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Are the Studio Tricks We Use the Equivalent of Fake News?

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  • Are the Studio Tricks We Use the Equivalent of Fake News?

    "Fake news" is designed to make people believe something is true that is not, typically because of wanting to push some agenda. So is comping, overdubbing, adding processors, and the like related to fake news? We don't like the reality of our vocals, so we add limiting, pitch correction, and EQ to make it sound like the vocals are actually good. We punch in over guitar solos to fix bad lead lines and make it seem like we're better guitar players, and quantize drums to make drummers sound like they have better timing.

    The main difference I can think of is that no one gets hurt by this kind of "fake news." But I can't help feeling that fake news simply reflects society's propensity to cheat. Movies use CGI to fake reality when reality is too expensive or not possible, models get photoshopped on magazine covers, statisticians twist numbers to prove a point, people stretch deductions on their tax returns, resumes get puffed up to look like job seekers accomplished more than they did, etc.

    Does our use of studio tools, no matter how innocent the motivation, support a trend of dishonesty?
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  • #2
    Multitrack recording engineers are illusionists. We create the illusion of a live performance that never actually occurred.

    I don't consider that to be the equivalent of fake news - it's more analogous to what a magician does, or what happens with a movie production of an adaptation of a fictional book. Everyone knows (or should know) that it doesn't represent real-time reality, but rather is produced with entertainment of the viewer / listener in mind.
    **********

    "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

    - George Carlin

    "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

    - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

    "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

    - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

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    • sharkbait
      sharkbait commented
      Editing a comment
      I agree. Can't think of anything Orwellian in the pop music field.

      And to clarify: "Fake News" applies specifically a Bannon/Russian tactic, it's not a general term. And it's not "some" agenda, it's a specific agenda.

  • #3
    Originally posted by Anderton View Post
    "Fake news" is designed to make people believe something is true that is not, typically because of wanting to push some agenda. So is comping, overdubbing, adding processors, and the like related to fake news? We don't like the reality of our vocals, so we add limiting, pitch correction, and EQ to make it sound like the vocals are actually good. We punch in over guitar solos to fix bad lead lines and make it seem like we're better guitar players, and quantize drums to make drummers sound like they have better timing.

    The main difference I can think of is that no one gets hurt by this kind of "fake news." But I can't help feeling that fake news simply reflects society's propensity to cheat. Movies use CGI to fake reality when reality is too expensive or not possible, models get photoshopped on magazine covers, statisticians twist numbers to prove a point, people stretch deductions on their tax returns, resumes get puffed up to look like job seekers accomplished more than they did, etc.

    Does our use of studio tools, no matter how innocent the motivation, support a trend of dishonesty?
    Perhaps some of the hurt are the musicians that lost work and left the biz because of midi and the like. I had a recently added Facebook friend, a tuba player from my NCSA days comment on a studio photo. "Nice studio-is that midi gear I see?" I told him yes, that it's primarily for mock ups and that when I've performed, it's with people. I was not a friend for long anyway.

    And maybe there is a risk. The more it's made into something anyone can do, the more crowded it gets, the less special music becomes..along with the musicians that practiced hard so that they can get it done without much help...if any.

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    • #4
      I think of a studio, or guitar room with a laptop in my case, as a totally different entity than a live venue. I create songs like an artist would a painting with different brushes and colors, and most of my favorite albums came to be with the intent to make a great record rather than something the band could easily pull off live. There are songs I cannot recreate at all, much less onstage.

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      • AlamoJoe
        AlamoJoe commented
        Editing a comment
        Having followed your music for a couple of years now, I have to say your approach to recording your own material is remarkably straight forward and even minimalist most of the time. You paint with broad strokes, relying on tone and mood for the most part.

    • #5
      "fake news" is the wrong analogy.

      Studio tricks are more like CGI in the movies. There is a finished product in mind and a place to take the audience. There are many ways to create the illusion of a park full of dinosaurs. Which the best way to achieve it for the sake of the audience, the art of the film, and the cost/time constraints?

      If you have a particular sound for the guitar solo in mind, is it better to do multiple complete takes, punch in to overdub the flubbed notes, or just leave whatever the guitarist played the first time around regardless?

      It's all about the best/most efficient way to get you where you want to go.



      ______________

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      • #6
        If a studio record that employed these devices were represented as a live recording, then I could see how one could make a fake news analogy; but studio recordings are more like painting than photography in that they are more of a creative process than an accurate representation, and I think it's generally understood that this is the case.

        After all, we have been constructing and manipulating sound since we invented the first instruments. One could make a good case that the only sounds that represent reality are the ones made in nature.

        Best,

        Geoff
        Last edited by Geoff Grace; 02-28-2017, 02:22 PM.
        Enthusiasm powers the world.

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        • #7
          Originally posted by Geoff Grace View Post
          If a studio record that employed these devices were represented as a live recording, then I could see how one could make a fake news analogy; but studio recordings are more like painting than photography in that they are more of a creative process than an accurate representation, and I think it's generally understood that this is the case.
          You bring up a good point, actually. Think of how many "live" albums have overdubs that were done in the studio.

          The reason why I posted this is I've been trying more and more to have what I do in the studio reflect what I can do live. So even though I do use the studio to create that which can't be done live (i.e., play several instruments on the same track!), I've been leaving in little vocal pitch issues, some finger squeaks, using longer and longer phrases when comping, and so on. It's more of a challenge not to rely on studio tools, but even though I can't be objective about it, I think the music might be a bit more compelling because it's at least somewhat more "honest."

          @sharkbait: Although the term "fake news" has only come into being recently, fake news has been around for a long time...the National Enquirer comes to mind, and probably a lot of propaganda could be considered fake news as well. Or there's North Korea, which it seems has only fake news Unless you believe Kim Il Sung really did hit a hole in one on every hole when he played golf.
          N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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          • sharkbait
            sharkbait commented
            Editing a comment
            Of course, and perhaps I should have qualified that I knew you were using the term in it's "traditional" sense.

            I chimed in because the recent application is not at all light subject matter, and there's a trend to assimilating outrageous and dangerous concepts (ironically, often by the media) through a kind of benign referencing; in the case of the news, a insistence in trying to show two sides of a one-sided issue, in the case of your wording, what strikes me as broad application of a particular phrase.

            The effect is to normalize something that should not be.

            Sorry to seem humorless/hypercritical, but I'm scared as hell with the Trump/Bannon attacks on the legit press and the First Amendment.
            Last edited by sharkbait; 03-02-2017, 12:21 AM.

        • #8
          It might be an enhanced, better-than-life, but what's news about that? I don't think anyone feels defrauded when they discover that what's on the record isn't really what they thought it was, though Milli Vanilli fans might have a stronger opinion.

          Fake news in the music business is that Elvis is alive and set the Russian hackers up to embarass the US Oscar hosts.
          --
          "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
          Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

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          • #9
            The whole "Fake News" thing is simply a deflector that Our Fuhrer's team came up with. I think Geoff Grace came up with the perfect analogy for what we do with the myriad of recording tools we have available. We're painting. No one would suggest that a painter using more than one color or brush was "Faking" a painting.

            Calling valid criticism, and perhaps damning but accurate reporting "Fake News", is not only disingenuous, it's criminally misleading.
            Compressing a bass drum to make it sound like thunder is not "Fake". It's art.
            http://thebasement.createaforum.com/

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            • #10
              What's interesting to me is what we accept or don't accept. Back in the 60s (1960s, not 1860s, I'm not that old ) there were op-ed pieces about how singers used EQ and reverb to cover up for a lack of talent. We've also seen this with samplers ("fake" instruments), the lip-synching on Saturday Night Life that essentially ended Ashlee Simpson's career, and Milli Vanilli. So I guess the answer is it's art if artists do it, it's fake if it's done with an intent to deceive.
              N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

              Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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              • #11
                Originally posted by Anderton View Post
                So I guess the answer is it's art if artists do it, it's fake if it's done with an intent to deceive.
                Intent and deception I think are key here. The Milli Vanilli syndrome is probably the closest equivalent to fake news.

                "Oh! What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive"
                The Mandolin Picker

                "Bless your hearts... and all your vital organs" - John Duffy

                "Got time to breath, got time for music!"- Briscoe Darling, Jr.

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                • #12
                  It's fake news if you're running a chop shop.
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                  • #13
                    I'm solely an amateur studio musician, and I create tracks that sound good, with no intent of ever playing them live. There was a time I wanted to be Rick Wakeman and be a keyboard hero, but now I just get satisfaction from creating something new and unique.

                    I fully understand the satisfaction people get from playing live or listening to live music, but I don't go into the studio looking to capture a live event. I use the tools to create something totally independent of a live event.
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                    • #14
                      Originally posted by Anderton View Post
                      "Fake news" is designed to make people believe something is true that is not...

                      … Does our use of studio tools, no matter how innocent the motivation, support a trend of dishonesty?
                      That's like asking if Glenn Gould was a fake piano player.
                      As a human being, you come with the whole range of inner possibilities
                      from the deepest hell to the highest states.

                      It is up to you which one you choose to explore
                      .

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                      • #15
                        Speaking of Glenn Gould, this DVD set has some interviews with him where he talks about his approach to recording, recording techniques and technology and makes some predictions about what the future will be. The future that he talked about then is the present today and the accuracy of his predictions is uncanny.



                        I highly recommend this DVD set to anyone who is a fan of Gould (I think he was one of the greatest pianists of all time) and to those who are interested in the art of recording music.
                        As a human being, you come with the whole range of inner possibilities
                        from the deepest hell to the highest states.

                        It is up to you which one you choose to explore
                        .

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