Planning and Reflecting on a Session

Here’s my Pre Production Plan for one of the sessions we worked on our generic project in.

Production Timeline for Today:
Task to be Completed and deadline

Complete Lead synth track Friday 11/12/2015

Touch up Bass and Drum track Friday 11/12/2015

Create Pad synth Friday 11/12/2015

Add Pad Synth into mix Friday 11/12/2015

Risk Management:

Screen Shot 2015-12-22 at 5.47.26 PM
What I learnt?

Throughout creating the EMP project as a whole I’m constantly learning new ways to approach EMP and small ‘hacks’ in a way to beef up a track and to give it depth and texture and during our studio session we added a second pad synth which gave it a bit more depth. We also worked or a new way to incorporate a lead synth with the bass line playing the same progression but obviously in a higher octave, giving the track overall familiarity and texture while gaining a big frequency range at the same time.

Deviations and why? 

As I mentioned above we deviated from our plan slightly and created a second pad synth rather than just one, which gave the track more texture and aesthetic quality. We did this to beef up the track a bit more and add more complexity to it. Due to adding the second pad synth and creating the patch that took up some extra time leaving less time to work on the mix of the song but fortunately this didn’t affect us too badly. 

What I Acheived?

We completed one of the tracks for the generic project, we added a lead synth, two pad synths and changed up some of the bass and drums slightly. 

What I’d Do Differently?

Looking back the production of this track as a whole I think we could have made the track more complex interesting although I feel that everything we have learnt and achieved over the period of creating the tracks for the project is quite astonishing coming from having no knowledge of EMP.

Planning and Reflecting on a Session

Case Study: Black Friday- Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar Shares New Song

In this track Kendrick Lamar teams up with friend and fellow rapper, J. Cole, to create this eery sounding track with fast paced vocals. This track uses all electronic produced instruments and sounds, excluding the vocals.

Genre

Once again Kendrick tackles this song with a very dry simple beat which leaves all the emphasis on the lyrical content, which in rap is exactly what is necessary. With a simple trap beat and eery guitar type synth his lyrics cut through the mix with his up-beat, straight fire style of rapping. The song overall has a very rich timbre, mainly because of the lyrical skills and full verses rapped.

Era

Kendrick Lamar is known for writing about and speaking up about problems that tend to get stomped down. Black Friday is known to have a “prickly effect on the African American community”. With the whole track having that message as a type of underlying tone, he touches on various topics such as Donald Trump and Kanye West for presidency, his experiences with oppression growing up and talks about his own music and the influences it has and how he is seen as the “people’s champion”.

Target Audience/ Demographic

His target audience for this track would once again be his following and main stream rap listeners but as he uses one of J. Cole’s tracks it opens up a new audience, that being fans of J. Cole, with the way they marketed and released the songs adding to that.

Cultural Significance

As I mentioned before, the track is titled Black Friday, which was also the release date, and black friday being linked with his community as having a “Prickly effect”, he touches on the underlying theme as well. He also raps a lot about rap as a genre and the significance it has, using it as a tool to convey powerful and precise messages.

Para-musical Intent 

The song was written to convey an underlying message about the African American community reactions to the Black Friday sales, hence the title and release of the song being Black Friday. Not only this but Kendrick touches on several other topics.

Aesthetic Quality

The lead synth of the track has a very eery sound to it. It makes the track seem like something big is going to happen accompanied by powerful vocal skills, the track is very simple and repetitive but using automation and other effects throughout the song it continues to feel as if its building up to something.

In the track he raps “ain’t nothing more influential than rap music”, and to be influential the message they want to convey must be clear and heard. I feel like Kendrick’s tracks are all simple and stripped so that he’s not hiding behind anything and everything is heard.

Not only does the actual lyrical content convey a message but the way the vocals are recorded plays a huge part in that. Recording very clean, sharp vocals and using effects such as a louder reverb to push certain phrases and cutting the instrumental tracks when he raps certain words adds to that emphasis.

Throughout the song he uses voice samples and a thick reverb on parts of the vocals, almost sounding like a mob of people which reflects back on the craziness of the Black Friday sales.

 

http://justrandomthings.com/2015/11/28/song-meaning-black-friday-by-kendrick-lamar/

Case Study: Black Friday- Kendrick Lamar

Case Study 3: Kendrick Lamar- Alright

(Structure and Sonic Characteristic on VAT)

Kendrick Lamar is an African-American rapper, I chose his track Alright (Produced by Pharrell Williams), released early 2015 on the album To Pimp A Butterfly. The album as a whole falls under a few different genres/sub-genres. The obvious being rap and hiphop, with trap and jazz fusion vibes.

Genre

The genre of this track is Rap, with sub-genres of Trap and Jazz Fusion. Opening up Lamar’s music to a larger audience. I feel as if he uses influences from jazz music to represent the roots of where jazz came from, being back along with Blues, where African American slaves would sing about oppression and their experiences within that.

Era

Released in 2015, the song obviously has modern day rap entities. The theme of the song calls on the recent police brutality on the black community, with the murder of several African Americans.

Target Audience/ Demographic

Kendrick Lamar not only reached out to the African American community in this track but he also has a large mainstream following as well.

Cultural Significance

This song is very culturally rich, talking about the struggles and experiences of himself and the whole community as a whole. Reflecting on the cultural differences and discrimination mostly by police and the whole justice system.

Not only does he speak of the African American culture but religion as well, as the whole album is a very religion based and themed.

Para-musical Intent 

This track is the interlude in the album that establishes a “moment of hope” impression. The song has a strong sense of repression as its theme, which is based on the recent police brutality of African-American citizens in the United States.

Lamar attempts to convey to the black communities of American a sense of reassurance and that everything is going to be alright. This message is widely embraced, specifically by the individuals who participated in a ‘Black Lives Matter’ protest following the release of the album. In a rally the groups chanted “We gon’ be alright”.

Another mantra of the track is that all thats happening is just God’s plan for him, with many references to Christianity such as “I’m at the Preacher’s Door”, “Nazareth” and “Lucy” (referring to Lucifer). Further evidence of Lamar’s message was shown when he teamed up with Colin Tilley to create an extended music video for the track.

Aesthetic Quality

In this track they use mostly synthetic and sampled instruments and sounds with the exception of the vocals and trumpet. Like most rap songs, the feeling is very dry, placing emphasis on the powerful connotations produced by the lyrical content and overall message being conveyed.

I feel as if they chose to use the vocal sample throughout the track to signify unity within the black community. The jazz trumpet played throughout the song was a phenomenal creative decision, as it links back to the songs themes stated. The Jazz sounds in the track are meant to emulate the sound created by African-American slaves in the 1900’s. The trumpet’s raw sound and lack of processing reenforces the ideologies of the track. It is used once again to signify and represent a specific community and their pain and struggles.

The poem spoken by Lamar at the end is a crucial part of the album, he speaks of his struggles and refers to the evils of “Lucy” (Saint Lucifer, Satan) as surrounding him and now he’s following God’s plan for him, which ultimately links back to the fact that everything’s going to be alright.

Case Study 3: Kendrick Lamar- Alright

Case Study 2: Ta-ku – I Miss You More Feat. Atu

(Structure and Sonic Characteristics on VAT)

Songs To Break Up To cover art

This second analysis and case study is also on one of Ta-ku’s tracks, I Miss You More. This one being from his EP, Songs To Break Up To, released in 2013, and once again Taku reaches into the realms of varying genre’s bringing classical instruments, soft synths and sampler drum kits into the mix with this clean intimate track.

Genre

This track by Ta-ku fits into the EMP world but he once again makes it fit into many different sub-genres, from hip hop to classical, but with more sampled, heavily edited and effected vocals, pushing over into the remix-style side of the EMP world, still containing heavily pop influenced styles.

Era

This track was released in mid 2013 and much like the whole album it is  based on love which is on a much more personal level. But the listener can reach into their own personal struggles and experiences, making the track very empathetic and emotionally connecting.

Target Audience/ Demographic

As mentioned in my last case study, most EMP music is created for a very specific demographic, that being dance music, this is often produced to a click track and metronome to keep a solid beat for clubs etc. but these tracks often lack groove and feel, making it hard for the music to create real emotion; But Ta-ku breaks this convention, with the piano’s smooth human-like groove using dynamic control and feel through timing, which every great musician needs and uses.

Cultural Significance

This track links back to the social values of love and how it can affect everyday life, conveying important societal values such as love, respect, honesty and loyalty.

Para-musical Intent

This track is a lost relationship that was obviously lost, and the evident message of ‘I miss you’ hence the song title. The use of specific instruments reflects the theme of the song.

Aesthetic Quality

In this track Taku once again uses both organic and synthetic instruments to create this emotional journey. Using a clean, warm, real sounding piano and e-piano Taku sets the tracks mood instantly, mixed with the sorrowful vocals, you can begin to create the bridge going back to the albums theme based on its title.

The song has a very warm, soft timbre, portraying a melancholic feeling which the listener can empathise with. He uses an almost 90’s rap style strings synth which cuts through the mix, along with snappy snare rolls, giving the track movement, showing his true roots of hip-hop style EMP.

Although Ta-ku uses minimal instruments, every addition to each track he creates has a creative purpose and meaning for it to be there, which can leave some of the tracks vary bare but yet he creates a strong, full mix, which always conveys the message he wants to convey to his audience.

Case Study 2: Ta-ku – I Miss You More Feat. Atu

Industry Standards: Broadcasting

In the audio industry all different disciplines have various industry standards. These standards must be abided by. Examples of disciplines that use stick to a specific standard to be determined of quality or required standard are Mastering for CD’s, DVD’s, Vinyl and Broadcasting. In this blog post I will be focusing on the Industry standards for Broadcasting.

When we get down to it, the most crucial problem for audio in broadcasting is the loudness of the broadcast. All over the world people have to constantly adjust their TV’s volume due to loudness inconsistencies in the channel they are watching. This is most commonly found in TV advertisements as each competitor wants to ‘appear’ louder than the next, they do this by using ‘excessive amounts of compression, limiting and maximization’ (tcelectronic.com, 2015) which leads to lo-fi audio production, which no listener wants.

I say ‘appear’ louder, above, as the loudness of audio is most commonly measured by its sample-peak level (measured amplitude on sample peaks, rather than the peak of the waveform, which may be up to 3 dB higher in amplitude[Youtube, 2015, Wikipedia, 2015]). But surely if the audio is being produced for an audience (ofcourse?!), and the loudness has to be governed by specific standards, it should be measured by perceived loudness? Well with a combination of measurements of perceived loudness and a more accurate measurement of audio called True-peak, many industry standards have been developed to suit the listener a lot better; thanks to extensive research and listening tests by independent organisations such as the Communications Research Centre (CRC) and McGill University, in Canada (tcelectronics.com, 2015).

When determining the standards the most important factors are:

  • K-Weighting- Although two seperate pieces of audio may have the same Sample-Peak level, extensive research shows that they may well be perceived to have a different loudness. The basic explanation of K-Weighting is that it is a filter curve applied to audio channels.ITU BS.1770 K-weighting

The respective loudnesses from different channels are then summed and converted to a logarithmic scale (like dB) to give a loudness figure. (Nair, 2015)

  • LKFS, LUFS & LU- When measuring sound LKFS, LUFS and LU are integral. LKFS and LUFS are abbreviations for, Loudness K-weighted Full Scale and Loudness Units Full Scale. These terms are used by the Internation Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) respectively and they mean the exact same thing. 1 unit of LKFS or LUFS is equal to 1 dB. When measuring broadcasting level, the LKFS or LUFS could be eg. -23 or -24 dB.

However, in order to aim for a more ‘traditional number’, a relative measure has been defined: Loudness Units (LU). Now, the broadcaster can set the target level (regardless of whether it is -23 or -24) to 0 LU, and again, one LU is equal to one dB. (Tcelectronics.com, 2015)

  • Loudness Range, Program Loudness & Descriptors- The loudness range or LRA is the range of the loudness of audio from the absolute loudness point to the quietest, although this range does not include the top 10% and lowest 5% of the LRA to stop ‘extreme events’ from affecting the range. The LRA is quantified in LU. The program loudness is used to describe the average program level, it is quantified in LKFS or LUFS.
  • Gating- When measuring Program Loudness, calculating the average level may not be as accurate as possible to be relevant to our perceived loudness so thats where gating comes in. A gate is placed at a threshold of -10 LU which pauses the calculation of the program loudness when the level goes under that.
  • Target levels- ‘Target levels are specified in various broadcast standards, but only vary slightly. (Tcelectronics.com, 2015)’
  • True-peak- ‘Since loudness measuring is based on an algorithm that builds on a study of subjective perception, in theory, program material that complies with the determined LRA and Program Loudness of a certain broadcast standard can in fact overload if normalized the traditional way (quasi-peak or sample-peak). Therefore, normalization is also part of many broadcast standards, and to comply, broadcasters must use a  true-peak meter.’ (Tcelectronics.com, 2015)

There are various broadcasting standards all over the world, I will be giving a brief overview of a few of the main broadcasting standards.

International Telecommunications Union (ITU)

The ITU is one of the most important broadcasting standards across the world as most other standards are based off of it.

‘The ITU standard concerns Broadcast Loudness and True-peak Level measurement, and the loudness part is based on an Leq measurement employing K-weighting, which is a specific frequency weighting…’ (Tcelectronic.com, 2015)

The most recent, updated, recommendation is the ITU BS.1770-3, published August 2012.

EBU R128

‘The P/LOUD group, which is part of The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), has defined the R128 standard based on ITU BS.1770. However, the group also added new tools such as a relative gate that ensures even more consistent loudness across genres and types of program material. Some of these tools have been implemented in the updated version of ITU’s recommendation: ITU BS.1770-3.

Basically, the R128 standard builds on 4 tech documents: EBU Tech 3341, EBU Tech 3342, EBU Tech 3343 and EBU Tech 3344.’

ATSC A/85

The ATSC A/85 was specified by the Advanced Televisions Systems Committee, this applies to US digital TV broadcasting.

It specifies anchor based normalization for regular programs, but all-source loudness normalization for commercials.

It also prescribes the ITU BS.1770-3 for all broadcasting.

TR-B32

‘TR-B32 is a Japanese broadcast standard that builds on ITU BS.1770-2, which means that a relative gate is employed. However, the target level is -24 LUFS/LKFS as opposed to the -23 LUFS target level of the EBU R128 standard which also employs the gate. As a rule of thumb, a gated measurement of -23 LUFS/LKFS equals an un-gated measurement of -24 LUFS/LKFS.’ (Tcelectronics.com, 2015)

OP-59

‘Operational practice by FreeTV, Australia. OP-59 is rooted in BS.1770 Loudness and True-peak level and recommends a speech based as well as a universal approach to audio normalization.’ (Tcelectronics.com, 2015)

LO’s Addressed: 10 ad 16

References

Nair, V. (2015). Loudness and Metering (Part 2) | Designing Sound. Designingsound.org. Retrieved 2 December 2015, from http://designingsound.org/2013/02/loudness-and-metering-part-2/

Tcelectronic.com,. (2015). Broadcast Standards | TC Electronic. Retrieved 2 December 2015, from http://www.tcelectronic.com/loudness/broadcast-standards/

Tcelectronic.com,. (2015). Loudness Explained | TC Electronic. Retrieved 2 December 2015, from http://www.tcelectronic.com/loudness/loudness-explained/

Wikipedia,. (2015). Peak programme meter. Retrieved 2 December 2015, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak_programme_meter

YouTube,. (2015). Final Cut Demo – true-peak vs peak sample metering for professional audio. Retrieved 2 December 2015, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQTxSyK-ATI

 

 

 

Industry Standards: Broadcasting