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Engineer / Musician - Better to be both? Modular Synthesizers
Old 16th March 2003
  #1
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Thread Starter
Question Engineer / Musician - Better to be both?

Hey slippy and everyone else,

Just a question out of curiousity:

Is it important/necessary for an engineer to have a background in performing music?

Slippy ~~ do you yourself play an instrument?

I only ask, because it makes sense to me that a musician would approach mixing/engineering differently than a purely technically trained AE.
Whether this makes for a better engineer is obviously subjective and completely independant for each individual's scenario.

I'm just wondering how many engineers are also musicians, and if they believe that it gives them some kind of advantage.

For instance: someone who plays drums/bass/guitar etc. would have a clear
idea in their head as to how they would want the instruments to sound if they were playing
them.

I know that doesn't really matter if they don't know how to achieve that sound, but surely having a natural ear and feel for music would make a difference?¿?

Maybe i'm just talking crap, or regurgitating crap that has been spoken to
death on here before. (If this is the case, i appologise.)

- CaptainHook -
Old 16th March 2003
  #2
Gear nut
 

Re: Engineer / Musician - Better to be both?

Quote:
Originally posted by CaptainHook
Hey slippy and everyone else,

Just a question out of curiousity:

Is it important/necessary for an engineer to have a background in performing music?


It can certainly come in handy when the producer says, "let's take that section again at the ritard in the interlude after the 2nd ending, just before the coda...ok people, on the pickup note to the Db..." and you have to translate that into tape position.

Quote:
Slippy ~~ do you yourself play an instrument?
Slipperman isn't a musician, he's a drummer.

Quote:
I only ask, because it makes sense to me that a musician would approach mixing/engineering differently than a purely technically trained AE.
Whether this makes for a better engineer is obviously subjective and completely independant for each individual's scenario.

I'm just wondering how many engineers are also musicians, and if they believe that it gives them some kind of advantage.

For instance: someone who plays drums/bass/guitar etc. would have a clear
idea in their head as to how they would want the instruments to sound if they were playing
them.

- CaptainHook -
the advantage is that you 'speak the native's language' if you're a musician as well. The disadvantage is that it becomes even harder to pull your own self back and let the 'real' musicians on the session do their thing. You tend to want to imprint your own concept onto things, which can be good/neutral/bad, mileage varies from situation to situation.

zowd
Old 16th March 2003
  #3
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covert's Avatar
 

Re: Engineer / Musician - Better to be both?

Quote:
Originally posted by CaptainHook
Hey slippy and everyone else,

Just a question out of curiousity:

Is it important/necessary for an engineer to have a background in performing music?
Ther are probably advantages and disadvantages. As noted elsewhere, speaking the jargon can be handy. On the other hand As a guitar player, I know more about how I want my guitar to sound, than how the other guy wants his to sound, so I have to dissasciate a bit to dial in stuff for him. Same applies to most other instruments, arranging etc.

Quote:

Slippy ~~ do you yourself play an instrument?
Several. Some not to well, others better.

Quote:

I only ask, because it makes sense to me that a musician would approach mixing/engineering differently than a purely technically trained AE.
Whether this makes for a better engineer is obviously subjective and completely independant for each individual's scenario.

I'm just wondering how many engineers are also musicians, and if they believe that it gives them some kind of advantage.

For instance: someone who plays drums/bass/guitar etc. would have a clear
idea in their head as to how they would want the instruments to sound if they were playing
them.

I know that doesn't really matter if they don't know how to achieve that sound, but surely having a natural ear and feel for music would make a difference?¿?

Maybe i'm just talking crap, or regurgitating crap that has been spoken to
death on here before. (If this is the case, i appologise.)

- CaptainHook -
Most that I have met can do a couple of bars on many struments.
Old 17th March 2003
  #4
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Thread Starter
Yeah i remember.
I was one.
But i'm pretty sure i play even worse with confidence.
Maybe there's hope for me yet!
Old 17th March 2003
  #5
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I knew there were some band room geeks around here!

I was one too, except I was a jazz band guy, so the band nerds didn't really except me as one of their own. They were all kind of jealous, b/c I played guitar. Cept for the sax and trumpet players, they were all plenty full of themselves. -GT3
Old 17th March 2003
  #6
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I'm a bass player.

What is great with that is that when the bass player of the band I'm mixing ask me if there is enough bass in the mix, I tell him :

Dude, I play bass too, do you think I would under mix your bass ?
I think not ...


he he, anyway, I took a bribe from the guitarist to push him in front

malice
Old 18th March 2003
  #7
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Pricey's Avatar
 

I'm a studio owner and drummer. I play session drums a lot - I'm glad I switched from trombone!

Someone once said that he can always tell what instrument an AE used to play, because he tends to mix that instrument a tad louder! heh You have to watch out for that.

I think it's mandatory for an AE to be a musician. It gives you so much more credibility with the clients. If I ran a big studio I wouldn't hire anyone who wasn't. How about you, Slipperman?
Old 18th March 2003
  #8
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Drumsound's Avatar
I am a trained and degreed musician. Percussion (99.9% untuned these days) is my specialty. I can also play guitar, bass and keys when needed. I also have played in many bands where I was the only guy with training. So I can speak both dialects of musician. I generally prefer engineers and producers who are or were players (Mitchell Froom, Brendan O ‘ Brien, Jimmy Page). My band started out new record recently. We had a friend come in to engineer/co-produce. Though He barely plays these days he started his musical life on piano and has extensive live experience. My current intern is a guitar player, his band is recording at the studio right now.
Old 18th March 2003
  #9
One with big hooves
 
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I can play guitar, bass and drums pretty well and I have an understanding of wind instruments from band and whatnot but I couldn't play them if I had to. I can also play a little bit of piano, mostly because I was forced to in school. Every so often knowing a bit of music theory helps on a session because you can say more then "Uhhh... try it up a fret or two". But, sometimes it scares the cleints. I know what sounds I like to hear when playing an instrument but sometimes the client wants something different that I don't like at all and you have to know when to give up the fight and let it go.
Old 18th March 2003
  #10
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Yeah, in my earlier post I said I played guitar in high school, but at this point, I play just about everything besides horns: guitar, bass, pedal steel, violin, drums, timbales, keyboards, harmponica, etc. It ALWAYS comes in handy, b/c maybe the band gives me more credit?
I spent about six years playing in a big band jazz band. That really helped a lot, b/c you are always reading through charts of classic songs- you learn about construction of great songs. It also helped b/c I can write out the music for an entire band- horns, bass, drums, piano, guitar, etc.
Old 18th March 2003
  #11
jon
Capitol Studios Paris
 
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From playing in and recording various bands, I play gits, bass, drums, harmonica, piano, keys, and sax all pretty badly to just kind of okay...it's good for understanding those instruments and musicians and and knowing how they sound.

Live sound engineering is good for learning how instruments sound like, too...and seeing the world to boot...did that long enough to fill a double-size 48 page passport with visa stamps.

I do reckon that having an excellent tone/frequency ear is a big help for AE. A semester of theory, ear training, and interval recognition in college was one of the most useful courses I've ever taken. A lousy example: When the new Linkin Park song came on MTV, I bet the guys around me that the lead vocal in the chorus was singing an F-sharp. Hey, it got me a free pizza.

heh
Old 19th March 2003
  #12
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Also live sound is great for getting your skills together fast. There's nothing quite like mixing a band you've never heard before without a soundcheck in front of a bunch of people. You either sink or swim and man... I've done both.
Old 19th March 2003
  #13
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Thread Starter
Totally..

In some ways that can be more fun.
You walk in, dial up a sound, the band goes for it, you go home, job done. (providing you didn't have to set-up and pack-up)

Then again, you can screw it and feel like absolute crap...

Why do i do this **** again?

Oh yeah the chicks...

Wait a second...
Old 19th March 2003
  #14
jon
Capitol Studios Paris
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jay Kahrs
You either sink or swim and man... I've done both.
Yeah, I hear you!



It's the small club/bar circuit with cheap-ass sound and bad acoustics that I always had the most problems with. Working with a great 100-400kW system in an arena or at an outdoor festival, you can think you're a genius....and then the next day at a little club you can fall on your face. Boy, I sure have.
Old 21st March 2003
  #15
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Re: Engineer / Musician - Better to be both?

Quote:
Originally posted by CaptainHook

Is it important/necessary for an engineer to have a background in performing music?
As far as I'm concerned, it's essential. It helps me in so many ways, I can't even begin to list them all.

I always encouraged my students (back when I taught this stuff) to learn music and especially ear training and theory.

The more you know, the longer you'll work in this business.

My $.02.

Best,
Rich
Old 21st March 2003
  #16
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Re: Re: Engineer / Musician - Better to be both?

Quote:
Originally posted by hiltonius
As far as I'm concerned, it's essential.
I don't quiet agree, I know plenty of great engineers that can't play any intruments.

Somehow they have a different approach, but still it is interesting ...

my 2 cents

malice
Old 21st March 2003
  #17
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Re: Re: Re: Engineer / Musician - Better to be both?

Quote:
Originally posted by malice
I don't quiet agree, I know plenty of great engineers that can't play any intruments.

Somehow they have a different approach, but still it is interesting ...

my 2 cents

malice
Well, so do I, but almost all of them are out of work!

The more you know, the longer you'll work in this business.

Best,
Rich
Old 21st March 2003
  #18
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I meant "great engineer with a lot of work"

malice
Old 21st March 2003
  #19
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I seem to encounter lots of live sound engineers who are/were drummers... to me this is tough in a small club... All drums and high hat...
Old 22nd March 2003
  #20
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
The only live sound I do is small club walk-ins and I get to work in some of the better places and better artists in the area. Probably the biggest place I work at holds about 300 max but it's only been over 200 a handful of times.

Most of the time I do kick and if it's a four piece I'll wedge a 57 about 4" off the drummers right knee and aim it at the snare. If it's a five piece I might do toms and kick or maybe kick and overhead. If the place is due to be really packed (presales) or the band is really loud I'll go all out and do kick, snare and toms. I use my vocal mics for overheads unless I'm forced at gunpoint to put up a dedicated overhead.

I've only done a few outdoor gigs with a 5-8k watt system and the band under a tent. Those are always a blast.
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