Abbey Road Institute student Elias Knop produces Jazz
It started as an idea during a jam session with friends. „We wanted to do some Jazz,“ recalls Elias Knop, who currently is a student at the Abbey Road Institute Frankfurt. „So we teamed up with musicians from my high school Big Band and gathered ideas.“ The six musicians chose the Herbie Hancock song „Watermelon Man“. It came alive with it their own touch at our Live Room 1
No music production without a project plan
„We liked the theme of the song so much,“ Elias Knop explains his decision, „that’s why I wanted to do a remake. We thought about how we can translate the different themes and melodies for different instruments. For example, we came up with the idea of letting the trombonist sing through the trombone in some places instead of playing it. That gives the song its very own character. “
Until the recording in the studio, however, there was still a lot to prepare. Just like they learned in class, the first step was a project plan. It contains the song structure, time and Mic/Line plan, a timetable for the recording session, which instruments get recorded together and which alone. „We had the goal to record everything in one day. That worked out pretty well thanks to the detailed preparation.“
25 high-end microphones in action
Then it was time to choose the microphones. Elias got support from Johannes Kandels, who also attends the „Advanced Diploma in Music Production and Sound Engineering“ course. „It’s just great, what we have access to. From AKG C414s to the Neumann U47, we have a large selection of high-quality microphones at our disposal. For this production, we tested and compared around 25 microphones. “
Elias and his colleagues settled for the MD421 from Sennheiser for the brass recordings. For drums they used: Sennheiser e902, MD 421 and MD 441, Shure KSM 141 ST and SM7B, AKG C414, Neumann: KM 184 and U87 as well as the RE20 from ElectroVoice. Each horn was given their specific microphone so that the stereo sum (taken with two Sennheiser MKH20s) could be buffed up with single signals. The drums were mainly recorded via the overheads and with only a bit of support from the additional microphones.
„I’ve already learned a lot in terms of microphone selection and positioning, and I know also now that you have to gain a lot of experience in order to achieve optimal results.“
Recording in professional studios
The various rooms at the Abbey Road Institute have been used by Elias to meet the needs of the recording. „For example, we recorded the guitar in the booth and used the big recording room for drums, the Fender Rhodes piano and the electric bass.
As for software and plug-ins, students at the Abbey Road Institute have a big variety to choose from during their twelve-month education. Elias Knop recorded his remake of „Watermelon Man“ on the API 1608/32 Channel console and Logic Pro X. „At the time of production, I already felt very safe with it. Meanwhile, I could and would do it with Pro Tools. „He grins. „We are constantly evolving and learning a lot each day. The curriculum is very intense. “
Mixing and Editing
Ear training is also part of the training at the Abbey Road Institute. „If you want to become a good music producer or sound engineer, you have to gain a lot of listening and mixing experience. So we first listened to different productions of the song, analyzed them and discussed them. Then I spent a lot of time editing. The UAD plug-ins helped a lot, especially because we recorded the song completely live, „Elias Knop summarizes the process of mixing.
Music as Passion
„I am pretty satisfied with the mix. Especially because we made our own thing of the song. The result sounds good, even if it was the first studio recording for the guys and we did not have much time to record and rehearse. “
“Doing a Jazz production was new territory for me,“ Elias Knop sums up. His musical background is Electropop, and he has been playing the piano since he was six years old. You can find him online under the alias Fishermann. „One of the cool things about this school is that we come into contact with a wide variety of musical styles. This is not only part of the course concept, but it is also owed to the fact that the lecturers and your classmates from different musical directions. I also did a HipHop project with Jamil. This colorful mix is very inspiring. I am glad that I have chosen the Advanced Diploma in Music Production and Sound Engineering course at the Abbey Road Institute. Beforehand I had looked at all kinds of schools. Here I felt the most professionalism and passion – and it has remained so to this day. “
Text: Susi Schiller /Translation: Barbara Skoda