Clark Media Productions

Clark Media Productions is a place for me to share my love of audio production, music, trombone, and music technology. Subscribe to my email list for late breaking blog posts, videos, and educational content!

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I give thanks... for tape transfers! (Students of Neill Humfeld, you will want to read... ;)

I have many things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.  A wonderful, healthy family, colleagues that are the absolute best to work with, and a job that I love.  However, on the music front, one thing stands out to me this November that I didn’t see coming, even a month ago.

I have previously written about my teacher, Dr. Neill Humfeld, and his influence on me, and a little about his musicianship and teaching.  When Dr. Humfeld passed, my dad and I came into possession of a couple boxes of analog tape (the reel to reel kind) containing all kinds of recordings of Dr. H from many years of recitals and concerts.  It has been one of those things that  I look at and say, “man, we really gotta get that transferred so we can listen to it!”  I never knew what that entailed, or how you would even go about doing it, until recently...

Fast forward to the past year, where my own interest in audio, especially in producing and preserving live performances, has come into play.  This fall, coincidentally, I have been taking a course online through Berklee College of Music called Audio Mastering, taught by an expert engineer, Marc Dieter-Einstmann (check out Marc’s mastering studio HERE).  Mastering is the final step in the production process for any audio recording.  A recording gets made (live or in studio), and then gets mixed.  In the mixing stage, the mix engineer takes all the audio that was recorded (sometimes as many as 100 tracks or more), and essentially places all those voices in the stereo field (where you locate that sound when you hear the recording) and gives the recording it’s tonal shape, and many other musical variables that make a certain record sound unique.  In mastering, the engineer takes the fully mixed recording and puts the finishing touches on it.  These can be musical or tonal adjustments (maybe something the mix engineer missed or didn’t hear), technical corrections (bad edits, noise removal), and general quality control.  Finally, a mastering engineer will set the loudness level of the recording, and produce a “master” containing all the tracks of the album, in the correct order, and with great care to ensure there are no functional errors.  

Another function of many mastering engineers is to transfer analog tape to the digital realm. Analog tape machines are hard to come by.  Well cared for and functional analog tape machines are even harder to come by!  So, when I said I hadn’t thought much about this project until a month ago, it was because I hadn’t put 2 and 2 together.  The U.S. Marine Band has, in its audio lab, a Studer 820 analog tape console.  Console is an apt description, because this thing is a beast!  All the tapes I have of Dr. Humfeld are 1/4” 2-track stereo tapes, and that is the exact tape this machine is built to play back.  With the permission of our recording chief, and some amazing help from the swiss army knife of audio in my world, Mike Ducassoux, I had a total master class in operating one of these unbelievable pieces of analog technology.  

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To hear these performances come back to life, after over 50 years for some of them, is truly a delight.  To hear Dr. Humfeld’s sound, in performances I’ve never heard before, is truly something to be thankful for.  

So, what to do with these?  Well, after speaking with Dr. Humfeld’s daughter, Nancy Jo Humfeld, I would like to continue to transfer more of these recitals and create a “BEST OF” album of Dr. Humfeld’s recitals over the years.  On many of these tapes, he speaks at length to the audience about the music he performs, and many of the recordings reflect his warm sense of humor that many of us came to love from knowing him.  

Stay tuned, there is much more to come.  I plan to make this project a major focus of my 2019.  

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.  May you all be blessed to love, make music, and enjoy the people in our lives that are important to us!



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New Youtube Series!

Hi everyone!  I wanted to tell you about another Clark Media production that is now available to the public!  My fantastic euphonium colleague, Hiram Diaz, came to me in the spring with a great idea to make a new series of videos.  Hiram, like many euphonium and trombone players, has been playing the 20 Counterparts duet series written by Tom Ervin, for many years.  These are duets written to accompany the Bordogni/Rochut etudes that so many of us incorporate in to our daily practice.  The videos include Hiram performing the duet part - the player utilizing the video provides the Bordogni etude.  Hiram also has some excellent comments at the beginning of each video encompassing his performance practice and musical ideas about the piece.  To purchase the original sheet music book, Counterparts, go to Tom Ervin's official website.  

New recording: Tuba and 12

I am constantly amazed at the colleagues I have a chance to regularly make music with here in Washington, DC.  Since I started recording and working in audio over the past few years, the chance to record my colleagues in the Marine Band is always a treat.  Today, I’d like to share a recording I made recently for composer Anne McGinty, of her piece called Tuba and 12.  Anne composed the piece for solo tuba, piccolo, flute, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, alto saxophone, 2 trumpets, 2 horns, and 2 trombones.  You can find the music for purchase at Anne’s website, McGinty Music. 

Here are Anne’s notes about the piece:

Tuba & 12 was inspired by a Bedouin proverb that states: “While the words are yet unspoken, you are master of them; when once they are spoken, they are master of you.”

Proverbs, in general, state a general piece of advice. This piece assumed that words were spoken, resulting in tension and an apology. Relationships, the first movement, has brass vs. woodwinds, tonality vs. dissonance, duples vs. triplets, et al. as well as the synergy and cooperation among all. Unspoken Words is the second movement and the dissonant opening theme in the piccolo and flute is presented three times. The third movement is Resolution. Over a constant low pedal G, the horn ostinato adds tranquility as all the themes from the first two movements return in fragmented form, before all is finally resolved.

Although tuba has top billing in the title, each instrument is equally important.

Many thanks to Mt. Vernon Unitarian Church for the use of their beautiful space to make this recording, and to Ryan Nowlin for his conducting and fantastic producer’s ear.

Personnel on this recording are:

Tuba - John Cradler

Piccolo - Courtney Morton

Flute - Beth Plunk

Clarinets - Tracey Paddock, Bill Bernier

Bass clarinet - Barbara Haney

Alto Sax - Steve Temme

Trumpets - Matt Harding, Michael Mergen

French horns - Hilary Harding, Mark Questad

Trombones - Bryan Bourne, Tim Dugan

Conductor and Producer - Ryan Nowlin

Producer, engineer, mixing - Chris Clark

Mastering - Michael Ducassoux, Red Room Productions



Thanks for listening! 

Oz meets Texas!

In May of 2015, two trombonists met at a trumpet workshop, no less...

They knew their lives had reached a new low, hanging around trumpeters and such...

They decided they MUST. TAKE. ACTION.

Introducing....

WORLDWIDE BONE

Oz meets Texas

Australian composer and trombonist Brendan Collins
Trombonist Chris Clark

Jazz Duet No. 1, by Brendan Collins

Sometimes you get lucky in life and run into people you just really have a great time with!  Brendan, in addition to being a talented trombonist, is a fantastic composer.  He has written a large amount of brass music, and continues to write interesting and fun compositions!  He has recently written a great quintet that Valor Brass hopes to perform this year.  I also took his Trombone Hymn for 4 trombones and recorded that with some friends this spring - that is a really beautiful piece.  Check out his music and give it a play!  

Brendan has generously offered to make his Jazz Duet available as a free download here on the site.  You can get it HERE.  Please take the time to join the email list on the site as well if you download the piece!

For the video, Brendan recorded the top line at home in Australia, and I recorded the bottom line and put the two together for the video.  It was great fun collaborating in this way.  We are already looking to do some more virtual projects together soon!  Virtual projects can yield REAL results...cool!

Enjoy.


It's either HELL YES, or NO!

As always, thanks for watching!  Check out my new e-course for beginning trombonists, the Pathfinder Course, here.  Release date is going to be around September 9.  I'm planning a special introductory offer of the course for anyone who joins my mailing list by September 1st!  Click here or sign up at the bottom of the page, or on Facebook.


One of my guiding principals is the ability to say NO to things that don't make me go, "HELL YES!!!" Let's discuss it! Do you have guidelines you use for committing to projects and things that people approach you about being a part of?

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