Friday, January 13, 2012

Alan Parsons' music instruction DVD/NAMM 2012

With The NAMM Show ’12 slated to start at the Anaheim Convention Center this week, it’s a good time to revisit one of the most impressive products I discovered during last year’s event.

Alan Parsons’ Art & Science of Sound Recording (ASSR) is a 3 DVD, 10 hour instructional set that gives music novices various tricks of the trade.

Parsons is the renowned, award-winning producer/engineer/mixer/musician who got his start at Abbey Road Studios in the '60s. His credits include such landmark recordings as The Beatles’ Abbey Road, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, albums by Paul McCartney, the Hollies and his own successful prog-rock group, The Alan Parsons Project.

The DVDs are narrated by actor/musician Billy Bob Thornton. Parsons provides the technical know-how and career anecdotes. Neither is boring and both occasionally inject humor into the different sections 

(See below for Parsons' appearance in conjunction with ASSR at NAMM 2012).

Disc 1 covers A Brief History of Recording, Studio Acoustics, Microphones, Consoles and Controllers, Digital Audio and Computers, Monitoring and MIDI.

Disc 2 encompasses EQ, Compressors & Limiters, Noise Gates, Reverb, Delays, A Band Tracking Session, Vocals, Internet Recording.

Disc 3 includes Drums, Keyboards, Bass, Guitar, Recording Acoustic Guitar with Vocals, Recording a Choir, Approaches to Live Recording, Mixing and Dealing with Disasters.

Each section (ranging from five minutes to nearly an hour) is helpfully indexed so you can jump right to a particular topic that interests you. There are also sub topics within each section.

For those who have never been inside a recording studio and always wondered how one works, ASSR is fascinating. Some of the topics are extremely detailed, but very educational.

Parsons has discussions throughout the set with noted producers like John Shanks, Jack Joseph Puig, Sylvia Massey, Patrick Leonard, Niko Bolas, Jack Douglas and John Fields.
He also gets insightful input from musicians such as Erykah Badu, Michael McDonald, Taylor Hawkins and others. Future “American Idol” top 10 contestant James Durbin is featured in the vocal recording section where Parsons worked with music school students. 

A new song written especially for this set by Parsons (“All Our Yesterdays”) is recorded by a top-notch band comprising Alan Parsons Live Project bandmate PJ Olsson, bassist Nathan East, keyboardist Rami Jaffe, guitarist Tim Pierce and drummer Simon Phillips. You get to see the entire process from top to bottom.  

ASSR took two years to complete. Once it’s finished, you almost feel as if you’ve completed an accelerated university music course - at a fraction of the cost! Contents of the DVDs are also available to educators online and as a series of downloads or streams.

Art & Science of Sound Recording ($149 DVD; $99 download), available from Keyfax New Media.

NAMM 2012: On Friday, Jan. 20, 9:30 a.m., Hal Leonard Corporation booth (4618 Hall C),
Alan Parsons will discuss his DVD set, The Art and Science of Sound Recording. Attendees receive a free demo of ASSR, plus an autographed songbook. Reservations required. Contact 800-554-0626 or

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