Ph: 631-356-3093

John Tabacco

Composer, Songwriter, Producer, Engineer & Recording Artist

Production

The song is king. My production is there to support an already, hopefully strong idea and capture a performance that is unique and moving.

I try to keep the production simple unless it is a theatrical piece that requires a lot of musical references. In general, the detail is in the mix.

When I work, the instrument placement, equalization and basic arrangement most often come together simultaneously. As I am producing I am mixing so at the end of a session we are not far from what the final product is going to sound like. Sometimes I will offer some suggestions regarding the form of a piece of music but in general I enjoy the challenge of working with what I am given. And, I’m always open to outside suggestions. I can focus on large concepts and enjoy tying pieces together to form a whole. Of course this is where the editing / mastering comes into place and they are processes I spend a lot of time on once all the music is recorded.

Arranging

Arranging is a slippery subject. It all depends on the client’s objective. If a client wants the vocal or lead instrument to be the center of attention then I will focus on keeping the supporting elements to a minimum. Basic parts like bass, keyboard, rhythm guitar, drums and percussion are usually fine-tuned to stand on their own to keep the momentum going. They will form the subliminal musical motor you only take notice of on repeated listenings. When it comes to fully arranging / orchestrating a work there are two considerations I take into account.

1. To use real instruments or virtual instruments?

2. To use a live ensemble in a big recording studio or separate tracking of each individual instrument in a small studio?

How complex the client wants the arrangement has more to do with how much the client is willing to spend (money wise). Want to save money? Let’s get together and do a little pre-production before actually recording. It makes the sessions go smoother and keeps the energy flowing.

Often it is easy to go with what is obvious and popular but sometimes a little out of the box thinking can really set your music apart from the rest of the herd. I’m open to working in pretty much any genre and I’m big on blending styles. If however, it’s a style I am not familiar with, I know a lot of arrangers who can more than fit the bill.

Mixing

Mixing is a question of taste. I come from a school of high fidelity and clarity, where recorded music is played through a $100,000 sound system. It’s not a listening situation the average person usually has access to. I was just fortunate to grow up with a friend whose parents owned a high-end audio store. Boy, how I miss those days. Anyway, this is not to say I cannot make a lo-fi, "dirty" recording. If that is what the piece needs, I’ll do it. But mainly I am known for being able to mix a lot of tracks and have the end result be detailed / clear. Each instrument will have it’s own place in the sound stage and attention to special FX is included in this technique. I also enjoy an active mix as oppose to a static one that just stays at one volume from beginning to end. But that’s me. Technically, I tend to take short breaks when mixing just to give my ears a rest and make sure I’m not focusing on one thing and forgetting about the big picture. In general, I work pretty fast. A key thing to remember is that recorded music sounds different everywhere you play it. Knowing that, I listen to the final mix on all sorts of speakers in various places like in the car or on a cheap boom box, and ipod or a 5.1 system or headphones. etc… Usually by the second day of listening I have a good idea as to where the deficientcies lie in a mix. As much as I have my own taste in mixing and eq, of course the client has the final say. I may not agree with them but it’s their vision and thus, I try to be as true to that vision as I can.

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