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About Dan

Baltimore City

I have been a recording engineer in Baltimore city for many years now, focusing mostly on acoustic music such as Jazz, Classical, and Folk. I am most interested in finding new ways to communicate musical experiences to listeners. There are many things that are edited out of modern recordings that I believe are actually essential parts of music. I love when I am recording a band in a small venue and the crowd is vocal and energetic. I love when I can hear the jazz musicians communicating on stage... more

The Dynamic Album Project

www.dynamicalbumproject.com

The Dynamic Album Project is a new kind of music record. Rather than static audio tracks that never change (such as physical media or digital files), The Dynamic Album Project has tracks that change on each listen - it can change between night and day, days of the week, weather conditions, etc. The tracks also can have random variance, i.e. have multiple performance behind a track. The purpose of the whole project is to remember that a song is not a single performance. Up until now, every album has had the following formula: Album Track = Performance, when really each album track should be multiple performances. Different arrangements, orchestrations, solos, performances can all coexist on the same record - highlighting each musician's creativity and divergent thinking. It's available for free to everyone at www.dynamicalbumproject.com.

The first album release on the Dynamic Album Project was Craig Alston: Live in Baltimore on December 1st, 2017. It was created during a two-day live recording session at An die Musik right in Baltimore (on November 7th and 8th). It features many of the city's top jazz musicians, including: Craig Alston, Gary Thomas, Todd Marcus, Greg Boyer, Dana Hawkins, Cory Baker, Theljon Allen, Blake Meister, Todd Simon, Alan Blackman, Lee Pearson and Aaron Hill. It also features up and coming talent Ebban and Ephraim Dorsey - two young jazz saxophonists who are just beginning their careers. You can read more about the event from Ian Rashkin's article with the Baltimore Jazz Alliance: http://baltimorejazz.com/2017/11/the-dynamic-album-project/.

I singlehandedly produced, recorded, mixed, and engineered the entire project from one small grant from Stanford University. I custom engineered the web application using Ruby on Rails, launching it on Heroku. Using the web application, I can find meaningful data for the musicians, including number of users, locations of users, most favorited track, most listened to track, time during song in which users hit next or pause, etc. This data is extremely valuable for the musicians to find new markets and connect with their fans. It is not possible with physical media.

I'm looking to expand this further, create more albums in many genres, and use this platform to spread Baltimore's musical talent throughout the world.

  • The Dynamic Album Project

    The Dynamic Album Project
    A new kind of dynamically-changing album. The record changes between day and night, offering two sides of the album. Each is a reflection of the other. See more at www.dynamicalbumproject.com.
  • Craig Alston Live at An die Musik

    Craig Alston Live Horn Section
    From the live recording session - horn section plays Todd Marcus's tunes. Featured left to right: Ephraim Dorsey, Ebban Dorsey, Todd Marcus, Greg Boyer, Theljon Allen, Craig Alston.
  • Web Application Analytics

    Data at the Dynamic Album Project
    One of the primary advantages of a custom streaming application is the immense amount of data that can be used to reach new audiences and engage listeners in specialized ways. The application is capable of measuring user counts, locations, behavior, time spent on page, favorite tracks, number of plays/pauses, exactly where traffic is coming from, etc. This data is invaluable in spreading the artwork further.
  • Craig Alston - Summertime by The Dynamic Album Project

    One of the audio tracks featured on Craig Alston Live in the Dynamic Album Project. This is one of the two performances featured on the record. There's a slower alternative featuring brushwork and a more contemplative mood that's also present. Recorded live at An die Musik.
  • Flyer for the Live Recording Session

    Craig Alston Live Flyer
    Flyer advertising the live recording event at An die Musik, featuring An die's famous armchairs!
  • Full Horn Section - the Dynamic Album Project

    Horn Section - Dynamic Album Project
    Full horns recording Todd Marcus tune at the Dynamic Album Project recording session.
  • Dorseys with Theljon and Todd

    Dorseys with Theljon and Todd
    Ebban and Ephraim Dorsey, with Theljon Allen and Todd Marcus after the live recording session on November 7th.
  • Session Setup - Image 1

    Session Setup Image 1
    I completely changed the orientation of the room in order to help the recording. The rhythm section is on stage, and the piano is covered with packing blankets with the microphones placed under the lid to minimize bleed from the drums. There are acoustic panels I built behind the drum kit to prevent reflects off the wall from causing comb filtering in the drum mics. The horns are placed on the ground level. Audience members said they felt like they were 'in the band' at the concerts.
  • Session Setup - Image 2

    Horn Section Session Setup
    The horns were placed on the ground level - in line with the drums. Each of the horn mics is a 'Figure-8' pickup pattern, which means it picks up from the front and back but not the sides. I take advantage of this here: by placing the horns sideways to the drums, the direct drum sound isn't picked up by the mics.
  • Javascript

    Javascript
    The majority of the code is client-side so it's javascript. I used Ruby on Rails to handle server-side aspects (track selection, condition changes, subscribers). This is a custom built application for this album. I believe recording engineers of the 21st century will be computer programmers. We will have to communicate art and music through data-driven applications such as these.

Symphony Number One Digital Media

I have been the Director of Digital Media of Symphony Number One for three years.

Since its foundation, I have worked to engineer and produce our four albums, as well as dozens of videos of performances and trailers for social media platforms. Symphony Number One focuses on emerging composers - which means we work extensively with up-and-coming talent in the classical world. These are a diverse group of international composers who, while incredibly talented at what they do, are still creating a name for themselves and getting the recognition their work deserves.

As the Digital Media director, I create the recordings, videos, and media that these composers need to disseminate their work throughout the world.

As an artist, it's an especially rewarding position. These recordings are often the premiere recordings - which means that I am working with a blank slate. There are no recordings beforehand that I can listen to in order to understand the music - I have to go to the first editions of the score and read them beforehand. Doing so allows me to record these works appropriately. Each recording is unique - I never record pieces the same way twice - and by using different microphone types and arrangements I create media that enhances the message of the music.

I also create multi-camera videos for social media and explore new technology such as 360 video.

We have recorded every single premiere. All told, it's over sixty new compositions in the past three years.

  • Approaching by Symphony Number One

    Latest album released by Symphony Number One. I recorded these tracks from three different concerts during our 2016-2017 season at venues throughout Baltimore city. Features the work of three up and coming composers, including a 55 minute symphony by young composer Nicholas Bentz. Looking ahead at the score of the work, it was one of the first for Symphony Number One to feature a large string section.
  • Nicholas Bentz discusses Approaching Eternity

    Nicholas Bentz discusses his new work Approaching Eternity. Filmed at the Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Baltimore.
  • Light City Recordings

    Symphony Number One was featured at Light City 2016. For the composers, we ran a recordings session where I recorded, edited, and mixed tracks for each of the composers new works. Those recordings were given to the composers for use on their own websites and marketing themselves. A big part of my work at Symphony Number One is to provide composers with the media they need to further their careers. It's an integral part of the orchestra. These recordings get thousands of plays, and every one has been recorded right here in Baltimore. Recording sessions like these can be complicated.
  • Season 2 - Trailer 2

    Trailer video for Symphony Number One's second season.
  • Song of the Earth - Trailer

    Video trailer I made for Symphony Number One's concert "Song of the Earth", featuring Taylor Boykins on voice. Trailer videos I make such as these receive thousands of views on Facebook, and work to not only promote the concert but spread awareness of the music happening today in Baltimore. This video was done with a single GoPro camera set to timelapse mode during setup.
  • Martina Lynch: Dear Media

    Collaboration between Symphony Number One and Martina Lynch. An orchestration of her song "Dear Media" (arranged by Frances Pollock). I shot this video during the live performance this past September 2017. This video was one of our most successful on social media, receiving over 4,000 views. This live recording was captured using a mixture of microphones and direct-input feeds. There are a pair of main room mics capturing the natural room ambience and backing track.
  • Martha Horst: Straussian Landscapes

    Video clip from the premiere of Martha Horst's Straussian Landscapes.
  • Second album release - Emergence

    Emergence
    Second album release titled "Emergence". Features saxophonist Sean Meyers performing Andrew Boss's new concerto for alto saxophone. Recorded live at the Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Baltimore. My twin brother is a saxophonist, and we grew up playing together (all throughout college as well). I've always been excited to highlight this gorgeous, albeit lesser known, orchestral instrument. I used extensive room microphones to capture the sound of the church. The dark, natural reverberation of the hall matched the mood of the work.

An die Musik Records

Over the past three years I've built a recording studio at An die Musik to record audio and video of the concerts that occur there. An die Musik is one of the top jazz venues in the city. Working with Henry Wong and Doc Manning, the goal is to promote Baltimore music and spread international awareness of the incredible caliber of music that occurs at the venue. The venue has world class musicians that perform there on a weekly basis, but those performances have never been documented. My goal at An die Musik is to help spread Baltimore music by promoting, recording, and video taping as many of the concerts as possible, for release on official CDs, social media platforms, and artist websites.

Major projects over the past three years:

1. Nico Sarbanes Live in Baltimore - official CD release of four concert-series featuring Baltimore's most eminent jazz musicians.

2. Ivo Perelman Live in Baltimore - official CD release of Ivo Perelman's concert at An die Musik, released on Leo Records.

3. Folkal Series - first Saturday of every month - songwriters regionally and nationally come to perform at An die Musik. I record every concert. The recordings are to be released as a compilation CD in 2018.

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