In this video, take a trip back to the origins of ‘delay’ as an effect and the technologies that led us to where we are today.
Early delay systems
The first delay effects were achieved using tape loops improvised on reel-to-reel magnetic recording systems. By shortening or lengthening the loop of tape and adjusting the read and write heads, the nature of the delayed echo could be controlled. This technique was most common among early composers of Musique concrète (Pierre Schaeffer), and composers such as Karlheinz Stockhausen, who had sometimes devised elaborate systems involving long tapes and multiple recorders and playback systems, collectively processing the input of a live performer or ensemble. Audio engineers working in popular music quickly adapted similar techniques, to augment their use of plate reverb and other studio technologies designed to simulate natural echo. Tape echoes became commercially available in the 1950s.
Before the invention of audio delay technology, music employing a delayed echo had to be recorded in a naturally reverberant space, often an inconvenience for musicians and engineers. The popularity of an easy-to-implement real-time echo effect led to the production of systems offering an all-in-one effects unit that could be adjusted to produce echoes of any interval or amplitude. The presence of multiple “taps” (playback heads) made it possible to have delays at varying rhythmic intervals; this allowed musicians an additional means of expression over natural periodic echoes.
Many delay processors based on analog tape recording, such as Ray Butts’ EchoSonic (1952), Mike Battle’s Echoplex (1959), or the Roland Space Echo (1973), used magnetic tape as their recording and playback medium. Electric motors guided a tape loop through a device with a variety of mechanisms allowing modification of the effect’s parameters. In the case of the popular Echoplex EP-2, the play head was fixed, while a combination record and erase head was mounted on a slide, thus the delay time of the echo was adjusted by changing the distance between the record and play heads. In the Space Echo, all of the heads are fixed, but the speed of the tape could be adjusted, changing the delay time. Thin magnetic tape was not entirely suited for continuous operation, however, so the tape loop had to be replaced from time to time to maintain the audio fidelity of the processed sounds.
The Binson Echorec, another popular unit, used a rotating magnetic drum as its storage medium. This provided an advantage over tape, as the durable drums were able to last for many years with little deterioration in the audio quality. Other devices used spinning magnetic discs, not entirely unlike those used in modern hard disk drives.
Robert Fripp used two Revox reel to reel tape recorders to achieve very long delay times for solo guitar performance. He dubbed this technology “Frippertronics”, and used it in a number of recordings. John Martyn is widely acclaimed as the pioneer of the echoplex. Perhaps the earliest indication of his use can be heard on the songs Would You Believe Me and The Ocean on the album Stormbringer released in February 1970. This was a first taste of things to come from Martyn’s interest in electronics and the boundless possibilities of electric music. Glistening Glyndebourne on the album Bless The Weather (1971) showcased his developing technique of playing acoustic guitar through the echoplex to stunning effect. He later went on to experiment with a fuzz box, a volume/wah wah pedal and the echoplex on highly acclaimed Inside Out (1973) and One World (1977). Martyn is cited as an inspiration by many musicians including U2′s The Edge.
Often incorporating vacuum tube-based electronics, surviving analog delay units are sought by modern musicians who wish to employ some of the timbres achievable with this technology.
Solid state delay units using analog bucket brigade delay circuits became available in the 1970s and were briefly a mainstream alternative to tape echo. Though solid state analog delays are less flexible than digital delays and generally have shorter delay times, several classic models such as the discontinued Boss DM-2 are still sought after for their “warmer”, more natural echo quality and progressively decaying echos. Additionally, several companies make new analog delays. Old delay systems like the Roland Space Echo and Echoplex are still highly regarded and used with some frequency by modern bands.
The availability of inexpensive digital signal processing electronics in the late 1970s and 1980s led to the development of the first digital delay effects. Initially, they were only available in expensive rack-mounted units but eventually as costs came down and the electronics grew smaller, they became available in the form of foot pedals. The first digital delay offered in a pedal was the Boss DD-2 in 1984. Rack-mounted delay units evolved into digital reverb units and on to digital multi-effects units capable of more sophisticated effects than pure delay, such as reverb and Audio timescale-pitch modification effects.
The earliest known design, possibly the first, was prototyped at a Boston-based sound reinforcement company in 1976. The core technology used a Reticon SAD1024 IC. This chip and design found its way into the well known Rockman amplifier some years later. In the 1980s, this design was used by BOSS for their mass production product.
Early battery guitar delay design, 1976 Digital delay systems function by sampling the input signal through an analog-to-digital converter, after which the signal is passed through a series of digital signal processors that record it into a storage buffer, and then play back the stored audio based on parameters set by the user. The delayed (“wet”) output may be mixed with the unmodified (“dry”) signal after, or before, it is sent to a digital-to-analog converter for output.
Many modern digital delays present an extensive array of options, including a control over the time before playback of the delayed signal. Most also allow the user to select the overall level of the processed signal in relation to the unmodified one, or the level at which the delayed signal is fed back into the buffer, to be repeated again. Some systems today allow more exotic controls, such as the ability to add an audio filter, or to play back the buffer’s contents in reverse.
As digital memory became cheaper in the 1980s, units like Lexicon PCM84, Roland SDE-3000, TC Electronic 2290 offered above 3 seconds delay time, enough to create background loops, rhythms and phrases. The 2290 was upgradeable to 32 seconds and Electro-Harmonix offered a 16-second delay and looping machine.
It’s often overlooked just how spectacular The Beach Boys were as a vocal group. This clip should prove that these guys were second to none as you hear them pull off some complex harmonies with nary a hitch on the song “Let Me Wonder.” They’re soloed at 1:46 where you can really hear what they can do. By the way, the audio stops at 3:46 even though the clip goes to 7:22.
1. Remember that they’re all singing at the same time. There’s no layering going on here like we’d do today.
2. Check out the sound of the tape rewind at the beginning of the clip, something hated back in the day, especially if you were wearing headphones. The next generation of tape machines alleviated the problem by lifting the tape away from the heads during rewind so you didn’t get that noise.
In this clip from www.artistshousemusic.org – In this full-length version of an interview recorded in October 2007, Jeff Dorenfeld, Associate Professor of Music Business/Management at Berklee College of Music, discusses many aspects of the concert tour industry — from who the major players are, who makes money off a live date and how merchandise works, to how independent artists can use touring and the resources of the industry to give their careers a boost. He also relates a history of the concert business in the USA in the last forty years, to put the current state of affairs into context.
- Don’t edit by eye. In most music (electronic music being the exception), you can’t successfully edit by just trying to line everything up to the kick and snare or the grid and still have it sound natural and human. Often times, tracks that look perfectly lined up don’t sound or feel right, which is why listening is more important than looking. Turn your head away from the monitor or close your eyes and just listen before and after you move anything.
- Every beat doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, if it’s too perfect, you’ll suck the life out of the performance. Unless something really jumps out as being out of time, you might get away with leaving it as is. Another way is to just line up downbeats and any major accents, which gives you the best of both worlds; a loose feel that still sounds tight.
- Copy and paste another section if you can. If you have to make too many edits to a particular section, chances are it won’t sound as good when you’re finished as just finding a similar section in another part of the song and pasting it in over the area that’s suspect. It’s a lot faster and easier to do, and will probably sound cleaner and groove better as well.
- Everything doesn’t have to line up exactly. Many times the bass will speak better if it’s a few milliseconds behind the kick drum rather than right with it. It still sounds tight, but both the kick and bass will be more distinct and the sound may even be fuller.
- Listen against the drums. If you listen to the track that you’re editing all by itself, you can be fooled into thinking that the timing is correct when it’s not, especially if you’re editing to a grid. The real proof is when you listen against the drums. If the instrument sounds great by itself and great with the drums, you’re home free.
- Trim the releases. This is one of the best things you can do to tighten up a track. Everyone is hip to tightening up the attacks, but it’s the releases that really make the difference. Regardless if it’s an accent played by the full band, the song ending, or a vocal or guitar phrase, make sure that the releases are pretty much the same length. If one is longer than the rest, trim it back and fade it so it sounds natural. If one is a lot shorter than the rest, use a time correction plug-in the lengthen it a bit (see the graphic on the left).
Twelve Tones is a brilliant introduction to dodecaphonic music theory that manages to avoid being mind-numbingly boring.
How? By including music history, copyright commentary, cartoonery, existential pondering, Rorschach inkblots, fantastic musical examples and even laser bats.
Check it out and let us know what you think of it!
Whatever programming guide or marketing strategy used by SiriusXM is proving to be quite effective. Last year, the satellite radio service added more subscribers than any U.S. on-demand service to date.
The company announced Wednesday it added 2 million net subscriber additions and finished the year with 23.9 million subscribers. In addition, the company said it expected to meet or exceed all of its 2012 financial guidance.
Props to Billboard & AlLindstrom
You can’t give a deposition like this and expect to win a legal case in the real world. And today a LA jury ordered Lil Wayne to pay Quincy Jones III 2.1 million dollars for blocking the release of The Carterdocumentary. TMZ got the scoop:
Lil Wayne never showed up in court for his trial. The day he was supposed to testify he was a no-show because he had suffered several seizure-like episodes and was prohibited from flying. As a result, his lawyer was left to show the jury Wayne’s deposition, in which he refuses to answer questions and mocks the proceeding. [RapRadar]
Game is making the leap from rapper to reality show star. VH1 has officially announced that the Compton MC will star in a new series, “Marrying The Game.”
The show follows the unlikely love story of Jayceon Taylor aka “The Game” and his straight-laced school teacher fiancée Tiffney Cambridge as they prepare to exchange vows. Their two children, King Justice, 5, and Cali Dream, 1, will also make appearances.
Cambridge fell in love with Jayceon, but wanted nothing to do with his rap alter ego. After eight years and two children, she finally agreed to marry him.
In each episode, viewers will see how love brought this unlikely couple together and how they work through their differences. Find out if they make it down the aisle when the season premieres on November 19 at 9:30 p.m. [RapUp]
Robert Cutietta, Dean of the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California, introduces himself and the school that he runs, and shares his thoughts on some of the school’s key goals, such as hiring and fostering a faculty who are both artists and teachers, further improving the institution’s already impressive community outreach initiatives, and launching a new Popular Music program. He also gives advice to music students and their parents, about how to prepare for a college career in a music program, and what his program in particular looks for in the students it accepts.
In this clip from www.artistshousemusic.org – Panos Mavromatis from NYU talks about music theory and his program at NYU.
Panos Mavromatis is Assistant Professor of Music and Music Education and Director of Music Theory at New York University’s Steinhardt School.
Andrew Wasson of Creative Guitar Studio answers a viewers question, whether I’m jamming with my band, recording a part, or live on-stage I often fumble through repeating the correct verse passes, or playing the right amount of repeats. Is there anything I can do to keep myself better focused on the part I’m playing? This is starting drive me crazy!
Jonathan — Connecticut, USA
Andrew Wasson of Creative Guitar Studio answers a viewers question… It seems like all of the great improviser guitar player guys jam-out really wicked long pentatonic lines. I was wondering, if there was some kind of good way to practice this? I know my pentatonic scales fairly well, but I can’t make them sound really connected and far-reaching like the famous players.
Darren — Minneapolis, MN. USA
As part of Q TV’s ‘How to’ on Q Aaron Dessner from Brooklyn’s The National demonstrates how to play ‘Fake Empire’ and ‘Slow Show’ on guitar.
Andrew Wasson of Creative Guitar Studio answers a viewers question… I really like the sound of arpeggios. Bands I like to listen to seem to use a lot of them. My favorite styles are definitely those that use the Neo-Classical sound. Could you make a guitar lesson on building arpeggio stacks? If I knew how this worked, and had some good guitar neck shapes, I’m positive that I could use arpeggios much better.
- Erik — Norway
In this first lesson he covers a small essential part of music theory so people can carry it onto the keyboard. It’s just about some chords. The C chord, F chord and G chord. Then moves over to the keyboard and teach aspects of these chords and how they are made, how they can be clarified and applied to the electronic functions of the keyboard. (He is use a Clavinova CVP303 digital piano and a Yamaha PSR 202 and a Casio keylighting keyboard)
This video shows how to create a song from scratch. He starts out with some basic theory to get some chords to work with. Enjoy!
Very important part of being successful is knowing the basics. Learn this stuff!
Andrew Wasson of Creative Guitar Studio answers a viewers question… I’ve received a lot of email messages & YouTube comments over the years from guitar players who either follow, or visit my guitar lessons website at (creativeguitarstudio.com), my blog-site at (andrewwasson.com) and my YouTube channels.
The comments are of a question about what order they should study the lessons material in. Also, what kind of practice routine would be an effective one, once the material has been decided upon.
In this video, I’d like to take the time to cover both the Introductory & Intermediate guitar student levels with what kind of order I believe is good to organize the practice of guitar material in. Once the material has been decided upon, what kind of practice routine I consider as highly effective throughout a; weekly, monthly, quarterly and even a yearly basis. In the video I get things started by taking a look over typical practice routines that I believe material should be studied for the average Introductory & Intermediate Guitar student.
Andrew Wasson of Creative Guitar Studio answers a viewers question. I’m not too bad with playing my scales in position, but I am terrible when it comes to playing my scales along the neck! Do you have any ideas for me regarding how scale patterns can be played more along the neck instead of just vertically in a position?