Improve Your Music

Improving the musical ability of all musicians, no matter what your style or level.

DIY Portable Recording Studio

Here is a great little video showing a very cheap way to set up a small, portable “mic booth” to help you get a better recorded sound. I certainly wouldn’t want to use it as permanent solution but as a portable unit I think the concept is great.

[flash http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CV5Rl-IK-eo]

Does anyone have any similar methods or tricks that works for you? I’d love to hear from you in the comments if you do.

How to Choose a Vocal Microphone

The type of microphone that you choose should be decided by its application – Live or Studio. Beyond that, trying out as many different microphones as you can to find the one most suited to your voice and style of music is the best way to find the best vocal microphone for you.

Live Vocal Microphones

A live vocal microphone needs to have a good sound quality, be rugged enough to get knocked around on stage, survive episodes of feedback and perform consistently in any environment.

Dynamic microphones are a relatively simple design of microphone and fit this description perfectly. They are relatively inexpensive and are the most widely used microphone for live vocals.

Studio Vocal Microphones

A studio microphone needs to have excellent sound quality, but doesn’t need to be rugged in the same way that a live microphone does. Condenser microphones are much more sensitive than dynamic microphones; however the relatively safe studio environment suits them perfectly.

Of course there are occasions where dynamic microphones can be used in the studio and where condenser microphones can be used on stage, however for the reasons outlined above; there are good reasons why most people use them in their more typical environments.

In conclusion

Ultimately, when choosing your vocal microphone, follow the rules above, but try out as many different varieties of each microphone as you can to find one that suits you. Think about microphones like musical instruments, each model has a slightly different characteristic, which will make some microphones suited to your vocal more than others.

Gemma King is a professional singer, songwriter and vocal coach. You can find more of her articles on her website becomeasinger.net

8 Helpful Tips For Performing In Talent Contests

A couple of weekends back I had the honour of being a judge at a 2 day Country Music Talent Contest. The standard was quite high which really made the task very hard. I did notice though, just like Band Competitions, that many of the contestants were making small but not unimportant mistakes that could have lifted their scores if addressed. I spoke with the Talent Contest Organiser, Bob Colefax of R&B Music and Macarthur Country Music Club, and between us we came up with a list of helpful hints for those competing in Talent Contests.

Update: As soon as I hit the publish button I got an email from Bob with three more helpful tips. So now it’s 11 helpful tips! [Read the rest of this entry...]

Buddy Rich and Ed Shaughnessy

Hi all, I found this awesome clip of Buddy Rich and Ed Shaughnessy battling it out on the drums at YouTube today. These guys are just amazing. The speed and technique are both incredible.

[flash http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNZ6PIjWGrc]

Building A Vocal Recording Booth

Well folks, here is the first progress report on building my own vocal recording booth. As you’ll know I originally wanted a much larger space so I could set up my drum kit or maybe even jam with a few friends, but budget has ruled that out in the short term.

Vocal booth without doorThe short term answer to my recording problems was to build a vocal booth. I set myself a budget of $800 Aus and so far, although I’m not quite finished, I think I won’t go over by too much. The original spec was for it to be 1.8m by 1.2m but I got a good deal on some 1.2m by 2.4m sheets of chipboard so I did a quick re-design so I didn’t have to cut up large sheets. I also wanted each wall to be a self contained unit so if I ever have to pull it down it will be easy.

Each wall is made of a single sheet of 18mm chipboard with a 75mm x 45mm pine frame around the outside of the wall. In the cavity I put fibreglass insulation batts then I finished the “sandwich” off with another sheet of 18mm chipboard. You can see the profile of the walls in the accompanying photo’s.
(Click images for larger versions)

The floor is slightly different as I didn’t want a layer of chipboard on the bottom. Chipboard is very fragile if it ever gets wet so I put the pine frame on the bottom then 2 layers of chipboard on the top. The ceiling and door are of the same construction as the walls. [Read the rest of this entry...]

Playing To A Click Track Is Hard!

I got a call this week to come in and help with a recording. A friend of mine is recording an album and he’s just not been happy with the drum part he’s getting. He started off with a drum machine for the basic feel and recorded some guide guitar and vocal parts. The drum machine just wasn’t cutting it and sounded too artificial. The trouble was that he wanted the recording to be locked to a solid time for editing purposes. He got a real drummer in to try to fix the tracks but the guy had trouble playing to the click track. His time wandered a bit, sometimes ahead of the beat and sometimes lagging. It was close but noticeably out. What should he do? This is when I got the call. Could I come and play to somehow “fix his problem?” [Read the rest of this entry...]

Bob Gatzen Drum Solo

I’ve featured a few videos here by Bob Gatzen over the last few months. Mainly on how to tune a drum kit. This time I’d like to feature Bob himself as a drummer. Here is a great little clip that shows some of what Bob Gatzen can play in the form of a tasty little solo.
[flash http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUZpZKCef0U]

Building A Home Studio – Update

Way back in October last year I mentioned that I was planning to build a practice studio in my garage so I thought I’d update you on the progress. That won’t take long… there hasn’t been any!

A few things got in the way, the main thing being the budget or lack of budget. When I actually sat down and worked out what materials I needed in order to adequately soundproof a 6 metre by 4.5 metre space then budget became a problem. Sure I could work on it over time but the problem was that i need to do some recording and I need to do it now! This calls for a compromise. [Read the rest of this entry...]

Taking Your Music Online

We are very excited to announce the release of our first eBook, “Taking Your Music Online.” It is a collection of some of our best articles as well as some exclusive new material. We take the “business of music” very seriously here as this is the area where most musicians fall down. Time after time we receive questions about how to become a successful independent musician or band. This eBook is the first step in understanding what it takes to take your music online.

Chapters include:

  1. Building an Effective Press Kit for your Band
  2. Why Most Band’s Web Sites Are A Complete Waste Of Time And Money
  3. How To Get Your Music On The Radio
  4. Selling Your Music Online
  5. Do You Really Need A Record Company?
  6. Raising Finance For An Album

Get your FREE copy right now. Just put your name and email into the box below and we’ll send you the link to download the book immediately.

Once you’ve read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments and suggestions. Just scroll down to the comments section below.

Cheers, Mark Gibson.

Guitar Lesson – Fretboard Education

istock_000004636648xsmall.jpgDo you really know the name of the notes on your guitar fretboard? You can learn the notes well and in a short time if you put a little energy into the project!

It will really help you as a guitarist if you know the names of the notes on your guitar. Let’s see some of the benefits you reap from learning to know your guitar:

1. It will be much easier to learn to play sheet music notation as you already know where to find the notes on your guitar. The only remaining task is to learn the names of the notes on the sheet music staff.

2. You will find it much easier to understand chords and remember chords as you easily can see where to put your fingers to play the required notes.

3. It will be easier for you to understand guitar lessons on the net or in guitar instructional books as you understand an important part of the language used in guitar instruction.

We will start with something you can learn as your first task if don’t already know this. It is to know the names of the notes on the open strings of your guitar. An open string is a string not pressed down by a left hand finger. [Read the rest of this entry...]