same techniques that I’ve already described in order to figure out how to mix two tracks, but instead of ever matching tempos perfectly and then giving the CD or turntable platter a “push” or a “drag” to match it to the other song, the DJ does absolutely everything to sync the records without ever taking his/her hand off the pitch fader. I demonstrated this in the video.


In conclusion, if you want to get good at beat-mixing, you need to do three things: practice, practice, and practice. More importantly, don’t focus too much on the technical aspects at the expense of programming. Someone who mixes perfectly but plays bad music will be far less popular than someone who just does quick radio-style mixes but plays songs that the dance floor loves.


Last minute advice?

1. If you do get a gig in a venue where the dance floor will expect perfect mixing, be ready for it. Practice constantly before your show. Go into it assuming that you’ll have a few bad mixes, so you don’t get flustered when you make those mistakes, because once you start to get nervous or flustered, it’s really hard to recover. A calm DJ always does a better job.
2. Don’t play the same track twice in a night.
3. Don’t ever DJ when you’re drunk or stoned. If you want to become an above-average DJ, treat it as a profession, not just a party.
4. Check out some of the other tutorials on my Video Page, and follow me on Twitter to see updates about other videos that I’m about to put up on YouTube.



Here's the companion video, about beat-mixing on vinyl. But you should watch the CD beat-mixing video first.






Follow Jonathan Clark on other sites:
        Twitter: twitter.com/djbolivia
        SoundCloud: soundcloud.com/djbolivia
        YouTube: youtube.com/djbolivia
        Facebook: facebook.com/djbolivia
        Main Site: www.djbolivia.ca
        About.Me: about.me/djbolivia
        Music Blog: djbolivia.blogspot.ca
        MixCloud: mixcloud.com/djbolivia
        DropBox: djbolivia.ca/dropbox




Friday, February 15, 2013

SHG Radio Show, Episode 152

Welcome to this week's edition of Subterranean Homesick Grooves™, a weekly electronica-based radio show presented originally on CHMA FM 106.9 at Mount Allison University in Atlantic Canada (but expanded to a distribution on other terrestrial radio stations), and also distributed as a global podcast through iTunes and numerous other sites. The show is normally programmed and mixed by Jonathan Clark (as DJ Bolivia), although some weeks feature guest mixes by other Canadian DJ's. The show encompasses many sub-genres within the realm of electronic dance music, but the main focus is definitely on minimal and tech-house, and a small amount of progressive, trance, & techno. Liner notes for this episode (SHG 152) can be seen below.

Para la información en español, vaya aquí.

By the way, if you're looking for DJ mixes in styles other than progressive/tech-house, check out www.djbolivia.ca/mixes.html. That page has a number of mainstream/top40 dance mixes (the "Workout Mix" series), as well as some deep house, drum and bass, and other styles.








Here's our Podcast Feed to paste into iTunes or any other podcatcher:
http://feeds.feedburner.com/shg

Older episodes of the show are not directly available from our main servers anymore, to conserve space for more recent episodes. However, all older episodes have been posted individually on SoundCloud, and also in archives of 25 episodes apiece (convenient for bulk downloading) from DJ Bolivia's Public Dropbox folder. That Dropbox link also has folders for individual tracks and remixes, project files and stem collections for producers who want to make their own remixes, videos, and other material. You don't even need to have a Dropbox account to download files from it.


Here’s a link so you can listen to the show or download it from SoundCloud:



For anyone in the Ottawa area, I just confirmed a booking for an Ottawa show next Friday night, February 22nd, at a psy-trance event called "Ritual Nights" at Cafe Eri, 953 Somerset St West. I hope to see some of you there.


Here are Track Listings for episode 152:

01. Joe Luthor, "Rare Symptoms" (Original Mix).
02. Andrew Savich, "Eclipse" (Original Mix).
03. Gerald Henderson, "Columbo" (D-Formation Remix).
04. Stefano Noferini, "Burundi" (Tech Remix).
05. Albert Aponte, "Esmeraldas" (DJ Haro & David Abarca Remix).
06. Koen Groeneveld, "Ik Ben Niet Gek Ik Ben Een Vliegtuig" (Original Mix).
07. David Devilla, "Popoke" (Javi Del Valle & Pedro Silva Remix).
08. Olivier Giacomotto & Bass Kleph, "Three Counts" (Superskank Remix).
09. Djose Elenko, "Se Me Enamora El Alma" (Original Mix).
10. Mar-T, "Wake Up" (Original Mix).
11. Gussy, "Stay" (Original Mix).
12. Spark Taberner, "Embush" (Original Mix).






Here are links to either personal websites, MySpace pages, or [usually] the SoundCloud pages for a few of the original artists and remixers/producers listed above:



Joe Luthor (Spain)
Andrew Savich (Belarus)
Gerald Henderson (France)
D-Formation (Spain)
Stefano Noferini (Italy)
Albert Aponte (Colombia)
DJ Haro (United States)
David Abarca (Spain)
Koen Groeneveld (Netherlands)
David Devilla (Spain)
Javi Del Valle (Spain)
Pedro Silva (Spain)
Olivier Giacomotto (France)
Bass Kleph (United States)
Djose Elenko (Spain)
Mar-T (Spain)
Gussy (Britain)
Spark Taberner (Netherlands)


If you're a producer who is interested in submitting music for possible inclusion on future episodes of SHG, visit DJ Bolivia's SoundCloud dropbox. Please note that not all submitted mixes will be played on the show. If you have a track that fits the format (progressive and/or tech-house), then your chances of having the track featured will increase.

Subterranean Homesick Grooves is a weekly specialty EDM music show with a basic weekly audience base of about 1500 listeners per week through podcasting and direct downloads, another hundred or so listeners through SoundCloud, and an unknown number of listeners through terrestrial FM broadcast. If you're a radio station programming director, and would like to add Subterranean Homesick Grooves to your regular programming lineup, contact djbolivia@gmail.com for details. We currently release SHG as an advance download to a number of stations globally on a weekly basis (at no charge), and we welcome inquiries from additional outlets.

Go to the Mix Downloads page on the main DJ Bolivia website if you'd like to check out a number of our older shows, or visit our SoundCloud page for individual tracks and remixes.

We also have a file containing complete track listings from all of DJ Bolivia's radio shows, studio mixes, and live sets. The PDF version can be viewed from within your browser by clicking directly. Both the PDF and the Excel versions can be downloaded by right-clicking and choosing the "save link as" option:

View as PDF file: http://www.djbolivia.ca/complete_track_history_djbolivia.pdf
Download Excel file: http://www.djbolivia.ca/complete_track_history_djbolivia.xlsx









Follow Jonathan Clark on other sites:
        Twitter: twitter.com/djbolivia
        SoundCloud: soundcloud.com/djbolivia
        YouTube: youtube.com/djbolivia
        Facebook: facebook.com/djbolivia
        Main Site: www.djbolivia.ca
        About.Me: about.me/djbolivia
        Music Blog: djbolivia.blogspot.ca




By the way, I've been working on putting together some more DJ tutorial videos lately. Here's one that went up this past week, about using the effects controls on a Pioneer DJM-600 mixer:





Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Learn to Use the Effects on a Pioneer DJM-600 Mixer

I just put together a video to try to teach you how to use the different effects on a Pioneer DJM-600 mixer. Although this mixer isn't really an industry standard anymore, it was for quite a few years. It will also be a good video for people with subsequent models to this mixer (such as the DJM-700, 800, 900, 1000, or 2000) because it will give you a basic understanding of how the effects on those other mixers originated. And actually, some of the effects on later mixers are the same.

Eventually, I'll put together some short update videos for some of those other mixers to give you information about effects that they have which aren't found on the DJM-600.





This is part of the "Learn to DJ" series that I'm working on. Check out my Videos page on my main website to find detailed videos about a variety of music-related topics, from audio recording, to DJ'ing, to audio software, to music production, to music videos. Here's the link:

www.djbolivia.ca/videos.html





Follow Jonathan Clark on other sites:
        Twitter: twitter.com/djbolivia
        SoundCloud: soundcloud.com/djbolivia
        YouTube: youtube.com/djbolivia
        Facebook: facebook.com/djbolivia
        Main Site: www.djbolivia.ca
        Music Blog: djbolivia.blogspot.ca






Sunday, February 10, 2013

Learn How to Make a Ringtone

This afternoon, I decided that I'd teach you how to make a ringtone. We're the in middle of a large snowstorm here in Canada, and learning how to make ringtones is fairly easy for anyone who is moderately comfortable with computers and technology.

A ringtone is basically just a simple audio file, which plays on your phone when you get a phone call or text or instant message. So instead of a standard ringing noise, your phone might play the first thirty seconds of the theme from Seinfeld. I personally like to find songs that start relatively quietly for the first few seconds, in case you can answer your phone quickly, before they ramp up to full volume. Smartphones can also be set so there are different ringtones for different events, ie. one song for a voice call, another for a text message, and so on. Depending on the phone, you can sometimes even set your phone to play a unique song when a specific individual calls you, so you know who is calling without having to look at the call display.


If you'd rather watch a video to describe everything in this post, I have one ready. It goes through all the technical steps in enough detail that you should be able to figure out how to make your own ringtones and put them onto your phone. But I'll also describe the process in more detail below. Anyway, here's the video:





The first ringtones came out in the mid-1990's, and became really popular in the mid-2000's. Purchased ringtone sales peaked in 2007, but that's probably because people realized that you don't necessarily have to buy a ringtone to put on your phone. You can probably do-it-yourself. But of course, voice telephone traffic has also been dropping in the past couple years, thanks to the widespread use of texting, instant messaging, video chat, and other recent technologies. The rapidly increasing use of voice-over-internet is also cutting into traditional voice calling, because people can make free voice calls on their phones over wireless connections, through tools such as Facebook Messenger, Skype, Google Voice, and Bobsled (although not all of these platforms are available for every mobile platform). For example, I use my phone every day, but in the past six weeks I believe that I've only gotten phone calls from two people. Anyway, regardless of the slight decrease in importance of ring-tones in the past few years, it's still fun to have them.

There are several different ways to make a ringtone, including:
1. Using custom software designed to make them.
2. If you have an iPhone, it's easy to make them in iTunes.
3. You can use audio software to edit an audio file, then attach the phone to your laptop, and drag and drop the new clip into your ringtone folder on the phone, then turn it on in your cell phone preferences.

I'm going to show you each of the above processes, as quickly as I can.

If you're using either of the first two methods to make a ringtone, a lot of the technical stuff is taken care of for you. But if you're doing it yourself, you should be aware of a couple key points. First, the ringtone should be less than 40 seconds long. Some phones now allow longer files, so this rule isn't hard and fast. But you should also think about this: for most people, voicemail will kick in eventually, if you don't answer the phone. So with a long audio file, such as a full-length song, a lot of the file will never be played anyway because the phone will go to voicemail. For instance, my blackberry currently goes to voicemail after 5 rings, which takes about twenty seconds. So if I'm making a ring-tone, I'll always make sure it's only 25-30 seconds long, so I'm not wasting too much of my storage space. Of course, the way cell phones are advancing, storage space for a ringtone is essentially a non-issue now anyway.

There are a lot of different phones on the market today, and there are also a lot of different file formats that these phones expect for ringtones. Before you do anything else, you should do a Google search on your cellphone brand and model and find out what your specific phone requires. On a positive note, as smartphones get better, they're starting to take a much broader range of file types than a few years ago. Some example formats which are currently popular are 3GP (which is a video format), MIDI (a format used frequently quite a few years ago but much less popular now), MMF, AMR, M4R, QCP, and of course, a range of the "mainstream" audio file types such as WAVE, AIFF, MP3, AAC, and FLAC.

In the last example that I show in the video, I'm assuming that you've got a smartphone that accepts generic audio files, since that is becoming more and more common as technology advances. I've been able to use "normal" CD-quality audio files on some phones, ie. with specs where the sample frequency is 44,100 Hz and 16-bit sample size, in two channel stereo. But if you find that your phone requires a file with lower specs, it is easy when saving your edited ringtone to adjust the settings for a lower sample frequency, a lower sample size, or a conversion from stereo to mono (often not a bad idea, since your phone doesn't have stereo speakers).

I won't bother getting into a detailed explanation of our first option, using custom software to create ringtones. The software is pretty self-explanatory, and it has the advantage of knowing what format is necessary for tons of cell phone models out there. But you may wonder which software package is best to use. Rather than recommend a specific software suite right now, which could be irrelevant a year from now, I'm going to suggest that you do the following: first, do a google search on "toptenreviews.com" and "ringtone software." Top Ten Reviews is a pretty useful site which gives reviews on a ton of different product categories. If you find their current page, you'll see ten common software packages that can be used to make ringtones, along with a breakdown of specs for each package, pros and cons, and ranking details. For instance, right now, the top rated package is the MAGIX Ringtone Maker software for $19.95. All of the packages that you'll see on this site are for purchase, ranging from about $10 to $30 dollars, although you can also find free software if you look around carefully. Mind you, some of the free software comes with malware or limitations, so check it out very carefully before you install, and watch the install dialogues to see if the program is trying to sneak any toolbars or other crap onto your system.

The second option, which is specifically for iPhone users, is to use iTunes. Now you have to be careful because iTunes has a built-in ringtone maker, but that costs a couple dollars to turn a song purchased from the iTune store into a ringtone that you can use. However, if you've got any songs in your iTunes library that were NOT purchased from the iTunes store, ie. songs that you've ripped off a CD that you bought, or songs that you've purchased from an online retailer like Amazon, Rhapsody, or Songster, there is another approach. Basically, here are the steps in point form:

1. Pick your song and have it up on the screen in iTunes. Again, remember that it must be a song that you imported, not an iTunes purchase.
2. Right-click on the song.
3. Go to "get info."
4. Go into "options."
5. Select a start and stop time. Remember, about thirty seconds total is probably optimal, and as you can see, you don't necessarily have to use the first thirty seconds of the song. You can pick a section from the middle of the song.
6. Right-click and "Create AAC Version," NOT the "create ringtone option."
7. A copy will now be made in iTunes which is the section of the song that you specified between the start and stop times above.
8. Drag and drop that new piece of audio out onto your desktop, so you can play with it.
9. Delete the copy that is still in iTunes.
10. Go back into the info/options for the full song that you were working with in steps one and two, and change the start and stop times back to the beginning and end of the song, so the next time you play it in iTunes, you hear the whole song.
11. Go out onto the audio file on the desktop and change the extension from M4A to M4R. You'll have to confirm that you want to change the file type. Incidentally, if you're working on a PC and you can't see the extension, you can fix that in Windows 8 by going into Windows Explorer (window key + "E") and then click on the desktop in the left side preview plane, then click on the "view" tab and then near the top right of all the options put a check mark into the box that says "file name extensions." In windows 7/Vista/XP, click on this link for instructions.
12. Add the file back to iTunes, and make sure your iPhone is attached and visible in iTunes.
13. Click on the icon for your iPhone, then go into Sync and go into ringtones, and sync your device with the appropriate ringtone selected (same as syncing audio files, just a different tab).
14. Go into your ringtones on your phone and tell the iPhone to use the ringtone you just added for whatever its intended purpose is.

For the final option, I did a video demonstration of how to create a ringtone manually, using free software from Audacity. Since I didn't have an audio file on the laptop to work with, I grabbed a song from YouTube. Of course, for the purposes of the video, I used one of my own songs that I hold the copyright to. Here are the basic steps that I demonstrated in the video:

[Skip directly to step 5 if you've already got an MP3 or other type of song ready on your computer].
1. I downloaded a program called "YouTube Grabber" from download.cnet.com.
2. I used the YouTube Grabber to rip this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3V9xJcC7ko
3. Incidentally, I used that video not because it was the best possible song for a ringtone, but because I own the copyright. And I am hereby giving everyone reading this my complete written permission to rip and use and share that song for your own non-commercial purposes, if you want. And if you know any famous people who do placements of music in TV and film, do me a favor and play the song, and suggest that they contact me for licensing it for their commercial use. It would probably work better in certain film/TV situations than as a ringtone.
4. If you don't already have VLC Media Player on your computer, it's a free program. Download it and install it. Use it to extract an audio-only file from the video file that you just created with YouTube Grabber. If you want more info about how exactly to do that, go to the 40min 41sec mark of this video. FLAC is fine for the file type right now.
5. Open this new audio-only file in Audacity.
6. Trim the edges to the proper length. In other words, if you're not starting at the beginning of the song, cut out the parts at the beginning that you don't need. And once you've done that, cut everything after about the thirty second mark.
7. Optionally, you can apply an EQ to trim a bit of the low-end and high-end, because the phone doesn't have a great set of speakers anyway.
8. Go to effects and "Normalize" the audio to bring it up to full volume, in case it isn't already.
9. Convert the audio to Mono, if your phone doesn't accept stereo audio files for ringtones.
10. Save the new ringtone that you've just create.
11. Plug in your phone, drag and drop your ringtone into the appropriate folder on the phone, then go into the ringtones menu on your phone and set your new ringtone to be used in whichever alerts you want it.

Fairly simple, although for this set of steps, it probably would be easier to follow along with the video.

Ok, that's about all there is to it. There's not much point spend a couple dollars to buy a custom ringtone, if you own music of your own and you can create a ringtone yourself!

Here's a free download link for the "When I Grow Old" ringtone (right-click to download):
http://www.djbolivia.ca/tutorials/whenigrowold_ringtone.wav

Here's a free download link for the "Global Underground" ringtone (right-click to download):
http://www.djbolivia.ca/tutorials/globalunderground_ringtone.wav

And here's a download link for my desktop wallpaper, if you like the photo. I took it in Mackenzie, British Columbia, Canada:
http://www.djbolivia.ca/tutorials/desktop_wallpaper.jpg



If you enjoyed this tutorial, and are interested in any aspects of Audio Recording and Editing, DJ'ing, or Music production, check out the Videos page on my DJ website at the following link, and share a link to anything that you enjoy there:

www.djbolivia.ca/videos.html





Follow Jonathan Clark on other sites:
        Twitter: twitter.com/djbolivia
        SoundCloud: soundcloud.com/djbolivia
        YouTube: youtube.com/djbolivia
        Facebook: facebook.com/djbolivia
        Main Site: www.djbolivia.ca
        Music Blog: djbolivia.blogspot.ca


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Sibilance - How Singers and Audio Engineers deal with Sibilant Consonants

Let's talk about sibilance for a few minutes, since I briefly touched on it in my first Audio Recording Basics video on YouTube a few weeks ago.

Sibilance is another phenomena that generally makes a vocal performance less enjoyable. And by the way, sibilant consonants may sometimes also be referred to as stridents, obstacle fricatives, or obstacle affricates. But I don't think most singers or audio engineers need to memorize all of the different terms, as long as you know what sibilance means.

Basically, sibilance is the presence of certain "hissing" sounds in a singer's vocals. Generally, there are five letter combinations that can start a sound which leads to sibilance: S, Z, SH, CH, and J. Try vocalizing each of those sounds. You can probably hear/feel the hissing quite easily, right? Ok, try each one again for a second time, but slowly, and this time, think about something: the tongue is an incredibly versatile muscle. And a very fast one. When you vocal the S or the Z sound, think about the position that your tongue is in. The front of it is right up against the roof of your mouth, just behind your upper front teeth. It is mostly pressed up against the roof of your mouth with only a very small thin channel for air to flow through, which is why you hear the hissing sound, because the air comes out of that channel quite quickly. For the other three sounds, the SH and CH and J, the tongue is still up against the roof of the mouth, but a wider channel remains clear, which is why the air has more room to flow and the hissing is not quite as pronounced. Incidentally, I find it amazing how quickly a person's tongue moves during regular speech. I think a lot of people fail to appreciate how much work it does in the course of a conversation.




In terms of audio frequency, most sibilance occurs in the range from about 5k to 10k Hz. This is definitely the upper part of the range as far as vocals go. It's also interesting to note that as some people get old, they may suffer partially from a condition called presbycusis. This is basically a type of hearing loss, but it starts in upper frequencies. Basically, if presbycusis becomes advanced enough, the degraded ability to hear upper frequencies may creep down into the part of the spectrum that sibilance occupies, so the sibilance may seem to be less of a problem than it would have when the listener was younger.

Perhaps I shouldn't have titled this post to suggest that singers need to deal with this problem. The audio engineers play a much larger role in properly controlling sibilance in vocals, although it is good for singers to understand the phenomena. The first two things that I need to say about sibilance are that: (1) pop filters, which help deal with plosives, do not help reduce sibilance; and (2) microphone type and placement can make a huge difference.

I won't get into details about microphones here. The subject of microphone types and characteristics is incredibly complex. I want to put together a detailed tutorial video just about microphones, but to be honest, I don't even feel fully qualified to talk about them effectively, so I'll probably bring in an outside pro to help with that topic. But I can tell you a couple of brief points.




First, there are a several different types of microphones: dynamic, condenser, ribbon, crystal, and carbon. But the first two types are most common. Dynamic microphones are cost-effective, general-purpose microphones that are sturdy and robust. They can be used to record vocals, but would also be the type most often used to record various instruments, such as guitars (miking a guitar amp), etc. Condenser microphones are generally a bit higher quality, and are often better at capturing higher frequencies, but the drawbacks are that they are also a bit more fragile and they also need a small external power source (called phantom power) that usually runs to the microphone through the XLR signal cable attaching it to a mixing console. Often, the two types are mixed in recording sessions. For example, most instruments might be recorded with dynamic microphones, the vocalist with condensers, and the drum kit with a mix of several dynamic microphones capturing most of the kit with a couple of condenser mikes suspended overhead to capture a bit of extra high-end sizzle.

Anyway, the point of this background on microphones is not to tell you which one works best to reduce sibilance. The problem is that there is no specific answer to that. Different microphones (types OR models) can work more or less effectively, depending on the vocalist and to a less degree depending on the room. What works well with one vocalist might not be the best answer for the next vocalist.

Another interesting characteristic of microphones is that some of them are "directional." In other words, instead of picking up sounds equally well from all directions, there are certain directions from which sounds are recorded more or less easily. For example, in terms of recording fields, microphones can be classified as omni-directional, bi-directional, cardioid, super-cardioid, and hyper-cardioid. In other words, the microphone can record sounds differently depending on its orientation when it is set up. If you want to learn more about this topic, click here for a good post from DPA Microphones (warning, it's slightly technical).

The distance from the vocalist to the microphone should be greater than one might initially expect when trying to control sibilance. Depending on other factors, it might be common for the vocalist to place their mouth at least twelve inches away from the mike, and perhaps even eighteen inches away. It might also help for the vocalist to be above or below the usual horizontal plane. Of course, the easiest way to accomplish this is to adjust the angle of the microphone, not the singer.

So to sum up, if you're in a recording session and you're hearing the hissing of sibilance, your best options are as follows:
1. Try different microphones.
2. Make sure the vocalist's mouth is an appropriate distance from the microphone.
3. Angle the microphone slightly, according to what seems to work.

Other than that, there isn't a lot that can be done in terms of adjustments to the recording setup. I have occasionally heard people suggest that the vocalist can try chewing some gum and then sticking that gum up against the roof of their mouth. In some cases, this might help slightly, but this probably isn't a preferred approach because it would be annoying for the vocalist. Also, it would need to be a relatively small amount of gum, or else the singer is going to start to sound like they have something in their mouth, and his or her voice will start to sound different.

There is one other tool in the engineer's kit to reduce sibilance, which would occur during the post-recording period, when audio is being edited. There is a dynamic audio processing effect called "de-essing" which can use EQ'ing and compression to essentially reduce the volumes of certain frequencies within the bands in which sibilance is prevalent. Of course, it's always better to try to reduce problems at the recording stage, rather than hoping that a computer can resolve issues. If you want to learn a bit more about de-essing, click here to check out an article from Sound On Sound magazine.

Alright, hopefully this gives you some food for thought during your next recording session. Best of luck in your next project! And of course, if you'd like to check out some audio recording tutorial videos that I've put together on YouTube, click here to see a nicely organized index of the various tutorials that I've put together.


Follow Jonathan Clark on other sites:
        Twitter: twitter.com/djbolivia
        SoundCloud: soundcloud.com/djbolivia
        YouTube: youtube.com/djbolivia
        Facebook: facebook.com/djbolivia
        Main Site: www.djbolivia.ca
        Music Blog: djbolivia.blogspot.ca




Thursday, February 7, 2013

SHG Radio Show, Episode 151

Welcome to this week's edition of Subterranean Homesick Grooves™, a weekly electronica-based radio show presented originally on CHMA FM 106.9 at Mount Allison University in Atlantic Canada (but expanded to a distribution on other terrestrial radio stations), and also distributed as a global podcast through iTunes and numerous other sites. The show is normally programmed and mixed by Jonathan Clark (as DJ Bolivia), although some weeks feature guest mixes by other Canadian DJ's. The show encompasses many sub-genres within the realm of electronic dance music, but the main focus is definitely on minimal and tech-house, and a small amount of progressive, trance, & techno. Liner notes for this episode (SHG 151) can be seen below.

Para la información en español, vaya aquí.

By the way, if you're looking for DJ mixes in styles other than progressive/tech-house, check out www.djbolivia.ca/mixes.html. That page has a number of mainstream/top40 dance mixes (the "Workout Mix" series), as well as some deep house, drum and bass, and other styles.








Here's our Podcast Feed to paste into iTunes or any other podcatcher:
http://feeds.feedburner.com/shg

Older episodes of the show are not directly available from our main servers anymore, to conserve space for more recent episodes. However, all older episodes have been posted individually on SoundCloud, and also in archives of 25 episodes apiece (convenient for bulk downloading) from DJ Bolivia's Public Dropbox folder. That Dropbox link also has folders for individual tracks and remixes, project files and stem collections for producers who want to make their own remixes, videos, and other material. You don't even need to have a Dropbox account to download files from it.


Here’s a link so you can listen to the show or download it from SoundCloud:



This week's show was produced in Canada. This is a very special episode of the show, since I also filmed the entire production of the show (it was mixed live this afternoon on CD players). Those videos are pretty complex, and it's going to take me about four days to edit, render, and upload them to YouTube. If you can check back to this post next week, you'll be able to see the video links in this post. I think you'll enjoy them.


Here are Track Listings for episode 151:

01. Erick Ramirez, "Surreal" (Original Mix).
02. Rocco Careri & Arturo Macchiavelli, "Fine House" (Original Mix).
03. Matt McLarrie, "Tickly Voodoo" (Hollen Remix).
04. Pazul, "The Quest" (Original Mix).
05. Organic Noise From Ibiza, "San Antonio" (Original Mix).
06. Jedi Jet, "Float" (Patrick Vano Rmx).
07. Gianluca Luisi, "Cool Cat" (Original Mix).
08. That Kid Chris, "Work That" (Staropoli Reloaded Mix).
09. Sasha Carassi, "Fiberboard" (Slam Remix).
10. Paolo Mojo, "Wasted Youth" (Original Mix).
11. Dominique Costa, "Hamster" (Original Mix).
12. Jay Lumen, "Get Ready" (Original Mix).






Here are links to either personal websites, MySpace pages, or [usually] the SoundCloud pages for a few of the original artists and remixers/producers listed above:



Erick Ramirez (Mexico)
Matt McLarrie (Britain)
Hollen (Italy)
Pazul (Germany)
Organic Noise From Ibiza (Spain)
Patrick Vano (Germany)
Gianluca Luisi (Italy)
That Kid Chris (United States)
Sasha Carassi (Italy)
Paolo Mojo (Britain)
Dominique Costa (Spain)
Jay Lumen (Hungary)


If you're a producer who is interested in submitting music for possible inclusion on future episodes of SHG, visit DJ Bolivia's SoundCloud dropbox. Please note that not all submitted mixes will be played on the show. If you have a track that fits the format (progressive and/or tech-house), then your chances of having the track featured will increase.

Subterranean Homesick Grooves is a weekly specialty EDM music show with a basic weekly audience base of about 1500 listeners per week through podcasting and direct downloads, another hundred or so listeners through SoundCloud, and an unknown number of listeners through terrestrial FM broadcast. If you're a radio station programming director, and would like to add Subterranean Homesick Grooves to your regular programming lineup, contact djbolivia@gmail.com for details. We currently release SHG as an advance download to a number of stations globally on a weekly basis (at no charge), and we welcome inquiries from additional outlets.

Go to the Mix Downloads page on the main DJ Bolivia website if you'd like to check out a number of our older shows, or visit our SoundCloud page for individual tracks and remixes.

We also have a file containing complete track listings from all of DJ Bolivia's radio shows, studio mixes, and live sets. The PDF version can be viewed from within your browser by clicking directly. Both the PDF and the Excel versions can be downloaded by right-clicking and choosing the "save link as" option:

View as PDF file: http://www.djbolivia.ca/complete_track_history_djbolivia.pdf
Download Excel file: http://www.djbolivia.ca/complete_track_history_djbolivia.xlsx









Follow Jonathan Clark on other sites:
        Twitter: twitter.com/djbolivia
        SoundCloud: soundcloud.com/djbolivia
        YouTube: youtube.com/djbolivia
        Facebook: facebook.com/djbolivia
        Main Site: www.djbolivia.ca
        Music Blog: djbolivia.blogspot.ca




As I mentioned last week, I was going to put a pair of videos online to show how I created last week's episode, #150. They're online now, and here they are: