I chose the Red Hot Chili Peppers for my independent research blog post, because I had never really listened to them before, though the snippets of songs I had heard on the radio had always intrigued me.
Formed in 1983, it wasn't until '91 that they would release their true genius to the world. Blood Sugar Sex Magik was an album preceded by the death of a band member, multiple changes of band personnel, two changes of record label, and the hiring of an open minded producer.
Rick Rubin was the man they hired, a man credited with giving them the dynamics that critics thought they lacked as a band. The Chili Peppers were able to trust him with their work, and were more open to his input as a producer than they had been with previous producers.
While the Chili Peppers had always had a funk rock element, Blood Sugar Sex Magik really cemented that style and fused it with alternative rock. The album is considered to be one of the most influential of the 90's, particularly as a foundation for alternative rock from then on.
"Under the Bridge" is considered amongst many fans and critics to be the highlight of the album; an introspective poem about loneliness and depression that concludes with an epic outro. For me however the highlight has to be "Give It Away." It was initially criticized for lacking melody. I think this is one of it's strengths. The minimal melodic content makes space for the groove to come through. Flea's bass work is incredible, and Kiedis' vocal in the chorus is incredible as well. The Beatles inspired reverse guitar solo by Frusciante adds an element of psychedelia and Smith's rock solid drumming holds it all together.
If I wasn't a Red Hot Chili Peppers fan before this week, I am now. Blood Sugar Sex Magik set the stage for the Chili Peppers future success and break into the main stream. It also shaped alternative rock in the 90s in a way few other albums could have ever done.
As a music listener, I've always been a fan of jam bands. Although this is not a jam band album, the Red Hot Chili Peppers style has an element of 'jamming' about it that I love. As an industry professional it's another example of how releasing the creative constraints of an artist can pave the way for something new, fresh, and revolutionary
I chose Pro Tools for my independent research blog post because of the way it has influenced my own work as an audio engineer.
It seems fitting that one of the biggest innovations for Electronic Music came from two college band mates, searching for a new way to record percussion for use in electronic music. Peter Gotcher and Evan Brookes formed Digidrums, a company that sold drum chipsets. They had massive success which enabled them to do research and development in the fields of hardware and software sound design. They released Sound Designer in 1984, a system that enabled users to edit sounds captured by a sampling keyboard.
In 1985, they became Digidesign and in 1989 they released Sound Designer II, essentially the world's first DAW. It only supported two tracks, but this was the beginning of a revolution.
In 1991 Pro Tools was born, supporting a massive 4 tracks. With later expansions, it could support up to 16 tracks of simultaneous playback and recording.
I don't want to bore you with the details of every successive iteration from there on out, because the rest really is just history. Pro Tools had changed the industry, not just for Electronic Music, but for all musicians. Tasks like splicing tape were no longer necessary. Edits could be made quickly, and non-destructively in a DAW. Plug-ins were developed by many 3rd parties which allowed for new and unique sounds. MIDI data could be much more easily manipulated and affected, and with MIDI at the core of a lot of Electronic music, this was a massive leap forward.
While Pro Tools isn't necessarily the tool of choice for most Electronic musicians these days, with Ableton and Reason being more likely contenders, it's safe to say that it is the granddaddy. Without it, the Electronic Music scene might have taken a lot longer to develop.
One thing that really stands out for me about Pro Tools is the speed at which an operator can work if they are properly trained. While at it's core, it can be a simple system to use, the deeper you delve into it, the more efficient you can become. Another outstanding characteristic is it's flexibility. It can be used for Music, Sound FX, Sound Design, Voice-overs, Film, Scoring, and the list goes on. Whether you need a quick and dirty recording, or to mix down 200 tracks into one cohesive song, Pro Tools lets you do it.
I never used to like Pro Tools. I was always a Logic fan boy, and Pro Tools always struck me as too cold and sterile, a piece of software that stifled my creativity with it's detail. Now, after being forced to learn about it and use it, I've come to discover this is it's greatest asset. It's sterile and clean approach, matched with the incredible accuracy with which one can work, makes for an incredibly transparent system. Once you know how to use it, it gets out of the way, and lets you get the job done.