Brian Wilson, born in a Inglewood, California hospital in the summer of 1942, was the eldest of three brothers. Brian, Dennis, and Carl Wilson each active throughout their childhood and throughout adolescence with many activities which kept them engaged in different ways, such as playing football, yet also actively engaging in musical interests, such as singing or playing in their high school’s marching band.
Wilson, with the help of his brothers, enlisted the help of their long-time singing partner and cousin Mike Love, and began performing publicly as the newly-formed quartet “Carl and the Passions.” It was at one of these performances, specifically a fall arts festival at the boys’ high school, which sparked the interest of a classmate and longtime friend, Al Jardine. Jardine would go on to form the fifth and final member of the original Beach Boys rock and roll band.
In the early 1960s, the band was signed to Capitol Records and began recording “beach music,” with songs like “Surfin’ USA” and “Surfin’ Safari” gaining international fame in the summer of 1962. After gaining initial success as a performer, Brian soon took to the role as The Beach Boys producer, and released one of the most influential LPs of the 1960s, Sufer Girl, which crested at #7 in the fall of 1963, and included the powerful ballad “In My Room” as well as “Little Deuce Coupe” and “Catch a Wave.”
Behind Wilson’s success and international recognition, however, was a darker side. Onboard a Los Angeles flight bound for Houston, Wilson fell apart. Between touring internationally and his demanding schedule as a record producer, Wilson isolated himself in his bedroom, experimenting with drugs and alcohol, in what would eventually be regarded as a three-year-long nervous breakdown. It was during this time in which Wilson began his work on what would become perhaps the band’s most influential project, Pet Sounds.
In May of 1965, The Beach Boys found themselves in a state of transition. Without their leading man accompanying them, the band began to lose direction. Initially Wilson’s place had been filled by Glen Campbell. Campbell, however, had other aspirations as a musician, and split with the band to pursue a solo career, causing a massive rift to form between certain members of the band as they struggled to find a replacement. It looked like this was the end for the group; that was until Wilson, with the guidance of his family and friends, came out of his reclusive, drug-induced depression and began once again producing the band’s music in January of 1966. Pet Sounds, The Beach Boys’ most successful album to date would be released in the spring of that year, and Wilson would enjoy a third number one single in “Good Vibrations.” It would be the last crowning success The Beach Boys would have as a group.
Wilson, revitalized from the success of Pet Sounds, began working on a new project, originally called Dumb Angel, but soon renamed Smile. The band began work on this groundbreaking album, dubbed by critics as “rock’s new sound,” beginning in late 1966 and into the spring of 1967. From the get-go, however, the album seemed slated to fail. A lengthy legal battle between the group and Capitol Records coupled with failing equipment and personal creative differences began to push back production on the album until its eventual cancellation in the summer of 1967. To make matters worse, Wilson, who had been battling substance abuse during this time, suffered a traumatic relapse, sending The Beach Boys into a state of oblivion during the 1970s, and putting any new projects on hold for nearly 30 years.
Wilson, nearly 40 years after shelving the Smile project, attempted to resurrect the album in early 2003, accompanied by longtime fan and fellow musician Darian Sahanaja of The Wondermints and world-renowned lyricist Van Dyke Parks. Friends and family, namely his younger brothers Dennis and Carl, had succumbed to long term illness with alcohol and other illicit drugs. Wilson, who had begun work on Smile exactly 37 years earlier, finished in February of 2004 and debuted his newest work at the Royal Festival Hall in London and throughout the UK on a tour that summer. The album reached number 13 on the Billboard Charts, and to this day, Wilson is active in both producing and performing his own music, a true legend in the tumultuous history of rock and roll.
This is a song I composed using MIDI in Pro Tools. The original assignment was to create a song using plugins, such as Boom, Xpand, and Compressors, and EQs. The song then had to fit certain criteria during a presentation focused around a concept for a video game. The video game I chose to base my song around was an intergalactic war game called “Battle of the Worlds.”
The song begins with slow arpeggiation on a harp sound in Xpand as well as a custom track I composed in Boom, which uses a combination of kick, snare, rim, closed high hat, and crash. I compressed and EQ’d this track, as well as altered the levels of the kick and rim to better fit with the rest of the music’s extraterrestrial mood. On the separate harp track, I used an arpeggiated suitcase piano and a generic “beneath the Waves” soft pad sound effect.
Soon, a mood change from mystery to terror occurs, marked in the music by a change from the euphoric harp and piano sounds in Xpand to feelings of intense apprehension and nervousness by using a Vacuum and a new, slower drum beat. The song repeats like this until the end, when a slow and sad “Beneath the Waves” effect takes over, before the song’s forthcoming fade out, a combination of “Beneath the Waves” and the aforementioned Vacuum sound effect.
This is a song I composed using Pro Tools which utilizes an ABAB structure in its bass synths as well as an alternating drum beat, which repeats halfway through the song. The bass synths were created using a MIDI keyboard and were recorded and quantized to better fit in with the tempo of the song. I quantized the bass synths using the MIDI editor, changing the bars to “1/16” and, using the events toolbar, I chose “event operations” and then selected “quantize.” After quantizing, I put on an EQ and a compressor to all the bass synth tracks, alternated them every four measures throughout the entire song, then added a reverb effect and a volume pan at the end of the song. This accompaniment of a reverb effect and volume panning gives the illusion that one is getting further and further away from the music, or that the music is getting farther and farther away from the person.
To do the drum beats, I used three different loops from the Xpand loop browser and alternated between drum beats every 4-8 measures throughout the song. At measure 16, halfway through, the bass synths repeat, as do the drum beat tracks, which, for the remaining 16 measures of the song, are eventually volumed panned and accompanied by reverberation, also giving the illusion that the instruments are “moving away” from the listener.
To achieve the fullness of the sound desired, I used several different notes within an octave on the MIDI tracks because of the similar tempo and sounds present within that octave. The more notes held down on the keyboard at one time, the more full the sound will become.
This is one of the first songs I have compiled in Pro Tools using the loops present in the loop browser. These loops cover a broad spectrum of both real and MIDI instruments. To modify the sound of each instrument to sound as good as possible, I used certain plug-ins, such as compressors, EQ, as well as Amplitube 2, a virtual amplifier for guitars and basses. The addition of all of these plug-ins increases the fullness and the reality factor of the music and sound. The song takes on an edgy rock melody, containing a variety of instruments, which, one by one, slowly fade out.
This is the first song that I have mixed/mastered in Pro Tools. The song consists of rhythm guitar, lead guitar, bass, drums, and an organ. I used the plugin Amplitube 2 to change the bass, treble, etc. on the string instruments, which, in this song, are the two guitars and the bass. I used a compressor and EQ to “unflatten” the boring way in which the different components of the song were originally played. Enjoy.
Tom Dowd was, arguably, one of the most successful and coveted record producers of his time. Born in Manhattan in 1925, Dowd was constantly immersed in a musical background. Dowd’s parents were heavily involved in music, his father a concertmaster and his mother an opera singer. Have grown up around music all his life, Dowd, naturally had an affinity for correct pitch, tone, and tempo. He played piano, violin, tuba and string bass, and by 1942 he had graduated high school at the age of 16 and continued his musical education at the City College of New York. By the time Dowd was 18, he had been accepted into Columbia University, where he conducted a school band, and, later worked in physical science for the US government.
World War II was a pivotal time in Dowd’s life. Shortly after being drafted to the military for his academic superiority in physics, Dowd began working on the Manhattan Project, which eventually contributed to the development of the first atomic bomb. Because Dowd’s work for the US government was so advanced and secretive, when Tom Dowd returned to school to obtain a nuclear science degree, he knew more than what was being taught to him at Columbia. Sworn to secrecy and bound by frustration, Dowd soon returned to music where he created quite a name for himself.
Before Dowd’s iconic status at Atlantic Records in New York, he began recording classical music shortly out of college. Dowd, however, had bigger aspirations inspired by the ongoing blues and rock movements of the 1960s. He shortly became a top recording engineer at Atlantic, where he later would record Ray Charles, The Drifters, The Coasters, Ruth Brown, and Bobby Darin. He also pioneered the first eight track recording unit at Atlantic Records, enabling Atlantic to be the first record company to record using multiple tracks. By the mid 1960s Dowd had struck it big with the beginnings of rock and roll, having recorded The Allman Brothers, Lynard Skynard, Eric Clapton, Derek and the Dominos, Meatloaf, Rod Stewarrt, Chicago, and many more.
Perhaps some of Dowd’s most famous work came from an impromptu jam session with Eric Clapton, Duane Allman, and Jim Gordon. This was the beginning of some of Eric Clapton’s best work with the formation of the late 60s rock band Derek and the Dominos. While on stage, Duane and Gregg Allman looked down to the first row during a concert. Standing there was none other than Eric Clapton. The Allmans recalled that this was the only time when they had ever frozen during a performance. After the concert, the Allmans, Gordon, and Dowd went to a studio to have a jam session. Tom Dowd happened to be on hand that evening, and, as the musicians played, Dowd secretly hit “record.” What followed was an unmixed, raw collection of songs which would eventually end up on the album “Layla and other Assorted Love Songs.” The album would do poorly within its first two years of release. However, after being found and played inadvertently by a radio DJ two years later, the album gained international fame and success.
In the early 1970s, Dowd moved to Miami, where he worked at Criteria Recording Studios. The 70s were a busy time for Dowd, having gotten divorced, then remarried and having his first child, a daughter. By the time the 1980s came, Dowd’s clientele was changing dramatically. The post-disco decade featured the music work of new wave and punk artists and groups. Dowd began recording many more albums in 1979 and throughout the 80s, featuring Kenny Loggins, Michael Bolton, Meatloaf, and Diana Ross. By the mid 90s, Tom Dowd had been in the recording industry for half a century and was still going strong. He was nominated for a Grammy in 1996 for his work with the Allman Brothers Band and John Coltrane. By the late 90s, Dowd began to chronicle his manuscript and legacy in a self-entitled work “Tom Dowd and the Language of Music.” Entering the new millenium, Dowd’s mind was as quick and sharp as it had ever been, but his body’s capacity for the stressful work began to slow and tire. His most notable contributions by the year 2000 included his 30+-year collaboration with the Allman Brothers Band and produced an album for the 2000 “Best New Artist” Grammy nominee Susan Tedeschi. Two years later, the year of Dowd’s eventual sickness and, later, death, Dowd received a Grammy for his numerous contributions to the music industry for over half a century.
Throughout his entire life, Tom Dowd produced music for Gregg Allman, Mose Allison, The Allman Brothers Band, and countless others. However, on the morning of October 27, 2002, Dowd passed away from a length battle with emphysema. His movie was completed in January of the next year and played to critical acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival. Dowd was 77 years old at the time of his death, but his contributions to the music industry have been essential and timeless.
This is a video created using stop motion animation and LEGO figures. The original video featured a rock song to accompany the dancing of the LEGO figures. Unfortunately, break dancing and rock music do not go well together. Therefore, the assignment was to dub over the original rock music with a new beat for each figure who enters the dance floor. Each beat is different and each new figure’s dance moves accompany the music in the background. The applause and cheering have been multitracked with delay and echo put on them to make them sound more like a realistic crowd. Each beat, where necessary, includes echo and reverb. In the end, a large truck enters the dance floor accompanied by a horn and engine sound effect, thereby ending the party.
MIDI, short for Musical Instrument Digital Interface, was an ingenious musical breakthrough that was first discovered and implemented in the early 1980s. MIDI’s main goals were to maximize efficiency and to allow anyone to create a musical masterpiece, regardless of prior experience or knowledge. MIDI is an electronic language which synthesizers recognize and, thereby, turn into music. The way it works is that a player would play an entire performance using the MIDI protocol, which sent commands into a computer using a DAW, or digital audio workstation, to record such commands and play them as music. Because commands were recorded rather than actual music, the sound could be altered to stress pitch changes, time changes, etc. MIDI also worked as the old player did by sending commands to a keyboard or other virtual instrument and playing them back using an on-screen score.
The original MIDI protocol was designed only to allow computers to control keyboards and keyboards to control each other. In the early days the vast majority of MIDI users were keyboard players and pianists. However, in more recent years, virtual instruments using the MIDI interface have gone beyond the traditional piano and keyboard. The iGuitar, for example, manufactured by Brian Moore Guitars, is a traditional electric guitar with a thirteen pin MIDI output port. The player simply must attach the guitar to a converter box and can easily record with MIDI through a DAW. But before one can begin to use the MIDI protocol, one must first buy a device that is MIDI capable. Second, the user must use a computer or internal sequencer to make use of MIDI’s editing capabilities. Finally, if the user goes with a computer, the user must then install a DAW, such as Garageband or Protools, which has integrated MIDI sequencing.
Once the user has installed the DAW to his/her computer, the user can begin to understand the incredible ease, functionality, and power of MIDI interfaced with computers. The first step to using a DAW is to tell the program which channel it needs to listen for by correcting interfacing the keyboard or other virtual instrument with the computer. The instruction manual for such virtual instruments may need to be consulted to correctly interface the two pieces of equipment. Once having completed step one, the user is free to record-enable tracks and test the MIDI signal. Once having recorded the MIDI track in the DAW, the user can edit the music as much as they want, changing pitch, tempo, and even instruments. Once finished editing, the user is now ready to play back the MIDI tracks he/she has recorded.
MIDI, while only first conceived in the early 1980s, has, aside from the addition of many more virtual instruments, remained unchanged. There has been no MIDI 2 because there has been no need for one. The original interface has worked so well for so many years and is so easy to use that artists are still making successful careers using the original digital interface.
This is a song that I composed for River Hill’s morning announcements dubbed “Hawk Talk.” The song is 45 seconds and will fill the slot occupied by the credits at the end of the broadcast. The piece uses the wedge effect on a multitracked southern piano loop to increase the fullness of the sound. The kits used, RS Bedrock Drumset 01, are present until the 31st second of the song and are mixed and mastered using a visual eq setting which increases the bass setting for a more rich sound. The song uses loops which represent a folk genre, such as the mandolin and shaker, but also constitutes certain jazz and southern rock components with a bass synth and southern piano respectively.
This short passage from the story Alice In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll allows listeners to hear several functions which have been prominently featured in Garageband. For example, the beginning of the audio clip begins with a song, which, along with the beginning of the text, allows the listener to observe cross fading, an effect in which the music becomes more quiet and the speech slowly becomes more audible. The same is done at the end of the sound clip except in reverse order, in which the music takes over as the text ends. Another feature utilized in this clip is the certain features available in Garageband which can be used to modify a narrator’s voice, giving them the ability to emanate different characters. For example, Alice’s voice in the clip is more high pitched because of a vocal transformer has been added to the default effects. The Mad Hatter’s voice sounds more low pitched and robotic because a female to male vocal transformer has been added to the default settings.