Event Reviews
Nashville Recording Workshop & Expo

Nashville Recording Workshop & Expo

Musician’s Hall of Fame & Museum, Nashville, TN • February 20-21, 2009

Musicians, songwriters, engineers, and producers gathered in Nashville for the Audio Engineering Society’s first Nashville Recording Workshop and Expo. Held at the Musicians Hall of Fame & Museum, the two-day event was a success for AES, and it appears that a 2010 Workshop is already in the planning stages.

If there is a perfect location for gathering members of the music industry, Nashville is it. The city – a showcase for artists and studios – lends itself to events such as this one. The AES Workshop offers a rare opportunity to network with peers and attend sizable yet still intimate panel discussions about a variety of topics, as well as a small trade show where manufacturers are on hand to demo products and answer questions. More so, it enables attendees to learn from, and ask questions of, studio legends.

Classes began in the morning, broke midday for a provided lunch, and continued until the evening. Topics included Vocal and Acoustic Instrument Miking, a Singer/Songwriter Production Roundtable, Producing a Dynamite Demo, Arrangement and Recording for Better Mixes, Adding Rhythm and Spice With Virtual Tracks, Collaboration Across Time and Space, Work Environments That Enhance Creativity, Practical Acoustics and Room Treatment, and When to Call In a Pro. Two “Master Classes,” Pro Tools 101, with Tony Shepperd and Jeff Markham, and Mastering 101, with Alan Silverman, were presented each day.

It’s one thing to hold a manual in your hands and try to thesaurus your way through terminology you’d swear was invented at M.I.T., or to Google-search the inner workings of something like Pro Tools. It’s another to sit and take notes while experts break it down into layman’s terms, and then make themselves available afterward to answer questions one-on-one. No online forum in the world comes close.

Page after Web page of mics and preamps simply don’t compare to a 45-minute presentation from Lynn Fuston as he demos ribbons, condensers, crystals, tubes, carbons, and dynamics onstage, explaining the mechanisms of each and a variety of techniques to get the sounds you want out of your recordings, as well as what to look for in a microphone.

When you’re building a home studio, who better to glean ideas and suggestions from than Kyle Lehning, Jason Lehning, Casey Woods, and Michael Wagener? Only by attending a workshop like this one will you ever have the opportunity to learn about affordable acoustic setups and spaces, accurate monitoring, project economics, key pieces of gear in order to upgrade and, of course, how to handle your neighbors!

While pro-audio magazines and Web sites are a wealth of information, printed words – and even videos – don’t come close to an hour and fifteen minutes with Jeff Balding, Tom Laune, Greg Droman, and Tony Sheppard to dissect the details of mixing, which Balding so aptly described as that which “converges artistry and engineering.” With panel discussions like these, you not only get into the heart of the craft itself; you also get the bonus of listening to pros share best moments and humorous horror stories.

And for recording vocals, all the YouTube clips in the world won’t give you what you walk away with after an hour with Lynn Fuston and George Massenburg, as they bring in an artist, set up the booth and track on-site.

The Audio Engineering Society is in its sixth decade as the only professional society devoted exclusively to audio technology. Thanks to AES, industry professionals, home-studio talents, and the general public are able to stay on top of changes and advancements in the world of audio. AES holds annual technical meetings and equipment exhibitions around the world; their debut Nashville Workshop is one example of the services they offer, and one of many reasons they deserve support. Anyone interested in making music should plan now to attend the 2010 event.

While waiting for things to kick off with a keynote address from bluegrass legend Ricky Skaggs, attendees were treated to classics from the Beatles on the sound system. The irony – listening to these inimitable songs that were recorded, literally, with just the basic instruments, consoles and a lot of cables, while waiting to learn about the latest technology – was not lost on audience or speaker.

Skaggs, a 50-year veteran of the music business who has been onstage since childhood, is an award-winning artist, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and owner of Skaggs Place Studios, where he makes his records on his label without “having fifteen people sitting around a table telling me why bluegrass won’t sell.” He opened his speech by remarking, “I was back there listening to the Beatles, making these records, with that gear, making those decisions, and we’re all still trying to make a record that good. I don’t think we have.”

Nashville Recording Workshop & Expo: http://www.nashvillerecordingworkshop.com

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