My Manga Life

02018-12-17 @ 19:12

I am still totally obsessed with the iPhone’s Manga filter and have made lots of images with it. These were taken two days ago in my studio:

Two Years Ago: Listening Test

02009-07-21 @ 06:07

Our monsoon continues and we had another fine rain storm this afternoon.

In the morning Jon and I compared AIFF, FLAC and 320kbps mp3 files in my studio, using Stax Earspeakers and a Stax tube amp. The FLAC files had been encoded and decoded using xAct, which is a fine FLAC app for Macintosh. The 320 mp3 was made with Peak Pro, which uses a LAME encoder – the same encoder we use for the ListeningLounge.

The result was what one would expect: AIFF, followed by FLAC and mp3. What we did not expect was how very close the quality between these formats was. Unless you have a great set of headphones or speakers – and the ears and experience to process what comes through them – you will not hear a difference. Another interesting point was that the treble side of the music was indistinguishable, it was the bass where one could detect shades of difference.


02009-06-19 @ 12:06

For the 2009 slideshow that will accompany my solo concerts – only in venues where a video-projector is available. Inspired by this video on Flickr.

Pop Music Is Like The Daily Paper

02009-04-05 @ 12:04

Pop Music Is Like The Daily Paper
“When I finish something I want it out that day,” says Eno later, in a phone conversation. “Pop music is like the daily paper. Its got to be there then, not six months later. So we decided to release on our websites first, then put it on the commercial websites, then as a CD, then with different packaging. It’s just trying to see what works. The business is an exciting mess at the moment.”

From this article in the Guardian.

As usual it’s in the air and many musicians are picking up on it.

That’s why I started our subscription service. To share music from the archives as well as live-recordings, but also to introduce new stuff I am working on – immediately. (((like the Tears in the Rain recordings in 2006))). If I am excited about a new solo or band recording I want to share that at once, even though lots might change between that and the official release. It also allows you to witness the process of recording and then honing a piece of music, and note what changes and what does not.

Wednesday Rehearsal

02009-03-25 @ 13:03

Rehearsal 10:00-13:30 and then packing up and transporting gear. Band sounded good, but what’s really exciting is the potential of this group. These two drummers work very well together. It’s always a gamble, putting two drummers together – some make a great team, some don’t. (((not unlike setting up somebody for a blind date)))

Jon recorded every piece we have worked up for this tour, so we can each listen to the arrangements and memorize them on the two-day bus ride to California. Stevo and Jon kept commenting that much of it sounded like an album and I have to agree. Maybe we should record the band for our subscribers after the Summer tour – live in his studio.

In the meantime we should have a few pieces we can release as free Ottmar-Friends downloads… probably with a few warts (mistakes), but with a pretty nice feel.

Overall a great second day. The second day of rehearsals is often a let-down from the first, but not so this time. Now I have to pack…

Tuesday Rehearsal

02009-03-24 @ 20:03

Playing with Time

02009-02-17 @ 18:02

Top: 1.4 aperture, shallow DOF.
Middle: used a small strobe (((resting on a roll of gaffer tape, of course))) – each of the little blue points reflected on the second and third fret is a flash from the strobe
Bottom: used the strobe here as well, but the left hand moved less. I like what the bass strings look like in this one


02008-12-11 @ 14:12

…here’s New York Time’s tech guru David Pogue lamenting the unadvertised short lifespans of homemade DVDs:

I’ve got all of the original iMovie projects backed up on DVD, in clear cases, neatly arrayed in a drawer next to my desk.

Guess what? On the Mac I use for video editing, most of the DVD’s were unreadable. They’re less than four years old!

I know, of course, that home-burned DVD’s, which rely on organic dye that deteriorates with time, are nowhere near as long-lived as commercially pressed discs. But man. Four years? Scared the bejeezus out of me.

OK, listen up people!

The only way to archive digital information is to keep it moving. I call this movage instead of storage. Proper movage means transferring the material to current platforms on a regular basis — that is, before the old platform completely dies, and it becomes hard to do. This movic rythym of refreshing content should be as smooth as a respiratory cycle — in, out, in, out. Copy, move, copy, move.

In other words, anything you want moved to the future has to be given attention to keep it moving forward.

We don’t know what the natural movage respiration cycle is for digital media yet since it is still very new, but I suspect the cycle is much shorter than we think. I would guess it is 5 years. No matter what digital format you have your precious stored on, you should expect to move it onto new media in five years — and five years after that forever!
(Via Long Views)

That is good advice. I haven’t trusted DVD for long-term (long meaning more than 2 years) storage and prefer to burn multiple CDs.


02008-07-22 @ 16:07

If you are new to this Diary I would like to point out the Binaural video we recorded last Summer. You can find the quicktime version here and a flash version here. In both cases it is very important that you listen with headphones. Old fashioned ones that cover your ears will sound better (more realistic) than little ear-buds, but if you only have little ear-buds, you can cover them in your ears with your hands – to isolate left from right side.

A binaural album called “Up Close” is available in CD-form from us and all CD stores and you can download the album from our ListeningLounge and many other download sites (iTunes, Amazon et.)

Wednesday in Santa Fe

02008-06-11 @ 14:06

Breakfast at Counter Culture. Then to Jon’s to take photos of his studio.
Rhodes and Classic Drumkit
Classic Fender Rhodes and classic orange sparkles drum kit!!
Then an excellent lunch at Aqua Santa with MM. Great day to sit out on the patio.
Aqua Santa Patio
Table and Window

Yep, I went back in…

02008-03-28 @ 07:03

Yesterday morning I went to see Michael Motley in town. The album artwork is coming along great.
In the evening, under the cover of darkness, I went back in and made adjustments on four mixes. Changed the roll-off on this EQ, adjusted that reverb by a shade… you know, these are the things I might not even notice a couple of months from now. Correction: I will not even notice a couple of months from now… :)

It’s Friday morning and I am drinking tea and… yes, listening to a CD of the album in my kitchen – an activity also known as the cheap speaker test. Answered an email from Stevo just as his wonderful electric guitar solo on “Silence” came on the speakers. I am listening to song #7 now and haven’t heard anything that bothers me. Glad nobody can see me playing air-guitar. Does Paco play air-guitar when he is alone in the kitchen? I bet Stevo plays air-guitar and makes great faces doing it. There it is: 10 songs with a total time of 74 minutes and 29 seconds. Maybe I should change that to 74:25? I am not going to say that the album is finished, because it is finished when it’s on the way to the manufacturer…

Recording vs Recording

02008-02-21 @ 00:02

I am entering an exciting phase in the work on the new album. Here the process of this type of recording shows a very different character to the process used on “One Guitar” or “Up Close“, for example. At best the studio fades away, becomes a mere vessel for the music to pour forth in those recordings, documenting the music, coloring it as little as possible.

This new album is more like “La Semana” in character. The studio becomes an instrument, is not documenting the music as much as defining it, coloring it, shaping it. Whereas I might think of “One Guitar” as a photograph or a video of a performance, “La Semana”, and this new album, are more like architecture. Now that most performances have been captured and added to the songs, I begin a process of revising, re-shaping, editing, perfecting the blueprint of the building. I might create a window by muting a kickdrum or a percussion element, to throw more light on a guitar or bass phrase. I might take a phrase and repeat it, delayed and displaced, like repeating an architectural element on a wall to the left or right of the original. I might even tear down a wall that stands in the way…

I begin to listen to the material over and over, writing down notes regarding elements I want to remove or change or new elements that have to be created and added. The main volume of the building – or maybe buildings, if we look at each song separately, one a tea-hut, another a tent or a cathedral – has been created, now the details need to be sweated. I enjoy this part a great deal. It is through the details that the listener discovers the urge to hear the music again and again. I find this is very true for two other albums of mine that are good examples of this type of architecture – “The Hours Between Night + Day” and “Opium”. It is also through the detail that the listener can seemingly enter the work – the detail becomes the door to the building. Something as simple as a hole torn into the percussion-weave at the right moment allows us to enter…

I am documenting this process and am keeping all of the many rough mixes I make along the way. It might be nice to deliver them as part of the subscription/paid podcast we will offer later this year. Sometimes I fall in love with a rough mix and prefer it to the version of the song I end up releasing, although the rough mix might be missing a wall or part of the roof…


02008-02-09 @ 07:02

Recording the Djembe
Yesterday morning Robby contributed percussion to my new album. Flawless and seemingly effortless.

In the evening I went into the studio around 6PM to listen to the morning’s work before dinner. I emerged after 11PM, having forgotten about food altogether. I am cooking up an amazing brew of an album.

Thursday, January 3rd

02008-01-04 @ 11:01

Met Jon for breakfast and conversation.

Then a couple of hours in the studio, working on a very funky new Tangos.

In the afternoon conversation and red wine with Robert Bluestone, a classical guitarist and fellow Santa Fean. Jon recorded Robert’s latest album at his studio in high res: 24bit/88.2kHz. The album contains a wonderful piece in several movements that was written for Robert by Andrew York. The CD should be out in a couple of months and the music should appear in our LL around that time as well.

At 8PM I went to the studio to briefly check something that was on my mind and ended up working on two pieces until after 11PM. Especially a new Bolera/Ballad in three movements, which I recorded last week, is grabbing me. I find it to be of that wonderful combination of Lightness with Melancholy – if you know what I mean. The unbearable lightness of being. Depth with a smile. Like most of the other pieces for the new album, it is rather long at about 9’30”. Jon added a wonderful bass track last week and phoned in the keys yesterday – meaning he uploaded them to his server for me to download.


02007-12-17 @ 17:12

This week Stevo delivered an excellent, soaring electric guitar solo (using his Luke guitar) on “Silence”. What a wonderful 11 minute journey that piece has become!

Wednesday, October 3rd

02007-10-03 @ 23:10

A Pilates class in the morning, then into the studio. Found the perfect tempo for the bridge in “Three Days Without You” and recorded the guitars. Listened to “Two Sisters: Hope + Sorrow”, which has now grown to over 7½ minutes – lots of hope and sorrow… I am asking Rahim to play an oud solo on it.

Listened to the version of “Reaching Out 2 U” from “The Santa Fe Sessions” to determine whether we should just re-master the album for the re-release next year, or whether I should also re-mix. A new mix came together quickly, different from the original and very good, I think. I’ll work on some of the other songs soon.

Watched “Blood Diamond”. Hard to watch, but a very good movie with a very important message. Any bride, who wants a diamond should have to watch this movie first.

OL & Luna Negra binaural: the Fritz Files

02007-09-20 @ 11:09

Ottmar Liebert & Luna Negra binaural: the Fritz Files
Ever wonder why your ears are on opposite sides of your head, earthling? On an axis six inches apart, pointing in opposite directions? And ever wonder how come everything sounds so good, so three dimensional, so spacially accurate…

Review of “Up Close: The Fritz Files” on Great read.


02007-09-16 @ 14:09

You might want to read the comments to the earlier post for more information regarding the enjoyment of binaural audio.

I tried uplaoding the video to YouTube, Google Video, Metacafe and HumbleVoice. For some reason the stereo was lost with every upload to YouTube and Google Video – I tried .mov, .mp4, and .m4v files with the same result: the video only played back in mono. The Metacafe upload failed entirely. The only successful upload was at HumbleVoice. And here is a direct link to the vid on HumbleVoice, where you can also find the code to embed the video on your blog.

It is confirmed. Google Video converts to mono. My guess is that they started doing that with YouTube as well. I will not upload anything to either again.

The Fritz Files – Snakecharmer-Binaural

02007-09-13 @ 11:09

QuickTime Video – Up Close: The Fritz Files – Snakecharmer-Binaural
Click on above link to view a QuickTime vid of our performance of Snakecharmer in my studio last month. It’s a rather large file and if your connection is slow you might have to wait for it to load. Use headphones, as that is the only way to experience the surround quality of a dummy head recording. You might have to turn up the volume as we did not compress the sound and it is therefore lower than most CDs.
Dummy Head Recording
Binaural Recording
Head-Related Transfer Function

I enjoy watching this video because you can close your eyes and HEAR where the instruments are, then open your eyes and see whether you got it right. This song will not be part of the album, which has been mastered and will soon be uploaded to the ListeningLounge. As soon as the album becomes available I will let you know.

PS: just to be clear about this. The audio was recorded using Fritz, the dummy head you can see in the middle of the room. That audio was then used to replace the sound the video camera recorded. So, you see what the camera sees and hear what the dummy head hears.

The Future of Music

02007-09-11 @ 12:09

IEEE Spectrum: The Future of Music
Whether the loudness war can end and give rise to the next generation of high-fidelity audio depends heavily on the attitudes of consumers. Unlike the CD and DVD video, there is no overwhelming industrial push toward the next level of sound quality. How songs and albums will sound will depend entirely on whether or not the listener actually cares about the intricacies of the music.

Thanks for the link, Steve.

My albums One Guitar and christmas + santa fe were mastered without compression. The upcoming download-only album Up Close: The Fritz Files was also mastered without compression. These albums might not do so well when mixed with “loud” albums, either on a mix-CD or as part of a mp3 playlist, but I think you will enjoy the dynamics, which are far greater.


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