Why we write and record

A conversation with professional audio engineer and fellow musician, Martin Salomonsen (www.martinsalomonsen.wordpress.com)

Tim Birchard January 25, 2011 at 04:31 #

Hi Martin,
Thanks for checking out my stuff.

My setup is pretty basic:
MacBook (Snow Leopard OS)
Garage Band
Shure SM-57 & 58
M-Audio Firewire Solo
Korg Triton
Loops by BetaMonkey.com
PRS Custom 24 with Seymour Duncan Zebra pickups
Mesa Boogie Mark V combo amp
Audio-Technica “ATH-M50″ headphones
Lanikai ukulele
CA Guitars “Legend”

I’m about to make the jump to Logic Pro, since I love my Mac so much. I know I’m breaking plenty of rules… I don’t own any studio monitors yet, I do both tracking and mixdown with my headphones. And the only album I’ve gotten mastered so far is Songs for The Reverend.

The reasons are simple: space, time, and money. I write and record whenever I have spare time, like vacations, weekends, etc. But I am a full-time educator/counselor, and that takes much of my time and energy.

Also, I’m not rich. But I’ve been hearing music in my head since age 3, and I HATE relying on other people in order to get my music out of my head and down “on tape”, so all my life I’ve wanted to be self-sufficient when it comes to recording.

My gear is simple, but I think it’s effective. I don’t want to spend too much time tweaking and fixing things; I want to focus on the music. Admittedly, there are plenty of times when the technology becomes another tool in the creative process; the canvas affects/influences the brush. And I LOVE that.

But I know that if I don’t pay attention to what I’m doing, I can end up spending hours/days/weeks just messing with knobs and not have any songs. So I always try to bring it back around to the music.

It took me a solid year (and 96 new songs) to really start feeling comfortable with Garage Band, simple as it is. I’m sure that I’ll spend another year just getting to know Logic Pro, and I’m okay with that.

In the meantime, I’ll keep using my simple tools to the best of my abilities to express the music inside and to make it sound as professional as I possibly can.

By the way, I approached my Audio Production studies from the perspective of a musician wanting his own studio. What about you? Are you an audio engineer first, or a musician first? What are your goals for 20 years from today?


M. Salomonsen January 25, 2011 at 05:03 #

I really like your approach to music and the way you try to make it flow through you. Having been on the “other side of the glass” performing my music for as long as I can remember, I am first and foremost a musician. Much like yourself, I threw myself into audio engineering, due to me wanting to be self contained. In my training I have been fortunate to work on some large industry standard mixing consoles, like the Neve VR Legend, SSL AWS 900+, Midas Venice, Toft ATB Series, D-Command in a 5.1 setup and D-Control broadcast dubbing theater. These are all fantastic consoles to work on and paired with good monitors like Dynaudio, Genelecs, PMC, ATC and the likes, I have already had a taste of how it is to work on professional level as a Studio Audio Engineer. But not all music needs these industry standard concepts to shine; not all music needs Neumann microphones and valve circuitry. . .

Some times the environment the musician plays their music in, is the key factor in getting a good result . As engineers, I firmly believe that we are there to capture “a recording of the event”, much like they did in the old days of Motown. The performance was captures first and foremost. The energy had to be there before it got put to tape….

At the moment I am putting together a mobile studio along with a colleague, where we can go to where the music is and record it there… eg. theaters, stages, churches, halls, or even well, bathrooms, where the musician feels good and can perform…

I will be playing music until I draw my last breath – if I am lucky I might sing my way out as I did my way in to this world. The way I approach my audio studies is as a singer, a musician, a storyteller and the in the end as an engineer.

Hope to hear more from you soon, Tim.


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