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Craig's List - The Top Five Sounds that Overstayed Their Welcome

And will haunt you the rest of your life!


by Craig Anderton




The DX7 Pseudo-Rhodes Electric Piano

Remember how the first time you heard it you were astonished by its almost-transcendent sound quality? And how it still sounded great after you’d heard it a few dozen times? And how after hearing it for the 34,554th time on yet another truly horrific new-age album like The Celestial Yoga Dream Faeries of Spirit Bliss, you never, ever wanted to hear it again?



Drums and Gated Reverb

Steve Lillywhite and Hugh Padgham didn’t invent gated drum reverb, but hey, we’ll blame them anyway. Why? Because they made hit records with Peter Gabriel highlighting that sound, so copycats concluded that using gated reverb would give them hit records. The fad came to an abrupt end when they realized that being Peter Gabriel would give them hit records. And they weren’t him.



The Dreaded Sampled Shakuhachi

It added a cool ethnic flavor at first. But then you heard the same attack every time it played. The same opening flourish. The same breathy sustain. The same inelegant fade in glorious 8-bit fidelity. And that’s when you sadly realized that sampling definitely had its limitations—as did the people who kept using it. Over and over. And over.




Vinyl Pop and Crackle Samples

There’s an old saying in Hollywood: “Above all, you must be sincere. Once you can fake that, you’ve got it made.” So in that spirit, let’s add an air of authenticity with something totally fake! The ultimate irony, of course, is advertising vinyl-crackle samples as “recorded in pristine 24-bit, 96kHz quality.” I must be missing something.



The TR-808 Robot Handclap

Hip-hop? Sure! Techno? Yeah, why not. But then the clap started showing up everywhere: Rock music that should have known better. Icelandic whaling songs. Poison’s comeback album of Sinatra ballads. Monistat commercials. Yes, that infectious 808 clap spread like...well, you know.




Craig Anderton is a Senior Contributing Editor at Harmony Central. He has played on, mixed, or produced over 20 major label releases (as well as mastered over a hundred tracks for various musicians), and written over a thousand articles for magazines like Guitar Player, Keyboard, Sound on Sound (UK), and Sound + Recording (Germany). He has also lectured on technology and the arts in 38 states, 10 countries, and three languages.


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daddymack  |  January 16, 2018 at 11:12 am
I had expected that flanging would make this list...hopefully on the next CL... ;)
ChuckG  |  January 16, 2018 at 10:52 am
For some reason, I thought there would be sound samples...LOL
Terranaut_X  |  January 16, 2018 at 1:45 am
Hey, off Steve Lillywhite and Hugh Padgham. They helped my favorite group, XTC, reach their next great plateau in their evolution to rock/pop's pantheon of greatest achievers.
Knobdragon  |  January 15, 2018 at 1:40 pm
I do a live Christmas show every year where there is a fireplace chat scene  in front of a fake fireplace with a video of a fire playing and I play a loop of  fireplace crackle/snap. It’s all campy fun but goofy irony strikes me occasionally, especially when a tech tells me he heard a crackle in the system. Lol
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