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  • Do we care too much how music is technically?

    Hi all,

    I ask this question, because I have seen a trend since computers became so much a part of our industry for recording. I remember back in the days of tape, we did what we did, it was either sounding good, or it wasn't. If someone hears a song, likes it, but then something sounds a little different than they expect, put it through some program and go, oh yeah, that's off by... insert whatever... are we doing ourselves, and others, any favours?. It translates to sound the same on any system as your studio feel was. If it sounds good, you enjoy it, isn't that enough?.

    Thanks for input,

    Tony

  • #2
    The way that most music is produced these days lends itself to nit-picking. Few people bring a band into the studio, play some songs, maybe fix a couple of rough spots, and then go off to their gig to make some money. When you assemble a song from a bunch of scraps, you have to work harder to get them to all fit together and make something that sounds like music.

    But that's OK, because mostly it'll get heard as a bit-reduced stream, while the listener is doing something else, but he wants it in high resolution because he has $600 earphones plugged into the smart phone.

    --
    "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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    • #3
      So, let me play devils advocate, if the people who like your songs like them, who cares whether a seriously competent engineer thinks something could be subjectively different?. I am not saying we put out stuff that is just sloppy trash, or that hurts your ears at certain frequencies. My point was, if it plays well on all devices and everyone that heard it likes it, isn't that the whole point really?.

      Tony

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      • #4
        On my album Smoke all of the instrumentation was done in-the-box on the laptop using virtual instruments, so there aren't any 'mistakes' as such. However, I did the vocals pretty much first take, having had a run-through first. There are several dodgy moments but I thought 'Sod it, that's the way I sound'. Result of Chance, from the album, is the best example of this. A case of the rough (my voice) with the smooth (the backing track)

        Are you from the UK, Tony? I noticed you spelled 'favours' with a U. The way it should be spelled
        Last edited by Mark L; 11-03-2017, 01:46 AM.
        new album - smoke
        forum - the asylum

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        • Makzimia
          Makzimia commented
          Editing a comment
          Hi Mark, I think a lot of why there is so much emphasis on perfection is because of loops and virtual over live miced music. Anyway, yes, I'm from the UK. I just thought this was a good topic for us all to discuss, and maybe make some headroom for myself to stop sweating the stuff that never used to matter. If it feels good, people dig it, it's golden, no? .

      • #5
        Originally posted by Makzimia View Post
        I am not saying we put out stuff that is just sloppy trash, or that hurts your ears at certain frequencies.
        Oh, but we do put out stuff that's just sloppy trash, and (for possibly different reasons) does hurt the listener's ears. That stuff shouldn't be put out or should be improved before it's put out. But there are defenders who say that this is "creativity" and people have a right to hear it. I exercise my right to not hear it, and don't really worry about what I'm missing because there's a few lifetimes of music out there that I enjoy. Much of it has stood the test of time and is as enjoyable today as it was 50 or more years ago. The new music that I enjoy follows the path and has the characteristics of the music that I enjoy, I remember, and that doesn't hurt my ears.

        My point was, if it plays well on all devices and everyone that heard it likes it, isn't that the whole point really?.
        Is there a song that everyone who has heard it likes? I doubt it. Some people, believe it or not, like music because it hurts their ears. Some like songs that make them cry. Some like songs that prompt deep thinking. Some like songs that they can never understand. There is no universal song or format or minimum standards of production quality.

        --
        "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

        Comment


        • Makzimia
          Makzimia commented
          Editing a comment
          All totally valid reason Mike . I guess saying specifically the obvious, to me, of music being shaped specifically for a genre. I am well aware of diversity in music, and lots I definitely cannot stand listening to, whether done right or not. Thanks.

      • #6
        Originally posted by Anderton
        The line I always use at workshops is "all that matters is the emotional impact on the listener," because people listen to music to have an emotional reaction. Sounds obvious, but people don't listen to music because they want to evaluate whether a guitar sound is an amp sim or a miked amplifier.
        If that was true, we'd have an awful lot of emotionally impacted people a lot of the time. I have music playing around me a lot, yet I rarely get emotional about something I hear. It fills the silence and occasionally catches my ear for a moment. But when I have a radio program playing and I'm doing something else, I can't tell you what the last song played was. But I'd miss the music if it wasn't there.

        However, unless someone specifically asks me, I never listen to music to try to figure out if it's a real amplifier or a simulator.

        --
        "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

        Comment


        • #7
          As a musician, I don't feel a part of the general listening population. Stripped down to the bare essentials (maybe actually overly simplified) I listen for 1) craft and 2) invention. Not a technical wonk at all, but being a music wonk, I believe that not enough musicians are concerned enough with honing their music skills.

          I remember maybe 15 years ago reading on some keyboard forum guys talking about measuring the decay of the lowest "A' on the digital piano to determine if it was worthy. I've never played a low "A" on the piano in any piece of music. I believe there's something akin to "male testosterone induced hot rod syndrome" when it comes to souped up sound.

          Of course, I am an outlier.
          https://soundcloud.com/david-goethe/tracks

          Dave's ,YouTube channel

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          • 1001gear
            1001gear commented
            Editing a comment
            Shostakovitch prelude. I forget the number. Big note.
            Harumph.


        • #8
          Originally posted by Makzimia View Post
          Hi all,

          I ask this question, because I have seen a trend since computers became so much a part of our industry for recording. I remember back in the days of tape, we did what we did, it was either sounding good, or it wasn't. If someone hears a song, likes it, but then something sounds a little different than they expect, put it through some program and go, oh yeah, that's off by... insert whatever... are we doing ourselves, and others, any favours?. It translates to sound the same on any system as your studio feel was. If it sounds good, you enjoy it, isn't that enough?.

          Thanks for input,

          Tony

          Well, I am a perfectionist and a minimalist and so I make music targeting my own critique. It has to sound natural.
          But there are a few lines I will not cross, I will never use Auto Tune, and have never used it. I also try to stay away from compressing my vocals, except if I am willing targeting a specific result/sound. Or at the Master stage.

          I used a DAW like a tape machine, I also do not use loops. So I play all the parts from beginning to end, this way I have a natural velocity and feel and I can alternate patterns.

          My ultimate go is to do less in the box.

          Please note: Nothing I stated above is indicative of good music or hit music, it my personal preference and to each his own.

          Given I am not certain how some or all listeners my consume music, I simply target my own taste, hopefully someone will like it.

          But to answer your question, I think the times have changed and the world has changed, it may appear as if people are obsessed with the technicalities of music production but I see it differently. I think Computers and Music making on computers have proliferated and become so ubiquitous, this can make it seem as if people are obsessed with the technology but I think it's because the technology is simply there.
          If you stand for nothing your life becomes meaningless. The world and everything you have today exist because people before you stood up, worked hard and died to provide us all the opportunity. Get involved!

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          • #9
            So how about the case where the crowd says they like some recording, but the studio engineer has a negative opinion about the same recording.

            It's way too simple to say, "forget the engineer, the people have spoken." The crowd might like it more if the engineer's advice is heeded.

            There's no single standard here that can be referred to as the final word. It's no use pitting the production pros against the listening public, saying "who is right?". They can both be right, both be wrong, or one right, one wrong. It depends. Engineers can certainly be over-fussy. The crowd can like perfectly wretched material. Happens all the time.

            If there's a final word on the issue, it's the musical vision of the original artist, right? Some musical visions include a high degree of technical perfection - some don't. I don't listen to Dylan to hear technically amazing acoustic guitar work - but a crack bluegrass band better have precision chops or they will totally fail.

            So, if you're the artist, and you're feeling harassed by some picky engineer, forget using the crowd to justify your beef with the engineer. Use your own artistic instincts. If it's good enough and you know it, then just say so.

            nat




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            • #10
              This whole thread could really spawn another...

              How many artists would have never been noticed if not for Good/Inventive engineers?

              http://thebasement.createaforum.com/

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              • #11
                Originally posted by AlamoJoe View Post
                This whole thread could really spawn another...

                How many artists would have never been noticed if not for Good/Inventive engineers?


                Engineers, or producers, some are both of course. I am not debating the need for sanity checks, I just think we do have too much information overload sometimes.

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                • #12
                  End listener hasn't the choices of the engineers.

                  who might be frustrated fashion designers...
                  Originally posted by Unconfigured Static HTML Widget...







                  Write Something, or Drag and Drop Images Here...

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                  • #13
                    Originally posted by 1001gear View Post
                    End listener hasn't the choices of the engineers.

                    who might be frustrated fashion designers...


                    Classic... but seriously, I think it does become a case of taking the process too seriously some times. We want to do the best we can, but is our best too far sometimes, I think so.

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                    • #14
                      I believe the focus of how we obtain 'perfection' has changed over time, and today we are just seeing the latest iteration. A long time ago, before recording even began, the 'perfection' was achieved by numerous hours of practice with our respective instrument (voice included) and, if part of a group, working together to achieve the perfect sound. The perfection came from the tireless effort to be perfect in our playing. This carried into the initial recording era when everyone was crowded around a single microphone. You still had to get it right it right the first time.

                      As time went on, we developed multi-track recording. Each performer had to get it right, but if you messed up, you could get a 'do over' thanks to new technology. It also allowed you to expand the sound, as you could add things by recording new tracks or additional instruments. The group didn't even need to be in the same room at the same time.

                      Today, the focus of perfection has moved from the performer to the engineer. The computer has given us the opportunity to 'fix in the mix', whether it is multiple takes of multiple takes to get the perfect riff, auto-tune to correct bad vocals (or even create background/harmony vocals, etc), or to create sounds out of 1s and 0s. Instead of hours working to perfect our playing during a performance, we now spend hours in the DAW perfecting the recording of the performance.

                      So the quest for perfection has always been there. How we obtain it seems to be what has changed.

                      Obligatory video....
                      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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                      • #15
                        Craig wrote: "The line I always use at workshops is "all that matters is the emotional impact on the listener," because people listen to music to have an emotional reaction. Sounds obvious, but people don't listen to music because they want to evaluate whether a guitar sound is an amp sim or a miked amplifier."

                        If people really cared about the emotional impact of music, why do they keep taking out the human element from the recording?
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