In the Silence of June


Dear June
If you were a person
I’d ask you why the silence
Why my skin doesn’t remember
What used to by my heart’s lover

No touch is every familiar anymore
No voice is recognizable through the creeks of the wall

Too many affairs, none worth recollecting
Every encounter is a brief memory
Gone, as soon as the new one comes along

Quiet month, June is. I don’t know what to do with the free time that I have. Part of it is because Laundry has taken out 2nd and 3rd resident live Thursday shows of the month. All these spaces, is making me lose focus from one matter to the other. When I have nothing solid to think about or to prioritize, I don’t know what to do with my illegal notions.

Illegal, because they’ve done nothing but harm to my soul. My negative thoughts need to go away. 

I’m taking up a little part-time job at Drum Asia until my calendar is filled up again. I’m mostly the studio assistant while the main facility coördinator is away. So far familiar faces find it odd that I’m there. I mean, I do to. Ha. I’ve carried the live sound tag around me longer than I every worked in a studio / office space. It’s a no brainer job, but I’m looking forward to future collaborations.

Speaking of collaboration, I’m working on one with a fellow composer from the US! Basic idea is that he writes, I mix. But it’s really not that easy (on my side) as I have not been mixing on a DAW in a while. He recently gave me one of his songs to mix. I mixed it 5 times before getting the hang of it. You cannot understand an orchestra like pop music. It’s a different world altogether!

I sent the mix back after working on it in a day. One of the things that I couldn’t achieve was the “proper balance” and fullness of the orchestra. Don’t get me wrong, if it was a pop music, my balance would’ve been perfect. But I completely missed the dynamic power & relations between the instruments that the wrong parts are coming out in the mix. He explains,

An orchestra is split into 4 sections, Woodwinds, Brass, Percussion, and Strings. Each of those have not only different timbres, but they also all sound at different volume levels. It’s kind of like rock paper scissors.

Percussion>Brass>Woodwinds>Strings>Harp.

So in this song for example, when the orchestra swells, the brass and percussion usually over power. To compensate, composers will write different dynamics to balance out the orchestra. As a rule of thumb You write brass two dynamic levels lower than strings, and woodwinds one dynamic level lower. (Which I try to do.)

These kind of things, they don’t teach you in a 18-month certificate in audio production course. No, they teach you the technical side of audio engineering, like how to EQ, compress, pan, and add effects. Music and technology go hand-in-hand, but sometimes people tend to overlook the creative side of music production. Audio engineering is just there to bring the musical experience to a whole new level. Pair a good writer or composer with an engineer who understands the idea behind the written song, and the music will transport you to a different universe.

Anyway, that was exactly what I was looking for. How do I mimic a live orchestral music? I couldn’t understand my friend’s piece at all.

And then he asked me if I read music. BINGO.

Okay, here’s another thing about being a part of the 18-month program that you spent RM40k on, you only get one semester of music theory, and it’s so basic anyone could score an A like a no brainer. And I mean it. Sure, my classmates struggled, but the music theory subject 3 semesters after my intake was a lot harder. They had a bit of ear training, a bit of contemporary harmony maybe, more than what I had learned in my first semester. -_-

Back to the reading music part. My friend explained, in the past when I recorded with live orchestra, the engineer wanted a copy of the score to mix with. That why you’d know what’s going on, and what to bring out, what dynamics to use in what parts etc. And he’s absolutely right. Even Studio 21:05 owner JD reads the score when mixing live. LIVE. What more there is when recording and mixing in the studio with the help of a music score!

You know what time it is? Time to study back my Italian terminologies & practice my sight-reading.

Check out some of his work here! Until I’m satisfied with my mix, I won’t be posting that one up. Haha.

Anyways, I’m 3 songs & 14 books behind. I have bits and pieces of ideas for my April song, and a brief quote for my May song, and last night I wrote some lyrics for my June song. Nothing is solid. A bit uninspired at the moment but that’s fairly normal. I’ve also only read 1 book this year, and I’m struggling to pick up another book to read. There is still time!

Meanwhile, KL/PJ is currently scorching HOT! This is where I’m gonna end my blog for today. I’m looking at travel options this time around next year. Backpacking and all that glory. Until next time! x

I miss Singapore and its colourful lights at night.
I miss Singapore and its colourful lights at night.
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