Laying down the Music Tracks for Riuka’s “Trash the Dress” Video
Apr 19th, 2010 by Andrew Kraus

Recording the final titles cue at Blue House in Silver Spring
Last week marked the completion of my part in the making of Lithuanian director Tomas Riuka’s Trash the Dress promotional video. Israeli composer Erez Henya is scoring the music; popular Lithuanian singer, Vaida Genyte, is doing the vocals, and yours truly is doing the piano part.

Visuals and dialog for the video were shot on location at various places in Lithuania. Henya composed his score in Israel. The music was recorded in two places: Vaida Genyte’s part was done at a studio in Lithuania; my part at Blue House Productions, a studio in Silver Spring, MD. Final mixing and editing is scheduled to be done by Riuka in Lithuania this week with Henya in attendance virtually through Skype.

Without the internet and related technologies this video could not have happened.

How I Met the Composer
I met Erez Henya online; we became online friends; he invited me to participate in the making of the video. All of this was done without ever seeing each other face to face or even talking together over the telephone, an earlier enabling technology.

How We Prepared the Sheet Music
Erez email me Adobe PDFs of the initial versions of the sheet music. I printed and reviewed the scores, marked suggestions and potential phrasings and slurs on them, scanned and emailed them back to Erez.

The night before we were scheduled to have me go to the recording studio, we found, in reviewing the latest version of the score together, that about four measures of the music for the ending titles cue didn’t work as originally written.  By the end of our session late that night for me and very early in the morning for Erez, the problems had been fixed.

How the problems were fixed involved a fair amount of technology and couldn’t have been done without broadband internet service available to both of us. While Erez and I talked over Skype, I played alternate versions of those measures on my piano while recording them into my digital audio workstation. Those recordings were then uploaded to the other of the two computers in the room (the one with an internet connection)  and posted to a document sharing site on Google Docs. I could even hear Erez playing the clips over his computer through the microphone for Skype.

Dave Gradin at the Digital Audio Workstation at Blue House ProductionsThe Recording Session
The recording session at Blue House went off without a hitch. I listened to the click tracks provided by Erez through the headphones while playing the music from the score. The major difference from a more usual session came from the fact that the composer was “virtually” in attendance over Skype. For me it was a pleasure not to have to hassle any of the technology stuff and focus on the music making. Dave Gradin, one of the Blue House engineers, handled all that with true aplomb. We got about seven minutes of music from two different “cuts” layed down in just about 70 minutes, pretty quick from what I’m told. After I packed up and headed for lunch Dave finished up the mastering and uploaded the finished music files to the Blue House website. Total studio time was 90 minutes.

I’m not sure what the distribution is for the finished video, but I will post a link to a trailer when that becomes available. Stay tuned.

Recordings – Blessing or Bane?
Dec 22nd, 2009 by Andrew Kraus

Is the use of recording technology a blessing or bane?

The answer is “yes”, or so this writer asserts. It depends on which side of the very sharp sword you’re holding at any given point in time.

On the blessing side, e.g., as a working accompanist, when I am learning something new, or want to see or hear a performance by a particular artist or artists, I can go to YouTube or to iTunes or Amazon’s mp3 site. I don’t have to travel to a library as I would have just a few years ago, or wait for a local performance as I would have 100 years ago. Pretty cool, eh? And then there are performances only possible on recordings – does the work of Enya come to mind for you?

On the bane side, among other, perhaps more serious considerations, people have gotten into the habit of talking (with their mouths or by texting) while listening to music, not paying for performances (that’s a really tough one), and in many ways, the most baneful of all, have come to expect the sort of perfection most often achieved after many hours of skillful work by performer and recording engineer in the studio as what a live performance should be.

From The GMU Gazette:

“Recordings have conditioned audiences to expect note-perfect performances,” [David] Sternbach says. “As a result, critical standards for live performances have become unreasonable and excessive.”

Your thoughts?

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