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Rosie Louise Mountjoy

Music Blog

Visual Musicianship – Music Video

For my final project I chose to create a music video with a hint of live performance, this involved a performance of my original song ‘Let Go’ with an interesting visual effect as I didn’t want to fall into just having a live lounge style video.

My initial idea was to capture ‘nature’, mainly a mixture of wide and close up shots of the wind blowing through the trees and shots of the sky as this is what ties in nicely with the subject and emotion of my song. I was going to take the shots and transition them alongside the live performance video, however when it came to editing, the colour of the back ground compared to the nature blue and green back grounds it clashed and looked horrendous jumping from those to colours to a deep red; If I was to re record this video I would definitely take into account using a neutral back ground or a white one, this would allow me to tinge the colour in editing to match the other clips.

My original song is a slow singer songwriter style so with creating a video like this there are boundaries, and restrictions to how creative you can be, this actually ended to be a problem for me as it dampened my creative ideas. I ended up experimenting with layers and focused on the performance shot. I used an adjustment layer to change the feeling of the performance shot so it wasn’t so harsh, I adjusted the colours and the warmth thus creating a smooth natural look.

I used all the natural shots as layers over the performance clip, this created a subtle but unusual effect and gave the plain performance shot some interest. I used the soft light layer as this is the one that was subtle and created a warm visual, this complimented the instrumentation and lyrics. All the ‘tree’ shots were ones I had taken myself in various outside spaces, all had a similar look but I made sure the ones I used in the final video were different shapes as it created variation in the layers, as the shapes are the most vivid. Once the editing was finished and I had watched through it I felt that it needed something as it was just tree shots, so I ended up finding a video online of flowers blooming which I proceeded to cut up and used them as layers again but this just gave the video a change from the trees. The blooming flowers were actually a juxtaposed idea as the song is about losing life whereas obviously a blooming flower is at the beginning.

If I was to shoot this video again I would:

  1. Make sure I was shot in front of a plain white/neutral coloured background as I had to change from my initial idea due to the red background that was behind me in the performance shot.
  2. Change the position in the shot of where I am sat, I would have much preferred it if I was sat more to the right of the screen as I feel it looks like I haven’t really thought about it in the used shot.
  3. Try creating a video for a more upbeat song where everything doesn’t have to be smooth, as a slow song really restricts you to slow and smooth transitions and theres not much else you can do.
  4. Never have an interesting pattern on the back wall of the shot, this created many problems as it distracts from the layer at numerous points due to it taking up the whole right hand side of the clip.
  5. Collect more footage than you need so you can experiment more.

Overall I really enjoyed creating this video and it has definitely opened my eyes to how creating music videos is something that I am capable of doing. I will most definitely be using premiere to create more videos and be sticking to the points I have mentioned above.

I hope you enjoy my video…

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Plug and Play Sm2 – Mixing and Mastering

The Process of Mixing and Mastering my song was the part I was dreading but also looking forward to the most as I hadn’t mixed or mastered any thing before. The last lecture before submission we were given a crash course on how to mix and master in protools that opened my eyes to what can be done at the touch of a button; The idea of what can be done by one click was daunting but at the same time made me realise how simple it can be if I concentrate and just listen.

I went into the mixing process with and open mind but I knew exactly what I wanted my song to sound like so I kept it minimal but made sure every little change was developing the sound.

The first thing I did was sort out the harmonies; I recorded 4 harmony tracks so that I had many options to explore and this also meant I could layer voices to give the track more depth. During the whole process sticky note became my best friend…

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I listened through every harmony track and wrote down what parts I wanted to use and which sounded nice and then began chopping up each one to fit the sound I wanted.

Once the structure and each track was all sorted I could finally go onto mixing my track.

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The first thing I mixed was the vocals, I started off by EQ’ing them, I played around with the ‘Mid Frequency’ and I ended up bringing this up into the middle of the top half of the graph and directly in the middle horizontally, this is where it sounded the least distorted and spaced out and bogged down, copied this process throughout the harmonies bar the last set as they were in a higher range in my register.

I then went on to setting the Eq for the piano and followed that with compression. I didn’t have to do a lot to the piano sound really, I just played around until it sounded in the middle of the track allowing the vocals to cut through.

Back to the vocals, I added compression as at the start of the track my main vocal line is really soft and quiet which drastically changes when it gets to the last chorus of the song. Through out mixing I found I just had to find the right compression balance between the piano and vocals as they were constantly battling each other; It wasn’t until the day before submission I was shown I could alter one specific sections volume which completely solved my problems and this changed the whole dynamic of the track.

Reverb was the last addition to my track, this being added to my all my vocals and it gave the track the boost it needed; The reverb added depth and layer to the vocals and made them stand up and be noticed more but not in a sharp punchy way which was exactly what I was going for.

Reverb set up –  Small Hall,  Dry/Wet level – 51

This particular amount of reverb gave my track texture but still kept the authenticity and the rawness of the vocals.

1st Mix – 

 

2nd Mix –

Not drastic changes made but I altered the compression on the piano and brought up the vocals as they were to faded into the track.

Master

Less is more. This is the phrase I had in my head throughout the process so this is exactly what I did when it came to mastering. I did some overall EQ, and used a pro tools in built mixer to alter levels. Everything was mixed based on hearing with one must in mind this being:

Ceiling level – 1.0, which is the legal requirement for the audio.

Polyphonic me Sm2 – Looping

Task 2 – Looping technique

For this looping task I chose to use my voice as the instrument to be looping. I mapped the trigger for the loop to the first A key on the midi and I used this to record, play and record over. I used my voice with the loop to create harmonies and percussive sounds to layer the track. This is all shown in the video below:

Plug and play Sm2 – Practice mix and master

While learning to use pro tools in the studio our lecture group for split up into four groups and we each recorded a verse and chorus of a song, this was so we could be taught how to use the studio and also we could use the audio recorded after to have a practice mix and master on which for me has benefitted hugely as I didn’t have a clue where to start.

Obviously learning how to set up and turn on everything in the studio was the start to these studio lectures, with a studio exam too follow. Below is a annotated drawing of the steps on how too turn everything on and in the order it needs to be. (Courtesy of Sarah Walker)IMG_5510

We were shown different mic set ups for each instrument we were recording, each one I documented via photos:

Drum Mic set up-

Bass mic set up-

Piano mic set up-

Guitar mic set up-

” Photo of Notes from marcus’s lectures”

After all the recording had been done and lots of notes about how to do it had been taken we had the opportunity too practice and have assistance on how too mix and master in protools which is something I had never done before let alone in pro tools. This is my first try at a master below…

Plug and Play Sm2 – Final Song – Song writing

For my final song I tried to incorporate each songwriting task and build my song from that. Object writing is something that really stood out to me as I tend to craft my songs around one idea or word and it grows from there.

My Object was the sea/water, with the underlying theme of suicide. These two subjects/themes are something I can relate to closely and evoke real emotions so this gave me the drive to become creative with the lyrics and then the emotion shows through the overall audio.

The main inspiration came from a personal experience in the family so thats why the main aim for my song is it to show the raw emotion. The emotive lyrics accompianied by piano and vocals is the way I want to capture this natural sound.

The sea wasn’t always the theme, in fact I started off with it being the woods. Following are photos of my songwriting book with how the writing process developed.

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I actually started to use this as my final song but after recording the piano in my first studio session when I listened back I completely changed my mind so thats basically how I came about writing another song.

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This was another song idea ^^^^

After that was when I decided I wanted to toy with the idea of the sea,

Sea Mind Map

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The Sea for me gives a strong feeling of vulnerability, as it would for a lot of people due to it being so huge and can be very dangerous. Being vulnerable is an impression I wanted with in my song, this crosses over the theme, lyrics and even the accompaniment.

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Final Lyrics –

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The Structure I chose was:

Verse, Verse, Pre Chorus, Chorus, Verse, Pre Chorus, Chorus, repeat till end.

This structure flows which imitates the waves in the theme of the song and it is one I am comfortable writing in. The dynamics also have this feeling of the ripple of waves as I have added harmonies to deepen sections of the song so it isn’t straight throughout.

Visual Musicianship – DIY Video

Task 4 – DIY performance video

Task four allowed me to experiment with camera angles to an extent and gave me some ideas of where I want the cameras facing in my final video. I settled on doing a piano and vocal original song as this is similar to what I will be creating for the final video to so a practice run of this seemed like the best idea.

I used two iPhone front cameras as they offer a HD shot and as I have one and so do my friends it was easy to sort out another one to use for a short while. One of the cameras I had on top of the piano with a shot of my face to capture the vocals, and the other was rested between to keys to get a close up shot across the full set of piano keys. Due to the time constraints when making this video I had to settle on the head shot I had but, if I was to do it again I would have it more set back with the piano in the visual because I didn’t take into account the empty space all around me in the shot even though I wasn’t even central.

I didn’t go to experimental with the editing as it wouldn’t suit the song so I tried transitioning through and editing the colour of the shots. Im really happy with the piano key shot however the light in the very back of the shot didn’t allow me to edit the colour as the bright shine was restricting.

Plug and Play Sm2 – Yousemes

Set task 4 – Select one song and highlight your understanding of the musemes function within track (200 words + link to track)

The track that reflects the idea of musemes for me is ‘The Velvet Underground – Heroin’.

The Velvet Underground introduce you with an electric guitar playing the two chords that stay consistent throughout the song and is joined a few moments after with the beat of a drum. The drum reminds me of a heart beat, this beat speeding up and slowing down through out the song imitating what happens to your heart after heroin is in your system. Thus creating a feeling of unease and confusion. This confusion is also fed into the lyrics from the very start, the first line being, ‘I don’t know, just where i’m going’.

There are constant references to the way drugs affect the way you think and feel which are not only carried though the lyrics but displayed in the instrumentation. I love the way the song makes you feel on edge and brings you up and down with the dramatic changes of tempo, there is never a time where you feel safe in the song with it drawing to the end only getting more sporadic in the guitar patterns and quite frankly the beat is dropping in and out of time.

I feel the songs theme ‘heroin’ is represented in every sense, it takes you on a journey which is not something music now a days does.

Polyphonic Me Sm2 – Performance Proposal

Task 3 – Performance Proposal

Group – Ophelia Neville, Chloe Wood and Rosie Mountjoy (myself)

We started of by making a playlist of songs that we liked the sound and ones that reflected the idea we were intending to create. It’s difficult to choose just one artist as we wanted to take ideas and influences from a range of them. Using the looper to create layering is definitely an approach we want to take as we are all singers capable of harmonies; This layering approach is something ‘Alt J’ are known for doing this is why they are one of our key influencers. The story is the main concept, our idea being that the song is themed around schizophrenia and we are the three voices, this creating a confused, eerie vibe.

This Alt-J song is the closest one that incorporates the harmonies, layers and eerie sound that we strive for.

 

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Plug and Play Sm2; Practice in the Studio

This is just a little blog post sharing the challenges and problems that occurred when practicing in the studio in preparation for the final track for this module.

I decided before going into the studio with my final song ready I wanted some time to practice which I shared with Ophelia, doing this with someone else meant we could help each other and also its impossible for me to record and press buttons so we really relied on one another throughout the whole project. These ‘practice’ studio sessions were probably the most valuable as we were learning new things every time we went in, we made mistakes at this point that could be fixed before our final project and it allowed us too experiment. To be quite honest I was not confident with recording at all, I had previous experience with using cubase, but a new studio with new software and new people to work with was hugely daunting.

Setting up Mic’s and finding the ones we loved the sound of was one of the main things I wanted to focus on as because I’m planning on my song being just vocals and piano I feel like this attention to detail of the original sound of the piano is hugely important as it is so exposed.

We had a A B Microphone set up (Rode NT3’s), XY mic set up (Neumann) and a figure of 8 mic set up (C414’s)

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Setting up all these mic’s gave us the choice to hear what sound and tone from what mic set up I like and prefer.

Plan is too when it comes around to record the song for the module I will still mic up the piano exactly the same with all the microphones shown above as it gives me options.

One huge benefit that came around during one of our practice studio slots was that, we found that the piano was making weird sounds when the pedal was used which ended up turning into a few weeks of Marcus trying to get the piano guy in too sort it out as it could be heard on all of our previous takes.

” Screenshots of  Emails too Andrew and Marcus”

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Prior to us receiving the email about the piano man coming to fix it, we tried to dampen the sound by covering the sustain pedal with my jacket. IMG_5725

(It didn’t work!)

Due to the piano not working this pushed me to use the Nord which actually ended in me finding a sound that I could possibly use in my final track.

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I decided to record the original that I wrote for last semesters plug and play module as a practice run before I recorded the new original for this module, as I wanted to get a feel of the studio before using it for the ‘real deal’! Unfortunately I didn’t have chance too mix and master the track or else I would have included it as an example but your just going to have to take my word for it!

The Vocals were recorded on the sm57, U87 and the (find out the name of the third mic) and overall i loved the sound of the u87 so this is the mic I shall be using for my final track.

Microphones were something we had a difficulty with ad to be quite honest we had a few embarrassing moments which included Marcus coming in on multiple occasions telling us the Mic was facing the wrong way or the switch wasn’t at the right setting, but I guess thats what the practice was for. An example of this was the lower microphone for the figure of eight set up was facing the opposite way to what it needed to be.

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This slideshow requires JavaScript.

1st photo – Ophelia being my producer for the day

2nd photo- Inputs in the piano room

3rd photo- Desk

4th Photo – my track so far

5th, 6th and 7th photos – Studio booking emails.

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