=673= Word: Context

Even in percussion, there are pleasant sounds and unpleasant sounds. There will be times when you will say something sounds disgusting.

For example, I bought a spiral stacker recently, it makes whatever I stack on top sound absolutely dry and trashy. If used as a main crash and I foresee many people will dissuade you from using it. However, if used as an accent kinda cymbal, I think that people will find it new, refreshing and interesting.

I think every thing has its own place. Feedback, though annoying when you don’t want it, can be rather pleasant if you used it right. Same for distortion. Clipping may not sound good, but using distortion as a supplement sure does wonders to the sound.

I think as long as something is used in context, it will be pleasant. If it is brought out of context, everything will be bad.

When you believe in a lie, the entire context of what you are living for will be wrong. Perhaps only when you are corrected will you be living in truth; perhaps only then will you play your part and live a life that is in the right context.

-Kelvin-

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=672= Word: Artistic Preference

Music is such a heart thing. I may enjoy one song and think that it is the best song of the album, while another may find that song strange.

Best example, one of my favourite artist is Phillip Phillips and one of my favourite tracks of his is “Get Up Get Down.” It is such a zingy fun track. I was so certain that D would love it once he heard it. To my surprise, no sia! He found the track weird. I was so surprised.

Then, I was recommending John Mayer to my Sergeant today, I was so surprised that he did not know who he was. I recommended Continuum to him, “Waiting on the World to change” is one of the hits. He did not enjoy it as much as I did. Almost every musician I know loves John Mayer and would be surprised if you did not know who he was.

So my question is, is it a good song? Or is it just artistic preference?

The question goes further, when is an engineering feat wrong and when is it artistic preference?

Things like these goes into worship/song mixing too. When is a delay distracting? What if I as a sound engineer and music producer love that delay? Who should tell me that it is a mistake and it is wrong?

What is wrong? On what basis am I wrong?

Let’s say, if I cut a funny frequency like let’s say 600Hz. People will definitely question, why cut there? What are you doing? It doesn’t cut any boxy frequencies and it doesn’t cut any nasal frequencies either, so why are you doing the cut there? If I am cutting a funny frequency, it is most likely that there is a buildup in that frequency and I am clearing space. It may not seem to be doing much sound wise, but I did it because of the meters.

So while it may not be right suns theory wise, it is certainly right engineering wise, so who is to say who is right?

If a film photographer say that digital photography is not true photography, because you are not in the moment and you can edit what you have taken, that is cheating! In the film photographer’s heart, he is most definitely right, a photo should be taken and that should be the end goal. So in his heart editing is wrong. However, in the digital photographer’s heart, editing is just another step to make a better image. Editing is just as important as the shooting. Who is to say which photographer is wrong?

The line gets even more blurred when we analyse what we say is a good photo. One photographer may say that a good photo MUST be in focus, another will say a good photo doesn’t need to be totally in focus, it is what it portrays that matters. Who can say who is right?

Now let’s get into operation, as a photographer myself, I would never go into an ISO higher than 6400 on my A6000. That is a rule that I have set for myself. So if I see myself accidentally shooting higher, I would scold myself for a mistake. However, another photographer may just shoot auto ISO and it may go higher. It may be noisy but he might be able to accept it when I totally can’t. So who is to say who is right?

I have found myself more and more encouraged when I realised that I didn’t like my teacher’s mix. Not because it wasn’t balanced well enough, oh no, in fact, it is WAY better balanced than mine, but it was because that my heart preferred my own mix.

I preferred my mix because of my artistic preference. Beyond that, our source tracks were the same, but we have two different products. Who is to say which is right?

That is why I always say that as long as it works, it is fine. However, if there is a better way, why not right?

If mix 1 works, fine.

However if mix 2 is several times better, perhaps I should learn how to do mix 2.

Perhaps it isn’t about who is wrong, perhaps it is about who is better.

Perhaps there is no “wrong” but there is always “better.” Always go for “better.”

It is like choosing a snare for a song. A days that the track should sound like snare 1, but the drummer say it should sound like snare 2. Both aren’t wrong, just which snare is better for the song. Who is to say that I have to use Snare 1 for this song, because snare 2 is wrong?

Just because one person does something one way, doesn’t mean that it is necessarily wrong. Just perhaps there could be a better way.

-Kelvin-

=671= Reflections: Retreat 2018

Let me reflect upon the first retreat in 4-5 years that I did not serve in any way. This year was a legit retreat.

This year’s retreat just came without me expecting it. I think not being in youth this year also reduced the amount of hype. Before I knew it, retreat was already happening. Nevertheless, it was a rather nice time spent.

There were many things that I was very thankful for.

First, let’s give thanks for my room mates. Dan and Jun Kang, thanks for being my room mates for the whole retreat. It was very nice to have you guys to talk to and chat about everything under the sky. Going really deep every night and working out together, it was a really fun time.

Then, my cell, haha, it is really nice to have a group of friends you call your own. Really nice to hang out and do so much together. Thank you so much for being family! 🙂

Thank God for rest, like I mentioned, this year I did not serve in anyway. Not a leader or a Musician. I was just a trooper on this one. Thank God for blessing me with so much rest. I could glean from every single sermon and enjoy worshiping God off stage.

Having Pastor Leon and Sis Regina leading us in worship was wonderful too!

The food this year was fantastic! There was the usual buffet spread, followed by soup, some hams and salads, pastries and cakes and a live station. First retreat that I wasn’t sick of the food.

Dr John Andrews was extremely good at expounding the word and was able to speak and explain new revelations every sermon. I was very blessed.

Thank you God for helping me. Thank you for giving me this time to rest and enjoy my time with you. Thank you God!

May every retreat be a great time where I can meet the Lord and worship.

Thank you God.

-Kelvin-

=670= Word: Production

Recently, I produced a track. It was a song I wrote, I had quite big plans for it. I pulled in quite a few people in for the recording, even planned for the MV.

Then I asked my teacher for advice on the track. He gave me some rather good advice, then I managed to solve it and he was ok with the track. He then offered me to send him the track for him to do an alternate mix.

He received my project and was appalled at how many plugins were used. He said that I shouldn’t have edited so much and made it so perfect. He then went on to send me his mix and to be honest, I didn’t like his mix.

He did several stuff to my mix.

1. The Eguit was toned down to be made gentler.

2. A constant delay was added to the vocals.

3. My synths became the drive for the song.

4. Noise in my acoustic guitar was removed

5. Keys seem more mono

Overall, I felt that my song lost its edge. Sure it is warmer, but it lacked the excitement that I would expect from my track. The vocal delay was rather distracting for me. Synths becoming the drive was rather nice! Noise taken out was great, but seem to have a lack of character. Keys sounding more mono wasn’t that bad either. It didn’t have the kind of sound I was looking for. The bright and interesting kinda sound. It sounded a bit dated.

There is really no offence to my teacher. There are of course flaws to my mix too. Like, you can hear the tuning on the voice; it might be rather irritating. The ambience I left in, would be questioned too, cause it was rather distracting I guess. I left it in as some sort of styling.

I guess it really boils down to preference.

My teacher said that I used too many plugins on the tracks. Back in school, I would probably follow that school of thought of just do minimal stuff. However, I kinda changed my workflow and work mentality quite a bit. My point is, sure if I can get the job done with less, sure all the better. However, if I am unhappy with the sound, I don’t see why I cannot just use more plugins to arrive at where I want to. As long as I can arrive at a sound that I am happy with, why not? Why settle for a sound that is not what I want for the song just because I try to limit myself with the number of plugins?

My work flow has always been, EQ-Comp first. Then if I am unhappy with the tone, I might throw in an exciter after that to spice up the mix. For guitars I might pull in an amp simulator for more drive and grit.

A magical use for compressors I have found to be extremely helpful is side-chain! Lovely feature. Totally cleared the mix and made the mix sound a lot clearer and dynamic. Since we as musicians often listen and react to other musicians, why not do that mechanically? It does wonders to a mix. Too bad the feature of side chain is only available for compressor on logic. So I can’t do side chain on a multi-band compressor.

A work around is to duplicate the channel with he plugins. Add in a multipressor on both. Solo the lows on one and the highs on the other. Then side chain compress one. Viola, side chain on a multi band compressor.

I think mixing cannot be just a scientific thing. I often teach my students to achieve two things before artistic preference.

1. Everything can be heard

2. Everything sounds like it should

However, in a studio production situation, quite a bit changes.

Mixing in post production and not live almost always guarantees everything can be heard. However, now comes artistic preference and boy is it a handful. Now you can choose something to be heard WAY upfront or just something that is meant to be felt.

The Sounds-like-it-should rule also changes because now you will have plenty of toys to play around to shape the soundscape. I can make an Aguit sound like an Eguit if I want. I can distort a voice. I can automate delays. It is incredible how much you can do to a sound.

Having so many tools but not using it to shape sound to exactly how you like it, is like having a $4000 camera and you don’t process your shots and giving the raw files to people. It will be dull and won’t pop. Or like having this amazing set of 64 colour pencils but only using the Red Green Blue colour pencils.

Reason why? To reminisce the past when people had to settle with less; only able to have a few compressors and EQs on hand. Sure, I understand, there are some great records during those times, but do you seriously think that if they had the technology back then, that they won’t use it?

I bet you those engineers did all they could to get the best sound they could. Why settle? A good engineer needs to know what to leave in for character and what to correct for perfection.

A track needs to be almost perfect before release. The engineer needs to do his best.

I am so thankful to be in the era I am in.

Haha, I guess I am seeing mixing more and more like an art than science now.

Always growing!

-Kelvin-

=669= Word: Kelv’s Anger Limit

<for context, I wrote this before I went for retreat, so the timeline may be a bit off>

Ok, for those that helped inspire this post, you know who you are… 😒

AHAHAHA! Ok lah, there were two incidents of which made me wonder.

First was dinner with D, basically she came late, she told me the reason why and I said it was ok. She then said that if I was angry, I should just say, because whenever I get angry I will only tell her a week later. Made me sound so paggro. Tsk tsk!

Second was today, during duty, I got into an argument with my buddy. He angered me because I was right, but he insisted that he was right. Then he revealed that he was just trying to trigger me; to know my trigger point.

He told me his analysis. Saying that I am VERY nice, almost too nice. Then he said, when I think I am right, I will raise my voice a bit. Then when it gets to a point when arguing makes me annoyed even more, I will talk less and have an irritated tone.

Ok lah, I wasn’t very angry. Ok just let me clarify myself ok. I am human, I will get angry and irritated. However, irritation and anger are two different things. Irritation is for trivial stuff, coming late or being overly annoying. Anger is for more substantial stuff like taking me for granted, forget a promise made to me, etc etc. There is a clear difference. I am not one to waste my energy to be angry over trivial stuff. In fact, if you are angry with me over trivial stuff, I will be angry that you are making a mountain out of a molehill.

There are also instances that I will get angry with you because of something, but as long as there is a valid reason, or some misunderstanding, I would immediately stop being angry.

If I tell you that I was angry with you, it just means that my anger has simmered and I actually treasure our friendship! If I tell you only a week later, you are welcomed! HAHA! Hey I am being nice ok? I didn’t snap at you! I don’t like to snap at people before I have all the facts.

So what would warrant me scolding you? Simple, if your actions that angers me is too much. A recent event comes to mind.

One night, after running 4km and doing some exercises, my friend called saying that him and two other friends wants to run as well. I asked where he was and he told em that he was about to buy koi for me. Thinking that they are coming back, I agreed to wait for them. So I waited for half an hour and they aren’t back yet, in my sweaty PT Kit. Finally I couldn’t take it anymore, so I went to take a shower. After my shower, they still weren’t back yet. Then I checked my phone, my friend told me that they were relaxing in the office downstairs. That was the tipping point. Once he reached the bunk, I scolded him.

So yeah, apparently what annoys me the most is:

  1. Being unappreciated
  2. Being told that I was wrong, even though I am clearly right.
  3. My time being wasted

So yeah.

-Kelvin-

=668= Word: More Than Ever

Just a quick post before retreat, coming in two days.

Lord, you know my heart. I want you to draw close. Will you please get me out of this hole I dug for myself? Father, please stay with me. I know I am quite a handful; always running away from you. Will you never be sick of me? Lord, please forgive me. Help me. I need your strength more than ever.

-Amen-

=667= Word: Angry

You know, when two close friends fight, a verbal argument is, in my opinion, better than silent treatment.

While a verbal argument has a more visible result, the silent treatment have effects that is a whole lot worse.

Expressing your anger allows the other party to understand how you feel and eventually helps with building the friendship.

When a close person that is constantly annoyed with you, stops talking to you, you should be alarmed. When a person stops trying, I wonder what will happen to your friendship?

When one doesn’t even bother, can anyone blame him/her?

Oh anyway, my friend annoyed me recently.

After running 4km and static exercises, my friend called me up, saying that they wanted to run too. So I asked him where was he. He told me he was about to get the Koi that I asked him to help me purchase. Thinking that he was about to come back to camp, I said that I can run with them too.

So I waited. In my sweaty and stinky singlet. After 20 minutes if feeling uncomfortable, I rushed them. After 30 minutes, I couldn’t take it anymore. I decided to go shower. After my shower, they still didn’t come back. When I got back to my phone, my friend had texted me saying that they were relaxing in the office downstairs.

Once my friend got up to bunk, I snapped at him. I just felt so annoyed. They knew I was waiting but they had to waste my time. -sigh- oh well.

All they had to do was tell me that they want to walk around, or tell me that they were resting in the office, but no, don’t tell me.

Oh well, rant over.

Anyway, my friend apologised to me alr and I expressed my disappointment to him, so we are good.

May my friends please and I mean please be forward and communicate with me.

-Kelvin-