Ever since moving to Atlanta, GA, Ryan Almario has worked as a music producer for local talent. He has produced artists in different genres such as Rock, Pop, Jazz, Singer/Songwriter, Latin, and Inspirational.
When it comes to music producing, Ryan Almario is very involved in all phases of the project starting from the preproduction up to the mastering stage. During the preproduction stage, Ryan finds the best arrangement for the song which would include the tempo, form, and key. As a multi-instrumentalist, Ryan usually records all the instruments including drums, bass, acoustic guitars, electric guitars, acoustic and/or electric pianos, and organs. He is also very capable of arranging orchestral works and jazzy, funky, hard-hitting horns similar to Earth, Wind, & Fire, Chicago, and Tower Of Power. When other musicians are needed, Ryan has a massive pool of seasoned musicians that include rock guitarists, country fiddlers, and jazz saxophonists. Ryan uses his years of experience in order to get the best performance out of a musician or a singer.
Ryan Almario wrote a few articles about preproduction for Jingles For Commercials, a company that wrote, recorded, mixed, and mastered not only radio and television jingles for companies but various custom music. The following are excerpts from those articles.
Get ready to get ready!
As a freelance producer and engineer, a good chunk of my business is producing and recording singer / songwriters. It has always bewildered me how my clients underestimate one major step – preproduction. Preproduction involves a whole slew of things to get the song just right. Does it sound like you’re straining to sing your own song? Does the form feel right? Is it grooving or is it just moving along? There are a lot of things to consider before you push the record button. Here are a couple of things to consider:
1) Pitch – Sad to say, I’ve worked with a lot of clients who can’t even hit the low or high notes on their own song! If it seems that you’re trying too hard, why not change the key of the song? Look for the “sweet spot” – the range where vocalists tend to shine whether belting a rock song or being husky and mellow for those emotional tearjerkers. A quick technique I suggest is for the singer to sing the song without any accompaniment. More often than not, they’ll sing it in a range where they’re comfortable and nine times out of ten it’s not where they thought it was when they wrote the song. That sweet spot should be the new key of the song and not because the key of C has less black keys than the key of B.
2) Form – Unless you’re trying to record the next “Dark Side Of The Moon”, unnecessarily long intros just don’t work. I’ve read somewhere that the average introduction of popular hit songs is around 8-13 seconds. People want to hear what you want to say quickly. Other questions to ask are: Are the verses to short? Do I sing the choruses too much? Is there any continuity to what I’m singing? Try listening to the popular recordings of other artists that appeal to your intended audience and break them down. Try to figure out why it works and remember what you didn’t like about them. Use that experience as a road map to stay the course or avoid trouble spots that might keep you idling and not moving forward.
3) Tempo – Are you having a hard time getting all your lyrics out without messing up? Does the song sound like it’s just dragging along? When it comes to getting the groove just right, sometimes 1-3 beats per minute (BPM) will make outbreak the song. Let the song dictate the tempo and not your technical abilities. I’ve heard some songs that are sang too slow because the Singer/Songwriter has a hard time playing bar chords on the guitar. Sing your own tune without accompanying yourself. See what makes you move and gets your blood rushing. Lastly, experiment with drastic tempo adjustments too. Try playing one of your ballads as an upbeat tune and vice versa.
Grab the spotlight
The easiest and quickest way to know if a song just works is to perform it in front of a crowd. No, I’m not talking about your friends and members of your families. If friends and families were honest, the producers of American Idol wouldn’t have all those hilarious moments captured on tape for the best of the worst reel that we all enjoy watching so much. Take a cue from the comedians and check the local paper to see if there is an open mic night at a coffee house or a bar. Many famous comedians continue to show up unannounced at open mic nights and try their new material on the crowd and see what bombed and what was THE bomb. This small investment of time can have a big pay off in the long run and help you get a real feel for the response of a crowd.