Sometimes a blog post idea comes after hours of producing something mundane when suddenly I have an “aha” moment like, “Hey! People may learn something from my toiling! I better write it down!” Other times a good idea is gleaned from a quick conversation with another producer in the hall. Today was a little of both. I was working on a Patriotic Bonus Jingle (360 Country clients will all get it in a couple weeks but that is for another post) and I wanted it to sound MORE Patriotic. We had a great country track recorded last week in the style of Jake Owen “Barefoot, Bluejean” with more “marchy” snare, some strings and great Guitar parts. But again I wanted a Mix that REALLY felt extra American. I toy with some Trumpets and even tinker with some subtle Bells and I think I am starting to get somewhere but its just not right. Dave Gianjulio, nicknamed “Studio Dave,” the Chief Engineer of the BIG BOY studio (Studio A) swings by my room and has a quick listen. His first question is why am I putting crescendo (or another term for fading-in) on the trumpet like that? Vocals have to sit on that. Good point. Then he asks why don’t I just slide the dobro lick back a bit to let it follow my trumpet? I am working in grid and it would completely fall off the beat at that point. He says “Who cares? Don’t forget to close your eyes sometimes. It helps to stop visualizing the production and JUST listen to it.” He probably said it smidge more eloquently.
While its not the first time I have heard that, it is so important to remember it. I have become such a “visual” producer over the last 10 years that lately I don’t just shut my eyes and work blind near enough. With all the digital tools we have now and so many detailed ways to LOOK at audio, LISTENING isn’t always the primary sense utilized in the studio. Some people will read this and think I am crazy or a bad person. However, I think others (and a large group of others) just might agree that they too are guilty of SEEING too much and LISTENING too little.
So, the next time you are producing something cool, close your eyes and listen again.