Kane Audio Podcast 003 with, erm, ME!

Paul Nolan

Busy old week! A chat that I did with my good friend and fellow sound design geek Dom Kane was turned into the latest edition of the Kane Audio podcast and was released this week! 

I loved chatting with Dom, he's a really interesting guy and we had a wide ranging chat about my relocation to LA, the reasons behind it, how I got started in the industry, my work with Sasha and many other interesting can listen here via SoundCloud, or subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.

I'm Artist Of The Week on Frisky Radio

DJ Sets, Music, NewsPaul Nolan


NewsPaul Nolan
Paul Nolan at Exchange LA

Well, here it is, my new home!

I've put a hell of a shift in over the last couple of weeks to get this site ready.

It's got everything you need if you want to keep up to date with what I'm up to.

A new Tour Dates section, where you can keep in the know of where in world I'll be DJing, and you can even add those dates straight into your electronic calendars of choice, which means I'll never forgive you for missing a gig again!

You can also hear the latest and fullest extent of the ever growing catalog of productions, projects and remixes that I'm involved in, whether it be from mixing & mastering, engineering, sound design, originals or from Chapter 24 Records over at the Discography Page.

However, what I'm most excited about is, for the first time, you'll be able to buy my services direct from this website. Mastering, Mixing, Track Analysis & Consultation, and Track Engineering are all available over at the brand new Store, which also works beautifully on mobile!

Keep an eye on the store, as very quickly, you'll notice the product range expanding in a number of ways...more news on that soon!

Also coming soon, I will be launching a whole other section to the platform, which will take my offerings within the Artist Development to a whole other level. I'm sure you're going to love it.

Thanks to everyone who's supported me up until this point. There's a lot of wonderful things going on as the brand of Paul Nolan Sound continues to grow. Even after 5 years, I feel like I'm just getting started...


Big Love,

Paul x


Climbers 'Big City Lights' (Paul Nolan Remix) out now on Beatport

Music, Newspaulnolansound

Paul's recent remix for Mexican production duo Climbers is out now on the mighty Selador Records! This remix, part of the 'Down Under EP' is a soundtrack and film inspired re interpretation of the Big City Lights synth arpeggios and textures, giving it a tense, dramatic and late night feel.

Paul's expansion into the field of unusual instruments and use of overlooked sound sources really comes to the fore here...

Watch the YouTube video below for the remix in full:

You can also purchase the full version via Beatport by clicking here

Paul's remix also garnered a wonderful review from the guys over at Decoded magazine (full review here), with this being a key excerpt regarding Paul's remix:

Decoded Review


Mastered by Paul Nolan Sound: Miguel Lobo 'Thug Love EP' (New Violence Records)

Mastering, Music, Newspaulnolansound

Another day another EP mastered! This time, another fantastic outing from the ever up and coming New Violence Records! It's been amazing mastering each of their releases so far and watching the label grow and gain fans every step of the way. Chris Forshaw, who owns the label, has a great ear for house and techno that straddles boundaries, that find their way into many DJs playlists.

This is no exception, with the on form Miguel Lobo turning in two brilliantly groovy tracks that haven't failed to get the floor going when I've played them out on promo.

Have a listen and enjoy for yourselves!

If you'd like to have Paul Nolan Sound master your releases, then use the contact section of the website

#masteredbypaulnolansound #makeyourtransition

FREE DOWNLOAD: Twelve Minds 'Where Did You' on Chapter 24 Records

Music, Newspaulnolansound

To celebrate the fact we've just hit 1000 Facebook Likes (if you haven't Liked my new label on Facebook yet, then I want to know why :p), we at Chapter 24 Records are giving away a FREE track! This is a compliment to the forthcoming 'Owl EP' that Twelve Minds will release as the first 'Chapter' in our label's story.

This is a twisted vocal affair suitable for those who love their house music deep, meaningful and emotional.

Enjoy and let us blow away your January blues!

Big Love <3

Mastered by Paul Nolan Sound: BeLoey "Wonder EP" (Dynamic Beats Abound)

Music, Newspaulnolansound

Paul Nolan recently mastered the sublime EP from BeLoey. This is a real change of pace for Paul's mastering services, stepping away from house and techno towards bass heavy trip hop beats.

The production is sublime, and the final product will be released on October 24th on the American label, Dynamic Beats Abound.

Below you can find links to the online release event on Facebook, as well as previews of the EP itself.

Paul loved the tracks so much that he's beginning to remix them for future release!

Facebook Launch Event

Engineered by Paul Nolan Sound: Jimmy Van M, 3LIAS and Luxor: 'Da Goom' (Steve Parry Remix) (Selador Records)

Music, Newspaulnolansound

Recently Paul Nolan finished engineering, mixing and mastering duties for Steve Parry's outstanding remix of the forthcoming Jimmy Van release on his and Dave Seaman's Selador Records. The track has been getting great responses at recent gigs where both Steve and Paul have played, and looks set to be yet another strong release for the label which in 2014 has gone from strength to strength off the back of relesses from the likes of Robert Babicz, and parties at both Latitude Festival and Ibiza!


If You Want To Make Better Music, Get A Life!

Mindset, Trainingpaulnolansound

"Put the hours in" "Work hard"

'Write everyday"

"Push yourself"

In and of themselves, good pieces of advice. You don't get anywhere without practice, dedication, a work ethic, discipline, and a desire to improve yourself.

However, what happens when we allow these concepts to reach an extreme? What are the consequences on our creativity, inspiration, quality, productivity and enjoyment of our art form?

You might be aware of the concept of yin and yang, the interconnecting opposites that sums up the balance of life.


You may also be aware of its symbolism: Simply put, things become their opposite at their extremes.

In a production context, spending too many hours in the studio can leave you dry, devoid of creativity, energy and interest.

Trust me, I know. I estimate in the last 7 year's I've logged easily more than 10,000 studio hours. Considering there's 8760 hours in a whole year, that gives you a sense of scale.

In 2013, I began to feel burnt out. Staring at an empty screen every time I went into the studio. Between 1-2-1 teaching, lecturing, engineering for others, mixing, mastering, preparing tutorials for Mixmag & ModernBeats, and trying to have a life outside of music, I was getting to the end of the line.

I had nothing left to give. I was beginning to hate the thing I love doing most in life, the thing that I'm extremely grateful to do for a living.

That's when you know something is wrong, when you resent writing. You'd rather do your ironing than fire up Logic.

This experience made me realise certain things. I want to pass these lessons onto you now, so you can hopefully learn from them, avoid burn out, stay inspired, energised and able to do your best work all of the time.

Balance is key

Sounds simple, but the best advice usually is. We all have lives to lead, we all have friends and family we'd like see, experiences we desire. To those just getting into music production, the thought of spending endless days in the studio doing nothing but writing sounds like heaven. However, do anything long enough without a break and it'll start to feel like hard work you just don't want to do.

If you want to do your best work, make sure everything else in your life is in balance too.


Take regular breaks

I normally work in bursts of 20 - 30mins. In that time I'm incredibly productive, but once I 'hit the wall' there's no point banging my head against the wall. So, whilst I am working on a session over a number of hours, I normally take a couple of small breaks per hour to keep things interesting and make it not feel too much like a grind.

Sessions don't have to be long

In fact, the best sessions I've ever worked on have been short, sharp, focused sessions lasting 3-4 hours at the most. It's very rare that I've worked a session over this time that has been any more productive than a shorter one.

If you're finding yourself working endlessly in the studio over some menial tasks, you're falling victim to Parkinson's Law, the first of which states that:

"work expands to fill the time available for its completion"

Which, is to say, that if you have a month to complete a task, you'll take a month to complete it, as you'll succeed in psychologically blowing up the task to be more complex and difficult to do than it really is. Very rarely do we complete a task or project ahead of time.

If you do this in the studio, then it's time to rethink how you work. As Ed Norton's character in Fight Club once said:

"This is your life, and it's ending one second at a time"

I'd rather be spending that time with the people I love and having enriching experiences I can put back into my music, not being a slave to my art.

When it's not working, walk away

If you're getting nowhere, getting frustrated, the best thing to do is walk away. Go make yourself a green tea, go to the gym, go for a run...leave it for a few hours, a day or two even, and go back to it. Frustration only turns to anger, which only serves to further block your creativity.

If in doubt, DELETE

This is a hard one. But hugely necessary. Your time is precious, and so are your creative energies. If the track you are creating isn't catching a vibe, doesn't excite you or generally doesn't have the right fit after about 30mins, then get rid! Delete it from your hard drive. Kill it, stone dead.

Why? Because your time is better served by working only on tracks that do inspire and excite you. Plus, what you have learnt in your aborted previous attempt(s) will teach you what not to do the next time, getting you closer to the sound and feeling in your music that you DO want.


If you are low on inspiration, go do something else with your life!

If you're doing nothing but sitting in front of a computer all day every day writing music, chances are your music will end up sounding the same. If you don't expose yourself to other stimulus in your environment, you're going to end up going around in circles.

I have other outlets: recently I started to draw again. I'm also love running and I'm a Bikram Yoga student. I write this blog :)

These experiences, alongside my travels around the world, meeting amazing people and learning about the world, have given me inspiration that I put into my music. This ensures that I always feel fresh in the studio.

Make it fun!

Don't put so much pressure on yourself. If you aren't having fun making music, then why are you doing it? Life should be fun, and it's way too short to be living with stress.

Especially, the type of self inflicted stress, summed up in thought processes such as 'my tracks aren't good enough', 'I'm not good enough' or 'it's not what I want it to be'.

Relax, it's only music production! The fate of the world is not sitting on your shoulders, dependent on if you pick the right kick drum or not.

Figure out a way of working which makes the process enjoyable, inspiring and fun for you.


What You Put In Your Body, Comes Out In Your Music

Fitness, Mindset, Nutritionpaulnolansound

If any of you are friends with me on Facebook (and if you aren't, then why not???) you'll know that I'm as geeky about food and nutrition as I am about audio engineering, music production and DJing. So, for the first time on the blog I wanted to approach the subject of diet and nutrition, and how it can help you in the studio. Seems completely illogical to believe that what you eat can have a bearing on how your tracks sound. But bear with me for a bit and you'll see just how connected they really are.

"You Are What You Eat"


You've probably heard that statement before, and you probably think it's a cliche. But, its absolutely true. What you put into your body can be a huge influence on almost every other part of your being.

So, if the food you eat can affect such things as your state of mind, energy levels, clarity of thought, stamina and overall sense of well being, it must follow that it would have an influence on the quality of the music you produce, and your performance in the DJ booth, right?

Absolutely. And I'm first hand proof.

I've always been physically fit. I've ran all my life, played sport, worked out, went to the gym, and always had enough energy to get through those all night sessions in the studio and at clubs down to a naturally high metabolism and an almost cyborg - like ability to just keep going.

I'm very fortunate. Not everyone is like me. But even I started to notice changes as time went on.

It's my birthday at the end of the month (buy me a card :), I'll be 34. When I turned 31 I thought I was healthy, buying all the 'low fat' and 'low calorie' foods that are pushed on you on TV and in the supermarket. I thought my diet was healthy. So why was I feeling tired all the time? Bloated? Sluggish? Depressed?

Creatively, I was also pretty much 'dead inside', and didn't produce anything of any quality in the whole of 2011.

Be Honest With Yourself

Basically my so-called 'healthy' diet was to blame, with far too many processed foods, sugar, chemicals and not enough nutrients from nature. It turns out, when you are very honest with yourself, and take responsibility for your life and your choices, the truth is very different to the lie you sell yourself every day.The only problem was it was starting to affect my health.

So, I did exactly what I always do when presented with a problem to solve: I researched, and I experimented. I read countless web articles, watched countless documentaries, books on nutrition, and came to the conclusion that things needed to change.

So I attempted a Lemon Detox / fast for a week at the beginning of 2012, where you substitute solid food for water, herbal tea and a syrup, lemon and cayenne pepper mixture. I could not believe the difference I felt even with just a week's experimenting with a healthier lifestyle.

After the detox, I felt sharper, my thoughts were more clear, I had an incredible amount of energy, and my creativity absolutely went through the roof. I felt less stressed, happier in myself. More positive.

All I knew is that I wanted it to continue. For the last 2 years, I have not eaten any meat besides fish, eliminated all dairy from my diet, embraced vegetables and juicing as a lifestyle. Every time I made a small change, I felt better, and kept going.

As my diet improved, so did the quality of what I could do in the studio. I could work longer hours easier, the quality of work increased, the clarity of thinking increased, leading to more efficient workflow, and better end results for both my clients and myself.

Don't Believe Me? There are others...

These guys are legends of the Electronic Music / DJ world. All of them have embraced healthier lifestyles as a result of their schedule, travel commitments and understanding that their creativity is their career. Now, all of these examples are of vegans.

I'm not saying you should go vegan. I'm saying that it can't do any harm to experiment and find out what works for you.

DJ Q-Bert: Yep, one of the greatest scratch DJs of all time believes that experimenting and paying more attention to his diet has helped him achieve the level of mastery in his chosen art form. Q bert

Chris Liebing: One of the world's foremost techno DJs credits his incredible stamina and touring schedule to adopting a plant based diet.

We saw that you have just done something like 55 hours of flying 5 days, what do you do to try and stay healthy when touring?! Before a tour like that, like for example my recent Australia tour, with four cities in three days and 55 hours of flight time, I try to have enough sleep, and sometimes a sleeping pill on a flight can help. I eat light, I am a vegan, which helps very, very much and I can only recommend everyone to try the vegan lifestyle. Sleep and food and exercise, those are kind of the key factors to take care of leading a healthy lifestyle.

(credit: Chris Liebing

Tommy Four Seven: Another member of the CLR Crew, Tommy also follows a lifestyle defined by a plant - based food approach:

What do you do to try and stay in balance? Any tips & secrets you would like to share with us night folks? I've found eating a vegan diet and running during the week helps balance the crazy weekends.


Still not convinced a more conscious food intake could work wonders for you? Well, read this (click on image)...

Screen Shot 2014-03-10 at 14.47.03

This book covers everything from the physics and theory I have recently written about, to leading a lifestyle in order to do your best work.

...and watch this: Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead

I recently watched this again to re-affirm why I have made the changes I have, and it was a brilliant kick up the arse, which we all need. I'm not perfect, I slip up, I lapse, but the important thing to realise is that you can also learn, take responsibility and get yourself on the path towards knowing what works for you.

You won't know what truly works for you until you try some small changes to your lifestyle.

Want to make your best tracks ever? Start in the kitchen...

If you'd like to know more, please do not hesitate to contact me, either here or on Facebook. I'm extremely passionate about this, and also about helping people, so if you feel the need to reach out and ask for some advice if you're thinking about making your first steps, please do not hesitate!


Rob Hes & Steve Slight - Focusing (Steve Parry Remix) (Engineered and Mastered by Paul Nolan) out NOW on Selador Records!

Music, Newspaulnolansound

I'm proud to let you know that the newest release on Selador Records, established by those legends of quality house music, Steve Parry and Dave Seaman, has a remix from Steve Parry on it which I engineered and mastered. You can hear it below:

I'm really proud of this remix. Myself and Steve Parry go back a long way, as he gave me my first ever serious gig as a DJ way back in 2000, and we've supported each other ever since, and I also had the pleasure of tutoring Steve in Music Production a few years ago!

SO for us to work together on this remix was pretty special, and it really came together beautifully.

Produced and arranged in Ableton Live, and mastered in Logic Pro, the idea was to take the original parts and do something driving, yet emotional, with all the elements that Steve was after in a track that he would play as part of his legendary DJ sets. We definitely achieved that, and in very quick order as well, with the track taking only 9 hours of studio time to complete from conception to final master.

You can see a screen shot of the finished arrangement below (click on image to see full sized version):


Rob Hes & Steve Slight 'Focusing' (Steve Parry Remix)

You can also listen to Steve's full set from the Selador Records Showcase at 303 Liverpool in November, featuring the full remix below (ironically, I also recorded this set as I was Stage Manager / Live Engineer at this event!):

[soundcloud url="" params="color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true" width="100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]

If you'd like me to consider engineering your track, please contact me by clicking here to send me an email.

Paul Nolan Sound is also an established leader in personalised 1-2-1 music production training, helping you to make your transition to the sound, career, and life you want. Please click here for details of our courses!


Restriction Liberates: A New Series of Articles by Paul Nolan

Mindset, Training, Tutorialspaulnolansound

By Paul Nolan I love a contradiction in terms... "Bombing for Peace" is a good example...

It's funny, because of its built in futility. However, not all is as it seems.

Restriction Liberates

"Restriction Liberates" is not quite the contradiction it initially appears to be. It's something I've discovered as I've developed my skills in music production, DJing and audio engineering.

It's also something you can put to work in your own development.

We are sold in this constantly connected culture of smart phones, mobile internet and 1000 TV channels, that choice is a good thing. Complete freedom to do what you want to do, when you want to do it.

Yes, choice might be a great thing, and we enjoy choice in many different ways as we are still living in a (partly) free country. But what if too much choice isn't a good thing?


What if complete freedom to choose is bad for our productivity in the studio?

What if too much choice results in being overwhelmed? If complete freedom to do anything, anytime results in you not knowing where to start? When is openness actually inefficient and a barrier to you fulfilling your potential?


In my experience, too much freedom in the studio can actually be a bad thing, especially with computer technology developing as it is today.

We have endless choice of plugins, effects, synths, presets, instruments, samples, loops, you name it...all in the box, all at a touch of a button...what you don't have you can easily download, and it's incredibly easy to get to a point where you have a folder full of stuff you have no idea how to use, and that basically stands between you and your idea becoming a reality.

All the virtual gear, and no idea...

Another example is a music keyboard. If you're sat in front of a MIDI Controller keyboard with the full 88 keys, or even a simple 25 key model, where do you start to write your riff?

At this point, having complete freedom to do whatever you like isn't helpful, it's more like a hinderance.



So what's the solution? How can we take this situation and make it more inspiring, more efficient, more fluent and ultimately more productive, as well as fun?

The answer lies in self - imposed restriction.

Or to put it another way... #RestrictionLiberates

In many different contexts, the act of self - imposed restriction has helped to liberate the creative potential of many great artists.

A former student of mine once said that "an art form is defined by its limitations".

I find this statement to be almost undeniably true. How can you define what an art form such as painting, sculpture, scratch DJing or electronic music production actually is, unless you know what it is restricted to being?

This is the trouble as well as the beauty of modern music production: anything is possible, any time. For me, that can be terribly daunting and inefficient.

Therefore, the only sensible route to take is to impose your own set of boundaries about what to create, how to create it, and the tools, processes and techniques involved.

With a decreased list of options, the clear and right path becomes easier to spot, and more efficiently exploited. It also liberates our minds from the fog of constantly reacting to circumstances, and allows us to think even more creatively when the mind is not being constantly bombarded with choices and information.

Too Much Analysis = Paralysis

So, how can we halt the slide toward creative limbo? This is to be the focus of a series of blog posts and tutorials, demonstrating how when we have fewer choices, we can create and achieve more, in an incredibly diverse number of areas music production, DJing, and also in the world at large.

However, here's some starting advice:

1. Multitasking is a myth. It's the easiest route to being completely overwhelmed with far too many plates spinning in the air at once. We are all busy, but the most effective and efficient way forward is to restrict your focus to the task at hand, in the present moment. It's the only way anything ever gets done properly.

2. Musically speaking, you'll derive far more creative potential from a limited set of tools than you ever will from having everything at the tip of your fingers. Just consider some of the all time classic records made with equipment that the phone in your pocket probably has more processing power than today.

Practically speaking, you might look to disable any plugins that you don't use, or seldom do.

Think very deeply and honestly about what you ACTUALLY do when you produce, and refine your tool set to reflect it. After all, a plumber wouldn't bring 'the kitchen sink' with them unless they needed to fit one

So I encourage and challenge you to THINK. Consider how your workflow could improve. Being honest with yourself about where you are, against where you'd like to be, is the primary way you will improve yourself and your skills.

Less Is More...

How are you going to liberate yourself by restricting yourself? Please use the comments at the bottom to share how you have done this, or intend to. Sharing is incredibly powerful, and means we will all learn faster. As always, you can contact me for 1-2-1 Training, and if you'd like to have me cover something specific in a future blog post, you can contact me.


[ted id=93]

Performing Rituals to Increase Your Studio Productivity

Mindset, Training, Tutorialspaulnolansound

By Paul NolanNo, I'm not talking about sticking pins in voodoo dolls that look like DJ Sneak (ED: JOKE!), or throwing a goat in a volcano before you write a tune! Nope, whilst all that sounds like fun, I'm talking about implementing certain actions into your daily routine that get you ready and focused to be as productive as possible in the studio.

It's time to 'get over yourself' The concept of rituals came to me whilst reading a book written by a ballet choreographer.

Yes, read that line again.

I read books written by ballet choreographers. Problem? ;)

You're now probably sat there thinking "what the actual fuck can ballet teach my about making tunes?" Well, rather a lot as it goes...

The book is called "The Creative Habit" written by the renowned Twyla Tharp. In it, she lays bare her creative process from front to back, challenging both herself and the reader to 'get over themselves' and confront their creative fears (hers: an empty room, yours: probably an empty arrangement screen in your DAW).

She also details with great deliberation how she overcomes these fears, and the daily routines that help to get her into the optimum creative mode.

The first time I read this a few years ago, it hit me like a train, and had me completely rethinking the way behave in the studio before I go in to create.

The Truth About Creativity: It's Not Divine Inspiration But first let's understand something about creativity: it isn't what we think it is.

For most people, creativity seems like the 'Eureka!' moment in the bath, when a bolt of lightening sent from above hits you and gets your going. Whilst that can happen occasionally, the reality 99.9% of the time is that you have to create something without that  'spark'.

'The Creative Habit' explains this perfectly. To master your creativity and fulfill your potential, you need only do two things:

1. Have rituals that you repeat every day, that get you into the creative mode 2. Work hard at it (no surprises there)

So yeah, probably not as glamorous as you'd been led to believe.

Basically, being an artist is hard, fucking, work. Don't be thinking it's a cushy life being sat in a studio all day rather than being sat in front of your desk in the job you hate. Yes, I'd much prefer to be in a studio, but in its own way, it's even more challenging than switching my brain off and performing some mind-numbing task 9-5 working with people I don't like in a job that's not going where I want to be in life.

Being an artist of any kind is to know frustration, annoyance, self - loathing, fear, insecurity and more failure than success. I'm being honest with you about it, because frankly, not many others are. However, these feelings can be minimised, through those all important rituals.

So, what are rituals precisely? To me, a ritual is an action that is repeated daily, or often enough for it to take on essential or even 'religious' meaning.

A ritual is also an action that has a specific effect on the person undertaking it.

For example, when I put my running kit on, my mind and body anticipates exercise will happen imminently. Whether I feel like it or not (because your feelings are absolute bastards getting in the way of you fulfilling your potential), the kit goes on, and I'm out running.

It never ceases to amaze me how often when I 'can't be arsed', I put my running kit on, and all of a sudden I feel like running.

Let's apply the same actions to the studio then. I'm sure we've all had the 'I'm not feeling it today' vibes, or had a session where nothing comes out, as hard as you try. Well, in my experience, having a ritual will minimise this in future, should you implement one.

My Studio Ritual For me, my ritual is playing scales on my piano for 15mins before I start writing and producing in the studio. This does several things for me

1.It gets me listening to the notes, getting familiar with their sounds and tones, ready for the session

2. It gets my fingers warmed up and gets me used to playing the keyboard

3. It triggers the creativity that is sat latent in my mind, and allows it to reveal itself in new melodies, rhythms and chords.

4. It changes my frame of thinking. It gets me out of the mindset of thinking about the items  on my 'to do' list, and shifts my reality into a more musical, creative space.

So, in short, I put my running kit on to feel like running. I play scales for 15minutes so I feel like creating.

How many of you are doing this? Not many, I bet, but I can guarantee a lot of successful artists do this without even recognising it.

Small Things Make The Big Things Happen This feeds into another great perspective on creativity and productivity. The fact that if you want to be successful, it's all about the small, seemingly meaningless actions that you perform every single day.

According to Darren Hardy, author of "The Compound Effect" (one of the books that changed my life last year), the small things you do every day, over enough time, 'compound', like interest in a bank account, into either success or failure depending on if you are doing the right small things or not.

For me, rituals are one of those small things that will over time compound and create enormous success, if you apply it correctly.

If you don't have rituals for your music production, I'd highly recommend developing some.

As ever, your feedback is invaluable. There's no point to me writing this stuff unless it helps you, so please use the comments to let me know how this has helped you. Also, if you'd like me to cover anything in a future article, then do not hesitate to contact me.



Essential Physics for Music Producers: What You Need To Know

Music, Training, Tutorialspaulnolansound

There's been a lot of talk on my Facebook account (feel free to give me a friend request!), regarding sound wave physics and how it relates to music. There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding on the subject, so I thought I'd do a 'back to basics' post about what you need to know, why you need to know it, and how you can apply it (and unconsciously already do) in your own music productions.  

1. What is a sound wave?

Basically put a sound wave is a series of pressures placed on the air in our environment. When a sound wave is travelling in the air, it has the physical affect of compressing air molecules together, and then, expanding them. The rate of this compression and expansion is called frequency. This diagram is a visual representation of a sound wave moving through the air:

Sine Wave

This is a sine wave. It's the simplest waveform of them all. It represents a single frequency. Frequency is measured in Hertz (Hz). Hertz measures the amount of times per second that a sound ave completes a cycle (the complete journey from compression to expansion and back again, as shown in the picture above).

The amount of cycles per second defines the frequency of the sound wave. So, if a sound wave completes 200 cycles per second, it is said to have a frequency of 200Hz


2. What Sound Waves Can We Hear?

Humans can only perceive sound waves within a certain range of frequencies.

20Hz, to 20,000Hz.

That's why when you look at an EQ plugin, say in Ableton for example, the graphic readout shows only that range.


3. Why Is This Relevant?

Because it's the foundation of everything we do in music. Whether it's playing the piano, creating a sound using a synthesizer, or performing a mixdown or mastering a track.


All Music Is Essentially Mathematics


This is proved by overlaying a piano keyboard over frequencies, such as this example below:


Here we see that each note on the keyboard actually relates to a frequency. Therefore, you are not actually playing an 'A' when you play one on the keyboard (let's say note A3), you're actually triggering a frequency of 440Hz (also known as Concert Pitch A, which is what most musical instruments are tuned to ensure that they play together harmoniously).

This is also why frequency is also (mistakenly) called pitch.

So in reality, you can look upon a piano keyboard not as a musical instrument, but rather a ruler of measurement for sound wave frequency! As you play further down the keyboard (to the left) the notes get lower in pitch, and the frequency reduces. This means that the sound wave produced goes through fewer cycles per second (Hz), whilst ultimately means Lower Frequencies produce sounds with more bass.

As you play notes further up the keyboard, the frequency increases. This means more cycles per second travelled by the sound wave (higher frequency), therefore it produces sounds with more "treble" (sounds such as hi hats for example)

4. How Can I Apply This In My Own Productions

You already do. By even starting to produce music, you are already applying these fundamental pieces of knowledge. In order for your productions to improve, a solid understanding of sound waves and physics is an absolute necessity.

How can you hope to control something you don't fully understand?


It was one of the first things I learned when I decided to take music production and audio engineering seriously. It's something I use every single day in the studio without fail, no matter how simple or complex my tasks are. It also is the key to understand so much in our world, as Nikola Tesla stated so perfectly:


So, here's how to start understanding this core knowledge in the context of your own music production:

1. Begin to notice what sounds have what ranges of frequencies

Start to analyse with your ears (try not to use your eyes too much), what you kick drum is made out of. Is it mostly lows? Highs? Somewhere in the middle? Then listen very carefully to the other elements in your track: claps, snares, hi hats etc...

2. Start to understand where everything sits within our frequency range of 20Hz - 20,000Hz.

Once you start to see how all of the instruments in your productions are placed, both within our range of hearing, and in comparison to one another, you can really start to deeply understand how everything fits and works together. Over time, your understanding will deepen even further, as this post is the tip of a massive iceberg that smashes wide open the 'source code' of all music, especially music made on computers.

3. Learn to trust your ears, not your eyes.

Whilst learning, using a graphical readout of what frequencies a sound possesses is extremely useful. Your hearing system isn't quite able to place what any particular sound has, as you have not developed critical listening skills.

However, you ultimately hear and listen with your ears, not with your eyes! I sometimes say in my 1-2-1 Training Sessions that trying to listen with your eyes is like buying a Ferrari, and then having a horse pull it down the road for you in stead of using the engine. The only way your critical listening and hearing skills will develop is through listening deeply, which means restricting, or denying yourself of visual stimulation regarding the sounds within your productions.

Learn to trust your ears, as if you don't, you'll never reach your full potential as producer.

We will return to this subject regularly on the blog, as we have only just scratched the surface today!

So, please use the comments and let me know how this has helped you to expand your understanding. Any feedback or discussions would be brilliant as well, and if you'd like me to cover anything specific, please don't hesitate to get in touch


Recent thoughts on DJing & Production

DJ Sets, Music, News, Opinion, Training, Tutorialspaulnolansound

Some recent thoughts I've had on the current state of music production and DJing in particular... A friend said to me once that "an artform is defined by its limitations"...

Think about that for a second...a painting is defined by what you can do within the confines of canvas, paint, brushes and what the artist can conceive.

DJing is the same. The limitations of the discipline are actually the most liberating aspects of it.

The fact that with 2 turntables as a mixer there is only so much you can do. And, the music won't beat match itself.

These limitations simplify the process, allowing for true art to happen in the form of programming, and for the DJ to specifically focus on the energy within the room, to reflect it, challenge it and manipulate it any way they see fit.

The danger is now, with modern technology, as we stare over the precipice of unlimited possibly, of no restriction on the artform, that we throw the baby out with the bath water, and sacrifice the skill, inspiration and soul of the artform for the sake of convenience.

A statement formulated in my brain whilst in Barcelona last week...

"If there is no risk in art, then there is no skill"

Think about it deeply for a bit and you'll see what I mean...

Having used technology to perform (I used ableton to DJ for a few years) I know what this statement means.

If every record perfectly syncs itself, there is no risk involved. How can inspiration happen if nothing can go wrong? If the technology covers your arse, hides your multitude of sins, and allows for endless choice of music, how can the art reach its potential?

And also, how do you ever build a high level of skill and artistic merit if everything is automated?

It's the same with music thanks to modern DAW software, it's impossible to make a mistake...everything is undoable, everything can be sanitarily, homogeneously in time with no rough endless tidal wave of synth presets and drum samples can be accessed in a few clicks...

But what's the consequence of this? The lack of risk, of things going wrong, and the lack of restriction eventually leads to a malaise...such a situation is in my view prevalent in electronic music and DJ culture at the moment.

So what do we do?

In my case, I go back to go forward...

Self imposed restriction and discipline are the keys to the kingdom

Know your method of expression and utilise it to its full potential.

Return to the source. Go back to basics, and reconnect with the artform's essential humanity...I'm attempting to do this in the DJ booth, and in the studio too...less tools means you can do more...

What are you doing to make sure your music, performance and art have meaning? How does it stretch you to make you, and your audience better for the experience?

I challenge all of you to think this way and apply it within the context of your own careers and music, art and expressions...have fun x

What can Apple's WWDC Introduction teach you about the nature of creativity & music production?

Music, Opinion, Training, Tutorialspaulnolansound

I've been thinking about this video A LOT recently, and have been showing it to students in their private 1-2-1 sessions with me. I know, it's got fuck all to do with how Logic, Ableton or Pro Tools works, but I think it's incredibly valid to look at the message that one of the world's most creative companies is putting out there at the moment, and what we can learn from it... "If everyone is busy making everything, how can anyone perfect anything..."

What does this mean? In short, "don't be all things to all men" as the old saying goes. A lot of people (myself included) have fallen into this trap, attempting to fulfil all sorts of tasks and projects in a wide variety of fields.

So what can we learn from this statement? Simply, to not spread yourself too thinly. Know what you stand for. Why are you here? What are you here to do?

Then do that...and only that...

In the words of Steve Jobs himself...

"You'll do more, when you do less"

Just reflect on that for a minute, and apply it to your own music production...are you actually doing this when you write tracks? Are you trying to satisfy too wide a range of people? Are you trying to please everyone, all of the time?

"We start to confuse convenience with joy...and abundance with choice..."

If you looked at my previous posting about how an artform is defined by it's limitations, then you'll see the connection this day and age, with continuous connectivity, ever more convenient ways of acquiring and distributing content, wisdom and information, we are in serious danger of getting the medium and the message completely the wrong way around...

If you confuse convenience with joy, you'll more than likely hit the sync button on traktor, rather than beat matching and having to really think about what your next record will be...

If you confuse abundance with choice, you've probably got a list of plugins in your DAW that is likely longer than my actual physical arm...and probably don't have a fucking clue how any of them work...

Is this REALLY the way to create art? Does a painter keep hundreds of brushes for no apparent reason?

In the words of David 'Ram Jam' Rodigan when he guested on Zane Lowe's BBC Radio 1 show recently...

"In an ocean full of water, the fool is always thirsty"

Just because you have unlimited choice, doesn't mean you'll always make the right choice...but if you self - restrict your possibilities to only certain outcomes, then that's where the art and poetry can really flow from...every other possibility becomes superfluous, irrelevant, in the face of this one, screaming outcome, which makes itself so clear, as to almost grab you by the throat...

"When we design something, the first thing we ask is 'what do we want people to feel?'"

Ask a producer / DJ, have you ACTUALLY sat down and thought about what the answer to this question would be, before your DJ Set / Studio session? Because I can bet a lot of you reading this probably haven't, and a lot won't, because they're too busy putting their fucking ego in front of know how it goes...

"I want more gigs"

"I want to play at Space Ibiza"

"I want to be massive and famous and have groupies with mouth syphilis sucking me off underneath the decks at this supposedly trendy event"

I mean, really? For fucks sake...and you wonder why so much music sounds generic, fake, vapid and devoid of meaning these's not just the availability of technology that's doing it, it's primarily the people weilding that technology...

So, are you making your music, performing your sets, for the right reasons, or just looking to fall down a K Hole with some ass douche hot - shit DJ who can't mix for shit?

What do you WANT people to feel? What is inside you that has to come out? What do you want to share? If you don't know the answer to any of these questions, I suggest you hang fire, walk out of the room, take a trip out for an hour and ruminate on this before going any further...

"Then we begin to craft around our intention"

You can only make and perform to your message, once you know what that message is...and it can't just be the first thing that falls out of your ass and into Ableton...I've noticed this with so many people who I've quick to say 'it's finished' and rush it onto Beatport because they think that's how they get big...and then they wonder why it doesn't happen...

Unless your music says exactly what you want it to say, and it communicates your intent...then it has no business being released...hold onto it for a bit longer, objectify it, look at where it is weak and requires more...if you want your music to be out on big labels such as Cocoon Recordings, is it REALLY good enough to get noticed? Personally, if you consider your music good enough for some label to throw it up online at no risk, but not good enough to be pressed onto vinyl, then you need to go back to the drawing board...

"It takes time...there are a thousand no's...for every yes..."

How many of you just settle for the first thing you write? The next record you see in your list of endless compressed files in your Traktor library / Rekordbox database...again, in a sea of digital possibility, the only sensible way forward is restriction...restriction LIBERATES...

"We simplify...we perfect..." For me, as a producer / composer, this means one thing only...

'if you can't say it simply, then it's not worth saying'....say what you mean, using the fewest elements required to say it...otherwise, you are not communicating your message and intent clearly enough

Perfectionism is a very destructive thing if you let it overtake your life, but let that need to push yourself to fulfil your potential be a driver for your career and art...just relax about it, have clarity of mind...just don't stop!

"A muscle's ability to produce power is directly related to it's ability to relax" - David Allen (author, 'Getting Things Done'

"We start over..."

Don't be afraid to hit delete...if it isn't working, stop, wipe the slate clean, start again...and remember, nobody on the dancefloor hear's the other 25 failed sessions you started...only the one that blew their fucking brains out...

"Until every thing we touch...enhances every life it touches"

Are you enhancing the lives of the people your music and performances are meant for? Or are you just adding to the malaise of information racing past people's eyeballs on the way to the Junk folder...of which there's already far too much!

You have to make your own mark...don't blend in with the crowd...

So, in conclusion....


That's how I see it...I'd love to hear what you guy's have to say about this too...

Principles & Their Implications

Opinion, Training, Tutorialspaulnolansound

So, I want to give you a more detailed insight into how I work, how I teach, and how you can benefit from it, whether you're a producer, a DJ, an artist, a composer, or just a regular person looking to learn more about the nature and process of creativity... I'm massively into learning and self - improvement. That's a bit like admitting that you really like embroidery. It's not cool to say out loud, and your friends will think you're coming over as patronising and arrogant...but there's just something about the process that you just can't deny is satisfying...

So, why the embarrassment? as Seth Godin put it in a post of his recently "if it's worth doing, it's worth being embarrassed about"...

Applying that to music production, and how you can learn and develop yourself through it, you can pretty much boil it down to this simple statement...

"If you want to be a really good producer, then you'll have to take being a shit one for a while"

Enough said really! But how to improve? What does it take?

I'm INSANELY jealous of the producers and DJs coming through now. When I learnt to DJ and produce, there was very little to refer to in the way of internet resources, just a handful of magazines and some people you knew who were in the know, who'd tell you fuck all because they'd rather stroke their own ego by pretending like it's searching for the Higgs Boson, rather than deepening the learning process for themselves, by teaching others!

Oh how times change...

How I learnt, and still learn, and how I teach, all comes down to 2 key concepts, which are related:


A PRINCIPLE, as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, is "the fundamental source or basis for something"...

Therefore, I don't just show you how your sequencer, synth, DJ program etc works, I teach the PRINCIPLES behind the workings of the software / hardware

For example, rather than just showing you the controls of Logic's compressor, I'll go deeper with you so you understand the principles of dynamic range control, exploring the theoretical understanding that goes with deploying such a tool appropriately for what you want to achieve...

This knowledge has IMPLICATIONS, or as our mate the dictionary will have it "the conclusion that can be drawn from something, although it isn't explicitly stated"

Fuck me sideways, that's a big deal! Not only can you learn the underlying principles of how a routine, technique or concept works, you'll also learn where it will take you, and most importantly why and when would be the most appropriate times to use it...

Learn enough principles, and understand the implications of them, and the whole game is yours to control and you become, you guessed it, a master of your craft...

Think about it, the next time you're blindly cycling through the presets on plugins you have no idea how to use properly...

It's not the tool thats the important element, it's the person wielding it...

So if you're interested in going deeper, drop me a line, you'll learn faster, deeper and more completely with 1-2-1 training...