Audio Educators' Podcast

#2 Mark Rubel / Don't Blend In - Be Vivid

June 14, 2020 Gabe Herman/Dan Fox/Mark Rubel Season 1 Episode 2
Audio Educators' Podcast
#2 Mark Rubel / Don't Blend In - Be Vivid
Chapters
1:06
What's the most fun you've ever had?
10:44
When I discovered audio . . .
14:03
The Dating Game . . .
22:11
Audio History . . .
31:50
Recipe Time!
Audio Educators' Podcast
#2 Mark Rubel / Don't Blend In - Be Vivid
Jun 14, 2020 Season 1 Episode 2
Gabe Herman/Dan Fox/Mark Rubel

In this episode, we sit down with audio legend, Mark Rubel, who is the director of education at the Blackbird Academy. We explore Mark's unique and highly effective approach to student engagement, discuss his upcoming book, play the microphone dating game, and more. 

Mark shares a delicious bagel recipe with a surprise twist and also a sonic recipe that you can use in your records to make listeners lean-in. 

The Blackbird Academy has two schools, one in studio recording and another in live sound. Mark teaches alongside Jeremy Cottrell and Kevin Boettger in on of the most incredible recording studios in the world, Blackbird Studios. https://www.theblackbirdacademy.com


Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In this episode, we sit down with audio legend, Mark Rubel, who is the director of education at the Blackbird Academy. We explore Mark's unique and highly effective approach to student engagement, discuss his upcoming book, play the microphone dating game, and more. 

Mark shares a delicious bagel recipe with a surprise twist and also a sonic recipe that you can use in your records to make listeners lean-in. 

The Blackbird Academy has two schools, one in studio recording and another in live sound. Mark teaches alongside Jeremy Cottrell and Kevin Boettger in on of the most incredible recording studios in the world, Blackbird Studios. https://www.theblackbirdacademy.com


Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

Holy, Holy cats. I thought my gear was catching on fire. Woo. Okay. I'm fine. Do I sound sexy?

Dan Fox:

Hi, I'm Dan Fox.

Gabe Herman:

I'm Gabe Herman,

Dan Fox:

and you're listening to the audio educators podcast.

Gabe Herman:

This podcast is all about exploring the ways in which you can mix it up in your classroom. And we're so excited to share our love and enthusiasm for audio education with you.

Dan Fox:

We're here to speak to our community, our people,

Gabe Herman:

and we're really happy. You're listening.

Dan Fox:

Our guest today is Mark Rubel. He's the director of education at the Blackbird Academy. He's worked with thousands of students and as an industry professional, he's worked with everyone from Alison Krauss to ludicrous. He's

Gabe Herman:

also a super nice and approachable guy, extraordinarily wise. I'm so glad we have him on our podcast today.

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

Yo.

Dan Fox:

So Mark, thank you for joining us here on our episode. Number two, it's a real pleasure to see you again. And to have you on this brand new podcast,

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

it's a joy to be here and congratulations on your podcast.

Dan Fox:

Thank you. Thanks. I would love to lead with a question, Mark. What is the most fun you've ever had in a classroom?

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

I used to teach a history of rock and roll class. And I had a lot of really fun times doing that where we'd bring bands in we'd make Beatles records on stage, and I would freak them out. It was 150 people in the classroom and I would come out. This was halfway through a semester because it was history of jazz and rock. So by the time they'd gotten halfway through, a lot of the students were less interested than jazz than they might've been in rock. So I would come out in the middle of the semester. They'd hadn't met me before wearing a suit and tie. And, uh, I'd walk up to the podium and say, hello. Uh, my name is Mark. I'm going to be teaching you about the history of rock and roll. I said, let me rephrase that. And I put on these Bano, Buckeye sunglasses, and a black Les Paul through a Nam cranked up to 12 and hit an insane power cord and start screaming at the class. Hello music, two five five seven section nine, nine three. Are you ready to learn about rock and roll? And, you know, like 150 deer in the headlights, I can't hear you. And I just start screaming. Like I was at a rock concert, jump off the stage into the audience, make them play the guitar and that sort of thing. And, and then, uh, after that went on for a minute or so I'd walk back up on stage and say, so what just happened? And that was the departure point for talking about rock and roll. So that was fun.

Dan Fox:

And, and that was the moment that Mark Rubel became the cool professor to all those students.

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

Somebody said teaching is a 25% preparation and 75% theater. But I think it helps to be a performer, especially in a class of 150, but an under any circumstances beyond giving them information. And I think the idea is to inspire them and to engage them and to, for them to want the thirst for learning that will never be quenched.

Dan Fox:

And so that kind of antic, I think I, I can kind of guess the answer, but that's probably not the only time you've done that. Oh no. And I imagine it's something that you like to employ frequently when teaching.

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

Absolutely. I mean, I tell a lot of stupid jokes and occasionally wear silly outfits. One of the things that I tried to do, I think this is important in teaching is to not stay stationary. Behind a podium or a desk or something like that, you know, um, it just like to wander around the classroom and, um, I think it just keeps people's attention more and also makes them a little bit more aware that you're not on television, that you're actually in the room with them, that you could engage them at any time or see if they're on Facebook or not. And it's a lot of my understanding of how people behave and how. How we respond to music and how we respond to teaching and everything is I think, based on biology and biologically and neurologically, we're going to pay much more attention to a creature that's wandering around and moving, and is a little more unpredictable than anything that stays stationary. In, in my class, we do, um, music, concrete pieces. Those are really fun. We do music, movie soundtrack pieces, and those are really fun as well. And one of the most fun times I've had doing audio in a classroom, was bringing in a grade school kids and doing movie soundtracks with them, you know, figuring out who's good at screaming and who's good at, you know, footsteps and all that sort of thing. Anything that gets them engaged.

Dan Fox:

You just mentioned getting them to scream some of this stuff. It sounds so silly and funny, but it's actually tried and true educational techniques. We get people screaming, their heart rates going up using their vocal chords. They're actually participating in not a meek way. They're participating. They're the loudest thing in the room. Um, which in a way is what you want, right?

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

Yeah. Well, and it's, it's cathartic. Uh, and it's also good for people to learn, to let go. And to be uninhibited, there's so much inhibition, especially in the educational process, not to mention the musical process. I think that in many ways, the process has been inverted to what it should be to me, whether it's making music or learning, which in some ways with the same thing, uh, something that you get joy from. I think it's important to teach people to be uninhibited and to go for it and to be bold and to risk making mistakes or risk looking silly. Uh, and our educational system is stacked against that. Right? And you were penalize. If you give a wrong answer, you're worried if you speak in a classroom that you'll embarrass yourself and the same is true in performance on a stage. You know, people are worried, they'll make a mistake or they feel ashamed if there's a problem. And I think that both learning and music making should be joyous processes of risk taking. And so if somebody is about to go on stage or anywhere and play music in front of other people, the idea that they would be nervous or throwing up or inhibited is sad. And so if you haven't seen my band, which is a silly rock and roll band, but you know, we are not all that great. We make a lot of mistakes and we laugh and make the most of it. It's pure joy for us. And that translates to other people. I think the same should be true for making music. We call it playing music, right. It's play. And I think it should be the same in education. So I think if we can encourage people to be bold and vivid, And to find the limits, not by speaking up to them, but by going beyond them and then pulling back, we will get better music that will engage everyone and will better the entire. Human race.

Dan Fox:

Right. And what I take away from what you just said is a risk taking is key for all parties, whether you're a rock musician, or if you're an educator or a student in all cases and not risk taking, like when you think of, you know, scary risk-taking, but this is where fun actually includes. Risk-taking having fun letting go risk, taking her off cousins.

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

Absolutely. And. My friend, John Pines says there's no such thing as an audio emergency. I mean, at some point to see somebody who is sort of overcome with trepidation in an audio environment, I mean, what is the worst thing that could happen? Your snare drums too loud. There are other occupations where if you make a mistake, it's really a problem. If you're an airline pilot, if you're running a nuclear power planter, minding a nuclear missile, you know, yes, we care about what we're doing, but we tend to over exaggerate the importance. I tried to discourage that sort of fear based approach to mixing for the, a lot of people mixing is, you know, Very carefully pushing a fader. Oh, is that too much in pulling it back? And, and then a lot of mixing for them is knocking off the sharp edges, you know? Oh, Oh, that's too loud, you know? Oh, that, that frequency is sticking out. It's a lot of, sort of fear-based pulling back. I'd rather see them just go for it. Make a bold statement, you know, the process of delivery and the process of mastering tends to normalize things anyway. And so that's part of this whole business that we're talking about. I think of trying to encourage people to speak out and to be vivid.

Gabe Herman:

Inhibitions can totally undermine the entire point and certainly doesn't help people's minds stay open.

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

And when we talk about an art, what we're really talking about is self expression. And we're talking about self expression. What we're really talking about is them is not emulating somebody else or doing exactly what someone else does. That's how artists begin, but it's really about developing one's own personality and character and being encouraged by a mentor to develop rather than. Genericize oneself to find the things that are unique about oneself and amplify those. And that's not just a philosophical approach. It's also, I think ultimately a commercial approach, people are less interested in something that's generic. They're going to be less interested in something that's just another one of the trend followers. If you think about people who are truly successful, both as artists and as business people, it's people that stand out and we try to encourage that both explicitly and by example, I mean, partly just being at Blackbird, which is an extreme place. And if you think of all the people there, I mean, and, and the neighborhood that we're in Berry Hill, Which is 65 recording studios in a square mile. And there you go to the coffee shop and T bone Burnett is there, and then you go to the taco place and Alice Cooper is there. So I think part of it is to be immersed in a culture, as I've said, Alice Cooper does not blend in. And this lesson in, in that.

Dan Fox:

So question for you. I mean, we're talking currently about Blackbird Academy, of course, where you're the director of education. Could you fill us in about the ages of the students

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

there? It's quite comprehensive. We've had a few 16 year olds and we've had a 65 67 year old. A lot of the students become my friends. A friend of mine who came to us was a retired petroleum engineer. Who'd been working in Nigeria for Exxon or shell. I forget. And when he took early retirement, you decided he wanted to learn how to make records. And he came to us and went through both our recording program at our live program. So it's a wide range. Most people are in the, you just graduated high school to college age, but we usually have a enough of a span that it keeps it interesting. And we get a variety of experience. We get some more experienced people. Who've either had their own studios or, you know, spent time making records. And as always, one of the most important parts of a school is.

Gabe Herman:

Mark. I think in our last episode, Dan and I were talking a little about when we first discovered audio or some things that we remembered like, Oh, this is a switch that just got flipped for us. And suddenly we're really into it. What was the moment you feel like you got switched on to audio in your life?

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

Hard to say when I first really got interested in audio, but I think. Even now my interest in audio is my interest in music. It's an extension of that. You know, obviously I've become interested in the mechanics and dynamics and philosophy of audio itself, but it really it's always been as a vehicle for music and music is something I've been interested in is as long as I can remember, I will tell you this story when I was, I don't know how old five or six years old, I have a photo of myself with it. My dad built me something called the monster, which was a wooden crate. With a bunch of knobs, switches, dials, noisemakers, roller skate wheels. Eventually it ended up with a Ford car dashboard on it. It had meters dials, switches, noisemakers horns, and, you know, for a little kid that was be a spaceship or a railroad train or whatever. It was a great thing. And brave of them to have something that made that much noise with the little kid. And I would spend a lot of time with that. Which is of course what this mixing board is behind me. You know, it's the same thing. Knobs, switches, horns makes noise. So that was that's as far back as I can remember.

Dan Fox:

So I also had a cockpit like yours, that I built with my dad, where we just went through bins in the basement of switches and. Whatever lights or things we could find and somehow mounted them. And it was a blast. I still remember the feeling of like, wow, just being able to interact with that and also not being afraid of it. Right. That's right. They're sort of like, here's some technology, actually the guts of technology, and we're going to turn it into a toy and use tools that other parents might say are, are dangerous or you shouldn't touch

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

well. And it's, it gives you a chance to interact with it, but it's a vehicle for your imagination. And that's what a recording studio is.

Dan Fox:

It goes back to what you said earlier, which is to tell students what's the worst that can happen here. This isn't life or death. And I think about that when I've been teaching live sound kids, they get really scared. They're definitely scared to make feedback, but they have to, they have to make feedback because they have to learn why it happens and then how to control it. When I was. Working at PSU mix training, other mentors, other adults that would, that would work on the live sound gigs, a conversation that would often happen would be how long do you wait? How long do you wait when a student starts making feedback before you jump in and grab the thing that you know will make it go away? Not that there's exactly an answer to that question. You got to leave space for the learning opportunity.

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

Well, in classical conditioning, something that's very unpleasant. You're going to, you're going to learn that lesson better than if somebody fixes it for you and explains why they did

Dan Fox:

that's that's maybe an unfortunate and fortunate part of the way our brains work, that we, that we have to experience, you know, scary stuff in hardship to really get it implanted in us.

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

Yeah, no, it's okay. It's okay. To make mistakes. It's a good idea to try and avoid them as much as possible.

Dan Fox:

Gabe, you know what time it is?

Gabe Herman:

What time is it Dan?

Dan Fox:

It's time to play games with

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

Dan. Yay. Great.

Gabe Herman:

This one was custom made with you in mind.

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

Nice.

Gabe Herman:

So you are at the historic Blackbird studios, and I imagine one of the challenging things about working at Blackbird is having to know what all the microphones do and which ones are, which, and calling them by their correct names and holding them the right way and all that sort of thing. So we're going to play a game, which I'm going to call that microphone dating game,

Dan Fox:

the dating game,

Gabe Herman:

the dating game for microphones.

Dan Fox:

I've heard of that. It's yeah.

Gabe Herman:

Well, it's different. It's a spinoff

Dan Fox:

for audio educator, dorks.

Gabe Herman:

Exactly. For nerds, you can't get a date any other way. So what I'm going to do is we're going to start easy, but I'm going to give you a date of the year and you have to tell me the microphone that it is.

Dan Fox:

And just somebody, the waters, I'm going to add a famous person that's born on the state

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

OU

Gabe Herman:

right. So I've got some easy ones and then we'll get into the increasingly obscure. And I was wondering. If you can tell me ways in which you like to use them in sessions as we go. So we'll start easy, the most famous of them all just to get you used to the game. If I said April 14th,

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

that would be an AKG four 14, it's a switchable pattern, a large capsule condenser mic, really a descendant of the AKG, C 12. And there've been multiple versions of it through the years, uh, which I use the Mon. Just about everything they make good overheads. I will occasionally use them on an electric guitar. They can be very nice in a acoustic piano horns.

Gabe Herman:

Excellent.

Dan Fox:

For 14th birthday of Loretta Lynn.

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

Ooh, nice coal miner's daughter.

Gabe Herman:

That's right. Dan give us the next birthday.

Dan Fox:

Sure. Yeah, this should be a pretty easy one. Knowing Mark April 21st happens to be the birthday of Iggy pop.

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

Ooh, you pop, who does not own a shirt now? Apparently that's no

Dan Fox:

plagued him for years

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

and this would be the Sennheiser four 21 frequently used by many people on Tom Tom's. I don't like it on Tom Tom's. Actually I'll take that back. I think it sounds great on Tom Tom's it makes symbols sound terrible. The off axis response. I don't like however people forget to use them on vocals. Believe it or not, it's not bad on an acoustic guitar. Totally fine. In a bass drum. Also, they are notorious for having plastic clips. That break

Dan Fox:

also, since this is an education podcast they're notorious for, and anyone can answer this notorious for students doing what with them.

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

Hitting them with drumsticks.

Dan Fox:

That would be true.

Gabe Herman:

Dropping them on the floor when the clips don't connect.

Dan Fox:

That's also true, but gave, you mentioned learning how to hold all the mikes

Gabe Herman:

in the wrong direction. Right. People thinking they're a sidedress microphone and not a front address.

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

Oh yeah, right. Yeah. I have a slide where I use them in an audio technical 40, 33, which looked very similar and. You know, that illustrates on axis.

Dan Fox:

Yes. It's an end address. Microphone. Look for the, tell the students right. Singing to the logo. Okay. So maybe gave, should we, should we kick it up a notch? Is it Mark clearly needs more of a challenge?

Gabe Herman:

I think he's got the hang of it. Now, Dan, tell me who was born on January 12th?

Dan Fox:

Well, a very famous radio host, very polarizing character. I will say with a lot of hair, uh, Howard stern.

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

Ah, So that would be an AKG D one 12, my least favorite bass drum microphone.

Gabe Herman:

Ah, and why is it your least favorite bass drum

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

microphone mix mix. Bass drum sound like basketballs.

Dan Fox:

Yes.

Gabe Herman:

Yes. Why does it

Dan Fox:

do this destroy any chance of AKG giving us a sponsorship on this podcast could be

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

they make it, they make many other wonderful microphones. They do, and I own two of them, but, uh, not my favorite microphone. Don't don't care for that on bass drum. I have a vendetta against that.

Dan Fox:

I feel like 90% of audio engineers have a D one 12 and of those 90%, 90% of them wish they didn't.

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

Yeah. Well, I mean, just to be contrary, I've used it as an overhead because it's cause it's so weird sounding and that can be fun. I do what I call upside down drum making, where I take, I put a level ear in the bass drum and put a D one 12 overhead. Surprisingly sounds kind of cool.

Dan Fox:

Alright. December 4th. Jay Z was born, very famous hip hop artist. Anything you want to tell us about the, the microphone world having to do with that date?

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

I may be stumped

Gabe Herman:

no

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

way. A one 24.

Dan Fox:

We

Gabe Herman:

stumped the poor guy

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

one 24, no one 21, one 20 twos.

Dan Fox:

Can we tell him there's an additional letter?

Gabe Herman:

Yeah, that would be the letter E.

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

Uh, that would be an AKG. Yeah, a one 24. It looks a little like the deep two 20. I think it's called the sound rocket, which is similar to two 24. They're an interesting mix. Cause they're dynamics that have two die, two capsules, uh, sort of a whisper and a tweeter. Well,

Dan Fox:

I'm going to throw one more in here before we conclude our game. So June 30th, the legendary boxer Mike Tyson was born, but the numbers of that date also represent a microphone. Do you know what it is?

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

Is it an Alltech?

Dan Fox:

It's not, I'm

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

amazed that I'm not doing well with this.

Dan Fox:

Well, we'll give you a hint. It's a predecessor to another mic with a similar number. So it's a June 30th, six, three zero.

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

Six 30 microphone.

Dan Fox:

I've got another hint. Hopefully I get this right. Or otherwise I'll be ostracized in the audio geek community. But the Buchanan hammer was that the nickname for the, for the

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

six, six, four.

Dan Fox:

Oh, for the six, six for not the six 35, right.

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

Okay. Six 35. Yeah. I always thought it was six 35 too, but six, six, six, four. Was that so, uh, so it's an Evie six 30. Is that also known as a mercury by chance?

Gabe Herman:

Yes, it is. He

Dan Fox:

gets points for that, right?

Gabe Herman:

Absolutely.

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

I've got one sitting behind me. He says that hell,

Dan Fox:

well, he gets tons of points. So it's a, so it's an Omni dynamic, a predecessor to the electro voice. Six 35, a electro voice is a great company. I'm a big fan. And there's so many interesting mikes. And so many mikes they've made that have had longevity. And you mentioned the six, six, four, which. Thank you for filling me in is officially the Buchanan hammer. In other words, they advertised that you could use it as a hammer.

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

They would do it at AEs shows. They would actually hammer nails or two by fours and then talk through them.

Dan Fox:

Amazing. I have one and I got it recently. I won't do that with it. Um, but I've been really enjoying it on snare drum actually.

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

Yeah, they're great. It's really good in a bass drum and uh, and they look awesome too.

Dan Fox:

Yes. They look like a 1960s Ray gun.

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

Oh, absolutely. Finned wonders.

Gabe Herman:

Yeah, and this is the thing, like all of the old weird microphones ended up being Reagan's they ended up being like props for scifi movies. And I think that's just, so it just shows all the imagination that they're stealing from our industry for, Saifai

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

not to mention all the, everything in the panels and, you know, flash Gordon movies are. You cast off audio and radar and gear and broadcast gear and

Gabe Herman:

yeah. Well, thank you Mark, for playing games with Gabe and Dan.

Dan Fox:

Thanks for playing the dating game.

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

Yeah. I'm disappointed in my performance.

Gabe Herman:

Are you kidding?

Dan Fox:

If it makes you feel any better? I mean, I don't even think we could play that game with many other folks. We designed it for you. Custom tailored.

Gabe Herman:

That's right. And if you come back again, I'm pretty sure you would kick our asses a thousand times over.

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

Mark.

Gabe Herman:

Can you tell us a little bit about the book you're writing on the history of American recording studios?

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

Yes. Howard Massey wrote a great book called the great British recording studios. It's a history of Abbey road in the Olympic and all those places. And I'm lucky enough to have been selected to. Right. The follow up, which is calling the great American recording studios, subtitle of the 1960s and seventies, which encompasses an amazing golden period in the making of records. If you think of all the great studios in America, the record plant all the Columbia studios or the RCA studios, Motown, Stax criteria, all the Nashville studios of Memphis studios, or the Texas studios are the new Orleans studios. It's an amazing. Gold mine of information. Really the hardest part of writing it has, is going to be keeping it to a hundred thousand words. There's so many stories to tell and so much great music and so many interesting people and eccentrics that were involved in, in the making of it, you know, and things changed so much from 1960 to 1980. So outlining all of that is, is really a fantastic job. And I consider a sacred responsibility to get to tell the story of that. Epic of our time,

Dan Fox:

but I think I heard you say there are two golden areas of recording then. And now what did you mean by that?

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

Yes, I think that the sixties through the eighties in particular was a great time for music and, and recording and recording technology. If you just look at now all of the recording that we. The equipment that we're using, that isn't emulation of the technology of that time. Arguably, there was incredible recording going on in the fifties too, but a part of what made it great was that it was done kind of ad hoc. People were making it up as they went along, they were using broadcast equipment and that sort of thing. So it was really, you know, as we got into the 1960s and just again, the, the changes there in the. Track count the size of the consoles and the design of the microphones and the introduction of Portex and, uh, the development of compression limiting, and, um, all of that, that, that was an amazing time. And I think this is an amazing time because we have all the technologies happening at the same time. We have all of the musical veins continuing at the same time, there are people making rockabilly records and Renaissance records and. Disco records and funk records. And what I think makes this another golden era of recording is the accessibility and the democratization of the process. And. I know that some old guys like to complain about, you know, more bad music and people don't know what they're doing and so forth. That's exactly the idea. You know, when you go to the beginnings of recording studios, a lot of that was inspired amateurism and DIY. And to see that now where people have access to brand new technology that nobody could have even imagined in 1960, or to be able to access something that's similar to emulates or actually is. Uh, all the technology that's gone before is I think fascinating and exciting and inspiring. And it also puts the tools in the hands of artists. It helps people to learn and develop, and it also helps them to appreciate the value of what audio does it. I don't think it devalues it at all. If, if. People realize how difficult it is. They may value professionals more. And I think it also devalues technology. You know, it's, it's easy to say, Oh yes. So and so makes a great record. But they have this equipment that we don't have, or, you know, or that was done in the studio, but they had a Neve and this and that, and you realize it wasn't the tools. And in some ways maybe it'll put us in a post technological. Era where people will realize that the thing that you can't distill, that there's no plugin for his, his creativity and self expression and that one person with an S and 57, and any method of recording or one person with us, a cell phone can say more than somebody else with a giant studio full of stuff. So at some point going to an art museum or reading a book or traveling to another country is going to give you. Way more to inform what you're doing and to make it a rich experience for everyone else.

Dan Fox:

I remember hearing that from someone way back when I was studying bass and practicing many hours a day, electric bass and being like, Oh, that's just so refreshing. You mean I can go outside and like get lunch with a friend and it will maybe even inform the music I make. Yes.

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

Absolutely.

Gabe Herman:

There's something too. I think that's really important about what you're doing. Mark you're you're telling the history of recording studios, which I think is a liberating thing for any young person walking into it. I think there's a tendency for students to know that this is an, a brand new art, that there is a history to it. But the, to the extent that the history of studios is connected to the present state of studios, that's an important responsibility we have as educators. Um, cause you could jump in right now, auto didactically and learn everything you need to know about making records right now, but taking a minute to learn about how engineers did it before there were plugins or apps for your problem. It was a degree in electrical engineering and a gumption, and you'd better really need to know the answer. Cause it's gonna take you a minute to invent. The piece, you need to get you out of whatever problem you're in. And there's something about the history of that, that attitude, that approach to music making that is our, I think our responsibility as educators,

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

I agree. It's, it's a balance between connecting and him with everything that's gone before and having some context, you know, while fostering inventiveness. And the willingness to overturn all of that and to find new ways and to use things in, in ways that they weren't necessarily meant to do. So, you know, to have respect for it, but not to be hide bound by it.

Dan Fox:

I I sometimes I think about, you know, I'm curious if you subscribe to this concept of collective memory, when it comes to music, we only like what we like in terms of music recordings, based on what we heard before. So sometimes when it gets into conversations about analog versus digital or purity or character, whatever one has to remind themselves that our whole. Sense of nostalgia and memory of what is a good recording comes from history and comes from what was available at the time. Whether it was quote unquote perfect or not.

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

Absolutely. Yes. And part of it is because as pattern seeking machines, which we are, we don't respond to everything in real time. We're responding to it, predictively on the basis of everything that we know and everything that we've experienced. And so it's valuable to, to have a rich experience to draw from and to connect things to. And also even if, if we're going to break and try to do something. Radically new. It's nice to know what's gone before, so we're not just retreading.

Dan Fox:

I heard you say pattern seeking machines. Yeah. Um, I think that I want that to be my next band name.

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

It's a good one that in murder Hornets.

Gabe Herman:

There's something also about the history of it. That is that's true in any moment in time. And one of the classes I teach at heart is a survey of the recording industry. We're talking about the fifties and the invention of rock and roll. One of the things I do is I play them. I Turner's recording of rocket 88 and then I immediately play the bill Haley, rocket 88. Right. I Turner's came out first. But these are two different studios, two different, somewhat close, but also somewhat distant geographically studios. I mean, in terms of scenes there, but the big divide was these are black studios in America, and these are the white studios in America, playing records for very different audiences. And there's a whole history lesson about. All of art, social culture, um, cuisine, uh, economics, racism, it's all packaged into rocket 88. If you look at it from these two different perspectives and these two studios, and I think there's something about the history of the studios, which is the history of America. It's sort of like the ground zero for those times. And then I challenged my students to think about what's today's rocket 88, right? Is it. Is it M and M as a hip hop artist. He's white and he's. So is that, you know, something we can talk

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

about? It is interesting. I mean, I think if you look at the history of hip hop and the way that, that exemplifies the, you know, starting with a, do it yourself perspective and an underground perspective and being a subculture in one that was not accepted, which I think is one of the things that's necessary to build a new cultural movement. And then to follow it's corporatization and it's generic medication and it's coaptation, right. You know, this is now it's laundry detergent commercials, instead of something that's incendiary, there, there are parallels to all that. And now of course, it's become, you know, it's owned by corporations and it's. Big business, just like what happened to rock and roll. And yet there's always the, the underground bubbling underneath. So I think, I think you're right, that there are parallels there.

Dan Fox:

And I know that I am going to go listen to those two versions of rocket, ADA, and maybe other educators will find that to be a great activity to do with their students. Um, I'm going to move us to a different segment or recipe segment. I'm going to move us to a different segment. Our recipe segment. You had an idea Mark, about a sound recipe. And we'd definitely like to hear that, but I also, I remember he said I don't really cook too much. I just kinda like put bagels in the toaster. Well, that's, you know, not insignificant. And so what I'd like to know is what makes the perfect ruble bagel in terms of which type of bagels you like, how you toast it. Toaster, toaster oven. Whatever. And then what you like to put on it? Hmm.

Mark Rubel:

Well, uh, I wish I could, I knew the brand name. I've discovered a new organic bagel here in Tennessee, which is not necessarily the bagel capital of the world. I put them in a red toaster. I push the button down, I put a cheese and, and Tofurky on it. And that's about as far as I go with cooking Sadly

Dan Fox:

cheese and Tofurkey what kind of cheese?

Mark Rubel:

Uh, thin sliced sharp cheddar

Dan Fox:

thin slice. Now you're slicing it like off a

Mark Rubel:

No, I'm so lazy. It's previously thin sliced 19 calories. per slice

Dan Fox:

We're not judging. So thin-slice sharp cheddar for, for our listeners. Now, listen, if you want a ruble bagel, this is how you do it. You get some thin-slice sharp cheddar. You get some Tofurky bacon. Did you say

Mark Rubel:

to freaky Hickory smoked?

Dan Fox:

And is this a bagel sandwich or is this open face?

Mark Rubel:

This was open faced. See, I'm having every day a new grow to be big and strong like me, but there is the secret ingredient. Okay. I give up, Oh, uh, the secret ingredient

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

is

Dan Fox:

Ah, yes. See, I knew there was going to be something in here that was really special. Maria sharps. If I'm not mistaken is hot sauce from Billy's. That is correct. And you, do you get it here?

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

I get it on online and it is completely fabulous. It makes everything great. Yes,

Gabe Herman:

this is super gourmet.

Dan Fox:

And now I want to try a ruble bagel.

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

I'll mail you one.

Dan Fox:

I don't know. I appreciate that Marco.

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

You know, so since I'm this, this I don't cook and I don't drink alcohol. Uh, I thought I would come up with a Sonic recipe for you. Uh, this takes a few. Uh, esoteric ingredients as well. This has to do with my parametric theory of mixing. When you're mixing there all sorts of parameters that you can change over a wide range, whether it's volume, panning, tambour, distortion, motion, lack of motion, all those sorts of things. But I think it all comes down to one major parameter, which is what we're really trying to direct is the attention of the listener. Right. We're shining a virtual spotlight around in the song saying, listen to this, riff or check out these lyrics, or how about this groove at its essence? The job of making a record is to try and compel someone's interest, give them a reason to be engaged and stay interested for the duration of it. And if we really do a great job at the end of it, have them say, I must hear that again. So, how do you engage people's interest? One of the things that draws people's attention is unfamiliar sounds or something that they can barely hear a make out. For example, if we get to a bridge and the bridge isn't quite as compelling or interesting as it might be, I put random, low level things in to make somebody lean forward a little bit, even though they don't know why. Uh, for example, I will take a radio boom boxes with radios in them and. Put two or three of them in the studio with the artists and have them just flip through channels, not long enough that you can recognize anything, but they'll just little snips of last of music or firsts, or I, I will, um, surreptitiously record them, just talking in the studio and then speed it up, slow it down, cut it up and mix it in at a nearly subliminal level. I like to put in sort of unidentifiable sounds that are almost an audible, but that gives somebody a feeling that something is happening. The ingredients of this recipe. Include a symphony, which I just happen to have here. This is a little one, a

Gabe Herman:

tympani.

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

Holy

Gabe Herman:

cow.

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

Okay. So we have a tympani and the other ingredient is a symbol.

Dan Fox:

There is really a timpani with this symbol on trip

Gabe Herman:

event. For those listening at home. He's he's

Dan Fox:

totally not. He's not getting

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

no. Uh, this just happens to be a fiberglass, Tiffany like, like everybody, you know, I have three tympani. It also has a very creaky pedal, which is kind of entertaining. This is really simple. It's a Tiffany with an inverted symbol on it, the bell size down. And if you play the symbol with a mallet and you wiggle the pedal up and down, you get an interesting sound. This is the sound that I frequently use, uh, for the purpose that I just described. wow. So there you go. I hope that helps.

Gabe Herman:

Wow, Mark. That was incredible.

Dan Fox:

That is a delicious recipe.

Gabe Herman:

That is amazing. That is so gourmet,

Dan Fox:

you have kind of tied this conversation together by making it really clear that this is about making music, not about technology. In and of itself and musically, it's obvious to me that you have influence coming from the world of experimental music or avant garde music, you know, noise as music, and those things are coming in and entering into the things that you create.

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

Well, that was a, another really early influence on me. I went to a university high school and as part of it, uh, I, and some friends of mine were. Able to go to the experimental music studio at the university of Illinois and help out. We were 12 years old. And that was, that was really interesting. Uh, Robert Mo came through there and Morton Subotnick and John cage and all kinds of people and sort of be around all of that creativity and there in 1970. So that was still fairly early in the synthesis era and got to see a lot of new, interesting things coming on. And I think it's useful to, to be able to think. Creatively and imaginatively and abstractly. And to apply that to things that maybe are less creative imaginative to make them more interesting, which again is possibly the. The goal.

Dan Fox:

Yeah. Thank you. Thank you for that. Well, thanks

Gabe Herman:

Mark. And it's absolutely like the greatest joy in the world to hang out with you and talk to you and get your insights. I think the entire audio education community looks up to you as someone who always brings a lot of thought and depth. Into every topic. And you're also just a lot of fun to be with. I think of you as like the walking personification of our industry in the best possible way, because you're inspiring to be around. And I think your students are extraordinary, lucky to have you as their teacher. Thank you for elevating our podcast by making the time to be here.

Mark Rubel_Sync_02:

Yes. But thank you guys. I'm really proud of you for doing this. This is really a great resource to everyone. And I'm hoping to see you next year in Nashville for an audio educator's conference.

Gabe Herman:

Hope to see everybody listening.

Dan Fox:

Absolutely. It's been a pleasure Mark. And for listeners, you can certainly go to the Blackbird academy.com and learn more about the Blackbird Academy, where Mark makes all these wonderful experiences happen for the students.

Gabe Herman:

We'd like to give a shout out to the audio engineering society.

Dan Fox:

Gabe and I are both members and we encourage any audio educator or student to join.

Gabe Herman:

You'll get access to professional networking opportunities, the online journal, incredible conferences, and many other benefits.

Dan Fox:

Visit dot org to learn more. Thanks for listening to the audio educators podcast.

Gabe Herman:

This podcast is produced by me, Gabe Herman

Dan Fox:

and me Daniel Fox.

Gabe Herman:

We also wrote and produced all the theme music.

Dan Fox:

This podcast was made with D script software.

Gabe Herman:

If you're curious, you can check it out at www dot dot com. That's www.descript.com.

Dan Fox:

Don't forget to email your questions and ideas to Dan and Gabe at audio educator's podcast.com.

Gabe Herman:

That's the longest email in the whole world.

What's the most fun you've ever had?
When I discovered audio . . .
The Dating Game . . .
Audio History . . .
Recipe Time!