Euphonic Studio ™

Recording studio and music instruction adventures since 1979

Derrick Patterson’s Singles NOW AVAILABLE!

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Euphonic Studio is happy to announce that Derrick Patterson’s 2 singles are now available for sale at iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby and scores of other outlets.

Please click the link below and add your own copy to your REAL country music collection for a mere 99 cents!

Thanks from all of us independent musicians who contributed to the project!

NEW January 25, 2015… Video release

Written by Mr. Bill

December 27th, 2014 at 12:23 pm

Posted in recording

CD Projects

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It’s been quite a while since I’ve updated the blog. A lot has happened since the last update, including my successful run for City Council here in Mt. Vernon. Serving our city in this capacity has been very time consuming, and at the same time very rewarding.

So here’s an update on recording activities….

I’m also working on arranging/mixing a set of songs from singer/songwriter Mark Randolph of Cedar Rapids. Mark’s music takes an unflinching look at life from a very unique point of view. These are taking some time due to overdubs bus so far I’m happy with the results.

The two African groups took most of the winter off, but will be returning to the studio shortly. The Glory Singers (Quad Cities) will be back in the studio the second week of March. The Amen Choir will be returning in April. With groups of that size, and the awful weather we’ve been suffering this winter, it’s been difficult to arrange recording time. Further, some members have just returned from Africa to our crummy midwestern winter.

I have a group of 12 songs recorded by Brandon Douglas awaiting mix. These range from Schubert art songs (accompanied by pianist Alex Doser) to show tunes with backing tracks. Brandon is a wonderful singer and is a voice student at Simpson College.

I’ve been getting some lyrics for collaboration from a gent in Illinois. If you are a lyricist looking for someone to work with on your project, drop me a few lines! We’ll talk.

As far as equipment changes, there haven’t been a lot. I built some active splitter boxes that function as no-load direct boxes. This allows me to get a dry signal from the electronic instrument as well as micing up the amp. I find this useful for re-amping once in a while.

I have been doing a bunch of mixing through my A&H board to the Otari half track. I really love mixing this way as opposed to mixing “in the box”. The results are startlingly better. There is a natural tape compression that happens. Some people mistakenly believe that digital recording is more accurate than tape… not so, not in the least. It’s a CONVENIENT way to record, but not more accurate. In fact, every digital recording is an approximation of the original sound. By mixing through analog equipment, you can reclaim some of the lost depth and stereo image. The results will make you smile, I think. I always do.

As busy as things are, I can still fit in your project. If you’re looking for a great place to record your demo, CD, or specialty product, give us a call at 319.895.8002!

Written by Mr. Bill

February 24th, 2014 at 11:15 am

Euphonic Studio Stays Busy Over Holidays

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I am just going to give you a quick update on our recording activities and then I have to get back to actually doing them.

Sudanese singer/songwriter/arranger Yousif Elmosley and Euphonic's Bill Niemi

Sudanese singer/songwriter/arranger Yousif Elmosley and Euphonic’s Bill Niemi after the July 5 session for the song “Kida La”. See Yousif’s page to hear the recording.

We have been running very hard here, with lots of new work, commitments for new projects, and keeping on with our ongoing projects.

The Amen Choir scratch tracks are finished and they will be coming back in to start finalizing tracking on their 12 song project.

We finished the Smokin’ Guns demo CD, which included their song “She’s Off the Scale” that got some airplay on KISS 96.5 in June.  The band is planning to do a full length CD here, working on one or two songs as they are written and perfected.   It’s fun to have some country in the studio, and I enjoyed playing a few tracks on their original song.

I sent Mirror Coat mixes of their 6 song demo for approval and I’m waiting for mix notes.  We’re almost done with that.   Mirror Coat is planning to move to Chicago and try to get noticed.  I think they should.  They’re a great indie prog rock band.

I also have verbal commitments to record from a Waterloo band and a woman from Marion who wants to do a vocal demo.  We will be giving a studio tour to a 12 member gospel choir from Des Moines in the near future… this group originally hails from Tanzania.   Yousif Elmosley has plans to return for two videos, one of his daughter playing a violin piece, and one of him singing his pop song.

So there you have it.  From power indie rock to world music to country,  to the Sudan to Burundi to Tanzania to Iowa, our clientele keeps growing and our repertoire keeps widening.

We are thankful for all of our recording clients.  We’d like you to be one of them… if you’re looking for a great place to record with a minimum of drama and very reasonable rates, please consider Euphonic Studio for your next project.  Call Bill at 319.895.8002 to arrange for a studio tour and get acquainted.

 

Written by Mr. Bill

July 6th, 2013 at 11:24 am

Posted in recording

Recordings R Us at Euphonic Studio

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It’s been over a month since I updated the website.  Wow, where did THAT go?

Well, we have been busy with a new project and a couple of ongoing ones.   I wrote last time about Mirror Coat.  That’s a mature project that is nearing completion, now, we’re just hammering out a few details.  The Amen Choir just finished their last scratch track yesterday, as we bade farewell to their drummer who had to return to Trinidad.

On Saturday, June 1,  we had returning client Derrick Patterson in the studio.  This time he brought “Smokin’ Guns”, his band, and we had a great session.  They recorded 4 songs, including Derrick’s newest one named “She’s Off the Scale.”  Derrick really hit the zone with this song, and as a promotional tool we will be giving away copies of it on this website.  I’m doing a couple of tracks on that song, just because it’s a fun song.  Look for that in the next day or two.

So, with all of this going on, today is actually the last day of teaching for the Spring 2013 semester.  We have a week off, then will resume teaching our regular hours the week of June 17th.  Some of my students are taking the summer off, so I do have some openings if you’re interested.

I hope your gardens are further along than ours.  It’s been a very cold, wet spring and to top it off we have a couple dozen too many rabbits in the yard.  This is the first year we’ve had to put up fence.

Fun fact:  Euphonic Studio is located in the part of Mount Vernon that is referred to as “Rabbit Town” because of its cultural past.  The story goes that a large number of folks here were Bohemians and they raised rabbits for food.  Over the years, with lots of domestic rabbits joining the local rabbit population, we have a particularly tame yard rabbit that will just sit and watch as you throw a stick at them.  They won’t move, even if you hit them.  Good grief.

Written by Mr. Bill

June 5th, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Studio News for 4/15/13

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Spring seems to be making a brief appearance today but I thought I should update everyone on the latest studio happenings.

Last Tuesday, we spent a wonderful day with Joe Jones and his sons.  Joe is a Mexican citizen and construction worker who has a musical family.  His brother

Mirror Coat performing at a festival in Iowa City. They will be in the studio on April 18.

Mirror Coat performing at a festival in Iowa City. They will be in the studio on April 18.

Melvin is an accomplished songwriter and so is Joe.  This was Joe’s first trip into the studio and he did a smash job of his original song “I Hate That I Love You.”  It’s a humorous lyric with a very sweet side to it.

Next up this Thursday the 18th is the Mirror Coats, an Iowa City band that includes my former student Scott Myer.  Scott is now a grad student at the U of I (where the heck did those 4 years go?).  The Mirror Coats are performing 2 to 3 times per month and they need a demo CD.  Scott has a great voice and has developed his guitar skills considerably in the last 4 years.  He was here Friday to check out our amps and the space.  I’m looking forward to hearing their material.

The Tick… Tick…BOOM! project is on temporary hold because of the spring play this week.  I hope to start knocking off some more songs when they recover from Strike Night.

I just put Todd Hammen’s page up last night and I hope to get another page up today.  I have 3 sessions that need to be added to the “Artists” column.  Those would be Mike Berg, An Underground Affair, and of course, Joe Jones.

I am happily looking forward to getting the Amen Choir back in for another session.  It might be a couple of weeks before that project ramps up due to members who are in school outside the area.  Their first session was a blast, it was inspiring, and I love their music and the group.

Yes on their latest tour... From left, Steve Howe, Jon Davison (vocalist), Alan White, sister Carol, Geoff Downes (keyboards) and Chris Squire. I already saw them once but I would have loved to have a photo with them. Lucky Carol!

Yes on their latest tour… From left, Steve Howe, Jon Davison (vocalist), Alan White, sister Carol, Geoff Downes (keyboards) and Chris Squire. I already saw them once but I would have loved to have a photo with them. Lucky Carol!

On a somewhat related but completely different topic, my sister Carol who lives in the Houston area bought VIP tickets to see Yes.  Yes was a cutting edge band from the early-mid 70s and I was a big, BIG fan of their music.  I saw them play on their “Close to the Edge” tour at the Met Sports Center in Minneapolis in 1974.  The concert was AWESOME.  The sound was perfect; it was like hearing the album but better.   Carol enjoyed this concert immensely as she was sitting a few feet from Steve Howe, whose style can best be described as uniquely perfect for the band.  Two of the original band members have apparently retired, those being Rick Wakeman (keyboardist and early adopter of the Mini-Moog), and Jon Anderson (vocalist extraordinaire).   However, the replacements seem to be on par with the originals.  I always thought that Jon Anderson’s voice would be very hard to replace, but they have found someone who is a ringer for him.  (I wonder how many auditions they sat through for that?)  I am putting a picture up of Carol because she is a huge Yes fan and also she’s recorded a Guided Imagery CD here.

That’s it for today…  happy spring.  To my friends in Minnesota, don’t put those shovels away quite yet.

Remember to look us up if you are a solo artist or a rapper or rock band or classical chamber group or a 24 piece choir.  Euphonic Studio can handle your project!

Written by Mr. Bill

April 14th, 2013 at 4:13 pm

Posted in recording

Euphonic Recording Update

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March was a busy month for us, and it looks as if the upcoming work will keep us busy for some time to come.

First, a recap.  In March, we had a nice session with Mike Berg, from Dubuque.  He recorded a pair of songs that will be used at his daughter’s wedding this spring.  I gave a studio tour to Tre Critelli, from Des Moines, who is planning to do a CD of his own works in the near future.   I got a commitment from the Amen Choir to do their 12 song CD project here, and their first session was March 23.  That day’s work yielded a scratch track that will be used as the framework for overdubs in future sessions.

My pet project, namely getting a nice studio recording of the student-directed musical Tick Tick BOOM! is underway!  The backing tracks have been done for months; in fact they have been used for festivals where the troupe performed their show.  But now we’re getting the singers into the studio, thanks to Brandon Douglas, who is organizing things on the student’s end.  Now it’s a race against time.  Which will come first… the successful completion of the recordings or graduation?  We’ll see.

The Amen Choir will be taking a big chunk of studio time for the next 2 months, but we still have time for other projects.  Scott Myer, former Mt. Vernon resident, Euphonic guitar student, and now grad student at the U of I, will bring his band in for a 9 song demo CD with the first session booked for April 18th.  I’m looking forward to Scott’s project.  He is a gifted singer, and has one recording on the euphonic.us website that needs to be brought over here.

The teaching studio is running at capacity.  My plan for the summer is to keep the same teaching schedule that I have now.  Most of my students are adults now so it makes sense to leave things as they are.

That’s it for now; more updates as they become available.

Written by Mr. Bill

April 1st, 2013 at 9:21 am

Posted in recording

We haven’t forgotten about you…

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Hi, everyone,

here’s a quick update.  We had a very interesting spoken word recording of an interview with Dr. Kenneth Rempher, who was interviewed via phone regarding his expertise in health care systems policy.  I TRULY enjoyed that one!

As much as I enjoyed that session, I have to say that the live recording and video shoot of Cathy Risse, Lisbon piano teacher, was an extraordinary opportunity.  She delivered virtuoso performances of 3 master works.  Because the concert went over an hour, we ran out of videotape and she came into the studio to record the last movement of the Ravel sonata.  I have been busy editing video (I used 3 cameras for the shoot) even while we take a last minute stand against the Mount Vernon City Council on this road project.

Our teaching studio is full, now, so that’s keeping us busy.

I have been recovering from knee surgery but I can still book dates.  We have upcoming dates from Mike Berg and a strong chance to record a 20 piece African group that does Christian music in the style of east Africa.

I hope to get recordings by a couple of previous music sessions up on the website soon.  With everything else going on, and the surgery, sleep seems to be turning into an option.

Cheers!

 

Written by Mr. Bill

February 22nd, 2013 at 8:49 am

Happy New Year and Thanks for Your Business

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At this time of the year we always tend to look back over the prior year and take stock of our journey through life.  Euphonic Studio is a very big part of my life and I am grateful and humbled by the talented and wonderful people who have entrusted me to teach them how to play their instrument or to record their music.  I am well aware that there are other choices for these services;  your loyalty drives me to work on continuous improvement to earn your repeat business.

So first off, thanks to my students and their families.  I love teaching you and I look forward to my teaching days as new opportunities to help you with breakthroughs on your instrument and your understanding and appreciation of music.  My relationship with my students is interesting; lessons take a lot out of me physically but I get energy back on some other level.  It’s a mystery but I love it!

2012 was a very busy year in the studio.  We put out a 14 song CD of music created by David R. Weiss of Minneapolis and performed by Sara and Jim Klosterboer.  It’s a lovely work called “To the Tune of a Welcoming God”,  the same title as the book it accompanies.  This project preoccupied me for much of the summer into the fall when mastering was completed.

The year started out with another CD project of 11 songs, but unfortunately the band lost its guitarist and broke up before the project could be completed.

Besides the two CD projects, we had a number of other artists and clients through the recording studio this year for one or more sessions.  Not mentioning these in any particular order, but here are most of them (if I forget anybody I’ll come back and fix it):  Lisa Tracy, Dick Hakes, Angie Cannon,  Derrick Patterson, former bandmate Steve Pawlenty via email, Doralyn Bigelow,  Kaitlin Thune, Seamus Taylor, Todd Hammen,  Mike Michalski,  Brianna Schwenk and Lyndsey Reis for the Catherine McCauley Center, Sean Moore, the Underground Affair band  and of course my own projects.  I hope I haven’t missed anyone.

Other recordings here included two spoken word recordings, one by author Dr. Molli Marti, the other by Reiki massage practitioner Shari Stevens of Iowa city.

In the equipment/software department, we made a couple of quantum leaps this year.  I purchased an Otari half track tape machine and now master to analog tape.  This is an order of magnitude better than mastering to digital.  The process is a bit arcane but prospective clients are welcome to come over for a demonstration if this interests you.

The other addition is a set of Alesis DM5 Pro drum pads with some extra cymbals.  The kit can be played into either an Alesis DM5 head or a Yamaha RM50 head, and I am in the process of integrating this set into being able to play samples on the recording computer in real time through an Alesis Trigger IO module.  Stay tuned, I’ll let you know when it’s up and running.

The most notable software addition was the purchase of Toontrack’s Superior Drummer 2.0, which I hope to be playing in real time with the pads shortly.  This is an amazing drum tool, and a wonderful addition to the studio.

Hot projects on the list right now are finishing up the cast recordings for “Tick Tick Boom” which we hope to do in January.

Thank you all for a wonderful growth year for Euphonic Studio.  Your business is appreciated and we love all of you!

Written by Mr. Bill

January 1st, 2013 at 12:43 pm

Posted in Meta

Two Years of Recording With Lisa Tracy

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For some time now, I have been thinking about how to write this blog piece, which is really a combination of a thank you, a tribute, a brief description of a journey, and let’s not forget, a whole big lot of great times and great music. Today I thought I’d give it a go.

Our friends and clients, Lisa and Mike Tracy

Our friends and clients, Lisa and Mike Tracy

When Lisa called for the first appointment I was impressed by the calm and matter-of-fact way that she described her recording project on the phone. She knew what she wanted, and I could tell that she knew because of previous experience in recording studios. Her project goal was simple; it was to find and record all the “lost” material that she’s written over 30 some years and to do it as simply as possible. Sort of like MTV’s “Unplugged” series.  I was looking forward to the chance to record someone with her experience, and maybe a bit nervous, too.

Lisa and Mike (her husband) came over for their first session.  They were warm and delightful people of about the same vintage we are, so we had a lot of commonalities in family, music, and growing up during the same era. This has contributed to an ongoing growth in our friendship. Our conversations are always interesting and memory-dislodging. Typically Mike or I will think of some off-the-wall song and then try to remember the band. Or we share stories of the road, talk about old friends, family, pets, or whatever. Lisa and Mike feel like our family when they come over and it always seems a bit brighter on days they visit.

Lisa reviewing lyrics while she warms up for another take

Lisa reviewing lyrics while she warms up for another take. This was in the room ambiance stage of my recording style; you can see a pair of PZM mics mounted on Plexiglass directly in line with the music stand.

Oh, I haven’t gotten to the recording part yet. Lisa happened to start working here when I was near the beginning of my analog-to-digital transition. Two years back the best mics I had were a pair of R0de NT1-a. My A/D-D/A converters were DirectPro 24/96 Aardvarks. I had 4 of them to do 16 tracks at a time but had never had to record more than 8. I was running Sonar 5 Studio on a Dell P4.

If you’re a gear geek you now have a snapshot of how things were here in December 2010 when Lisa began recording. We started out recording the voice and guitar simultaneously. I used a pair of Sony back-electret mics on the guitar and an NT1-a on her voice. When I listen to those recordings on today’s equipment, I can hear two things. First, the quality of the recordings has improved by a couple of orders of magnitude, which you might expect from 2 complete digital upgrades and a passel of new mics and software. The second thing, and definitely the most important thing, is that the performance and the music comes through regardless of the equipment.

This is a topic of a whole different blog post; in music, is it the media or the message? I can support my side of the argument with monophonic LP records going back to the middle of the last century that contain important and timeless performances. Oops, I said the “p” word. Performance.

Lisa Tracy warming up for a recording take

Lisa Tracy warming up for a recording take

For musical works of art, the performance is the message, not the media. Lisa’s music fits into the categories of musical works of art, and also musical works of spirituality. So the medium is definitely not the message here; the message transcends the mere recording and she would probably say it transcends the performance of it as well. She’s just the messenger. Lisa’s message is Good News. We always say we could stand to hear a little good news, hmmm? If you listen to Lisa’s music it’s all about Good News.

The earliest recording I could dig up from my hodge-podge of files backed up from recording hard drives of computers gone by the wayside is from December 3, 2010. It’s a song called “Don’t Jump in the Cage”, and I believe that this was the first one she did here because I remember the jazzy feel of it. I couldn’t find a mix of it, so I did a fresh one. It was recorded with 2 mics; the R0de for vocal, the Sony on the guitar.

Don’t Jump in the Cage

[audio:http://www.euphonicstudio.us/Media/mp3/LT/Dont-Jump-In-The-Cage.mp3]

Lisa began her musical journey as a child starting with piano lessons.  I’m not clear where she learned to play the guitar; I think she just watched other people and learned that way.  I can say that she is is a very solid musician.  If we do multiple takes on a song, it’s amazing to me how consistent her tempos are.  The takes always end within one or two seconds of each other.  Her voice is clear and strong.  She records her songs with conviction and grace.

Her songwriting is mostly spiritual in nature but once in a while she’ll throw one out there that’s not.  The one that comes to mind immediately is “Just Like You”, which I was honored to play bass on.  So far that’s the only one of her songs that has a second instrument overdub, although we’ve talked about it on a couple of songs.

The Tracys say that they are nearing the end of their backlog of material, so we may not be seeing them as often as we have.  We are very thankful for their friendship and business over the last 2 years and especially the way that the atmosphere gets a bit more joyful when they come into our home.  Lori and I look forward to future recordings with Lisa as she becomes inspired.

So what have we accomplished in 2 years?  Almost 40 (39, I think)  songs, by my count, expertly crafted and performed.  Lisa’s music has driven my decisions to improve and upgrade Euphonic Studio to the state where it is today.   She has created an impressive body of work here, and on 2 CDs recorded elsewhere.  One of them, Emmaus, is as well-recorded as music I’ve heard from LA or New York studios.

One last thing I should mention.  Mike sends out a “song of the week” each Wednesday to anyone on that mailing list.  So Lisa is sharing all of her music for free, and encourages people to use it (with accreditation, please), in their own services or for personal inspiration.  If you would like to be added to that mailing list, please contact Mike at mt80099@aol.com.

You can also find many of Lisa’s songs on her page on this website.  It’s my goal to get them all up, and remix the older ones through our analog system that is at the end of the full circle we have traveled.  Sigh.  Life is a journey, is it not?

Written by Mr. Bill

December 30th, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Posted in recording

Euphonic adds Alesis DM5-Pro/Yamaha drums

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They’re not the same as my wonderful set of Premier drums I had in my Minneapolis studio, but in many respects these are better for all concerned.

I suppose the first thing to say is how happy I am to have drums back in my studio again after all of these years.  I have really missed playing drums and this set will really expedite recording of ensembles with drums.

Alesis DM5-Pro & Yamaha drums

This is the top view of our new DM5 Pro kit with Surge cymbals that can play either the 20 kits on the DM5 synth or one of the 128 kits in the Yamaha RM-50 synth we have.

I have gotten some really great acoustic drum recordings in this space and some not so great.  I think it had a lot to do with the way the kits were tuned, the size of the drums, and how the drummer played.  The biggest problem has been separation, and it is worsened by drums with a lot of ring to them or loud players.  At least I haven’t had to fight a room problem like I had in MPLS.  My apartment studio provided hard floors, walls, and high, hard ceilings for the drum kit which was a lot of fun to try to control.  Those drums would have been killer in this room.  But I digress.

The pads I have are Alesis DM5 pads and the set came with a set of 3 Surge cymbals, including a dual-zone ride.  The snare is also dual-zone.  I have added a 2nd crash cymbal which is dual-zone with a choke as the second zone.  Future enhancements will be a 3rd crash (splash) which can of course be programmed to play any sound in the synthesizers.  I am also considering a bank of 4 small pads that can be used to trigger anything from cowbells to roto-toms.

The drum synthesizers we have available are the DM5 as mentioned and a Yamaha RM-50.  The DM5s are handy for handling the triggering with 12 trigger I/O channels.  It’s also a very easy head to program.  The Yamaha RM-50 is a brilliant drum synthesizer and I looked for an affordable one on eBay for some time before I finally snatched one up based on its reputation.  It has 64 preset and 64 user drum kits, does pitched voice instruments (like chimes and vibraphones) and has 1000 voices to choose from.  Needless to say I am enjoying playing this synth!

The two drum synthesizers have integrated without much trouble.  I had a bit of a puzzle sorting out what note was actually playing in the Yamaha from triggers 9-12.  Hint:  for some reason the Yamaha transposes the note number down an octave.

Acquisition of this kit will save our drum-playing customers time and money.  We can record both an audio sound of the kit you like plus a MIDI sound of what you’re playing.  With the MIDI recorded, we have all kinds of flexibility to edit your part, change to soft or hard drum kits, even change tempos or quantize the part after the fact if you 64th notes were off a tad that day.  And the best part is that you don’t have to bring in anything but your sticks!  You can sit down, find the kit that you like to hear, adjust the drums and cymbals, and you are off and running!  No running 8 mics over to the drums and waiting for the tech guy (me) to set them up.

These drums are available for your use at no extra charge, just like the rest of the electronic gear here at Euphonic.  This is just another of dozens of value-added service we can provide.

Written by Mr. Bill

November 24th, 2012 at 2:55 pm

Posted in recording