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Monday, September 20, 2010

The Language Of Music

Ok, so obviously I'm on a bit of a recording kick and I've been doing some research into recording and mixing techniques. I've been using YouTube as a major resource, as it seems to be the repository of everything musical. A few days ago I came across a number of clips taken from a documentary entitled "Tom Dowd and the Language of Music". In case you didn't know, Mr Dowd was a legend in the field of music recording and production, his career spanning from the single mic days of the 40s through to the multitrack DAWs of today. He recorded many major talents, ranging from from John Coltrane to the Allman Brothers.

The clips piqued my interest, so I grabbed a DVD of the show off eBay for a few quid. Whilst it didn't give much technical information on the actual recording process, it was interesting to learn about the history of technical advancement and first hand anecdotes from such luminaries as Eric Clapton and Ray Charles as well as Mr Dowd himself.

I'm not going to claim that I'm a massive fan of all Tom Dowd's work. In particular, I've never been crazy about the way he recorded the Allman Brothers. Of all their albums, my favourite from a production perspective is their first, self-titled offering (produced, I believe, by Adrian Barber). In fairness, though, that may be more down to the band themselves. As Dickey Betts says, himself, in one interview segment, the Allmans liked to record songs as a performance. Had they chosen to record each part separately, they could have got a much cleaner, more commercial sound. And, of course, you can't exactly fault the taping of the Fillmore East shows!

Of particular interest to me was Tom's work on the Layla album, which I've always loved for it's simple yet moving sound. I won't claim that I actually learned much from the show, but it was very cool to watch Mr D twiddle knobs and push faders on the original cuts.

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