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Producer, Songwriter & Arranger Glen Ballard on the Importance of the Engineer

One of the defining pop producers, and a five-time Grammy® winner, Glen Ballard has penned hits and produced bestselling albums for Paula Abdul (Forever Your Girl), Wilson Phillips (Wilson Phillips), Alanis Morissette (Jagged Little Pill) and No Doubt (Return of Saturn), as well as written, arranged and produced with Aerosmith, Michael Jackson, Chaka Khan, The Corrs, Barbra Streisand, Aretha Franklin, and The Dave Matthews Band among many others.

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Producer, arranger and songwriter Glen Ballard discusses the role of the engineer in the recording process, what a good one can add to the session, and what new tools are available that make the role more even more powerful and critical than ever.

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[Ballard: Importance of an Engineer]

I think it's enormously important that the recording engineer be really good. Again, I'll use another film metaphor: the engineer is like the cinematographer. And in ways that visual arts have been empowered recently in the digital age with these great editing programs and PhotoShop and you can manipulate sound in a similar way, so that the tools are more prevalent than ever. But it's still important to understand the underlying concepts behind having all these great tools. So the engineer is enormously important, and it's a fulltime job. And my hat's off to people who record everything on their own and also play. And I've only done that once and I don't like doing it.

I love having a partner like my cinematographer, my engineer, who's gonna bring something to it as well and who is focusing on getting the greatest possible sounds. And acoustic recording is still one of the more difficult arts. It's a science that has to become an art, and recording an orchestra may look easy, but it's not. Of course, it depends on the orchestra, but it also depends on where you place the mics and recording a drum kit live is one of the more difficult things you can do, and my hat's off to people that have the passion and the patience to spend their lives making that great, like a great cinematographer. And I've engineered all my life out of necessity, but when I don't have to I want a real pro.

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Ballard. Importance of Engineer.doc

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