Saturday, April 15, 2017

Live Sound

Jason A Phillips
April 11, 2017

Live sound mixing is the process of electrically or digitally blending together multiple sound sources at a live event by an audio engineer using a mixing console. One of the most difficult things to achieve is a good monitor mix, but first things first. You must figure out what instruments will be used and how many vocals microphones are going to be needed.

Setting The Stage

Knowing the instrumentation allows you to set the back line (stage) and where you find out whether you need DI's or microphones for amps. Some musicians provide their own DI's and others expect you to provide them. If they play keyboards they will let you know weather they want to run mono or stereo. Many keyboard players play more than one so you could end up running four or more XLR's to accommodate their expectations. If a musician is using an amp they will bring their own. You will then only have to provide a mic and sometimes guitar players will even provide their own. Other instruments you may need a DI for is an acoustic guitar, fiddle, mandolin or a drum pad. The last set of microphones you will need are for drums which could consist of a minimum of one microphone up to more than ten. The last part of setting your stage is putting out monitors or wireless in ear systems. Of course this is based on how many performers you have and how much equipment you have available to use. Typically each performer gets their own monitor, however in smaller venues people may share or go without having a monitor. Also having a group of background vocalist singing around one mic may benefit by using only one monitor.


The first thing you will want to do is set your preamp level/gain. Having this to low or to high can cause problems later in the mixing process. Typically each instrument or vocal channels will not be the same for everything on stage. It is determined by how much volume is being sent into the microphone. An example is the volume of someone's voice is not going to be the same as a kick drum or guitar. For different instruments you will choose different dynamics processing such as a gate or compressor. For mixing live sound most people will always use a gate on drums, however in a studio situation there are other options more suitable than using a gate that are more precise. You will always want your gate to come before the eq and compressor for the drums. Sometimes gates are used for more of an effect than for noise reduction and during that process the gate will be placed at different point in the signal chain. Now weather you put your compressor or eq first in the signal path is your preference and you can achieve different results either way.  Compressors can be very difficult to work with and will make a mix very muffled pretty quickly. Learning how to work these will take time but you will benefit greatly by using them. Equalizers are used to carve out specific frequencies for different instruments. On a kick drum you may want to here 50 Hz or 60 Hz for the low end so you might boost this. On a vocal you will probably cut out 50Hz or 60Hz, especially if you have a female singer. The last part of the signal chain in the channel is the fader output to the master section. This is where you balance all the levels to make each instrument fit together perfectly. This changes frequently while you are setting your compressors and eq's for each channels. Once you have reached a good balance, some effects might be added. Reverbs and delays can make a big difference in the way the music sounds and can be a great benefit to the show. Learning to eq and compress effects can also add a great deal of sound and texture to the mix.  The last part of the mix is to put a compressor on the master. This will help give an overall balance to the mix. Having an eq on the master is used a lot for correcting sound issues for the venue you are at. I try to do very little equalization on the master unless needed for correcting the room. If you continue to find yourself adding or subtracting a lot of frequencies on the master you should go back and revisit the eq's and compressor's on your channels. Nearly every time you can correct the situation there.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Story Behind The Music

                                                                                                    Jason A Phillips
                                                                                                    The Phillips Project LLC
                                                                                                    March 10, 2016

The Story behind the Music

In today's music there are stories and ideas presented to the public. Some of these stories tell a tale of love, emotion, and feelings about something or someone. The emotion is created by the music and the lyrics tell the story. The story gives the song meaning. It's ideas and details explain to the audience what the story is. A great opening line will grab the attention of a listener. Sometimes the chorus melody is played first to achieve this. Using rhymes can make it easy for the listener to remember and sing along. Dictionaries and thesauruses are great tools to use when creating rhymes.

"Writing about an actual
event or action makes 
the story real"

- Jason A Phillips   

Having a main idea from a real life situation makes the song believeable. Writing in first, second, or third person helps add detail to your song. Also adding snippets of several stories together creates a bigger event or climax to a song. Imagery can describe a setting or place for something to happen. A big part of the story is the action that is going to take place. Who, what, where, and when can describe the idea but adding action creates movement within the lyrics. All stories go from start to finish. It's a matter of how, that makes it interesting and exciting. 

Knowing what you want to write about and what you know about the subject, will expand the story in greater detail. Knowing who you want to talk to and what you want them to know is also important in telling a story. Developing an intension for the song can give it purpose and meaning. Recognizing different aspects of a song, such as forms and hooks can provide structure to build upon. Understanding word associations, metaphors, and simplicity will make the lyrics effective and supporting to the story.

When writing, skills such as critical thinking and communication provide a foundation for developement. Music theory and listening are also components of crafting a song. Developing each of these ideas and concepts into a song will provide a great story for the listener to be captivated by. 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Year in Review

The Phillips Project LLC
Jason A Phillips

Year in Review

      This is the first full year as an incorporated business and steps have been taken to secure a solid foundation for the business. Working with record labels, media companies, live venues, advertising outlets, and banks have proven to be difficult at times, however we have always come out of each process with a new experience and ideas on how to build this business. As studio space becomes rare and difficult to find, the process of finding a suitable location to build a facility in the future has been a priority. The goal is to have a recording facility that offers a comfortable environment for creating music and film audio.

      As the new year arrives there is a continuation of improvement and building. We wish everyone well and hope you all find the success you are searching for.

     By: Jason A Phillips

     The Phillips Project LLC

Monday, May 11, 2015

Basic Music Theory & Dynamic Markings

            Major Scale

            C Major Scale:     C  D  E  F  G  A  B
            The Pattern of steps is   W W 1/2  W W W 1/2
           A Minor Scale:     A  B  C  D  E  F  G
            The Pattern of steps in   W 1/2 W W 1/2 W W
            A Major Scale:   A  B  C#  D  E  F#  G#
            The Parallel Key to A Major is A Minor
            A Minor Scale:   A  B  C  D  E  F  G
            Notice the 3rd, 6th, & 7th are each dropped a half step to get the parallel key.   

            Building A Chord

            Building a basic chord uses the root, third, fifth.

            C  D  E  F  G  A  B     - C Major Scale
            1  2  3  4  5  6  7      -  Scale numbered Intervals

            The root note is 1 (C).

            The third is 3 (E).

            The fifth is 5 (G).

            So the three notes that make up the C chord are C, E, & G.

If I wanted to create the F chord in the same key we also use the root, third, & fifth only this time we start with the F.

            Root (F), Third (A),  & Fifth (G).

            The F chord is made up of F, A, & C.

            If you would like to build a seventh chord you just add another third interval.

            On the F chord you would have F, A, C, & E.

            For chord progressions the same numbering applies.

            Ex: I I IV V      =          C  C  F  G

Dynamic Markings

          Pianissimo (pp) - Very Soft
            Piano (p) – Soft
            Mezzo Piano (mp) – Medium Soft
            Mezzo Forte (mf) – Medium Loud
            Forte (f) – Loud
            Fortissimo (ff) – Very Loud

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


            Equalizers are meant to manipulate the frequency content of various mix elements. The biggest challenge of mixing is distinguishing frequencies and mastering their manipulations. In simple terms equalizers change the tonality of a signal.

          Equalizers can help us to narrow or widen the frequency of an instrument and can shift them higher or lower on the frequency spectrum. The purpose is to create a tonal balance over the mix. We can use equalizers to control tonal presentation of an instrument and their timbre. The instrument can sound fat, big, small, clean, dirty, elegant, rude, sharp, rounded, or so forth. Changing the timbre or tonal presentation is considered one of the most creative aspects of mixing and equalizers can do this in the most radical way. Equalizers also reduce masking by giving instruments separation.  Separation occurs when we boost or cut overlapping frequencies. Equalizers can be used to remove unwanted noises in a bad recording such as rumble, hiss, air conditioning, or buzz.

          Some different types of equalizers are graphic equalizer and dynamic equalizer. Graphic equalizers are mostly used in live sound. For each frequency on a graphic equalizer there is its own slider to boost or cut that frequency. Each slider has its own narrow frequency it changes and the Q of each band is almost always fixed. Dynamic equalizers are often associated with mastering applications although they are used in mixing as well. A dynamic equalizer is determined by the amount of gain intensity on each band. The louder or softer a specific band becomes, the less or more cut or boost is applied.  Dynamic equalizers are very useful and sometimes best used for slight adjustments rather than huge adjustments. The Q setting is the setting that makes a frequency narrower or wider. A narrow setting effects less of the frequency that is to be modified and a wider setting effects more of the surrounding frequencies.

          Equalizers are a big part of mixing and are used on almost every instrument in some way or another. Understanding what each is used for and how to use them will increase the sound quality of your mixing or mastering application.

Izhaki Roy; Mixing Audio; Concepts, Practices, and Tools

Sunday, November 16, 2014

EPK’s Otherwise known as Electronic Press Kits

Press Kits are used for music promotion, music publicity, booking agents, and music promotions. The press kit is typically sent with a band or artist demo to venue, booking agent or whoever your trying to get attention from. Local bands should target clubs and venues that support your genre of music.

The first component of a successful press kit is the cover page.  Introduce your band and genre of music. Display your logo and band name preferably in an eye-catching manor. The last thing you should add to the cover page is your contact information. Include your name, band name, phone number, address, E-mail address, website, and any other contact info.

The next page should be your artist Bio. Tell them about your band or act, genre of music, name the members, specific info about your band, style of music, how many people are in the band, name some quality places you’ve played, and the area you perform. Tell them what you need for your act and what you provide such as a sound guy, lights, or any thing else that relevant. Highlight any key information about your act. Tell them about your fan base if you have one and if you don’t have one let them know how you will bring people to your show, through promotions or advertising or any other means.

Band Photo’s are the next thing you should add. Having professional 8x10’s should be taken. If you cannot get pro pictures find the best ones you have and make them 8x10. Small pictures can be used and add description such as 10/10/14 @ such and such venue.

Add your equipment list next. Put this on it own page. Include band names, wattage of amps, and info about the PA if you have one. Find out if the venue you are seeking has sound and lighting as well as if they provide one.

Your booking information should include contact names, phone numbers, web address, e-mail, or fax.  Put this info all throughout your press kit as well as having a designated page. Put this info on your demo cd, flash drive, or any other device that has your music. Be choosy on what you give to who. A flash drive is not the best thing to give a bar owner but would be ok for a record or publishing company.

The demo should be CD, tape, or flash drive. Put on no more than three songs and make it your best material. Make sure you have a label with your band name, song titles, and booking info.  MAKE IT PROFESSIONAL!!

Make a song list of the music you perform including the best cover songs and original music.

Gig sheet should include where you have played and where you will be playing in the future.

Newspaper clippings & CD reviews should be added if you have some. If you don’t have any invite someone from a local college paper or city paper to review your show. This establishes creditability to your act so if you can get a copy of the original review in magazine or paper use it.

If you don’t have a business card for your band get one. You can get one nearly anywhere and for cheep.  Include them in your press kit and pass them out at shows.  Make sure you include your contact info.

  The difference between a Press Kit and an Electronic Press Kit is how it is delivered. A hard copy will have an envelope that should catch the attention of the club owner’s eye. An electronic press kit will be delivered electronically though e-mail or similar means. The EPK can be attached along with the music to an e-mail but will need to writer something to entice the reader to take action an open the PDF and down load the MP3’s directly. This can be done by a call to action or you can directly import your EPK into the e-mail itself. Find away for them to click a button right on the song list page that will start your music right then. The less effort they have to put in. The better off you will be.

Craft, Kimberly, M.M., J.D. ;  Entertainment Media Publishing & Distribution, Second Edition.