Uncommon Denominator

CODE: 766922749921

£7.97

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Recent technological leaps made in the recording process have been nothing short of astounding. These amazing computer-driven advances have enabled one to alter a performance in ways never before possible. While hard-drive recording has truly made the multi-track experience available to the masses, unlocking doors to countless treasures, unfortunately it’s also opened up the doors even wider for people who can’t sing nor play an instrument in the real world (in the good ole’ days folks who couldn’t sing had to “punch” in their supposed “performances” one note at a time—lol). Computer programs and techniques now exist for auto-tuning of pitch, quantizing (putting beats and notes in mathematically precise rhythms), changing the pitch of a note without changing its time, and there are even programs to make computer generated rhythms feel “more human” (randomizers).

While every note of this record was recorded directly on a computer, Mike Phillips certainly needs none of these new-age devices to tweak or alter a single note of his performances. The same can be said about notes sung at the conclusion of this record by his equally gifted daughter Michaella.

For those who are not familiar with the incredible advances in the recording process, once an engineer captures a recording on a computer it can now be viewed visually in an intricate and exact display of the sound waves generated by the musician that looks something like a complex EKG you would see in a hospital. After looking at an extreme close-up of the Mike Phillips musical digital fingerprint represented by the sound waves blown up on a large monitor an engineer might point out that something in one of the small waveforms looks a little awry. To the human ear it would sound great (all that matters, really) but the computer could detect the faintest “imperfection.” While every one of these computer-assisted imperfection detections are easily “fixable” by a quick move of a mouse and cursor, the even quicker yet decidedly more human decision was made to leave it alone as it was recorded.

Everyone was amazed however with what the computer revealed when Michaella came into the studio to follow up her recording debut which was made on Mike’s first CD singing the title “You Have Reached Mike Phillips” at the tender age of three. After Michaella, now six years old, laid her second harmony track down on the interlude, aptly titled “Mike and Michaella,” it looked like the computer (or the operator) made a mistake. Looking at the visual representation of the two tracks side by side, the first assumption was that her first take had been mistakenly copied on top of the second. Further inspection immediately revealed that there was no mistake. Michaella’s two waveforms were virtually identical! This is as improbable as two snowflakes or fingerprints looking the same. Incredibly, what the computer showed time and time again is that this six-year-old displayed the natural control and “perfection” usually now only seen after complicated new-fangled digital surgery is conducted on a track. She is, quite simply, the fruit that didn’t fall far from the tree.

Like Michaella, Mike was born with the rare gift of perfect pitch. It always amazes me that even during the weakest cell signal in a phone conversation, Mike can eerily call out every note in the most complex chord and hear exactly just how far away from A440 (perfect tune) an instrument is playing. He was born with several other wonderful natural talents that leave even some of the most talented musicians admiringly envious. But what is most amazing about Mike is not the type of musical genes he has passed onto his daughter but how much he works at developing those gifts into a dizzy collection of weapons. Like Stevie Wonder and Prince, two insanely naturally-gifted musicians who simply work at their craft much harder than most—musicians who ironically both sing Mike’s praises—and like Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods who have taken their respective natural gifts and combined them with hard work to go on to shatter the record books, Mike is tirelessly working on his game. He is not on a mission to achieve the kind of “perfect” results a computer can achieve but to leave a mark unlike any computer or any other human being.

The results are very evident in the accompanying recording.

We hope you enjoy.

–Steve McKeever

 
 
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