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Top 7 Music Engineering Tips By Young Guru

young guru music engineering tips

If your eyes and ears are glued to the world of music production, then you likely would have heard of Young Guru, a world renowned record producer, audio engineer and DJ.

Having collaborated with some of the biggest names in Hip-Hop, most notably Jay-Z, he has a wealth of wisdom and knowledge to share when it comes to making beats. Here are 7 of the best with credit to Hard Knock TV.

Check Out The Top 10 Best Studio Headphones For Music Production

1) It’s The Era of The Engineer

The era of the engineer is really a focus on things that are behind the scenes. Not only just behind the scenes as to what an engineer does, but it’s like in today’s society, everyone is having to do a little bit of engineering. There’s so much technical stuff going on that people are starting to understand that it takes someone with a little bit of knowledge to know how to work all these things.

I think those things are starting to become more prominent but it’s really about highlighting people that are designing things – number 1. Not just music or musical equipment but engineering in a general sense, of taking something, designing it and having it work for people and also just highlighting technical things. We’re so much in the technical era that now it’s literally the era of the engineer.

2) Air Is Sound

young-guru-computerMy whole thing is not to be super deep but all this stuff is very metaphysical, but it’s very natural in the way that we live our lives. So everything is cyclical where you breath in, it’s the point of inspiration…You’re breathing in life and air, and then you have to expire, you have to push that air out in order to make space to bring in new air if you could really understand it that way.

Everything in life and music is a circle. It’s cyclical and it keeps going around. There’s that constant motion of going in and out, whether or not you’re talking about a speaker. A speaker actually moves in and out. It actually moves air. Air is sacred. It’s a thing that sound travels on, so without any air we don’t have any sound. And without any movement, we don’t have any life.

That’s really the essence of the concept of Nada Brahma or sound being God. And we don’t mean sound in terms of what we can hear from 20,000 to 20 Hz, that’s human hearing, but just vibrations in general. Movement is the essence of life. Without that movement there’s no physical things. Even solid things, there’s still vibrations that hold these things together.

3) Tension & Release When Working With Artists

When I speak about that movement of moving out and moving back in, here’s the tension when you move in, and here’s the release [moves his hand towards and away from his chest]. Those are the things that make great art. When you’re making a movie, the movie doesn’t just go like this [moves his hand in a horizontal line], it rises like this [moves his hand at an upward slope]. You’re building a story and you get to the point where everything is revealed and then there’s a release at the end of the movie.

If you look at songs, they’re built the same way where there’s this arc. There’s the intro, we go through verses, we get to the chorus which is like the height of it and then we go back down into another verse to sort of explain the chorus even further. You know, music moves like that and if you keep doing that it becomes a wave, so you could sort of understand how all of these concepts move together.

4) The Influence of Grunge Music

Everyone always goes to Nirvana but my favorite band in that genre of all time is mudhoney and I’m very big on that band but it’s just the way that the records are structured where most of the records start in this very quiet space, where you’re just starting to build and it builds all the way up to this huge tension where the guitars are super loud and then it breaks back down into like some quiet space and then it builds back up to where the artist is yelling and almost trying to cut their voice all of those loud guitars.

I think that’s the perfect example of taking people on this ride musically and that way of making records influenced me a lot. More than just the style and the look of grunge, it was the way that the records were formulated that I sort of took from that and said “OK, we need more of that in our Hip-Hop music.

5) What Makes A Good Engineer?

An engineer is completely about solving problems, whether or not you’re talking about a musical engineer or simply someone standing on ayoung-guru-studio-class bank of the river saying “I want to get to the other side” and they figure out how to build a bridge. That’s solving a problem. It may take you two months to walk around the whole river whereas I could cut and build a bridge and do this in an hour.

It’s all about problem solving so what makes a good engineer is someone who could analyze the situation and solve the problem. They have enough training with all the tools that they’re working with be that musical equipment or whatever venue that they’re in.

6) Dealing With Artists

A lot of people say “well I know how to work equipment and so I’m going to be a great engineer”. You can know how to work all the equipment you want to but if you don’t know how to deal with artists, their attitude, their insecurities with their particular life problems, them maybe being nervous for going in the studio or having a bad night the night before or being a successful artist who’s now trying to survive in an industry where there’s a bunch of new artists and maybe nobody’s paying super attention to them.

When they first came out the attention was on them, so now they’re sort of lost to where they want to go or what they should do in the new world. All of this goes into engineer of where you’re directing someone in terms of what should your sound be, where should you cut vocals, what things should you not do that are new that will take away from your legacy.

All of those things have to be incorporated when you’re dealing with an artist, whether it’s the new artist that doesn’t really know the recording process so you’re sort of walking them through that, or an older artist who may have old tendencies or old things that just won’t work out in today’s society…You have to be the problem solver and the person that can see the overall view for what the artist wants.

7) Conversation Skills

young-guru-teaching-kidIt’s absolutely different with every artist. Artists are like children and I don’t mean that in a negative way. I mean that in a way that I have four kids and all of my kids act completely different, so the way that I would discipline or address them is completely different. You have to analyze that person so the best thing is conversation.

I think a lot of people don’t have those initial conversations to figure out “why are you doing this?” or “where do you want to go with this?” or “what’s the purpose of this?”. Once you figure out all those things, making music is easier because now we sort of have a road or a path that we have put ourselves on. We know when we deviate from that path or when we’re purposely staying on that path.

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If you want to start making beats or become successful at it, then you're going to need some great music production equipment to enhance your skills. Take a look at the following:

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