06 September 2009


Les Paul's legacy

Les Paul at Flickr.comA few weeks ago I wrote about Les Paul, who died in mid-August at the age of 94. My podcast co-host Dave Chick and I decided that our next episode of Inside Home Recording would be a Les Paul special edition, dedicated to different aspects of Les's career, because as the inventor of multitracking and pioneer of solidbody electric guitars, he was so important to modern recording.

Tonight, we put that tribute episode (IHR #74, available as an enhanced AAC or audio-only MP3 podcast) online. In the process of putting it together, both Dave and I were astonished by how much Les Paul accomplished that we didn't even know about—most of it before we or any of our listeners were born.

I came to the conclusion, expressed in the our editorial at the end of the show, that Les was the single most important person in the history of modern recorded music—more important, on balance, than Thomas Edison or Leo Fender or Elvis or the Beatles or any of the other contenders.

You can listen to the show to find out if you agree. But it's indisputable that anywhere in the world where there is a microphone or a speaker, a Record button or a set of headphones—from every music studio or TV soundstage to every car stereo or iPod earbud, from every crummy punk dive bar to every high-end hip-hop nightclub, from the Amundsen-Scott outpost at the South Pole to the International Space Station—Les Paul played a part in making them what they are.

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17 August 2009


My video course now at London Drugs

Remember my GarageBand training video? The one you can buy from MacVideoTraining (with a 20% discount using the checkout promo code ihr)? This one?

It's now available online from London Drugs too, as well as on DVD in their stores here in Western Canada. Why not buy some copies for your friends (and enemies, for that matter)?

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13 August 2009


Thank you, Les Paul

Cross-posted from Inside Home Recording...

Mr.Les Paul by matteats on FlickrNo one who performs popular music, or records music of any kind, hasn't been affected by Les Paul, the legendary guitarist, musical innovator, and inventor who died today at age 94.

Many people know him only for the solidbody electric guitar that bears his name—indeed, he hand-built his own solidbody electric years before that, but Gibson was uninterested in the design until rival Fender successfully sold similar concepts in the early 1950s. Still, Paul was not only a talented and prolific player (who continued a regular live gig in New York until very recently), but also a hit-making jazz and pop artist, as well as the inventor of multitrack recording and overdubbing, as well as tape delay and various phasing effects:

He was a constant tinkerer, heavily modifying even his own Les Paul guitars with customized electronics and switching, and often acting as his own producer, engineer, and tape operator. Every listener to Inside Home Recording, and every musician or recording enthusiast today, owes him a massive debt, and we'll all miss his talent and contributions.

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21 June 2009


Links of interest 2006-06-14 to 2006-06-20

While I'm on my blog break, here are some selected, edited, and concatenated versions of my Twitter posts from the past week, newest first:

  • A DJ is a fake DJ if he plays music that he composed and recorded himself.
  • For photo nerds, a fun shootout from Poland of Nikon's 1960-era 58mm f/1.4 lens vs. a new (2008) autofocus 50mm f/1.4.
  • The sunset is beautiful and calming. Wish I could say the same for the state of my digestive system.
  • My kids are suddenly obsessed with Devo's "Whip It" and Lipps Inc.'s "Funkytown." Sounds like 1980 around here. They are also keen on "You Spin Me Right Round (Like a Record)" and "We're Not Gonna Take It."
  • Best tilt-shift time-lapse movie yet (check it out in HD).
  • When Robert X. Cringely isn't trying to predict, he can be very wise. Here he is on SMS and Twitter.
  • I'm uneasy about the proposed new Canadian Internet surveillance law.
  • In case Iran distracted you, note that Obama is taking lots of heat from the U.S. gay community this week.
  • Listening to "One Thing Leads to Another" by The Fixx (1983). That's one killer guitar tone, I tell ya. [...] Have moved on to "I'm a Man" by the Spencer Davis Group. Hard to believe Steve Winwood was only 18. Sounds like an old soul shouter.
  • Sometimes when listening to a good podcast, I’ll pick a longer line at the grocery store so I can listen to more of it.
  • I believe the commercial jingle for MTI Community College (on their site) may be the worst such tune ever made.
  • Photos by Andy Ihnatko using the improved camera on the new iPhone 3GS. Tap-to-focus also invokes spot metering, which makes a HUGE difference.
  • Since I took a break from blogging a few days ago, I'm tweeting and commenting on other blogs quite a bit more. Can't not write, I guess.
  • Roger Ebert writes that right-wing TV blowhard Bill O'Reilly tells viewers, "You're right, but you're not right ENOUGH! I'm angrier about this than you are!" And that is corrosive.
  • How the human brain perceives images.
  • As 11:30 news ends, they say, "See you on the morning news at 4:30." Uh, sure.
  • Is there anything that will more instantly provoke itchy eyes than a Visine ad?
  • For recording a podcast with two people, the Blue Snowball USB microphone is okay, but there are better USB mic options now. If you want to use a single mic for 2 people, the Snowball is actually better in its omni mode than in unidirectional. Alas, to change its hardware gain setting you need to change firmware (available from Blue site), which is annoying. Look also at Samson's C03U, and don't ignore the possibility of using a small USB audio interface and traditional mics too. For two people you'll do best with two mics. Modern lavalier (clip-ons) like the Audio-Technica PRO 70 do very well there.
  • DCResource on the tiny new Olympus DP-1 Micro Four Thirds camera.
  • Is this real or a spoof?
  • "Dancing Queen," "Brown Eyed Girl," "I Saw Her Standing There"—some songs work regardless of the audience.
  • Any entrepreneur worth his or her salt talks about their actual business, not "entrepreneurism."
  • Not chuffed; rather, chafed.

That'll do in the meantime, won't it? Oh, and happy Father's Day to my dad, other dads out there, and me!

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27 May 2009


Learn GarageBand from me on DVD

My Quick Start to GarageBand video course from MacVideoTraining (a company co-founded by my former podcasting partner Paul Garay) is now available on DVD:

My GarageBand video course now on DVD

You can get it at London Drugs and many other retailers in North America, or if you use the promo code ihr, you can get a 20% discount if you buy a DVD or download online. The discount code also works for John Biehler's iTunes course and other stuff from MacVideoTraining, including bundles.

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10 April 2009


My review of GarageBand '09

30 - GarageBand 09 on iMacOver the past year, I've put myself forward as something of an expert on GarageBand, Apple's intro-level audio recording and podcasting application. I've been using the program intensively, through every version upgrade, since it first appeared in 2004, and I've kept in touch with Apple (through both formal and informal channels) about it ever since.

Plus you can now buy a comprehensive video course I recorded to show you how GarageBand works.

So you might wonder what I think of Apple's newest version of the program. If so, I've just published a big GarageBand '09 review article over at the Inside Home Recording blog, which should interest you. There's also a link to my audio review from a couple of weeks ago.

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22 March 2009


Get 20% off my GarageBand video course

A few months ago I recorded a big series of more than 50 short instructional videos for the Quick Start to GarageBand course at MacVideoTraining.com, a new video training company co-founded by my former Inside Home Recording (IHR) podcast co-host Paul Garay. Some of their other training DVDs are available at lots of retailers throughout North America.

MacVideoTraining.com discount for Inside Home Recording listeners

However, if you want a better deal, you need to do it online. You can buy my course, or one of several others from the company, with a 20% discount on any single video or bundle, through a new affiliate program at IHR. Just go to insidehomerecording.com/mvt and enter the coupon code ihr at checkout.

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06 March 2009


Links of interest (2009-03-06):

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06 December 2008


My friends at work know me well

While my cancer treatment means I haven't been able to work for my employer, Navarik, for close to two years, I still make time to attend a few company events, including the Christmas party last night in downtown Vancouver:

Navarik Christmas 01 Navarik Christmas 02 Navarik Christmas 03 Navarik Christmas 04 Navarik Christmas 05 Navarik Christmas 06 Navarik Christmas 07
Navarik Christmas 08 Navarik Christmas 09 Navarik Christmas 10 Navarik Christmas 11 Navarik Christmas 12 Navarik Christmas 13 Navarik Christmas 14
Navarik Christmas 15 Navarik Christmas 16 Navarik Christmas 17 Navarik Christmas 18 Navarik Christmas 19 Navarik Christmas 20 Navarik Christmas 21
Navarik Christmas 22 Navarik Christmas 23 Navarik Christmas 24 Metropolitan Hotel pool Looking down Melville Street HDR wide Looking down Melville Street HDR narrow Metropolitan Hotel lobby art

This year my colleague Nathan and his wife had an excellent idea for our traditional employee gift exchange: instead of getting each other trinkets, we were to imagine what our assigned recipients would have liked when they were children. They would get to open the wrapping in front of everyone at the party, then say whether the choice would have worked for their childhood selves. Now that the unwrapping is over, Navarik will donate all the presents to a children's charity for Christmas. Perfect!

Even more perfect? Whoever was matched with me gave my childhood self a matching set of a toy camera with a toy microphone. How about that?

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28 November 2007



Lip Gloss and Laptops featured at iTunes U.S. podcast directory at Flickr.comMy wife's Lip Gloss and Laptops podcast has been featured on the main page of the Fashion and Beauty podcast category in the U.S. iTunes Store (they're on the second page here in Canada). We also figured out today that the show is #34 in that top 100 in Canada, and #68 in the U.S.A.

So congratulations, LGL, on 84 episodes and a feature at iTunes.

In addition, my podcast co-host Paul Garay and I have posted our 50th episode of Inside Home Recording, which we recorded live at a Coquitlam restaurant a couple of days ago. Mmmm, calzone.

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26 November 2007


IHR #50 coming soon

Today my podcast co-host Paul Garay and I recorded our 50th episode of Inside Home Recording (IHR). Usually we put together a whole bunch of separate segments and edit them into a proper show over the course of several days, but today we simply sat down at a restaurant and chatted for about 45 minutes about that process: how we usually construct our podcast.

Paul started IHR back in August 2005, when podcasting itself was less than a year old, and Apple had just added podcasting support to iTunes. It's the longest-running podcast on home and project studio audio recording. I joined on episode #16 in early 2006. It's been a fair bit of work for an essentially unpaid hobby, but also a lot of fun.

Episode #50 be a bit of a different show, but I hope an interesting one. We should have it posted in a day or two.

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05 September 2007


So I will ask you once again

Masterblaster at Flickr.comI've been listening over and over to Stevie Wonder's 1970 version of "We Can Work It Out" since I grabbed it on iTunes earlier today.

I think it could be the greatest Beatles cover anyone's recorded so far. Fantastic gritty keyboards, then, boom, straight into a superfunky, harmony-laden version so very different from the original, yet at least as good. I love the "hey!" background vocals, the frantic Motown tambourine, all that.

For everyone who's grown up after Wonder's peak in the early '70s and is puzzled at what the hype is about, "We Can Work It Out," like "Superstition" and many other tracks from that time, is the evidence you need.

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03 August 2007


My love is vengeance

Who's NextI'm just lying here on the couch, reading my RSS feeds and listening to The Who's 1971 "Who's Next" album for the first time in a long time. Holy crap, I'd forgotten what a great piece of work that is.

As Dave Wilson wrote in Salon a few years ago, somehow even infinite replays on classic rock radio have failed to dilute these tracks. Pete Townshend magically turns out not only to have created some of the greatest, most muscular guitar sounds in the history of rock 'n' roll, but also to be a genius with the primitive analog synthesizers of the era, which no one would have expected. Roger Daltrey makes his case to be among the best rock singers—powerful without being shrieky, cheesy, or slick. John Entwistle uses his bass both to anchor the rhythm and to fill in the melodies behind Townshend's power chords in marvelously creative ways.

And Keith Moon, well, what can you say? I've written about him before, how he's always been impossible to emulate because his drumming reflected the same unhinged personality that led to his early death. He was, it seems, incapable of playing quietly or subtly. So on "Who's Next," even the softest ballads seem on the verge of a complete train wreck, which is just the sort of tension rock music needs.

And then, of course, there is The Scream, 7 minutes and 45 seconds into "Won't Get Fooled Again." It should have become self parody after appearing in car commercials and following David Caruso's witticisms at the beginning of every episode of CSI: Miami. Yet still, when I listen to it in context, after the long, burbling synth interlude and Moon's edge-of-chaos drum intro, Daltrey's "Yeeeeaaaaaaah!" still gives me goosebumps every time (he sang it so loud that the microphone actually crackles with distortion), and the guitar that follows it is my own Platonic ideal of what overdriven chords should sound like.

Anyway, if you like The Who, or any band that owes them a debt, from AC/DC to Green Day to every emo-pop-punk group of today, go listen to "Who's Next" again and give it its due.

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08 June 2007


The Manual by the KLF

Years ago, my friend Tara gave me a copy of The Manual by the KLF, which even then was horribly out of date, completely focused on the U.K., and still pungently accurate as well as funny.

It describes how, in 1988 or so, you could follow a methodical plan to get a #1 single in Britain with no musical talent whatsoever. In the intervening years several people in several countries have modified its instructions to do just that, or come close.

I loaned the book to my other friend Sebastien and never got around to asking for it back, but it turns out the whole text is online anyway, so have at it.

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04 May 2007


Inside Home Recording #41 now online

PaulAndDerek-11.jpg at Flickr.comWe skipped an episode because of my ongoing cancer treatment, but now my co-host Paul Garay and I have finally posted Episode #41 of our podcast Inside Home Recording. It's extra-long to make up for the delay, and includes a bunch of recording industry news, letters and audio comments from our listeners, a new giveaway contest we're running till July, reviews of speakers from Audioengine, and (most interesting for me) the beginning of Paul's "MIDI 101" series on how the ubiquitous Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) standard arose in the early 1980s, and still persists today.

You can either listen to the show on the website or subscribe in a variety of ways. If you like it, by the way, we'd appreciate a review at the iTunes Store.

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