Learning by listening

Well, this one is kind of right up my alley. As a musician, listening is arguably the most important skill I possess. Layering is a recording technique I use all the time when I record my music–I’ve played guitar for almost 20 years and I use three specific types of layering when I record my songs. First, I’ll layer the guitar tracks over each other to achieve a “heavier” sound. Then, I’ll add rhythm guitar parts to add some different dynamics to the song. Lastly (and most importantly as a lead guitarist!), I have to add a guitar solo over the rhythm layer. A song I wrote and recorded with one of my former bands is a good example of all three–check it out here.

So with this in mind, I started listening to the Radiolab “Talking to Machines” podcast. Within the first two minutes, I noticed similarities to my song. Specifically, at about the 1:36 mark, the background music became louder and there was a horn burst when the guy was making a joke about talking to people who were “willing to talk to [him]” during his online dating adventure. In my song, I used cymbal hits to accent certain important moments in the song, and I found it interesting that you can use similar techniques in both music and the spoken word. Sound can both convey and support emotion, so while interesting, it is not totally surprising to hear something so similar in two things that are so vastly different.


3 thoughts on “Learning by listening”

  1. Woah, I have a pro rocking musician in my class? “Break The Chains” has got a lot of punch. That will be helpful that you have an appreciation not only for levels, but mixing, what Radio Lab does a lot, as well as tons of cuts, overlays, and underlays of audio. I’ve seen some screenshots they shared of their ProTools editing screen, and it had at least 20 tracks. I’ve also heard times where they take advantage of stereo to give a sense of depth. location of voices.

    You will be in good shape when we do some basic audio editing in week 5- what do you do your editing on for your band’s music? Maybe I can get you to teach that week 😉

    Totally unrelated, but a friend, musician, and high school teacher in Vancouver, shares his intro to guitar class online like the way this class works


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