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What Music or Instrument Skills Help You in Studio?
Old 19th February 2003
  #1
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
What Music or Instrument Skills Help You in Studio?

I know alot of Slutz play instruments. I notice many of the folks on here say that about half the time while engineering, they feel like they are producing. For that reason, I'll use the title of producer in this post. Some producers have knowledge of music theory, composition, sight reading, and they usually play at least one instrument proficiently. At the very least, a good ear (for recognizing pitch, rhtyhm, etc.) is probably a prerequisite to being a producer.

What is the most helpful skill a producer can have? Networking, People skills, or... ?

In a production role, what kind of training in music do you bring to the job?

How much does playing an instrument count? What instruments are especially helpful to know your way around on in the studio? Is piano enough?

I mean, everybody's a guitarist or drummer...
Old 19th February 2003
  #2
Lives for gear
 
cajonezzz's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Being able to make a quick road map for muso's on the fly is really helpful.(traditional charts n changes)
I've got my own "drummer shorthand" that I use to learn tunes quickly in the studio or for auditions etc. (Kenny Aronoff devised much the same thing and has it available on video) It also helps young players that don't read traditional music to get a grasp of arrangements that may change in the studio.

Having skills in harmony, voicing alternatives can be great..but like anything else over/misused in the wrong hands.

(keep your Steely Dan chords out of the Punk bands productions)

At the very least, be able to sit at a piano and figure out harmony...figure out what will work before burning the talent into the ground whilst fishing around.
A good Producer knows inately how to not give so much direction as to interfere or do anything that would derail the artist from the "vibe" (hate that word)
the big eye opener for me was realising how easy it is to screw a vocal performance up. By simply pointing out a recurring "tough spot" or asking a singer to try something out of their element, I've sent sessions in a spiral downword by putting the singer "in their head". I'm careful now to establish a solid working relationship before adding my 2 cents. (session singers,players generaly are alot more plyable)
support, encourage , facilitate, move'm along when they get stuck....but nine times out of ten the urge to kibitz is one to be fought at all costs. Find the positive in everyone, no matter how bad they suck ass. love what you do, appreciate the "trash for cash" that allows you to buy more gear grggt
Old 19th February 2003
  #3
Gear Guru
 
Drumsound's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I've got a music degree and can play a number of instruments. I can then grab whatever instrument I need to figure something out. I've also played in enough bands with no training that I know to not start using music-school lingo when it won't be understood.
Old 19th February 2003
  #4
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
It's always nice to work with people who speak the same language as you, but i have to say one of the best experiences i've had as a session player (cello) was with a seriously skilled/talented producer who had no idea how to communicate with me in "normal" music terms. But damn, he sure knew what the song needed, and he found a way to get it across, whether by demonstrating on guitar or by waving his arms. So, yeah, know your lingo whenever possible, but don't despair: if you know what you need to say, you'll find a way!
Old 19th February 2003
  #5
Founder
 
Jules's Avatar
I make drum beat noises with my mouth "drum speak" to communicate with drummers

And I am an 'ex guitarist' - so I speak "guitar".

Wish I could play keys

I make up harmonies (b vox & counterpoint melodies) and sing them out of tune and expect folks to know what I am getting at!

Old 19th February 2003
  #6
Gear Guru
 
chrisso's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I agree with pretty much everything that's been said so far.
I've had 4 years formal training in music and have found it to be singularly useful to myself. I have not had to read more than a couple of charts in 10 years as a session musician. I write my own short hand and will write short hand chord charts for musicians I'm hiring.
I often find un schooled musicians get very negative if they perceive you know more about music than they do. In addition, straight out of school I had to unlearn a lot of things I knew. I had a lot of pre-conceived 'standard' ideas that 'artists' didn't want to know about.
A lot of the most interesting music is generated by people who have very little musical knowledge IMO and if you want to be able to communicate with them you have to learn to see things from their perspective.
Having said all that, I would counsel people to learn as much about the theory of music as possible.
Old 19th February 2003
  #7
Gear Nut
 
🎧 15 years
I've played drums for 25yrs, and picked up gtr/bass over the last 10. (a little keys more recently)

It's a HUGE help knowing some of these just for the communication aspect, but the most useful by far is the PERCUSSION.

I seem to always end up taking over a tamb/shaker/clave/whatever when the original band members realize how NOT SO STUPID SIMPLE it is to use these items to great effect (feel & rythym).

I've even 'played' an air can duster on a track.
Old 29th September 2011 | Show parent
  #8
Lives for gear
 
FossilTooth's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Learning to tune drums and setup guitars has been super essential for me.

Just having a real understanding of how a variety of instruments work is a big help too.
Old 29th September 2011 | Show parent
  #9
PMF
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
I 'm a bass player (EB and UB) and I've been told that my mixes are sometimes too "bassey" heh

The most helpful skill IMHO is to be able to "hold" the recording session together from the beginning to the end and let the client walk out satisfied with a good product... and keep your nerves until after the session.
Old 29th September 2011 | Show parent
  #10
Gear Addict
 
Buss-me's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Having played drums for my entire adult life....and for many of those years doing drum cartage as well, was indispensable to understanding how to record them.
Being a drummer you have the perspective and understanding that anyone who doesn't play, will never have. Doing drum cartage really taught me how to tune properly, as well as understand what engineers wanted, and why they wanted it. Also understanding how everything is miked, and why.
I don't play gtr, but did cartage for a few session guys around town. I picked up a lot about miking cabs.

Having played in bands really helps when recording someone else's band. You already have a certain understanding right out of the gate. The key after that is having mutual respect
Old 29th September 2011
  #11
Lives for gear
 
Joram's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
What Music or Instrument Skills Help You in Studio?

Music degree here...helps a lot especially with session players who speak the same language. But to be successful as a producer communication skills in general, taste and planning skills are most important.
Old 29th September 2011 | Show parent
  #12
Lives for gear
 
ears2thesky's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
I think my knowledge of music and production history helps tremendously. Understanding musical context and the requisite production approach are essential components of the decision-making process when recording and mixing music. Being able to communicate with musicians in musical terms helps a lot, but being fluent on tones and techniques found on popular recordings is huge.
Old 30th September 2011
  #13
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Guitar/paino would be solid choices, then music history like @Ears2thesky said.
Old 30th September 2011 | Show parent
  #14
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
95% of what passes for great production and mixing is really a great arrangement. Learn how great arrangements work so you can make useful suggestions when things aren't working, then learn how to get what you want with the players and songs you have to work with.
Old 30th September 2011 | Show parent
  #15
Lives for gear
 
KevWind's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
An interesting anecdote:

While recording some demos in Nashville done live band style. Where I sang a scratch vocal while the drums, rhythm acoustic guitar , keyboards and bass, were all played at the same time. I was impressed that Dave Martin engineered the board and played said bass at the same time. We did 4 songs in probably 6 to 10 full length takes in 2 hours. This skill saved me a fair pice of change. Kudos to Dave.
Old 30th September 2011
  #16
Lives for gear
 
jimmyboy7's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Agreeing on all and adding that I have Bachelors in Psyche and am currently pursuing a Masters in Human Dynamics. Mainly because the music and technical has vine easy time but dealing with people and groups of people is by far the most elusive and valuable skill to acquire. IMHO
Old 30th September 2011 | Show parent
  #17
Gear Guru
 
Musiclab's Avatar
I think if you don't know music you're wasting your time trying to engineer, unless you want to be a live guy. Often we're called on to help program, arrange and sometimes produce recordings, how do you do that without knowing music. Me, I've been playing guitar for 48 years [holy [email protected]#t I'm old]
and I can play keys well enough to get it into the computer and fix it.
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