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A day with music producer David Hunter

posted Oct 18, 2015, 2:35 PM by Daystar University Language and Music   [ updated Feb 22, 2016, 9:13 AM ]
On Saturday 28th September 2015, Wambari Njaga was sponsored by the department to attend a sound production Master class organized by the African Digital Media Institute. David Hunter currently works as a music director and technical director for the world renowned singer, song writer and worship leader Ron Kenoly. He has previously worked as a music director, music teacher and concert organizer at various churches and schools. The report below was written by Wambari Njaga, a BA Communication and Music student. All pictures are courtesy of Wambari. - Wandia Njoya

written by Wambari Njaga

We started at 9:00 am with a lecture session conducted by the David. This session was split into two, the first targeting Studio Sound Engineers and the second focusing more on live sound engineering.

David begun by speaking about the nature of sound describing and demonstrating its components on the Logic Pro session projected on-screen. Amplitude, frequency, harmonics were common words in the discussion. I call it a discussion because there was a high level of interaction in the class, with great insights coming from both sides.

David then led us into some aspects of Live Sound Engineering by highlighting the need for an setup input list whenever setting up a live rig. He aptly described the components of a good input list, how to arrange and group the elements on a mixing desk, good sound checking practices, roles and responsibilities for live setup as well as sharing invaluable insider secrets that he had gathered over the years.

He also described sound levels during final mix down, as he stressed the importance of creating headroom and talked about how to estimate the size of speaker system to use for a given space.

David also gave great tips on how to deal with common problems faced by both Live and Studio Sound Engineers, problems ranging from feedback and distortion to proper cable handling techniques.

With years of experience in the music Industry, David was a great fit for ADMI’s studio opening session. He views engineering in a live context as being musical, riding the faders, highlighting various aspects of the composition as needed. In his view, the better sound engineers out there tend to have musical understanding, and thus he encouraged engineers not to shy away from music theory training.

In closing, David said that as sound engineers, we should attach a deeper meaning to what we do, since we are responsible for the listener’s experience be it Live or via a recording.

We then took a 15 minute break and reconvened at 11:00 am for the studio breakout sessions.

The breakout session saw the class being split into groups of 10. Each of these groups would then take turns to go through a studio session with David.

He took us on a journey of how he approaches his studio sessions highlighting the importance of an engineer being able to emulate live instrumentation in their productions.

These are some of the pointers we got:

Production:

Starting production with artist from scratch helps infuse the message and vibe into the production. Custom is always better.

Mixing:

When mixing, turn off the subwoofer, because it  tends to give a false impression of the sound equalization.

Mastering:

A good master is one that sounds great on all media – headphones ,earphones, good car system, bad car system, big sound or small mobile speaker. So test your master by testing it on these various media.

During the session, each of the groups were able to produce a short composition with guidance from Hunter. He demonstrated his production process, and members of each group were able to suggest melodic lines, percussive patterns as well as component sounds to be used in the compositions.

ADMI Studio Opening Ceremony:

After a hearty lunch, we all gathered at the banquet area where the CEO of ADMI, Mr Wilfred Kiumi gave his industry speech. Gleaning from  over 15 years of industry experience, Wilfred mentioned that the creative industry could be the biggest revenue earner for Kenya. It is with this in mind that the new audio studio was setup, having identified the need for a modern and well-designed studio that could be hired out to various industry players.

Wilfred also mentioned that Kenyan films lack good audio and this was another niche that he saw the new studio catering to.

The new Audio Studios are equipped to handle:

Music Production

Sound Mastering

Sound Design & Dubbing  for Film

Jingle Production

Any other related works

Featuring the latest in audio technology, the studio is equipped with the following:

Protools HD

Logic Pro X

iMac Platform

C24 Mixing Desk

All in all, those who attended were satisfied with the quality of information shared and considered it a great way to spend their Saturday.

I held a short interview with David Hunter in which he spoke about how music can be used to elevate the continent of Africa. In Hunter’s words, Africa has always been in the lead when it comes to creating soulful music. Africa is the Source.