Wednesday, September 3, 2008


The following is to be sung with happy, excited voice and, you know, make up your own melody:

I blended records
I blended records
I blended records
I put two records together!

It was so much fun learning how to blend records last week during my "lesson." WhoDat has been so generous with her time, her equipment, her knowledge. I got there and brought some beer to share – she is not charging me anything, so I decided to bring some nourishment each time. So we were chatting about interviews I've done recently (Marcellus Pittman and Brian Gillespie) and the class she has been taking this week. It was Wednesday and Thursday at the Detroit Youthville Community Center, a class on Abelton and Reaktor taught by Mike Huckaby. Abelton and Reaktor are music production and editing computer programs. The two days were free. I wanted to sit in on them, but it started at 4pm and I didn't find out in time to adjust my work schedule. He has taught them before, so maybe I'll get to sit in on one another time. I am getting so overwhelmed with all the people that I want to talk to and sit down with to interview here. I recently typed a list of people that I have already talked with and people that I still want to meet and interview and that side of the list is LOOOOONG!

We talked for a while and then she got me set up with two records. She was trying to find something a little simple for me to blend. So I put the headphones on with one record coming out of the monitor and one coming out of one ear of the headphones. She started with an M. Pittman track and something else (I can't remember what it was). She cleans her studio space while I practice. She wipes down her Hammond organ, rearranges her cords for her studio equipment, she just organizes things. It's interesting to have control over what comes out of the speakers and what only I hear through the headphones. WhoDat can't hear what I am doing until I raise the volume of the turntable that I am trying to mix in to the track that is playing through the monitor. It's interesting because I can play around and still know that some of it is just for my ears – it takes away some of my initial self-consciousness and then when I am ready, I raise the volume for her to hear what I have blended. Sometimes the beats are matched and it lasts, but sometimes they fall out of rhythm pretty quickly. It's so much fun – it's so new and really satisfying when I do the blend correctly. I was asking her about albums and 12 inches. There are different types of records. An album, an LP, of course we all know, holds multiple songs (usually more than 2) on each side. A 12 inch holds a single song on each side of the record. An EP holds about 2 songs on each side, sometimes different songs, or different versions of the same song. Usually she plays 12 inches or EPs when she is spinning because they are much louder. She picked out an Erykah Badu album and a 12 inch with a song from that album to show me the difference. The album was Worldwide Underground and the song on both the album and the 12 inch that she played was "Danger." It made such a big difference comparing the two sources playing the same song.

Doing this is really helping me hone in on words that some DJs here use to describe sounds and records. Heat is a major quality that people pick up on and use to describe music. A track can be hot, records and analog equipment produce warm sounds as opposed to digitally produced music. WhoDat commented on the "pops and hisses" of a vinyl record being valued over the cleaner, more sterile sounds of a CD or computer produced music. Anyway, the difference in sound levels and density between the LP and the 12 inch was remarkable. I could really hear a more complex density of sounds and of layers of sounds in the 12 inch. Since the sound of a single song is stretched out across the grooves of an entire record, there is a lot more space for the song; more space within the grooves of vinyl for a greater density of detail and sound.

So it's already Wednesday again and I have my lesson tomorrow night! I'll try and get some posts out sooner this time around. I've got a busy weekend ahead of me: possibly Oslo on Friday for Family with Brian Gillespie and Todd Osborne, Saturday night at the Johanson Charles Gallery for Norm Talley, Shake, and Derrick May! I'll make sure to get some updates up to this blog this weekend. Good night.

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