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compasspnt

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Apr 14 11 7:31 PM

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I would love to hear from engineers, assistants, hangers-on, ANYONE who worked around or in the studio with Sinatra.

First, everyone has already seen the amazing Frank Sinatra youtube video that is in 2 or 3 threads here, and a sensation worldwide on Facebook pages.

I have heard that Don Cuminale was one of the Engineers on Sinatra recordings at Media Sound, and might come by to fill us in on some insider Frank info.  (Don is currently Technical Director at Masterdisk.)
But there must be several others around here, or people you know, who could give us some bird's-eye-view reflections, eh?





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compasspnt

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Apr 14 11 7:35 PM

My first question is about Frank's monitor setup when recording at Media.

How did you set that up?

What did he want to hear in the monitors?


OK, one more...

Also Don, hat microphone did you use on your sessions with him?

Is the mic one he requested specifically?

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ian

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Apr 15 11 8:12 AM

Hi Don, I love the video clip of Frank Sinatra in the studio.. it looks like you're using an AKG C28 on his vocals .. I was surprised to see that ! what mics were on the orchestra ? 

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mdm

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Apr 15 11 8:28 AM

Hello and welcome!

As a singer being sorrounded by great musicians Sinatra seemingly was quite involved in the artistic, musical aspect of recording.

I'm curious to know if Sinatra ever mentioned liking or not liking the sound of specific pieces of audio gear, or desks, or even studios? 

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bob olhsson

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Apr 15 11 9:18 AM

I'm told he was very opinionated about what studio he wanted to work in. Voyle Gilmore told me that virtually everything he recorded for Capitol was done at Radio Recorders Annex, the old RCA Victor studio on Sycamore, even after they had hired a lot of the folks away from Radio for Capitol's own studio.

Wally Heider told me that Sinatra really liked to use the same mike that he used on stage for the sessions he witnessed at United-Western. The video looks like an AKG D-24 although Wally told me Frank's own gold Shure 546 was used a lot. I'm sure this was partly so that he knew how to not pop the mike and avoid sibilance. Both problems would compromise the sound of his voice on the final record. Wally also hinted that he hated the sound of limiters and they recorded Sinatra At The Sands with his vocal on two tracks with one at a much lower level as a backup to Wally's ride on the vocal mike.

www.audiomastery.com Bob's room 615 562-4346 georgetownmasters.com Georgetown Masters 615 254-3233 www.thewombforums.com

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peterpoyser

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Apr 15 11 11:42 AM

Quote: " I'm told he was very opinionated about what studio he wanted to work in."


An Informed and Professional Approach.


Quote: " Wally Heider told me that Sinatra really liked to use the same mike that he used on stage for the sessions he witnessed at United-Western."


A personal axiomatic trend, extending through his career.

He did a similar thing on "New York New York."

With a hand held mic.


Although I understand on the earliest Capitol as well as the Columbia Recordings, he used an RCA 44 ribbon mic. In the late 50's into the 60's he used a Telefunken the same as the Neuman U47 and later U67 pretty much as one might expect.

But is there any mic he didn't use one wonders?

Please see pictures below.


Quote: " looks like an AKG D-24 although Wally told me Frank's own gold Shure 546 was used a lot."


I wrote in an earlier thread, it looked like an AKG D24 Studio Model.

But the only other thought I had, was that it could be a C28, but fitted with a type of pop capsule similar to a D24, which seemed incredibly unlikely, so I consciously dismissed that, but I suppose, it's not beyond the bounds of possibility. Stanger things have happened in Recording Studios.

Its accounting for the body band, a little way down that is the problem, which of course could be anything placed around it, and it's too hard to tell accurately for sure in the video.

AKG actually made Mr Sinatra a Gold Plated C535 Mic too, very thick Gold ,and he came to use their mic's more and more in later periods.


Quote: "As a singer being sorrounded by great musicians Sinatra seemingly was quite involved in the artistic, musical aspect of recording."


It was not uncommon for his Musical Arrangers, such as Nelson Riddle for instance, to have to listen to records that Mr. Sinatra played to them, sometimes at home.

Usually the Recordings were great Classic Works of the Master Composers, the absolute pinnacle of the Composing Art. Mr. Sinatra would explain that he wanted a particular piece of Music they would have to be writing the Musical Arrangements for, to have an introduction or ending, that had particular qualities he had identified in a section of the work of the Great Masters.

From a Musical Arrangers point of view. (there is an unspoken but general consensus that inside every great Musical Arranger there is a budding Composer waiting to blossom) Introductions and Instrumental Finale's actually provide the best vehicles for the expression of any Gift of Composition they might have, as they have more or less, a free rein comparatively, but Mr. Sinatra would give them the Guiding Light, to set the scene for what he wanted, taking his cues, from the Best Music ever Composed.

There are exceptions to every rule, but notwithstanding his many superlative Backing Arrangements, Nelson Riddle generally took the view that "When Frank Sings I get out of the way." so for him the Instrumental Introductions and /or Finale and occasional Instrumental Break, were THE opportunity to display his complete Mastery of the Craft.

After all, it's not as if we think of Nelson Riddle as a 'Horn Arranger' or a 'String Arranger' or anything Limited to a Section or similarly as jejune an occupation. And we haven't even mentioned Tommy Dorsey.

I loved and admired the manner, in which Mr. Sinatra always gave full credit to the Lyricist, Composer and Musical Arranger, and always made sure the his Musicians had a good crack of the whip. He did everything the best it could be good be done, expecting and demanding the same Professionalism from  everyone involved.

The Consummate Professional.



P


Guess the Frank Sinatra Mic!


Click here to view the attachment

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compasspnt

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Apr 15 11 12:16 PM

Nelson was a complete ARRANGER, orchestral, woodwinds, jazz combo, big band horns, whatever it took, he could do it all.

Anyone who has not recently listened to the Frank/Nelson original version of "I've Got You Under My Skin," PLEASE DO SO ASAP.

Listen intently, not just once in passing.

The interplay of loud to soft, easy to full-on, vocal to full musical, is truly stunning.

And the 47 IS the ultimate FS microphone, although he did great on all others as well.

Don't get me started...


Last Edited By: compasspnt Dec 8 15 11:51 AM. Edited 1 time.

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johnwhynot

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Apr 15 11 3:57 PM

The story I've heard and had corroborated by the sessions book was that Capitol had originally been set up for recoding at 5515 Melrose, at the former KHJ radio studio and what became the office/studio complex for KCAL 9 television.  It's at the southwest corner of the Paramount lot.

When Capitol built their lovely tower and neighboring studio, the prevailing sentiment among the musicians was that the room was far too dead to sound good.  What I've been told is that Frank felt strongly that the main studio at Capitol was not good enough, so they did some kind of backdoor deal and worked at Radio.

Leo - Radio Recorders is a historic facility at Santa Monica and Orange on the southwest corner.  The building is still there, but has been bought by an office space leasing company, so the room is no more.

Many historic recording were made there.  The big room at the back (which Paul Schwartz called studio "E" for Elvis) was a pretty nice oldschool room with a little stage.   I recorded there in '05 and that might well have been the last rockband session in there.  Who knows - the building was all tied up with legal issues up until it was sold.

Anyway - that was a nicer room that Capitol so Frank relocated some of his sessions there - is the story.

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johnwhynot

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Apr 15 11 4:01 PM

Regarding arrangement -

Yup.  Nelson was  in many ways the ultimate.  In this song as all his work - listen to the attention to subtle prosody effects, for example.

How he evokes the melancholy of age with low clarinets and celli.

Or in remembering love lost, the use of celli in the very high register - no sound on earth like that!  Intense.  You could knock over a building with it.  In "Very Good Year" that sound is used to spine-chilling effect.

In the 2nd verse, notice the evocation of city life, traffic, horns, conversation among the woodwinds.

And with all that there is never a hint of overuse - it's never goofy or funny.  Always perfectly in tune with the feeling of the song.

This work rewards repeated and focused listening.

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mcsnare

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Apr 15 11 4:19 PM

Regarding arrangement -
Yup.  Nelson was  in many ways the ultimate.  In this song as all his work - listen to the attention to subtle prosody effects, for example.
How he evokes the melancholy of age with low clarinets and celli.
Or in remembering love lost, the use of celli in the very high register - no sound on earth like that!  Intense.  You could knock over a building with it.  In "Very Good Year" that sound is used to spine-chilling effect.
In the 2nd verse, notice the evocation of city life, traffic, horns, conversation among the woodwinds.
And with all that there is never a hint of overuse - it's never goofy or funny.  Always perfectly in tune with the feeling of the song.
This work rewards repeated and focused listening.

-johnwhynot


To continue your analysis, the last verse has the little polka part to evoke the rural wine country. Riddle was incredible.

Dave

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peterpoyser

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Apr 15 11 4:39 PM


Quote: "Riddle was incredible."


Mr. Riddle had pocket watch.

The type with a chain you kept in your waistcoat

But it was actually a Metronomic Stopwatch, which measured Beats Per Minute.

As per a Metronome, over Allocated Time and allowed you to calculate Tempo and Time Frame Relationship.

Mr. Sinatra had a thing about Timing, ensuring the Listener remained absorbed, especially in slow ballads so Mr Riddle would seek The Perfect Tempo.

The Metronomic Stopwatch was a great aid to that end.

But few even know of their existence.


P

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bill mueller

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Apr 15 11 4:47 PM

When I was younger, I thought Sinatra sang out of tune. Then I listened more closely and came to appreciate exactly what "bluesing" a note really meant. Instead of being a slave to the notes, Sinatra made the notes a slave to his emotion, imbuing each with a weight of importance of it's own. I'm sure I'm saying this incorrectly, but the range of subtlety that he controlled was staggering. The more I listen, the more I hear.

Bill

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mdm

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Apr 16 11 9:17 AM

Frank had the absolute best timing of any vocalist, ever.
No one before or since has come close.

-compasspnt

Which IMO is the hallmark of great interpreters.  Timing is everything.

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bob olhsson

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Apr 16 11 9:53 AM

    The story I've heard and had corroborated by the sessions book was that Capitol had originally been set up for recoding at 5515 Melrose,..  

-johnwhynot

I had also heard and read that however since Voyle Gilmore produced Frank's early Capitol sessions and was Capitol's vice president of A&R for the rest of the time Frank was signed to the label, I'm inclined to believe his version which is not very flattering to Capitol's studios. He told me that Frank did the inaugural session at the Tower in the hopes of finally being able to record him in a Capitol studio and the room turned out to be a complete train wreck.

www.audiomastery.com Bob's room 615 562-4346 georgetownmasters.com Georgetown Masters 615 254-3233 www.thewombforums.com

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compasspnt

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Apr 16 11 10:45 AM

Exactly what I heard.  I will check my notes I have somewhere.

As I recall, Frank hated Capitol at the very first, and they did at least one or two major makeovers to the room(s), but finally he was happy enough at a later time.

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