I had a flight from Malaysia to Manila on Friday that I chose to be just in time to arrive at the airport, get picked up by the Missus and drive directly to my gig at The Electronica Festival. Everything was okay, although my flight had a delay of 45 minutes. Arriving there (the way to the venue already told lots about the venue itself) we immediately recognized that there weren’t a lot of people. No one was able to introduce me to anyone who was responsible for artists, I had to walk around for 20 minutes to find a DJ mate who was actually as lost as myself. We somehow got it managed to find our stage. Then there were no drinks for us, we were supposed to manage everything ourselves, including carrying cups of drinks from one bar 300 meters away from our stage, to have something to drink whilst performing. No one assisted us or gave us any comfort. In “exchange” I received like 400 texts from random (and unknown to me) people, “reminding” me of my performance on stage at 4AM. Actually, I started playing at 3.45AM already, but, of course, no one took notice of that, apart from some fans and fellow artists (thank you Emel and David) who enjoyed the set.
For some reason I started to feel really terrible like 1 hour into my set. Luckily the bathrooms were just behind the stage, so I went vomiting 2 times, but didn’t interrupt my set and tried to be as professional as I could. I think no one even noticed that I felt like shit. After my set, I randomly asked about who’s gonna pay out the talent fee, but no one was able to give a straight answer. To make a long story short: in the end I had to chase down responsible people for like half an hour and become VERY energetic, insisting on paying me my fee in full after a given performance. They tried to tell me that all would be paid out on Monday, but I stated that this is zero acceptable and not gonna happen, otherwise … you know what I mean. I can get very angry, and yes: intimidating, when I feel that someone tries to bullshit me.
After all, I can only hope my artist mates got/get a hold of their money and nothing more catastrophic happened. I texted one of the responsible persons afterwards to never contact or ask me again. I don’t want to work with totally unprofessional people. Go learn the business first, then organize events.
A review about a Pink Floyd record should be biased, in my case. I’m a huge fan since for ever, and bands like Pink Floyd are the major part of my musical imprints, this (Progressive Rock) is the music I grew up with. But I guess this review isn’t as biased as one would expect, for a simple reason: I’m not a boy anymore, but a professional musician myself, and here’s some anticipation: the record is no masterpiece at all. We’re talking about this product (Deluxe CD\ Blu-ray Casebook Edition), to be precise.
So, I’ve listened to all material twice, in 24bit / 96khz audio quality, on my dry and natural sounding YAMAHA NS-G 30 speakers. If something sounds good on those, they sound fabulous on every system.
Let’s start there, at the mix and mastering of the album. To make it short: it’s crap, if you ask me. You don’t need 24bit / 96khz at all when you have a mix and mastering that is as bad as this. I really have no idea how a band with this history and financial background can deliver a bad sounding album like this.
The mix is muddy, intransparent, lacks a real stereo imaging and filling of the panorama (some things sound totally mono to me), especially the guitars and pianos are too loud and sharp, the drums go under and totally lack presence.
The mastering lacks everything from punch to richness and brilliance … this record just has zero BOOM and WOW, something that was always present on other Pink Floyd records. All of this isn’t given, “Louder Than Words” sounds like a bad rip off a crappy radio station.
Nick Mason has never been an exceptional drummer, but on this record most of the drum parts sound like he’s a total beginner. Bad timing (not even audio-quantized in post production), and same goes for some parts of Richard Wright. I mean, when the band brags about more than 2 years of work on an album, I expect things to be on point, at least.
Of course, David Gilmour IS an exceptional player, and his guitar play is actually the only thrilling element on the whole album. There are some really good moments, but all of this isn’t enough to touch or move me emotionally. The album sounds unprofessional, unfinished and uninspired.
The artwork is ‘nice’ at best, but nothing like the Storm Thorgerson artworks of the past. Okay, the guy is dead (so is Richard Wright), but I think the band could’ve come up with something more original.
One more thing on mix and mastering … please, take the time to listen to those 2 pieces and compare the qualities:
This one is recorded, produced, mixed and mastered by myself (you might wanna skip to 6:35 for the fabulous Gilmour-esque guitar):
This the “Making Of …” video, showing the recording, narrated in German by guest guitarist Alex Schweigert:
Make up your own mind. My rating for “The Endless River”:
4/10 for David Gilmour’s guitar play and the bands legacy.
release 27th October 2014 on watergate records. Part also of the forthcoming pan-pot mix cd
As both a DJ and composer, the Circle of Fifth or the Camelot Key Wheel system — amongst others — have always been handy tools for me to write and mix music harmonically. There are just too many options in chord progressions than I could ever have in my memory (maybe you can, but I don’t). Plus, I personally use 3 different DJ applications and 3 different DAWs for music production alone, for different purposes.
So yeah, I could always have a look at above mentioned helpers to orientate myself through the notes and chords jungle, in case needed, which is not always the case. I have the most common chords in my head. Just not always.
As a composer I’m fine with the musical key/chord system, i.e. “A minor“, but as a DJ it isn’t very likely (for me, again) to remember all the musical chords to know what to mix into what. So, smart people came up with different systems like the Camelot Keys (Mixed in Key, which I prefer, because of its accuracy) or the Open Keys (Traktor). Which is basically a range of 12 keys for each gender, major and minor chords. “A minor” is 8A (Camelot Key) or 1m (Open Key). In a nutshell: if you mix 1A into 2A (and so forth, up until 12A and then into 1A again) you’re generally fine. Your mixing transitions will always be harmonic, no key clashes. This example is the very basic part of harmonic mixing or composing. And also a bit boring if you do that all the time. It becomes really good and interesting when you use all the options within the world of chord progressions.
What I was missing in all those years of composing and DJing was ONE chart (to rule them all) that shows me ALL key/chord systems and their equivalents, their piano keys (very useful for composing) and their harmonic keys/chords. I searched the net in order to find out if someone did this, but no one did. At least I couldn’t find it.
So, I did it myself. 8 hours work and I had what I was looking for. And since I guess this could be useful for every musician/DJ, I want to share it here with you. This is how it looks like (click to open the full resolution file):
You can download the high-res JPG above, print it out and use it for yourself, if you like. Here’s a PDF and the original EXCEL version of it, in case you want to edit/modify something for your needs (let me know when you find mistakes or when you improved it!):
WHAT DOES IT DO, HOW DO I USE THIS?
Let’s take an example for a composing or mixing situation:
The chord we’re working with at the moment is A minor (or 8A, or 1m). What shall be next? Everything in the table below — around the 8A — is possible, it will be harmonic. The closer to the 8A it is the more harmonic it’ll be.
Western Music Scale
Piano Chord Keys
DJ Keys up/down
|D minor||D | F | A||7A||12m||Fourth (Sub-Dominant)||-1|
|C major||C | E | G||8B||1d||Relative major|
A | C | E
Same key (tonic)
|E minor||E | G | B||9A||2m||Fifth (Dominant)||1|
|B-flat/♭ minor||A# | C# | F||3A||8m||Low energy boost||7|
|B minor||B | D | F#||10A||3m||High energy boost (supertonic)||2|
|A-flat/♭ minor||G | B | D#||1A||6m||Low energy drain||-7|
|G minor||G | A# | D||6A||11m||High energy drain (leading tone)||-2|
But your decision what to do next is depending on the purpose. What kind of “feel” do you want to give your mix or composition?
Here are some possible chord progression scenarios, working with the Camelot Keys (which I prefer, at least for DJing), starting with 8A:
That’s how I call it, it’s kind of a “secure standard”, nothing special, it’s just flowing along:
8A > 9A > 10A … 12A > 1A > 2A and so forth, until you’re at 7A and back into 8A again
You can’t go wrong with this one, you just rock “around the clock”. Depending on the energy level of actual music/sequence used, transitions changes can be very energetic, though.
The “Little Ocean Wave”
The energy of this chord progression has the shape of an ocean wave or a sawtooth:
8A > 9A > 11A (+2 DJ keys, high energy boost) > 12A > 1a and so forth
You can do this once in a while to give your mix a little energy boost, which makes it more interesting than the “River”.
The “Big Ocean Wave”
8A > 9A > 4A (+7 DJ keys, low energy boost) > 6A (+2 DJ keys, high energy boost) > 7a and so forth
Here you have a longer and progressive wave of energy rising, until it falls back to normal at 7A again, just like an ocean wave crashing and the next one building up again.
The “Wild Ocean”
It’s a bit stormy, and the waters stirred up, but everything is still harmonic and in place. This is the most “interesting” way of mixing, things shouldn’t become boring:
8A > 8B (relative major) > 9A > 4A (+7 DJ keys, low energy boost) > 4B (relative major) > 6B (+2 DJ keys, high energy boost) > 7B > 2B (+7 DJ keys, low energy boost) > 4B (+2 DJ keys, high energy boost) > 5B and so forth
Music used: Third Son & Wally Lopez “Geometry” (8A) > Ingo Vogelmann “Empire On Fire” (8B) > Antrim “The Mystic Lovers” (9A) > Michael A “Storm” (4A) > Raw District Feat. Jinadu “Taking You Down” (Habischman Remix) (4B)
I could make up a hell of a lot more examples now (with even sillier names), but you most probably already get the idea. The options are really endless, and you’ll always be composing or DJing harmonic. The above scenarios are just examples. Find out what works for yourself, I’m sure you’ll have fun experimenting with chord progressions, using this nifty chart. Oh, and don’t mind the silly names … it’s just about giving things a name. 😉
It’s free! Download, share, modify, re-publish and generally do with it whatever you want. But please, don’t pretend you did this. Credit would be nice (and fair), but is no condition.
Now, if you’d head over to bandcamp and buy my music, that’ll be rather nice:
Update, January 2017
Aaaaaand we have another smasher out this week!
L2 Musics 003 EP “Far From Here” offers a powerful pair of tracks by talented South African producer Ryan Sullivan. The title track features well-rounded layers of sound that cover multiple levels of space, creating a full yet intricate soundscape that is finely pieced together. The elements of tech give a bit of edge to the seamlessly flowing rhythm, creating a finished, balanced result. “Open Your Mind” is another balanced and beautifully produced track that begins with a dark intro, taking you under from the very start. Deep and funky highlights are added slowly, pulling the track up from the depths and into a rolling groove. Its easy flowing energy evolves softly, taking the listener on an all encompassing journey that combines light and dark into one.