David Frank

music production

March 19, 2012
by David Frank

From Mozart to Skrillex, From Harpsichord to Massive

My head is filled with Music and my writing has often been a reflection of the music I’ve listened to. When I hear something I like that’s in the realm of what I do I become obsessed with wanting to be able to duplicate it. When I was 7-8 years old I listened mostly to Bach,Mozart and Beethoven. My 1st written composition sounded like it. My Mom entered it in a composing competition for kids in the area where I grew up (Boston) and I got some kind of small prize which my parents said was a big prize and I’ve never looked back. In years since my influences as a keyboard player,synthesist and producer have been many. Here is a very disorganized list, in no particular order, of some of my favorites. In many cases I’ve either learned to play their solos, parts or arrangements note for note: sometimes in every key.

Vanilla Fudge , Ramsey Lewis, Booker T and the MGs, Young Rascals, Earth Wind and Fire (the bass part in Shining Star and That’s The Way of The World), Deep Purple.The Zombies,Stevie Wonder. Keith Emerson, Arif Mardin(Producer) Rufus and Chaka Khan, Average White Band, Duke Ellington, Bud Powell, Nat King Cole as pianist (he was a pianist 1st!) Thomas Dolby (PPG Wave synth!! yeah!) James Browns Band, Parliament Funkadelic (Bernie Worrell and Bootsy Collins). The Band (some of the best music ever!), Kashif (various productions), Omar, Grandmaster Flash,D Train, ConFunk Shun, The Gap Band, Dr Dre (and the musicians he’s worked with), Timberland (various Productions),L.A and Babyface, Jam and Lewis, Prince,The Time….uh oh this is getting kinda long. I’ll skip up to some of my current favorites. Stargate (various productions) Datsik, Excision, Skrillex (Check out the supermusical breaks in Weekends!!! (Zedd remix) also Breaking a Sweat, Kid Cudi,Bassnectar….

When I was a kid I wanted to build a Harpsichord.At the time there was a company that made a Harpsichord kit but I couldn’t convince my parents to get it for me. Now I just want to master Massive and U-he Diva (try it !). Presets are great but its also good to know how to build the sounds you hear in your head from scratch.


February 13, 2012
by David Frank

Finishing touches on the System album

Just now putting the finishing touches on the Album “System Overload”. Finishing the arrangement for “Your love is a Motha” We are going for a march 1st finish line.

When we were down working with Jimmy Douglas I had an introduction to Ableton Live. It looked like fun! Gotta stick with Logic and Maschine for now though. I’m really liking the Diva softsynth by U-he. Check it out. It sounds fine in the “fast” accuracy setting so don’t be afraid of it using up too much processor power. Congrads Skrillex. You are a creative guy! An inventor ! The interview in “Electronic Musician Mag” shines.


January 20, 2012
by David Frank

Minimoog Book, Legendary Masters of the Piano (actual Hi Fidelity performances by Debussy , Saint Saen, Mahler and others

I was interviewed last week by Jo Silva for a book he is writing for Moog Music about the MINIMOOG. The MiniMoog was my main source for Bass sounds in the 80’s on System songs such as Don’t Disturb This Groove, You’re in My System, The Pleasureseekers. Also on other songs I worked on: Chaka Khan’s I Feel for You, Phil Collins Susudio to name a few.  Used it for many worm lines and such in the 90’s as well.(check out my work with Omar (RCA),98 Degrees The Hardest Thing, Genie in a Bottle Christina Aguilera. It continues to be prominently displayed and often used in my studio.
On another note. In the early 1900’s there was a mechanical device called The Velte Vorsetzer that could record and play back and capture the nuanced touch and interpretations of the pianist of the day. There are ACTUAL performances that have reasonable 1960’s Hi fidelity sound by Debussy,Hofman,Ravel,Paderewski,Grieg,Faure, d’Albert,Saint Saen,Leschetizky,Scriabin,Richard Strauss,Mahler and more. The interpretations sometimes seem strange by our standards today. As Glenn Gould says in the album notes….
“Rewarding…and also disturbing because many of these performances are hard to reconcile with the architectural notions which our generation prize most highly(1963!!). Consequently, whether one is being astounded by the extraordinary virtuosity…or occasionally baffled by the whimsical nature of the interpretive ideas, and one is even led to ask fundamental questions about the nature of stylistic concept as viewed by the performer.”
Look up “Legendary Masters of the Piano”. SOOO interesting and beautiful if you have an interest in classical piano.

January 20, 2012
by David Frank

Namm,Diva Synth, Florida to Finish the new System Album

I going to the NAMM show this morning. Let me know if you will be there. So much gear and software packed in one place! On tuesday I’m going to Miami to work with MIC MURPHY and the one and only JIMMY DOUGLAS to with hopes to finish THE SYSTEM album. Finally!
I’m really having fun with the new Softsynth by U-he. It’s called “DIva”. Sounds bigger than any other. Don’t be afraid to put it in ‘Fast” mode. It still sounds good and uses way less CPU.

December 24, 2011
by David Frank

Handel and Razor

Because it’s holiday time I’ve been practicing 2 tenor arias from Handel’s Messiah to do with my son Griffith for my Mom and family. “Every Valley Shall Be Exalted ” is really tough (for me) as it needs to be quite fast. My left hand is sore!!

Tech note: I’m really getting into  NI Razor. It works within Reaktor. Check it out. Interesting Vocoder possibilities as well as Additive Synthesis.


December 24, 2011
by David Frank

Lucky 7-Thank you to SOULNRnB website 2010

SoulNRnB’s Great Producers SEVEN: David Frank

“The founding father of Electronic R&B”

Thats David Frank, one half of way before their time group THE SYSTEM (Together with Mic Murphy whose influence and contribution should not be underestimated).

The keyboardist found work playing in bands around New York, affording him the opportunity to invest in the emerging MIDI music technology. He bought an Oberheim OBXa keyboard synthesizer, sequencer, and drum machine. Oberheim later released a three-piece MIDI (synthesizer, sequencer, and drum machine) combination called “The System”.

David got a break when Atlantic Records soul/funk band Kleer enlisted him as their tour keyboardist. The band’s road manager, Mic Murphy, asked Frank to play on some sessions he was recording with friends which led to a track called “It’s Passion” in which a pre-stardom Madonna was slated to do the vocals, but because of creative differences, she bowed out, Thank the lord! Murphy re-vamped the lyrics and melody and the two went into the studio, recorded the song in one day, and stayed up all night mixing the record. Soon after, Murphy called to tell Frank that the duo had a record deal; in two days, Murphy came up with the name the System, and within three weeks, “It’s Passion” was receiving massive radio airplay in New York.

For me, the rest is Soul History. I hadn’t heared anything like this before that could remotely be called soulful. David worked soon after with the likes of Chaka Khan (Whose Prince written Eternity features in this mix), Jeff Lorber, Scritti Politti, Angela Bofill and more. To this day, David still produces, but to me, he and Mic will always be The System, and David one of my great producer picks, writer of some of the greatest 2 part synth baselines, and founding father of Electronic R&B!!!

SoulNRnB’s Great Producers SEVEN : David Frank
note:I couldn’t find this website whenI just clicked on the link so I posted it. Thank you to whoever wrote this review.

August 9, 2011
by David Frank


Sept 4 2011- sunday 10am   Making music is what I do everyday. These days my compositions are composed on Logic and Native Instruments Maschine. One of my favorite softsynths are Zebra 2 by u-he. among  others I also like and use FXpansion Geist and Strobe, Subboom Bass by Rob Papen …and actually many more…. Maschine  is a whole world in itself. I’ve been attempting to do whole tracks on it. It of course reminds me of my days on the Oberheim DMX DSX OB8 system, Linn 9000 and then the MPC series.

I’ve been making music with the electronic instrument palette since  fall 1981 when it became possible to “play” a part into a sequencer (DSX) and have it play back. Before that there were only step sequencers which I just was not inclined to use. Being a fairly competent Jazz and Classical pianist I guess I needed to be able to play/hear things in real time and play more than one note at a time (!)

It’s sunday morning and I’m doing this…..and I just watched an episode of Pensado’s Place which is an informative web tv show about mixing music and production put on by Dave Pensado. The episode was ostensibly about stereo bus compression. One of the things Dave is good at is making his work relationships personal and always conveying a positive  attitude. I wish I was more like you Dave!  But make no mistake about his mission. The sound of the mixes are the number 1 priority and he has proven his excellence and mastery of the art over and over.

My priority and love of music has always been based on the underlying Harmonic/melodic content. More to come…

Sept 17, 2011- Mic and I just worked all week on new songs for our album in New York City.I’m going home tonight. I brought a laptop, Maschine Controller and Keyboard Controller.  We also took a trip to New Jersey to work with excellent songwriter/remixer/DJ/mixer Mr Mig. I learned so much about mixing and making a laptop rock using sidechaining etc. Check him out. Mr Mig.  We wrote a really great song.

I tried to write tracks in Maschine Standalone mode most of the week.

Sept 26, 2011- Well  I love working with Maschine. However it is so convenient to put  entire vocal stems on audio tracks in logic and get creative with the musical track. You can still loop sections and use the Maschine patterns but it does become more complicated….

I have been listening to, playing and appreciating a lot of new AND old music lately. among others, Bassnectar, Schostacovich piano prelude in D,  Flux Pavilion, Bach Partita’s, Datsik, various Debussy pieces, Sarah Vaughn, Hazel Scott, and Bass and Breaks with Mike Swaine BBC Electro/Dubstep podcasts. I’m not sure what century I live in but I know I love all kinds of music. I just wish I had time to be good at all of it. Can anyone else identify with that?

Nov 30, 2011- I’ve been enjoying working with a new software synth called Razor. It has a most detailed visual representation of what is transpiring audiowise. I’ve always thought that I might compromise the sound if I am looking at a pretty graphic rep when I’m programming. I still think that: however, Razors animated graph seems useful so far. The System Album is coming along. 6 songs down 3 to go. We are exploring different final mixing options now.