Clark Media Productions

Clark Media Productions is a place for me to share my love of audio production, music, trombone, and music technology. Subscribe to my email list for late breaking blog posts, videos, and educational content!

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Great 3 days of recording with Stiletto Brass

I recently had a chance to record and produce for an outstanding brass quintet, Stiletto Brass. This ensemble has been around for quite a few years, and has been a consistent presence at international brass festivals and workshops. They have a previous album, featuring none other than Doc Severinsen on trumpet, and they contacted me this spring about putting a new album together this summer.

I simply love recording brass quintet. The ability to hear the sonic blend and resonance of a great brass ensemble, hearing the overtones produced when all the voices are in tune and balanced, is truly a special experience in the musical world. Stiletto Brass has the enviable trait of having 5 individuals who each have a stylish musical voice of their own, able to stand out as soloists, yet still come together to produce a beautiful, sonorous, and blended sound quality that fits the various styles they recorded perfectly.

Speaking of style, Stiletto Brass is able to play anything from jazz, to baroque, to modern music composed just for them, in a convincing way. It was a treat to hear a new work commissioned by the ensemble by Drew Bonner, as well as a jazz tune called Boy Meets Horn (nicknamed Girl Meets Horn by both the group and me), a baroque standard by William Boyce, and a piece by Andre Lafosse that I wasn’t familiar with called Suite Impromptu. Lafosse was professor of trombone at the Conservatoire de Paris from 1948 - 1960, and contributed some important works to the trombone, and brass quintet literature. The piece Stiletto found and recorded is an absolute delight.

For the recording, I covered all my bases and used two sets of main mics (omni and cardioid), plus my stereo ribbon mic to gather the sound in the room where we recorded. Flank mics to add width, and spot mics for any minute balance adjustment in post production rounded out the mic-ing plan. The chapel at Mt. Vernon Unitarian Church was a beautiful venue for us to record in for the three day session.

Oh, and did I mention that this ensemble is all WOMEN?!?! I figured you might guess that… ;) I have to say it is wonderful to see these musicians leading the way as brass players in a field that is starting to see greater numbers of women as professionals. I can only imagine the young girls who might be inspired to know that they can play trombone, tuba, horn, or trumpet, and that they have professional role models to hear and emulate. A discussion about the title of “Boy Meets Horn” needing some reworking for this recording just might have taken place… I can’t wait for you to hear it!

Release details will be forthcoming, and I will certainly make an announcement here when the finished recording is ready. I’m excited for you to hear and to get to know Stiletto Brass.

Stiletto Brass is Amy Gilreath and Susan Rider (trumpets), Rachel Hockenberry (horn), Natalie Mannix (trombone), Velvet Brown (tuba)

You may find their website HERE.

Their first album is HERE.

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Happy faces when the producer says, “OK, that’s a wrap!!!”

Happy faces when the producer says, “OK, that’s a wrap!!!”

I give thanks... for tape transfers! (Students of Neill Humfeld, you will want to read... ;)

I have many things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.  A wonderful, healthy family, colleagues that are the absolute best to work with, and a job that I love.  However, on the music front, one thing stands out to me this November that I didn’t see coming, even a month ago.

I have previously written about my teacher, Dr. Neill Humfeld, and his influence on me, and a little about his musicianship and teaching.  When Dr. Humfeld passed, my dad and I came into possession of a couple boxes of analog tape (the reel to reel kind) containing all kinds of recordings of Dr. H from many years of recitals and concerts.  It has been one of those things that  I look at and say, “man, we really gotta get that transferred so we can listen to it!”  I never knew what that entailed, or how you would even go about doing it, until recently...

Fast forward to the past year, where my own interest in audio, especially in producing and preserving live performances, has come into play.  This fall, coincidentally, I have been taking a course online through Berklee College of Music called Audio Mastering, taught by an expert engineer, Marc Dieter-Einstmann (check out Marc’s mastering studio HERE).  Mastering is the final step in the production process for any audio recording.  A recording gets made (live or in studio), and then gets mixed.  In the mixing stage, the mix engineer takes all the audio that was recorded (sometimes as many as 100 tracks or more), and essentially places all those voices in the stereo field (where you locate that sound when you hear the recording) and gives the recording it’s tonal shape, and many other musical variables that make a certain record sound unique.  In mastering, the engineer takes the fully mixed recording and puts the finishing touches on it.  These can be musical or tonal adjustments (maybe something the mix engineer missed or didn’t hear), technical corrections (bad edits, noise removal), and general quality control.  Finally, a mastering engineer will set the loudness level of the recording, and produce a “master” containing all the tracks of the album, in the correct order, and with great care to ensure there are no functional errors.  

To hear these performances come back to life, after over 50 years for some of them, is truly a delight.  To hear Dr. Humfeld’s sound, in performances I’ve never heard before, is truly something to be thankful for.  

So, what to do with these?  Well, after speaking with Dr. Humfeld’s daughter, Nancy Jo Humfeld, I would like to continue to transfer more of these recitals and create a “BEST OF” album of Dr. Humfeld’s recitals over the years.  On many of these tapes, he speaks at length to the audience about the music he performs, and many of the recordings reflect his warm sense of humor that many of us came to love from knowing him.  

Stay tuned, there is much more to come.  I plan to make this project a major focus of my 2019.  

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.  May you all be blessed to love, make music, and enjoy the people in our lives that are important to us!



New Youtube Series!

Hi everyone!  I wanted to tell you about another Clark Media production that is now available to the public!  My fantastic euphonium colleague, Hiram Diaz, came to me in the spring with a great idea to make a new series of videos.  Hiram, like many euphonium and trombone players, has been playing the 20 Counterparts duet series written by Tom Ervin, for many years.  These are duets written to accompany the Bordogni/Rochut etudes that so many of us incorporate in to our daily practice.  The videos include Hiram performing the duet part - the player utilizing the video provides the Bordogni etude.  Hiram also has some excellent comments at the beginning of each video encompassing his performance practice and musical ideas about the piece.  To purchase the original sheet music book, Counterparts, go to Tom Ervin's official website.  

New recording: Tuba and 12

I am constantly amazed at the colleagues I have a chance to regularly make music with here in Washington, DC.  Since I started recording and working in audio over the past few years, the chance to record my colleagues in the Marine Band is always a treat.  Today, I’d like to share a recording I made recently for composer Anne McGinty, of her piece called Tuba and 12.  Anne composed the piece for solo tuba, piccolo, flute, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, alto saxophone, 2 trumpets, 2 horns, and 2 trombones.  You can find the music for purchase at Anne’s website, McGinty Music. 

Here are Anne’s notes about the piece:

Tuba & 12 was inspired by a Bedouin proverb that states: “While the words are yet unspoken, you are master of them; when once they are spoken, they are master of you.”

Proverbs, in general, state a general piece of advice. This piece assumed that words were spoken, resulting in tension and an apology. Relationships, the first movement, has brass vs. woodwinds, tonality vs. dissonance, duples vs. triplets, et al. as well as the synergy and cooperation among all. Unspoken Words is the second movement and the dissonant opening theme in the piccolo and flute is presented three times. The third movement is Resolution. Over a constant low pedal G, the horn ostinato adds tranquility as all the themes from the first two movements return in fragmented form, before all is finally resolved.

Although tuba has top billing in the title, each instrument is equally important.

Many thanks to Mt. Vernon Unitarian Church for the use of their beautiful space to make this recording, and to Ryan Nowlin for his conducting and fantastic producer’s ear.

Personnel on this recording are:

Tuba - John Cradler

Piccolo - Courtney Morton

Flute - Beth Plunk

Clarinets - Tracey Paddock, Bill Bernier

Bass clarinet - Barbara Haney

Alto Sax - Steve Temme

Trumpets - Matt Harding, Michael Mergen

French horns - Hilary Harding, Mark Questad

Trombones - Bryan Bourne, Tim Dugan

Conductor and Producer - Ryan Nowlin

Producer, engineer, mixing - Chris Clark

Mastering - Michael Ducassoux, Red Room Productions



Thanks for listening! 

Oz meets Texas!

In May of 2015, two trombonists met at a trumpet workshop, no less...

They knew their lives had reached a new low, hanging around trumpeters and such...

They decided they MUST. TAKE. ACTION.

Introducing....

WORLDWIDE BONE

Oz meets Texas

Australian composer and trombonist Brendan Collins
Trombonist Chris Clark

Jazz Duet No. 1, by Brendan Collins

Sometimes you get lucky in life and run into people you just really have a great time with!  Brendan, in addition to being a talented trombonist, is a fantastic composer.  He has written a large amount of brass music, and continues to write interesting and fun compositions!  He has recently written a great quintet that Valor Brass hopes to perform this year.  I also took his Trombone Hymn for 4 trombones and recorded that with some friends this spring - that is a really beautiful piece.  Check out his music and give it a play!  

Brendan has generously offered to make his Jazz Duet available as a free download here on the site.  You can get it HERE.  Please take the time to join the email list on the site as well if you download the piece!

For the video, Brendan recorded the top line at home in Australia, and I recorded the bottom line and put the two together for the video.  It was great fun collaborating in this way.  We are already looking to do some more virtual projects together soon!  Virtual projects can yield REAL results...cool!

Enjoy.


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