Something Old, Something New


By Steve Oppenheimer

(February 1998)

Breaking new ground doesn’t require denying your roots.

Nobody exists in a vacuum. We exist within societies that shape who we are. Though we are individuals who sometimes differ from the norm, we have been influenced by those who came before and, in most cases, by our contemporaries. As creative artists, some of our influences are obvious; others are so subtle that we are not even aware of them.

Some musicians deny they have musical influences as if this were a requirement of originality. This is humbug borne of false pride. Denying your roots is counterproductive; in recognizing, even celebrating, those who inspired us, we begin to better understand ourselves and our music. Admitting that someone else broke new ground for us does not obviate following our own muse. This is why I dedicated last month’s “Front Page” to showing the continuity between EM‘s past and its present.

This month’s EM discusses ideas that connect past and present. In our cover story, Barry Cleveland discusses the advantages of the affordable digital mixers that have only recently become available and points out the differences between mixing the old analog way and the new digital way. Tom Stephenson’s VS-880 Master Class drives home many of Cleveland’s points.

Another example is Brian Knave’s comparative analysis of the new generation of tube microphones. Tube mics are not new, but the new generation of affordable tube mics has put this venerable technology into the eager hands of a new group: personal-studio owners. And in “Blow the House Down,” Jim Miller teaches modern techniques for sampling traditional brass and woodwind instruments.

This issue also marks the return, after a brief hiatus, of “Service Clinic,” our oldest column, which Contributing Editor Alan Gary Campbell has been writing since EM began. Although Campbell will no longer write “Service Clinic” regularly, he will stay involved, and other authors will help keep the column running at least every other month.

At the same time, we are introducing “Final Mix,” a new opinion column that appears on the back page of the magazine. This is old and new in several senses. EM‘s “The Back Page” column was Founding Editor Craig Anderton’s pulpit for several years. “The Front Page” was created in order to give then-Associate Editor Bob O’Donnell an editorial space, as well. After Anderton left, “The Back Page” became a rotating guest editorial and then faded away. Now it is back in a new form, with a new name, and written by my younger brother, Contributing Editor Larry the O. Scott Wilkinson’s futuristic “Tech Page” has moved to new digs up front.

Old and new? Larry the O is well known to long-time readers. He played a role in Mix Publications’s acquisition of EM in 1985 and was featured on the cover of the January 1987 EM. By the way, I didn’t select Larry the Bro to write “Final Mix”; the editorial staff unanimously insisted that he was the right person for the job.

On to something completely new: keep an eye out for the newest member of our staff, Associate Editor Jeff Casey. Casey has a ton of engineering, music-production, broadcasting, and post-production experience at major studios in New York and NewJersey. His mandate is to bring us fresh recording applications, technical interviews, and much more. Welcome aboard, Jeff!