Independent Research Podcast
This podcast that I have chosen to do is about the great producer, Norman Whitfield. I hope you enjoy and gain some useful information from it.
Otis Redding – Otis Blue
The 1960’s was an era that produced great musical artists and legendary compositions. One particular songwriter, singer, and producer that was a major artist in rhythm and blues was Otis Ray Redding Jr. On September 15, 1965, Otis Redding released his third studio album, which is entitled Otis Blue/Otis Redding Sings Soul. This particular album was very unique because it consisted of cover songs that were written by popular rhythm and blues artists. One particular artist that participated in the songwriting process of the album was Sam Cooke. He is a very popular rhythm and blues artist in this era and wrote three of the eleven songs on the album. The album also reached number one on Billboard R&B chart.
The impact of this album by Otis Redding proved that an artist can crossover into the pop market, and that an artist can present compositions through many different expressions. This was accomplished through the album’s commercial appearance and through adding funk and more energy to Sam Cooke’s ballad, “Change Gonna Come.” He also added more spice to another one of Sam Cooke’s song, “Shake”, “My Girl”, by The Temptations, and “Rock Me Baby”, which is by the famous blues singer B. B. King.
The recording of this album was accomplished in a 24 hour session with Stax Records house band, Booker T. & the M.G.’s. Another unique characteristic of this album is consisted of how Otis Redding wrote “Respect”, which was done through a transformation that Redding and the band had during the recording session. It was said that Redding stated these words, “You’re on the road all the time. All you can look for is a little respect when you come home.” However, Redding’s road manager, Earl “Speedo” Sims, stated that this was not the case and that the song came from a group that he was singing with. He also claimed that Redding told him that he would get credit for the song, but he never did.
After doing research on Otis Redding and his album Otis Blue, I have learned that this artist was very creative and his passion for music was shown through his album. I will also apply the knowledge of this musical creativity for the betterment of my industry professional.
Fantasy Band Project
The classic rhythm section that I chose is the famous rhythm section for Motown, which are The Funk Brothers. The Funk Brothers consisted of the bandleader Joe Hunter and Earl Van Dyke, which played the piano and organ, Clarence Isabell, which played the double bass, James Jamerson, which played the bass guitar, Benny “Papa Zita” Benjamin and Richard “Pistol Allen, which played the drums, Paul Riser, which played the trombone, Robert White, Eddie Willis, and Joe Messina, which played the guitar, and Eddie “Bongo” Brown, which played the percussion. The main performer of this fantasy band would be Al Green. I would also add another musician from the Miles Davis Second Great Quintet, Herbie Hankcock. The particular style of music that this band would create is rhythm and blues and funk.
As I think about the creativity of the artist and band, one particular song that I would like to record with The Funk Band and Al Green would be Marvin Gaye’s song, “Heard Through the Grapevine.” This song is full of rhythm and soul, and would be carried out gracefully through Al Green. Also, The Funk Band sound is filled with funk and soul, and this would be the precise sound for the particular song. As the producer of the piece of art, I would add more instrumentation to the composition, which would give it more of a live sound to it.
If I would rename the band to help people relate to the story of this project, I would rename it The Sound of Soul Band. This is due to the emotional sound of the main performer and the band that would be accompanying the singer. The marketing strategies would be of today’s technology. I would definitely use all musical distribution websites such as Amazon, ITunes, Spotify, etc. I would also promote the album by using social network as well. This will definitely reach the intended audience that I am trying to reach, as well using the network to promote concerts, videos of the song, and other advertisements of the great project.
The development of different technical innovations during the beginning of the genre electronic music is very interesting. In fact, one particular instrument that I chose to write this blog on, was the first electronic musical instrument that produced sound that was derived from sampled sounds that were burned onto integrated circuits that is known as Read Only Memory or ROM, without the obligation for any type of disk drive. This instrument is called the Kurzweil K250. The inventor, Raymond Kurzweil, developed this instrument with the consultation from Stevie Wonder, who is a Grammy Award winning singer, music producer, and songwriter, Robert Moog, inventor of the Moog synthesizer, Lyle Mays, an American jazz pianist, and Alan R. Pearlman, founder of ARP Instruments Inc.
The beginning of the Kurzweil K250 started with Stevie Wonder, in 1982, who invited Raymond Kurzweil to his new studio in Los Angeles. Wonder wanted to know from Kurzweil “could we use the extraordinarily flexible computer control methods on the beautiful sounds of acoustic instruments?” This conversation resulted in the founding of Kurzweil Music Systems with Stevie Wonder as a musical advisor. In 1984, the Kurzweil K250 was introduced by Kurzweil Music and could recreate the musical response of other orchestral instruments and the grand piano.
This instrument was also highly engineered due to the way the J12 connector on the back where the power pod connects to the unit, which is similar to the connectors used in the NASA Space Shuttle. Another characteristics that Mr. Raymond Kurzweil gave the instrument is that is has an array of multiple output options, a click track, a sync source, an analog output board that produced inaudible noise levels and a twelve-track sequencer.
The impression that the inventor, Raymond Kurzweil, leave with me as a listener and as an industry professional is one word, remarkable. Mr. Kurzweil level of creativity in technology, as well as music, was outstanding. This instrument was door-opening for so many other inventors and was greatly used by artists such as, Barbara Mandrell, Barry White, Bruce Springsteen, and one of my favorite jazz pianist/keyboardist, composer, Chick Corea. This invention goes to show that anything is possible to create if one would just put his or her mind and heart into it.
Get Electric with Kraftwerk
This week’s blog begins with the study of electronic music. This particular genre of music was the signature sound for the electronic music band, Kraftwerk, which is from Dusseldorf, Germany. Kraftwerk were one of the first electric bands to combine recurring rhythms, captivating melodies, and a Western Classical style of harmony with electronic instrumentation. There music also consisted of lyrics that were produced by computer-speech software or either sung through a vocoder.
During the 1970s and early 1980s, Kraftwerk’s electronic sound was groundbreaking, and really made its mark across many genres of contemporary music. In 1974, Kraftwerk released the album Autobahn. This album showed sounds from newer technology such as the EMS Synthi AKS and the Minimoog, which is a monophonic analog synthesizer. This particular album was a success and peaked at number five on the Billboard top 200. After touring to promote the album Radio-Activity, Kraftwerk began recording Trans-Europe Express, which was released in March 1977. In 1981, Kraftwerk produced the album Computer World. Using a Texas instruments Language Translator, which is very interesting to have learned, created the electronic vocals on this particular album.
Kraftwerk’s music aesthetic definitely earned them the position of the biggest influence in electronic music. On their albums Ralf und Florian, and as I mention earlier, Autobahn, Kraftwerk used a custom built Vocoder that constructed by P. Leunig and K.Obermayer of the PTB Braunschweig. The band also holds patents for invention instruments that are now used in the genre of electronic music as well as other genres. The founders of the band, Ralf Hutter and Florian Schneider, hold a patent for an electronic drum kit with sensor pads.
The impact of Kraftwerks electronic music is great and has inspired many different styles, genres, as well as artists, which to name one in particular, David Bowie. This electronic music group has indeed taught me to not place a statue of limitation on the art of creating music. Kraftwerk, to me, believe in stretching their creativity of sound and instrumentation to the max, and I, on the musical journey, intend to do the same.
Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On
When I hear the name “Marvin Gaye,” I definitely think of an artist that helped with the success of Motown Records. Not only was Marvin Gaye an awesome singer, but also he was a phenomenal songwriter and musician. After being discharged from the United States Air Force, he signed with Tamla, which allowed him to pursue a career of jazz music. To my surprise, Marvin Gaye had no desire to become an R&B performer, which he later became. Over the years, Gaye’s musical image definitely went through changes. Before he recorded the album “What’s Going On,” Marvin Gaye musical image was the clean-cut do-wop singer with a soulful touch. He also gained success by singing duet with such artist as Mary Wells and Tammi Terrell. During Gaye’s duets years, created song legends such as “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)”, which was with Mary Wells, and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, which was with Tammi Terrell.
After gaining such a success with his music, Marvin Gaye returned to Hitsville U.S.A. to record what would become the number one song on the R & B charts within a month, “What’s Going On.” Gaye’s inspiration for this song came from Renaldo “Obie” Benson, a singer with Four Tops, after Benson witness a police brutality at an anti-war rally in Berkeley. Renaldo Benson presented the idea of composing this idea for a song to a songwriter by the name of Al Cleveland. Cleveland wrote the song, gave it to Benson to present to his group Four Tops, but they turned down the song. Benson then presented the not titled song to Gaye, and he accepted it the song and added his feel to it. Marvin Gaye was also affected through emotional conversations that he had with his brother Frankie, who returned from the Vietnam War after three years of service.
Marvin Gaye went through a lot to record “What’s Going On.” He presented the song to producer Berry Gordy and he stated, “Marvin, don’t be ridiculous. That’s taking things too far.” So he turned down the request to release it and Marvin Gaye went on a “strike” by refusing to record any new material until the song would be released. Of course, I could see why Barry Gordy was skeptical of releasing this song because this was definitely not a typical Motown song, which was basically a soul feeling type of pop music. Also, the lyrical content of the song was certainly a change of feel for this era in music. This song is referred to as being a song based on the issue of the world and not another “love song.”
The impression that is left on me as I listened and studied this song is just remarkable. It amazed me that Marvin Gaye actually had to go through so much to get this release. This fight that he went through for this particular song teaches me to continue to believe in what I love and that is music.
Brian Eno – 40 Years of Changing Music
While researching about Brian Eno, I discovered that he is a creative and unique artist, producer and composer. The reputation that Eno carries is that he is an artist that is referred to as being very influential. In fact, it is said by critic Jason Ankeny at Allmusic that Eno “forever altered the ways in which music is approached, composed, performed, and perceived, and everything from punk to techno to new age bears his unmistakable influence.” His techniques of creating projects and distinguishing style have affected David Bowie, Devo, and many other artists. Also, Eno’s sampling techniques have been proven to be significant in hip-hop and broke ground by integrating world music.
Brian Eno produced and created many different types of albums. Two of his album that really stood out to me was from the “Ambient” collections, which he created four different types of albums. Those two are Ambient 2: The Plateaux of Mirror and Ambient 4: On Land. When I listened to the Ambient 2: The Plateaux of Mirror, I automatically noticed the different piano arrangements throughout the album. The feel of this collection of ambient music is very warm and inviting. The theme of this album is very well noticeable, and I really felt that Eno did a remarkable job in the creating the sound for the collection of ambient. The second album, Ambient 4: On Land, which was Eno’s final collection, was totally different. This album was definitely one that had a dark type of feeling to it. Also, when I listen to the different selections on this album, I could hear the different types of instrumentation that he used in creating this collection, which also included non-instruments such as insects, frogs, and chains. Even though both collections had some difference, they also carried some similarity. They both leave the listener with great expectation of what is to come next in the following melody line.
It is so amazing to me how Eno can put together art and pop music. By listening to his creations of albums, one could easily see and imagine what is accomplishing through the melodies of the music. Brian Eno’s work has definitely left an impression as to look deeper into what I am trying to create through music. By doing this, I can change the whole texture of what I am trying to create and produce.
Calvin White Jr.
The Beatles, “Revolver”
When I hear the words, “The Beatles,” I automatically think of four guys from England that are definitely music legends. As I stated, The Beatles were a rock band from Liverpool England, which was formed in 1960. The band consisted of John Lennon, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, and of course Paul McCartney. This band experimented in all genres of music, such as pop ballads, classical, and psychedelic rock. The Beatles have gained recognition being the best selling band in the United States, having more number one albums on the British charts, and in 2008, the band surpassed Billboard magazine’s list of the all time most successful “Hot 100” artists. These, of course, are just a few of awards that they have achieved.
When The Beatles first hit the scene in the 60’s, they presented to the world their creative musical skills of rock and roll. In December 1965, they released their sixth studio album, Rubber Soul, which was a folk rock album. This album also incorporated soul and pop music styles. This album was cited as one of the greatest albums in music history, and ranked number five on the popular magazine, Rolling Stone, list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time.” The band indeed produced a great album; however, they continue to grow musically in songwriting and arrangements and released their seventh studio album, Revolver. This album was very different compared to The Beatles previous album. Revolver consisted of electric guitar-rock sound, and less of the folk rock sound that inspired Rubber Soul. After listening to this album, Revolver, one could clearly see how this album marked a new level in the band’s recording career.
The inspirations for the music and lyrical content of Revolver were not musical interest at all. In fact, the lyrics to “She Said She Said” were from a conversation that John Lennon had with the actor Peter Fonda while under the influence of LSD. Another non-musical interest, the rate of income tax, was also an influence for the song Taxman. The studio production of the album was quite unique. On this album, The Beatles used for the first time automatic double tracking, which the use of two linked tape recorders to automatically create a double vocal track. Also, they developed a way of how to enhance the sound of their voice by routing a signal from the recording console into the studio’s Leslie speaker. The Revolver album is definitely a work of art, and shows the quality of musicianship and the use of instrumentation.
The Beach Boys “Pet Sounds”
In 1961, an American rock band, by the name of The Beach Boys, was formed in Hawthorne, California. The band consisted of brothers Brian Wilson, Carl Wilson, Dennis Wilson, cousin Mike Love, and close friend Al Jardine. The Beach Boys, which were managed by Murry Wilson, signed with Capital Records in 1962. The vocals and harmonies of this band were remarkable, and their songs gained focus to the Southern California youth generation of love, cars, and of course, surfing. The Beach Boys accomplished a great amount of success through the type of music, especially through their sophomore album, Surfin’ USA , which placed number 2 on the US Billboard 200 Albums Chart.
The man behind the sound of The Beach Boys is Brian Wilson. He was the leading songwriter of the band, and also the band’s chief producer and arranger. Brian Wilson wrote and accompanied other composers in writing many Top 40 hits for the band. In 1966, Brian Wilson produced the greatest album of all time, which is entitled Pet Sounds. Brian Wilson created this album from the listening of The Beatles, Rubbersoul. After Wilson listened to this album his exact words were, “It felt like it all belonged together. Rubber Soul was a collection of songs…that somehow went together like no album ever made before, and I was very impressed. I said, “That’s it. I really am challenged to do a great album.”
What set Pet Sounds apart from other popular 1960’s recordings were the instrumentations, which include the expertise of an orchestra, and arrangements, which would be the melodies that were played through the bass lines. Paul McCartney from the popular band, The Beatles, comments about the song, “You Still Believe In Me,” as “comes surging back in these multi-colored harmonies…sends shivers up my spine,” could not be stated any clearer as to how I, an upcoming music producer, view this creative work. It has indeed opened my eyes and ears to a whole new world of possibilities when it comes to creating greatness.