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What is Dub, what is Reggae ?

The remixed versions of a recording, often with vocals partly or entirely removed, and usually with it's main emphasis on the bass and drum tracks (rhythm). Most reggae singles since the early 1970's have included dub versions on their flip sides.

AAMS Auto Audio Mastering System

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Apart from reggae, dub is often used as a "catch-all" word to mean a recording where the mixing engineers' skills play an important role in the final product, and therefor, making the word "dub" virtually meaningless. 
Haile Selassie (Hayle Selasse), "common" name Tafari Makonnen (or Tafari Makwannen) (b. July 23, 1892, Ejarsagoro, near Harer, Ethiopia - d. Aug. 27, 1975, Addis Ababa), emperor of Ethiopia (1930-74). He was a great-grandson of Sahle Selassie of Shewa and a son of Ras Makonnen, a chief adviser to Emperor Menelik II. Tafari at an early age impressed the emperor with his intellectual abilities and was promoted accordingly.
As governor of Sidamo and then of Harer provinces, he followed progressive policies, seeking to break the feudal power of the local nobility by increasing the authority of the central government. In 1917-30 he was also foreign minister. In 1928 he assumed the title of negus ("king"), and two years later, when Empress Zauditu died, he was crowned emperor and took the throne name of Haile Selassie ("Might of the Trinity"), which was also his baptismal name. In 1931 he promulgated a new constitution, which strictly limited the powers of Parliament. When Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935, he led the resistance to the invaders, but in May 1936 he was forced into exile. In 1941 British and Ethiopian forces invaded Ethiopia and recaptured Addis Ababa. Reinstated as emperor, he once again began to implement social, economic, and educational reforms in an attempt to modernize Ethiopia on a slow and gradual basis. He played a major role in the establishment of the Organization of African Unity in 1963. In 1974 famine, worsening unemployment, and the political stagnation of his government prompted segments of the army to mutiny. They deposed Haile Selassie, who spent the remainder of his life a prisoner in his own palace. The official report of his death, which claimed natural causes, was without medical or legal confirmation and led some political observers to suspect foul play. 
Haile Selassie
What is Rasta (Rastafarians/Rastafari)?
Rasta, as it is more commonly called, has its roots in the teachings of Jamaican black nationalist Marcus Garvey, who in the 1930s preached a message of black self empowerment, and initiated the "Back to Africa" movement. Which called for all blacks to return to their ancestral home, and more specifically Ethiopia. He taught self reliance "at home and abroad" and advocated a "back to Africa" consciousness, awakening black pride and denouncing the white man's eurocentric worldview, colonial indoctrination that caused blacks to feel shame for their African heritage. "Look to Africa", said Marcus Garvey in 1920, "when a black king shall be crowned, for the day of deliverance is at hand". Many thought the prophecy was fulfilled when in 1930, Ras Tafari, was crowned emperor Haile Selassie 1 of Ethiopia and proclaimed "King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and the conquering lion of the Tribe of Judah". Haile Selassie was claimed to be a direct descendant of King David, the 225th ruler in an unbroken line of Ethiopian Kings from the time of Solomon and Sheba. He and his followers took great pride in being black and wanted to regain the black heritage that was lost by loosing faith and straying from the holy ways.
Rastafarians live a peaceful life, needing little material possessions and devote much time to contemplating the scriptures. They reject the white man's world, as the new age Babylon of greed and dishonesty. Proud and confident Rastas even though they are humble will stand up for their rights. Rastas let their hair grow natually into dreadlocks, in the image of the lion of Judah. Six out of ten Jamaicans are believed to be Rastafarians or Rastafarian sympathizers. The total following is believed to be over 1000 000 worldwide. 1975 to the present has been the period of the most phenomenal growth for the Rastafarian Movement. This growth is largely attributed to Bob Marley, reggae artist, and the worldwide acceptance of reggae as an avenue of Rastafarian self-expression.


Marley became a prophet of Rastafarianism in 1975. The movement spread quickly in the Caribbean and was hugely attractive to the local black youths, many of whom saw it as an extension of their adolescent rebellion from school and parental authority. With it came some undesirable elements, but all true Rastas signify peace and pride and righteousness.
Producing Reggae Music
Introduction
This article is about my approach to recording, mixing and producing Jamaican music genres such as Ska, Reggae or Dub. I try not to generalize it all into Reggae, because each has it's own style and sounds. I will talk about some history, choices of gear and instruments, terms used
throughout the world of Jamaican music, and some general ideas that can be applied not only to Jamaican music but to any genre of music. I encourage anyone who is a Jamaican music fan and wants to learn how to get the traditional sounds used, or someone that is just getting into the music, or any engineer that just wants to learn something new, to read this article. Well, anyway, let's dive in, shall we?
Origins
Back in the early days, before I knew anything about how sound moved in a space or the difference between polar patterns or what proximity effect meant, I would record the best I could and what sounded pleasing to my ear. It's very easy to get lost in the world of recording. So much information fills your head and sometimes you find yourself questioning every move. Most of the time, all of that doesn't really matter. If you make something that sounds good, than it is indeed good.
The Jamaican music producers made amazing sounds with whatever they could get their hands on and some even built their own equipment for their own unique sound. There was a lot of competition on the little island of Jamaica in those days. There weren't many studios or places to record at first, but men like Coxonne Clement Dodd, Prince Buster, Duke Reid, to name a few, had a vision. They were successful with their sound systems. Back in the early days, DJs would load up a truck with turntables, generator and a massive array of speakers and play at street parties that catered to thousands of people. American music was really popular for Jamaicans in the 1950s, so this was the common music heard at these parties. It was difficult to get the new singles from America, so every DJ was competition. DJs would scratch the labels off of the records so other people couldn't see what they had. When American music started to progress into new genres, that's when these guys formed their own studios.
One of the first Jamaican studios was opened by Ken Khouri in 1954. It was called Federal Records. He inspired sound system owners Dodd (Studio One) and Reid (Treasure Isle) to record local artists. The music they recorded at time was Mento, a native Jamaican genre. Also, a popular music style was called "blue beat." This genre was a mix of Mento and New Orleans Jazz. It got it's name from the Blue Beat label. Eventually this turned into Ska. It is contested who actually made the Ska beat. Some sources will say it was Lloyd Knibb, the drummer of the famed Studio One backing band, The Skatalites. Also some will say it was Roscoe Gordon. Whoever it was, it doesn't matter, because Ska took the country by storm and is still a popular genre today.
Not much is known on what equipment was used in these studios. A lot of the studio owners built their own gear. They were fluent in electronics, so this is what gave each studio a certain sound and it was hard to emulate. Most of them had an 8 channel board running to a 4 track in the early days. They were record everyone live in the room to 3 tracks and leave the vocals on it's own track. Drums were miked used 1 or 2 mics. Bass, Piano and Guitar each had their own mic. Horns all shared their own mic and if their was a solo, the soloist would step up closer. It was all live mixing, moving instruments and people back and forth physically. Same as with the vocalists. At this time, there were a lot of vocal groups like The Wailers, The Maytals and The Techniques to name a few. The harmony would share a mic and the lead would have his or her own mic.
Millie Small's "My Boy Lollipop" was the first world-wide ska hit, produced by Chris Blackwell out of the UK. Now they say this was the first time, but that song is a bit far from actual Jamaican Ska. That song was actually more Blue Beat if anything. Desmond Dekker's 1968 hit "The Israelites" is closer to what was actually happening. But, if we want to get even more into it, that song was even less like ska and more like what was about to become Reggae, this was the pre-Reggae era called Rocksteady.
Rocksteady, is actually more of an era than a genre. Since Ska, Rocksteady and Reggae didn't have over night changes, there was a lot of lapse between the 3 and I am sure at that time no one called one tune Ska and the other Rocksteady. There had been slow tempo ska songs like "Take it Easy" by Hopeton Lewis but it wasn't until Alton Ellis gave the music a new name, like in his hit "Rocksteady." Musically, there is no difference between that song and any Ska song of the day, just the tempo. Really, a lot of early Rocksteady is just slowed down Ska, but you really hear the change as it moved through the years. By 1969, it had gotten much more bubbly and choppy. The drums got more intricate as well as the bass. Organ and piano were more apparent.
Usher in the era of Reggae, again, there is a lapse. Nothing was considered Reggae until Toots and the Maytals came out with their song "Do the Reggay." Some people may say the first actual Reggae song is "People Funny Boy" by Lee Perry or "Longshot" by the Pioneers. Longshot features the distinctive organ bubble sound. The organ bubble sound is achieved by playing chords in both hands andplaying a left-right-left pattern. Actually, the word reggae comes from the patois word "streggay" which means "loose woman." Some say it meant the sound of the double chopped guitar, just like the word Ska meant the sound of the single chopped guitar.
Over the years of the era of Rocksteady and early Reggae, the recording techniques got better. Studios could afford larger mixing boards and had 8 tracks or two 4 tracks synched together. It wasn't until later on into the mid 70s when they started using multiple mics on the drum kit. The sound of the drums got tighter and cleaner. Emulating American music was a thing of the past, Reggae became it's own style. The music of Jamaica.
Also, there was something called "Skinhead Reggae" around 1968, lasting to the early 70s. Now, when we say skinhead, we aren't talking about Neo-Nazi's. There was a sub culture in the UK that consisted of working class men and woman who wore boots, suspenders and shaved their heads. They weren't racist. This got distorted later on by Neo-Nazi's using their sub culture to identify themselves. The term "Skinhead Reggae" doesn't mean it was reggae made by skinheads. It was just a name that was given to Jamaican music imports to the UK. Skinheads were working class, so they couldn't afford to go to the posh dance clubs, instead they frequented the dancehalls that were run by the Jamaican immigrants. There were many Jamaican immigrants in the UK in the 50s and 60s. Jamaica had close ties to the UK because they were once a commonwealth. Most of the songs they listened to were actually old Ska, Bluebeat and Rocksteady tunes, but as Skinheads became more interested in it, Jamaicans started to record tunes especially for their market. Some producers such as Chris Blackwell and Joe Mansano recorded skinhead tunes in the UK. Though, ask any Jamaican of that time period about Skinhead Reggae, they may not even know about any of those tunes. It was not popular in Jamaica. A lot of Skinhead Reggae tunes have 12 bars blues progressions, whereas Jamaican Reggae does not.
Also between the Rocksteady and Reggae eras were two other genres, well, weren't really genres, again, until someone gave them a name. The first was DeeJay music. In America, a DJ is the person who spins the records and the MC is the person who talks, well in Jamaica, the person who spins the records is the Selector and the person who talks is the DJ. Deejay music was basically instrumental versions of popular hits or riddems, that the DJ would talk over. Some say this is the birth of Hip Hop. Most singles at the time either had a instrumental version on the B-side of a Dub mix of the A-side.
Dub music is a remix of a popular hit. The engineers basically became the artists, using the mixing board as the instrument and would essentially remake the song, sometimes making it sound nothing like the original. They would focus on the bass and drums, adding delay and copious amounts of reverb on the snare or tom fills. They would drop the guitars, organs, pianos in and out, same with the horns and the vocals. Lots of EQ filters, spring reverb and use of the Space Echo. Engineers would build their own equipment to get their own brand of sound. Dub remixes evolved throughout the years and eventually became its own genre, where the engineer would record his own riddems and then dub mix them. Some popular Dub mixers were Lee Perry, King Tubby, Scientist, and Augustus Pablo.
Riddem Version
Dubbed Version
Reggae evolved like all music. In the 1980s reggae evolved into a new genre called Dancehall. Producers used electronic instruments for the first time, some used cheap Casio keyboards to make their sounds. Jamaicans progressed with their music, but the old genres still stuck around. Ska revivals in the UK and California were hugely popular. Today, there is more of an interest in Jamaican music than there ever was. Most likely, because Americans and the rest of the world missed out on the hey-day of Reggae. It's not hard to find engineers recording the old school sounds, because the people love those old tunes so much. There is a plethora of information on the history of Jamaican music, more than I discussed. I encourage anyone who is interested in learning more to seek it out. Now that we know the history, let's head to the studio.
Author Jim Monaghan is an engineer and owns Studio Two Recordings and Pulse Records, an independent reggae, rock, and soul revival record label. Aside from running the studio and label, he plays organ and drums with many NYC bands.
Contributer Gregory Kage is an engineer for more than 20 years. He works with reggae, dub and afro-beat genres at his studio, Raw NYC, in New York City. Gregory is also a musician and has been playing with Afro-beat band Digital Diaspora and many other reggae bands over the years. He also works with Studio Two Recordings in NY as a session guitarist and dub mixer.
 
Recording Jamaican Music
Before You Start Recording Jamaican Music
It's always best to visualize what sounds you want to achieve before you even head to the studio. Not only for bands, but for engineers as well. I feel, it's best to take as much guesswork out of the equation at the start, so that way you can make smart decisions and be comfortable and creative during the session. Jamaican music fans today tend to really love the old school sounds more over the newer sounds. I am one of those people. So that's where I pull my sounds from. But again, each song is different, so it depends. We will talk more on how to achieve certain sounds in the recording section. But first, a few more things to consider.
One thing I always address. If you are looking for a studio, you are building one or you are renting one for the day etc, don't even think about equipment yet, focus solely on the room. The room is what will make or break your sound. The room is the heart of everything that happens, no $5,000 pre amp will fix a bad room. Now, you don't need a fully treated room that sounds like heaven, heck, people have recorded successful albums in basements with concrete floors and 6 foot ceilings. It can be done with just a little know how. Begin by finding those little annoying flutter echos and standing waves. Heavy curtains or sheets work best to dampen flutters. Foam blocks work well too, even wood frames with layers of carpet can help to curb unwanted tones. The best way to test out how instruments will sound, is an age old trick. Bring a kick drum and place it around different spots in the room. Hit it a few times, have a friend or set up a mic and record the sound. Once you get a nice room sound, you are ready for the equipment.
It's easy to be swayed by the notion of "higher the price, better it is." In my opinion, this is not the case whatsoever. There is no such thing as a bad piece of gear. Everything has its own unique sound. You just have to figure out what sounds you want to get. When I was younger, all I had was a cassette tape recorder with a built in mic. There was no two ways about it, this is what I had to work with, so I had to make the best of it. Some of the techniques I learned back then, I still use today. To this day, if the song calls for it, I will pull out my littleYamaha 4 track cassette recorder, because to tell you the truth, sometimes the song just needs that sound.
Jamaica was the same way. If you look at pictures of Lee Perry's studio, Black Ark, it's far from the look of a world class studio, but massive hits and memorable riddems that were copied over and over came out of this studio. The room was as square as it came. Sharp corners, almost no treatment. He had an isolation booth for the drum set, which was why his drum tracks always sounded so tight and crisp. He had a mixing desk, that was raised up on concrete blocks, so basically he stood at the console, but really, it was because he would dance while recording. He had two 4 track reel to reels that were synced together and a few effects units.
So in closing, whatever music you do, you can do it with anything. To me, the best engineers are the ones that rely more on their creativity and less on their equipment. Without you, the equipment is just a box with knobs. The other day, I read about "Rebel Rouser" by Duane Eddy. They didn't have an echo chamber in the studio, so the engineer ordered a 2,000 gallon water storage tank to use for echo. To me, that's impressive, and that creativity is something that is lost today.
Ok, so we have our place to record and our gear, but how do we get the sounds we want. Well it depends on what style or genre it is. Most reggae from back in the day, even still today, was recorded with all the musicians in the studio. Overdubs were mostly left to vocals or organ leads. This is because there were fewer tracks to work with. Nowadays, we have a plethora of tracks on any DAW. Though, that doesn't mean you have to use them all. Jamaican music is about the pulse, the feel of the riddem, so having all the musicians in recording at once may make the track "feel" better.

Drums
Let's talk about drum sounds. I must note, that some drum preparation and general drum maintenance/tuning is essential to not only classic Jamaican sounds, but for any sounds.
Tuning for the early Ska, Rocksteady and Early Reggae sounds are high pitched. The snare has a really high tuning, because it mimicked the sound of a timbale, just with snares on. The drummers do a lot of rimshots. They used coated heads on all the drums. The toms were tuned high like in Jazz. (See Ex. 2)
For the later sounds like the mid 70's reggae, early Dancehall and Dub, the sounds were tight and crisp. Playing a lot of open snare like on Rocker beats, the snare is tuned medium to low. The toms the same way. (See Ex. 2.1)
For the kick drum, stuff it with towels or blankets. For the really tight sound, feel it up way past where the beater hits, so about 3/4 of the inside should be stuffing. For more resonance, a little below the center, about 3 to 5 folded towels should do the trick.
Snare and toms are muffled as well. Take some toilet paper or paper towels. Fold up about 5 sheets and make about a 4 inch square. Tape all four sides of the paper square closest to the rim of the drum. You will get different sounds if you move the square to different locations around the rim. That's because not every lug is actually the same tension. Something to keep in mind.
Depending on the material of your snare and the way it's tuned really changes the rim click sound. I've found over many sessions, the best drum materials are any metal. They are much brighter and more resonant. Wood snares are great too, but are very warm and if not tuned to a higher tone, the click can be non existent, even if played with the butt of the stick. Jamaicans used the Ludwig Acrolite snare on many recordings. Once regarded as an inexpensive student practice snare, this steel snare is now becoming a collectors item in the drum world.
Let's talk about some drum miking techniques we can use. Since, reggae drums aren't as busy or technical like Jazz or Rock, we can use less mics. We can use as little as one mic. I have a technique for one mic that works well that I will share. If you point the mic at the top, nearest the front of the kick drum, about 4 to 6 inches away and angle it about 230 degrees, you get a very full tone. Kick, toms and snare sit even in the mix. Depending on the materials of your cymbals, they aren't too in your face, kind of like icing on a cake. If you want less kick, move it farther from the front of the drum and if you want more kick, move the mic closer to the front of the drum. (See Below)
The above technique really only works for drums that are playing a pattern with the cross stick. Really, it does not give the snare a clean or tight sound. A 2 mic technique that works well also with cross stick patterns is just one mic in the kick about 2 inches away from the batter head and a single ribbon mic over the drums about 4 to 5 feet. Depending if you want more hat and snare or more toms, experiment where to point the diaphragm. With some songs that play open snare and have more of a Rockers feel, moving to a 3 or 4 mic technique is best, plus it comes in handy if you are looking to do a dub mix later on.
When using a 3 mic technique, you can try the following for a well rounded sound. For the kick, set the mic up at about 4 to 5 inches off
the batter head and pointed a little off 180 degrees. Any farther back and sometimes the kick will be too boomy and is easily lost in the mix. With the snare, point it dead center at the drumhead. If the song is played with rim click, you can point the mic towards the edge of the drumhead or mic the side of the drum shell. This gives more cut and body to the click. With the over head, set it up coming from the side of the bass drum so it's in between the first rack tom and the floor tom, at about 4 to 6 feet above the drum set. Point the mic more towards the snare. This will give equal level to both toms, snare and cymbals. (See Below)
There are many mics to use, but really, I feel what the "right" mics are, not only for the sound you want, but for your room too. At my studio, we have tons of mics, but for my drum track sessions, if I am using a 3 mic technique, the best mics for the kit we have and the room we have is the RE-20, the MD421 and the SM57. I like natural drum sounds, and these work well to keep the naturalness of what I hear with my ears. If I am using a one mic technique, I will use a pencil condenser. Dynamic mics just don't seem to cut it for that technique.

Bass
Try a D112 on an amp. It can give the bass anything from a punchy to smooth low end, depending on whatever you set the amp to, which is what the sound of reggae bass is. Going direct works well and you don't have to worry about bleed from other instruments. But miking an amp gives you different sounds to choose from. One amp that works well with bass tracks especially for reggae is the amps that come with Rhodes electric pianos. (See Below)
You should eq what you want the bass to sound like on the amp even before you mess with the mic. When it comes to placing the mic, put it about an inch or two from the center of the speaker. Really, you want direct as possible sound and nothing crazy. Generally, you want to cut the highs and focus on the low and mid range.
Guitar
In Jamaican music, there are normally two guitars. The rhythm guitar is called the "skank" or the "chop." This is the guitar that plays the off beat chops that accentuate the triplet. Then there is the lead guitar, this will sound muted and percussive. This is called "stick." It will normally play or stick exactly to what the bass plays or something that is a variation. The stick will also take care of any solos that need to be played, but generally, there aren't many guitar solos.
Amp settings for the skank generally sit in the high frequencies or sometimes scoop out the mid frequencies. A little spring reverb can be applied, but try not to go overboard. Dryer the better. They can be either really clean or slightly distorted. Don't go overboard with the distortion! You want these to pop out in the mix of things. Go to mics are normally the SM57. 57s have that bump in the high frequencies. MD 421s work well too, they give more of a scratchy sound. Try different mics and see which works well for the track. I have found that pencil condensers work well too, because they tend to have a clear or transparent sound.
Mic set ups generally are center of the cone, either right up on the grill cloth or backing it out 1 to 3 inches. If you want a little more room, try going a little further away. Maybe 6 to 9 inches.
Amp settings for the stick guitar are more in the mid range. You want these to sit on the bass well. Since the bass is more low end, these frequency settings will round out the sound and will stand out from the skanks. Adding spring reverb on these are almost always a required thing. Rocksteady era stick tracks were drenched in reverb, later in the 70s, they backed off. If I intend on adding reverb, it's always to the stick track more so than the skank track. Again, SM57s work well with these or pencil condensers.
Mic set ups, you want the stick to blend well with the bass and not get overpowered by anything, so keeping the mics close as possible, center of the cone will give you the most direct sound possible. Think of this sound as just the high end of the bass.

Piano
MD421s work well on piano. It gives that same scratchy, scoop sound like it gives to the guitars. Sometimes an SM7, gets it a little brighter tone. If you like having a resonant piano, something that sounds roomy and even a little ringy, mic the case, either on top or from the front. If you want a more direct sound, mic the strings in the back. Using two mics is best, bigger pianos, like old player pianos, are very long, so catching the low end of notes and high end of notes equally is key. Don't pan the mics yet. Keep everything at the center, for now. We will get to this during mixing.
There are many piano plugin emulators out there. In my opinion, none of them beats a real piano. I have yet to hear any that accurately replicate the resonance of a wooden case or the real sustain of the strings. Also, if you don't have a weighted keyboard controller, it doesn't help all that much. Though, for Jamaican music at least, you hear a lot of fake piano. Why you ask? Well, it's because to Jamaicans, it's always been about striving for the best sound in the studio. Same with hearing a lot of fake horns. If it's easier to get them, why not? But to me, nothing beats the real thing. I feel a resonant piano really opens up a track and takes the "deadness" out of it.
Vocals
There really is no special way I could really think of recording vocals that needs to be talked about. I can give you insight on certain sounds of the day.
During the Ska, Rocksteady, Early Reggae eras there were a lot of singing groups. Even when it came to solo singers, the same sounds as Soul or Motown seemed to be the general thing to do. Recording them in an open room or with the band. A lot of those early
tracks seem to be hit with a lot of plate reverb. Later on, they seemed to do dry stuff, like in a small vocal booth. In the Dancehall and Deejay eras, they enjoyed delay on vocals to give it the doubling effect. When we get to the mixing section, I will go a little more in depth with some vocal techniques.

Organ
I saved organ for last because there is a lot to talk about when it comes to organ. When you think of the word organ, what is the first thing that comes to mind? The Hammond B3 right? Well, for Jamaican music, this is not the organ you hear, later on in late 70s and beyond yes, but for the early stuff, very rare.
A reliable source of mine, told me that Treasure Isle used a Hammond L-100. This would most likely be the case, since I assume it would be hard to ship or even fit a huge console organ like the B3 in their studios. The more you get used to the sounds that each organ makes, the more you can pick out what it is. Early Hammond sounds were made using tonewheels that used additive synthesis. Most every other organ were transistor made sounds that used subtractive synthesis.
Other organs that were used were Lowery, Farfisa Compact or VIP series, because the VIP series sounded close to a Hammond tonewheel sound. Crumar Traveller series organs, Vox Continentals, because again they both had drawbars and could sound like a Hammond.
Also, another partner item always seen with a Hammond is the Leslie rotating speaker cabinet. They weren't used much until after 1970. Some UK recordings had them in the early 70s. This is because the producers most likely rented studio time than owning the studio themselves. So at that time, the commercial studios went with the big console organs and the Leslie.
A great trick to use to get a Leslie sound can be achieved using a delay device, something we all have in our DAWs or racks. Here are the base settings, play with them to dial in the right tone for your sound.
Delay time - 12 ms Feedback - 15% Mod Width - 20% Mod Speed - Fast settings around 10 hz Output - 50/50
You can also mix this with a chorus effect, mimicking the chorus/vibrato settings on Hammonds. Either making it on your delay or using a chorus effect.
My advice is to stay away from emulators, because most all don't accurately replicate the unique sound of the drawbars or the scanner vibrato found in some Hammond series of organs. Most plugins never emulate anything but the B3. Though, there is one plugin that I must recommend and that is Native Instruments Vintage Organs. They replicate the Hammond C3 and B3 consoles, the Hammond M3 spinet, the Farfisa Compact and the Vox Continental. Having played all the real life counterparts before, I must say these are the best replications I have ever heard. Especially the Farfisa and the M3.
If you have the space, get a real organ. Your session organist will thank you. Hammond spinets, L-100 and M-100 series are really cheap these days, you can even find a cheap M2 or M3. Even finding a combo organ like a Farfisa or Crumar is easy too, but you may have to keep searching to find a deal. Crumar T1 and T2s sound exactly like Hammond L and M series, so buying one of these would be an ideal choice, plus you will have less back problems moving them! Researching the sounds you want and trying them out before you buy them, makes all the difference. For tonewheel organs this site here is really great (http://hammond-organ.com/) and for combo organs like the Farfisa or Vox, this site is helps out a lot. (http://www.combo-organ.com/)
Now, with that out of the way, onto recording your organ sound. Most sounds in reggae either tend to be a low thumping sound, something beefy or a mid range pop. Below, I will list some drawbar settings and some tab settings for different sounds.

Organ Settings
The below sounds work well for bubbling or skank rhythm tracks.
Drawbar Organ - Lower Manual (77030050) Upper Manual (647730554) (Percussion OFF) - This gives a bassy or beefy tone. This tone works well with Vibrato or Chorus/Vibrato settings.
Drawbar Organ - Lower Manual (64322030) (Percussion OFF) (Reverb ON) - This is another bassy tone. I like this a lot, especially if you have a Hammond that has a lot of key click, it sings with the reverb on, really adds a lot of roomy-ness to it. Also works well with Vibrato settings.
Drawbar Organ - Upper Manual (700242015) (Percussion ON, Volume NORMAL, Decay FAST, Harm. 3rd) (Reverb ON) This tone will give a mix of real thunderous bass with a screechy top end. Works well with Leslie on Fast or Slow settings.
Drawbar Organ - Upper Manual (70042334) (Percussion ON, Volume NORMAL, Decay SLOW, Harm. 2nd) (Reverb ON) Try running through a tube amp with light distortion, it will give you something scratchy and poppy. Also will have nice smooth low end to it.
Farfisa Organ or similar - Footage (8) Tabs (Bass 16, Flute 8, Flute 4) (Reverb ON Medium,) This sound has a nice well rounded tone, with a little top end.
The below sounds work well for leads, solos and melodies.
Drawbar Organ - Upper Manual (806605056) (Percussion ON, Volume SOFT, Decay FAST, Harm. 3RD) This setting gives a nice well rounded tone. Try both with Percussion on and off. This setting works well with Vibrato or Chorus/Vibrato settings. Also works well with the Fast setting on a Leslie.
Drawbar Organ - Upper Manual (524036000) (Percussion ON, Volume NORMAL, Decay FAST, Harm. 3rd) (Reverb ON) This tone is almost screechy like, but still retains some fullness. Really cuts through in a mix.
Drawbar Organ - Upper Manual (600001534) (Percussion OFF) (Reverb ON) - This tone will give a real scream to your solos. Works really well with the Leslie on fast.
Farfisa Organ or similar - Footage (8) Tabs (Bass 16, Flute 8, Flute 4, Piccolo 4) (Reverb ON Medium, Vibrato FAST, Heavy) This sound has a nice well rounded tone, with a high top end, especially on the higher notes.

Organ Mic Techniques
If you have a spinet, you can mic one or both speakers. Each speaker on most spinet organs are designed to carry different frequencies. You can mic both speakers but normally one speaker works well. To get a beefy organ tone, use the low frequency speaker. (See Below)
If using a Leslie or other rotating speaker. One mic on the horn and one mic on the drum is pretty standard. To get the beefy organ tone, put the drum signal more in the mix than the horn. The drum is all of your low frequencies. Don't worry about panning anything yet if using two mics. We will get to that later in the mix.
If you don't have the room for a big Leslie or just don't have the patience to constantly maintain it. The company Voce, makes the Spin and Spin II. These two boxes are great hardware simulators. They also offer MIDI capabilities. Also, Motion Sound offers small Leslie-like amps. Some have just the rotating horn and a simulated drum. Others, offer both rotating components are much smaller than Leslies.
Other Tips
If recording with a drummer, you can use gobos or basically anything to section off amps and the drums. Cubical walls, couch cushions, etc. If you don't have any of these or don't have the space, what you can do is, make sure the amps are far away from the drums. Have the speaker cones facing towards the drums. That way the mics that are capturing the amps will be off axis and will pick up little drum bleed. The drum overhead will pick up most of the bleed as well as any piano mic. Best to either overdub piano or try to separate the piano with a gobo of some sort. Organs generally don't get any bleed if placed far from the drums, cause their mics will also be off axis.
Like with the vocals, I didn't offer much on percussion or horns. I can say that most percussion was through the use of Djembes, because of the ties to Rastafarianism, who's religious ties are stemmed from African culture. Though, there are many other articles of information out there that can help with recording horns, woodwinds, percussion drums, shakers and the like. Adding percussion can really fill up the track and make it a bit bigger than if it wasn't there. Try it out.
Also, while you record, visualize what your mix will be. I visualize my mix as a series of blocks, the size of the blocks depend on their level in the mix. (See below)
Always record hot, I know we can't clip a lot like in the tape days, but clipping here and there won't hurt. It's better to get the right sounds and the right levels at the source. Fixing in the mix never works, we end up adding so much to make it sound like we want, we end up making it worse. Do it right the first time and you will thank yourself in the mix stage.
 
Producing Jamaican Music
Introduction
This article is about my approach to recording, mixing and producing Jamaican music genres such as Ska, Reggae or Dub. I try not to generalize it all into Reggae, because each has it's own style and sounds. I will talk about some history, choices of gear and instruments, terms used
throughout the world of Jamaican music, and some general ideas that can be applied not only to Jamaican music but to any genre of music. I encourage anyone who is a Jamaican music fan and wants to learn how to get the traditional sounds used, or someone that is just getting into the music, or any engineer that just wants to learn something new, to read this article. Well, anyway, let's dive in, shall we?
Origins
Back in the early days, before I knew anything about how sound moved in a space or the difference between polar patterns or what proximity effect meant, I would record the best I could and what sounded pleasing to my ear. It's very easy to get lost in the world of recording. So much information fills your head and sometimes you find yourself questioning every move. Most of the time, all of that doesn't really matter. If you make something that sounds good, than it is indeed good.
The Jamaican music producers made amazing sounds with whatever they could get their hands on and some even built their own equipment for their own unique sound. There was a lot of competition on the little island of Jamaica in those days. There weren't many studios or places to record at first, but men like Coxonne Clement Dodd, Prince Buster, Duke Reid, to name a few, had a vision. They were successful with their sound systems. Back in the early days, DJs would load up a truck with turntables, generator and a massive array of speakers and play at street parties that catered to thousands of people. American music was really popular for Jamaicans in the 1950s, so this was the common music heard at these parties. It was difficult to get the new singles from America, so every DJ was competition. DJs would scratch the labels off of the records so other people couldn't see what they had. When American music started to progress into new genres, that's when these guys formed their own studios.
One of the first Jamaican studios was opened by Ken Khouri in 1954. It was called Federal Records. He inspired sound system owners Dodd (Studio One) and Reid (Treasure Isle) to record local artists. The music they recorded at time was Mento, a native Jamaican genre. Also, a popular music style was called "blue beat." This genre was a mix of Mento and New Orleans Jazz. It got it's name from the Blue Beat label. Eventually this turned into Ska. It is contested who actually made the Ska beat. Some sources will say it was Lloyd Knibb, the drummer of the famed Studio One backing band, The Skatalites. Also some will say it was Roscoe Gordon. Whoever it was, it doesn't matter, because Ska took the country by storm and is still a popular genre today.
Not much is known on what equipment was used in these studios. A lot of the studio owners built their own gear. They were fluent in electronics, so this is what gave each studio a certain sound and it was hard to emulate. Most of them had an 8 channel board running to a 4 track in the early days. They were record everyone live in the room to 3 tracks and leave the vocals on it's own track. Drums were miked used 1 or 2 mics. Bass, Piano and Guitar each had their own mic. Horns all shared their own mic and if their was a solo, the soloist would step up closer. It was all live mixing, moving instruments and people back and forth physically. Same as with the vocalists. At this time, there were a lot of vocal groups like The Wailers, The Maytals and The Techniques to name a few. The harmony would share a mic and the lead would have his or her own mic.
Millie Small's "My Boy Lollipop" was the first world-wide ska hit, produced by Chris Blackwell out of the UK. Now they say this was the first time, but that song is a bit far from actual Jamaican Ska. That song was actually more Blue Beat if anything. Desmond Dekker's 1968 hit "The Israelites" is closer to what was actually happening. But, if we want to get even more into it, that song was even less like ska and more like what was about to become Reggae, this was the pre-Reggae era called Rocksteady.
Rocksteady, is actually more of an era than a genre. Since Ska, Rocksteady and Reggae didn't have over night changes, there was a lot of lapse between the 3 and I am sure at that time no one called one tune Ska and the other Rocksteady. There had been slow tempo ska songs like "Take it Easy" by Hopeton Lewis but it wasn't until Alton Ellis gave the music a new name, like in his hit "Rocksteady." Musically, there is no difference between that song and any Ska song of the day, just the tempo. Really, a lot of early Rocksteady is just slowed down Ska, but you really hear the change as it moved through the years. By 1969, it had gotten much more bubbly and choppy. The drums got more intricate as well as the bass. Organ and piano were more apparent.
Usher in the era of Reggae, again, there is a lapse. Nothing was considered Reggae until Toots and the Maytals came out with their song "Do the Reggay." Some people may say the first actual Reggae song is "People Funny Boy" by Lee Perry or "Longshot" by the Pioneers. Longshot features the distinctive organ bubble sound. The organ bubble sound is achieved by playing chords in both hands andplaying a left-right-left pattern. Actually, the word reggae comes from the patois word "streggay" which means "loose woman." Some say it meant the sound of the double chopped guitar, just like the word Ska meant the sound of the single chopped guitar.
Over the years of the era of Rocksteady and early Reggae, the recording techniques got better. Studios could afford larger mixing boards and had 8 tracks or two 4 tracks synched together. It wasn't until later on into the mid 70s when they started using multiple mics on the drum kit. The sound of the drums got tighter and cleaner. Emulating American music was a thing of the past, Reggae became it's own style. The music of Jamaica.
Also, there was something called "Skinhead Reggae" around 1968, lasting to the early 70s. Now, when we say skinhead, we aren't talking about Neo-Nazi's. There was a sub culture in the UK that consisted of working class men and woman who wore boots, suspenders and shaved their heads. They weren't racist. This got distorted later on by Neo-Nazi's using their sub culture to identify themselves. The term "Skinhead Reggae" doesn't mean it was reggae made by skinheads. It was just a name that was given to Jamaican music imports to the UK. Skinheads were working class, so they couldn't afford to go to the posh dance clubs, instead they frequented the dancehalls that were run by the Jamaican immigrants. There were many Jamaican immigrants in the UK in the 50s and 60s. Jamaica had close ties to the UK because they were once a commonwealth. Most of the songs they listened to were actually old Ska, Bluebeat and Rocksteady tunes, but as Skinheads became more interested in it, Jamaicans started to record tunes especially for their market. Some producers such as Chris Blackwell and Joe Mansano recorded skinhead tunes in the UK. Though, ask any Jamaican of that time period about Skinhead Reggae, they may not even know about any of those tunes. It was not popular in Jamaica. A lot of Skinhead Reggae tunes have 12 bars blues progressions, whereas Jamaican Reggae does not.
Also between the Rocksteady and Reggae eras were two other genres, well, weren't really genres, again, until someone gave them a name. The first was DeeJay music. In America, a DJ is the person who spins the records and the MC is the person who talks, well in Jamaica, the person who spins the records is the Selector and the person who talks is the DJ. Deejay music was basically instrumental versions of popular hits or riddems, that the DJ would talk over. Some say this is the birth of Hip Hop. Most singles at the time either had a instrumental version on the B-side of a Dub mix of the A-side.
Dub music is a remix of a popular hit. The engineers basically became the artists, using the mixing board as the instrument and would essentially remake the song, sometimes making it sound nothing like the original. They would focus on the bass and drums, adding delay and copious amounts of reverb on the snare or tom fills. They would drop the guitars, organs, pianos in and out, same with the horns and the vocals. Lots of EQ filters, spring reverb and use of the Space Echo. Engineers would build their own equipment to get their own brand of sound. Dub remixes evolved throughout the years and eventually became its own genre, where the engineer would record his own riddems and then dub mix them. Some popular Dub mixers were Lee Perry, King Tubby, Scientist, and Augustus Pablo. (For an example of a riddem and the dubbed version, see Examples below)
Riddem Version
Dubbed Version
Reggae evolved like all music. In the 1980s reggae evolved into a new genre called Dancehall. Producers used electronic instruments for the first time, some used cheap Casio keyboards to make their sounds. Jamaicans progressed with their music, but the old genres still stuck around. Ska revivals in the UK and California were hugely popular. Today, there is more of an interest in Jamaican music than there ever was. Most likely, because Americans and the rest of the world missed out on the hey-day of Reggae. It's not hard to find engineers recording the old school sounds, because the people love those old tunes so much. There is a plethora of information on the history of Jamaican music, more than I discussed. I encourage anyone who is interested in learning more to seek it out. Now that we know the history, let's head to the studio.
 
Preparation for Mixing Jamaican Music
Now that we have our sounds recorded, it's time to move onto the mix. Start with fresh ears, and take frequent breaks every 45 minutes to keep your ears from getting fatigued, and so you don't start hearing things that aren't there. It does happen, the phantom sounds do haunt mix engineers that slave over a mix for long periods!
Make sure you are mixing at a good volume, not too loud, because the louder and longer you mix, the more your ear fatigues. Mixing a comfortable volume for most of the mix and pushing the volume here and there isn't uncommon, a lot of engineers do this. Remember to mix a bit louder when dealing with the bass. If you mix too low when playing with the bass, you really won't get the true level of what is really going on. You may find your mix sounds great only to push it louder later on and everything falls apart. Also, don't listen on just one sound source, try different speakers, headphones and even computer speakers. We want our mix to translate to each source.
If you get stuck, take a nap. It's true, some engineers take naps to refresh their minds. It's known that Winston Churchill took naps in the daytime to rest his mind and he had the Nazi's bombing his country for years!
A great tip to get through speed bumps in the mix process is to not "listen." What I mean by that is, put the mix on repeat and go read a magazine or newspaper, a subject that you find the most boring. This way, you won't get so in depth, and you will be hearing the song in a different situation. You may find things in the mix that you didn't notice before. Something I like to do is, if I am not liking how the mix is going, I will quit for the day and open Itunes. I will tuck it randomly in a playlist with a few other reggae songs. When I wake up and go into the car, I will listen to my playlist, when the song comes on, I am normally in driving mode, I will hear it just like any other tune. I can see how it stacks up to the other tunes. I can find little things here and there that I might have not heard while I was working in the studio the previous night. Another idea is if you are working with a band, repeat the mix and put it at a comfortable volume level, have a conversation with people in the room, about anything you want, something other than the mix at hand. If you hear something you like or don't like, walk over and pull a fader up or down. There are lots of tricks to help curb yourself from slaving over a mix. That age old saying, "The mix is never finished!" isn't really true. Yes, songs can be mixed a million different ways but we have to know when it's finished.

The Mix Session
So, do you remember when I said, visualize the mix in blocks? Well, let's take that as our base for our mix. What do we want to create? We shouldn't have to do too much in the mix, if we recorded everything the way we wanted it to sound at the studio, so we are just doing some tweaking here and there. Well, let's take this from a perspective the way old Jamaican records were mixed. If you listen to a lot of the older records, you find that most of the early stuff where the drums are played in a cross stick pattern tend to be low in the mix. The piano is almost non existent, most of the time. Some songs mix the guitar skanks really high or just in the middle. The organ tends to be higher than the piano but lower than the guitar. Horns are not as prominent either. The bass tends to be the highest along with the vocals. This is because in Jamaican music, the bass is the rhythm. As Lee Perry once said "Ghetto music is bass and drums." We want people to feel that rhythm and remember the lyrics of the lead singer.
If the song is a rockers song, like a lot of later reggae. The drums come up a bit more, but still isn't mixed all that loud. Now, some songs break this rule, but this seems to be the basis of most of the records. I tend to keep along that pattern, if I have a cross stick pattern feel on the drums, I will mix them low. Normally, I will make sure the kick and bass guitar are even level, with the vocals a little higher and everything filling in between. If the drums are a rockers pattern, I will mix the same, but keep the snare a bit higher in the mix, sometimes about the same level as kick and bass, sometimes a tad lower.
Another thing you will find in most Jamaican records is that they are all mono, even if they have a lot of instrumentation! Why is it this way you ask? Well, one reason I feel, is the end of the line for the records were the dancehalls, not really home markets, though people did buy records. All mixes heard in clubs are mono. They are not stereo, and if we remember from Sound 101, stereo only really exists if you are in the right position in between the speakers. There were stereo recordings back then, but very few. Back in those days, they were still experimenting with stereo, so they would do wacky things like extreme panning or putting horns only in the left or drums only in the right. Though, one cool effect I do enjoy is when most of the instruments are all in the right and the reverb is all in the left. Some great stereo recordings were done by Byron Lee and The Dragonnaires. For our discussion, we will mix in mono.
Let's start by just bring the level up on just the kick and bass. Leave all the other instrument faders down. Let's find a nice level between the two. Since the bass and drums may be fighting each other in frequencies, we can cut and boost on each track to distinguish the two. The kick can get a little boost around 224 hz to give it some pop and if you want, you can boost around 4 to 6k to add some snap to it. If you'd like, you can cut frequencies below 200 hz to make room for the bass. If it's not needed, you don't have to. Really, we are just trying to keep them from drowning each other out. For the bass, let's cut all the frequencies above 500hz. A lot of the bass in the old records are really low and don't have a lot of high mids or highs. We can cut on 224hz to give it room for the kick. We can even boost a little at 350 to 400hz to give it a little pop.
We can also try a bit of compression on both to pop them out a bit more. We can do this before or after the EQ, but generally, you
would want to do it before, so we don't peak the frequencies. Also, trying multi-band compression works well, because this compresses certain frequencies. We can use the multi-band on the frequencies we want to boost on the kick and bass.
If using a regular compressor, generally, people like to compress drums at 3:1. This works well, sometimes even 2:1. But, with anything, go lightly, we don't want to compress it too much to the point the sound is choked. Just a little bit to make it pop out. Generally, I will only add compression after I hear how the mix is sounding with the other instruments.
Let's bring up the stick guitar track. Let's get that on a nice even level with the bass, but not too loud, just sitting nicely on top of the bass. Let's boost a little bit around the mids, get a nice percussive pop to it. Let's pretend this is the high end of the bass. Though, leave out the high frequencies around 2.5k and on. We don't have to cut these, we just want to leave them alone to make room for the rhythm guitar. Add a bit of spring reverb if we didn't record any during the tracking session. Don't add too much, we don't want to drown it out, but just a enough that it pushes through.
Let's bring up the rest of the drums. The snare and the overheads. If cross stick pattern, let's put them fairly lower than the rest of the tracks. We can add a bit of EQ on that click of the cross stick. Around 500hz to 1k. Not too much, again, we want to make it natural. A little bit of reverb can really bring this track out. Let's stay away from big sounding reverbs, something small. Like a small snare trap or plate.
If we have percussion like shaker or tambourine. We want to stick this in a little lower than the overhead track. We want to distinguish between the hi hat, but not over power it. Keep the hi hat the priority. If there are cowbells and blocks, add them in but keep them low. Adding a bit of plate reverb can make them pop out. Watch out with the wood blocks, we want to separate their frequencies from the cross stick on the snare. We don't want to make it appear that the cross stick is playing extra hits. Make sure we can distinguish between the two. If there are Djembes or other hand drums, let's put them a bit higher than all the other percussion but still lower than the drum tracks. To get some more slap out of them, we can boost a bit in the higher frequencies. Watch out for the low end on the Djembes, they can compete a lot with our kick and bass track, we want to make sure that they sit well and can be distinguished.
A cool trick I like using with reverb is faking a resonance in the drums. Say, you want that snare track to sing a little more. Impulse Response reverbs work beautifully to achieve this. It's not for the fact that they are "real" rooms, it's the fact they are sometimes much more controllable. Start by finding an IR that has a short decay. After finding your IR, manually tweak the decay to simulate the size of your drum. Listen to just the drum tracks while doing this. Listen and try to make it as if the reverb is the natural ring and body of the snare. It's applied ever so slightly. The goal is to not make it sound like a drum with reverb on it. Eq the reverb sound to match the sound of the drum. You can try adding a random high frequency to simulate "ring" in the heads. This works best with drums but can be used with any instrument.
If we have a rockers type drum pattern, we can add a bit of EQ around 3k to give the snare some crispness and a bit of snap. Adding reverb on the snare, like we talked about above with the cross stick pattern, can really liven up the snare.
Now finally, we can add our overhead. Sometimes we may hear records were the hi hat is up high in the mix, sometimes it's lower. Whichever works best for your track, is what you should do. We can compress the overhead track too. But again, like with the kick and bass, we don't want to go overboard. Ever so slightly, try a 3:1 ratio and work your way back. We can add some EQ around 10 to 14k to add some sizzle to our high hat patterns.
Let's bring up the guitar, the piano and the organ. Let's get the levels to where it's piano on the bottom, organ in the middle and rhythm or skank guitar on the top. Kind of like a sandwich, the organ being the thickest part. We can do a few things here. We can leave the piano track alone and kind of give it a raw feeling. Or we can cut the lows and low mids out around 500 to 600hz and have a clanky piano sound that can work well with the guitar. With the organ, cut a little bit out of the high mids so it doesn't compete too much with the guitar. The guitar can get a boost up around 2.5k to 4k to get that scratchy sound. We can cut the mids out a bit to help the stick track out. The levels for these should be a lower, because most of them are just skanking all together.
If we have any organ, piano or horn melodies, we want to lay these on top of those rhythm parts, but still not overpowering our bass tracks of kick and drums. With horns, it's not unlikely to hear their lows cut out and their highs boosted. Adding medium size reverb on the horn tracks are standard. The bathroom reverb sound is a nice tone for sax or brass. We can make those reverbs easily with a delay unit or just by using a reverb program.
Finally, let's add our vocals in. We can use a multi-band compressor on them. They tend to really push the vocals out over everything. Try adding a bit of plate reverb on them. That is a great sound for the early reggae feels. If we have a Roots Reggae or Dancehall track, the delay or doubling effect is a standard. Short delays, nothing too long or crazy sounding. We want the words to be distinguishable. We can add a bit of EQ up on the high end to give the vocalist a bit of sizzle. My general rule is, EQ depends on the vocalist. We all have unique sounds to our voices whereas a guitar or bass is generally the same sound.
We can either mix them in equally with the music or do what most music tends to do and make them the loudest, whichever you prefer. A great trick I always use is a volume trick. Turn the master level down and if you can hear the lead vocal track above all, you know that the vocals are in a good spot. Same if we are doing an instrumental and our lead is an organ. If our lead melodies are heard above all but below our vocals, we are in a good spot with them. If you are at a point where you are checking on headphones, take the headphones and listen to what is being projected while they are just laying on the table. If the vocals and melodies are popping out, they are in a good spot.
Now after we have a good mix, quit for the day. We like it now, but will we like it tomorrow or next week? Check it in the morning when you wake up after you have had your breakfast or coffee. Check everything out, does it work? Can some things be tweaked a little more or is everything sounding good? Then, take it to the car, a listen a few times or leave it for a week or two and listen in the car a lot. If you find that everything sounds great by the weeks end, you can be finished with this mix and move onto the next track.

The Dub Mix
Now you may want to do some dub mixes with your tracks. I am not a dub mixer, I only know so much. So, I called a friend up to help me with this section. He is a great friend for many years and a great musician. He is my go to guy when I want a riddem dubbed. I will keep this in an interview form.
Name some gear primarily used on your mixes.
(Company and model names and the type of effect)
Lexicon  LXP-15  Multi-effects
Klark-Tekhnik   DN-405   Parametric EQ
Boss           DE-200           Digital Delay
Boss           VF-1           Multi-Effects
FMR Audio      RNC     Compressor
+ a few secret weapons !!
What would be the ideal set up for dub mixing?
So my ideal set up would be a mixing console with enough channels, auxiliary sends, busses and insert points. It allows me to patch together different signal chains of processors and effects for various elements of the mix. It adds a lot of flexibility.
Would you recommend computer or analog?
Although there are benefits to both ways, I prefer to create and mix Dub in an analog situation. On some level, even though the end result is the same, they seem like slightly different activities. In DAW based Dub mixing you are recording performances of changes in parameter levels on to channels and then bouncing that mix down to stereo. in analog, step one and two happen at once which makes more for an immediate experience.
Pros of computer based Dub production:
Automation, editing, the ability to undo, the ability to make multiple passes & mixes quickly & easily. To save settings of every knob and fader involved with a particular mix. The ability to chain together many plug-ins with little or no detectable noise.
Cons of computer based Dub production:
One of my favorite techniques ( well used by King Tubby & many others) is feeding a delay back into itself through a signal chain including an EQ of some type. This can be very dangerous, as it has a tendency to rapidly increase in volume, and if not careful, your speakers and your ears can be damaged. So to do this technique effectively, one needs to have one hand on the feedback control of the delay and the other hand on the EQ.
Analog tape is very forgiving of this rapid escalation in volume. In fact, the natural tape compression is part of "the sound". This is not the case with DAW based recording. Rapid escalation in volume creates harsh, thin, and distorted sounds. Working with plug-ins can be limiting if you want to get into creative, non-standard, side-chaining or inserting configurations. That being said, I have worked with some excellent plug-ins that were a bit more Dub friendly. More importantly, I prefer throughout the mix to see the track as one thing and to work on it as another thing. I see the different elements as working together and bouncing off one another. Working on one element at a time kind of fractures the picture for me. The analogy is like making a meal by cooking all the parts simultaneously rather than each part 1 at a time. It gives you a sense in real time how they will go together.
Pros of analog based Dub production:
Sound is fuller, warmer, natural sounding, As stated above when in the analog domain, I do passes of the track working on all the elements at once.
Cons of analog based Dub production:
More time consuming than DAW based approach. Tape, mic preamps, hardware processors and effects can present noise problems as more stuff is added to a signal chain. Although I don't use much MIDI in my Dub tracks, working with MIDI is more reliable with non tape based recording.
When you do a dub mix, do you have it planned out in your head the way you want it to go, or do you just do it on the fly?
If I am creating a Dub version of song using the original tracks, I first listen to the song a few times picking out elements that interest me or that seem to lend itself to the Dub style or have potential to do so. For example an instrumental or vocal phrase that might sound good with an repeating echo or phase-shifting reverb etc. If I set out to make a Dub track from scratch, I just go at it on the fly.
When you do a dub mix, do you change the way a certain track sounds with EQ or Compression, or do you leave the track the way it sounds in the original song or riddem?
Yes, both depending on the track and the song.
During the dub, do you do all the instruments at the same time or do you work on, for example, just bass and drums first, print them and then work on other instruments?
I often start with drums and bass. If I am working digitally, I will most likely print somethings on an additional channel. However I don't try to do everything for that element before moving on, because I know that as other elements are brought in to the mix, they inform me on what to do with the first element. So, the process is about the relationships of elements to each other. In fact as I work on a track I often listen to pairs of elements together to see how they blend.

 

 
 

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