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Do You Believe In Magic?

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  • #16
    At Berklee I heard story after story about how various big name artistes recorded. So many times I heard that your best peeps come into the studio amazingly well-rehearsed, and knock off solos, vocal lines and other difficult passages... with nary a mistake.

    But when I listened to the last Barbra Streisand album (and of course it's flawlessly produced) I did get the impression that her vocal lines had been cobbled together from different takes.
    Last edited by rasputin1963; 10-10-2015, 11:31 PM.
    Every paint-stroke takes you farther and farther away from your initial concept. And you have to be thankful for that. Wayne Thiebaud


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    • #17
      Originally posted by MikeRivers View Post
      I accept that hearing some music can be a magical experience, but I don't believe in magic or dumb luck when performing or recording. If you played something unplanned you liked, you should be able to remember it and play it again, probably better.
      Not sure about that. Sometimes the conscious and subsconscious minds disconnect, and there's a direct connection between what you play and the subsconscious creative process...so you play nothing with a precedent, and nothing premeditated. In that case, you may not be able to remember it because the process of remembering kicks your conscious mind back into action, and the subconscious is no longer free to be subconscious.

      I realize that it's a no-brainer to keep the virtual tape rolling when disk space is cheaper than dime store cassettes, but the price is in having to try to find out if there's a pony under the pile of manure.
      That's not how it works with me at all. I don't record and then listen back to see if there's anything good. Instead, while playing I'll know if something good happened and that ends the "let's record to see if anything happens" mode. It then turns into "let's develop that cool thing that just happened."

      The first 3 books in "The Musician's Guide to Home Recording" series are available from Hal Leonard and http://www.reverb.com. Listen to my music on http://www.YouTube.com/thecraiganderton, and visit http://www.craiganderton.com. Thanks!

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      • #18
        Originally posted by MikeRivers View Post
        . If you played something unplanned you liked, you should be able to remember it and play it again, probably better.
        Well if we are talking about recording a compostion or part that you have already written then I can see your point.

        But sometimes a mistake might be better than your original idea. Also you have to consider getting the feel right can make or break a take. You may play something correctly but it might not have the right soul or mojo. I've made obvious mistakes when recording parts but left them in because they just felt better than other takes that might have been more technically correct.

        As far as composing or improvising it's all unplanned isn't it? I mean how do you plan for inspiration? Doesn't it just come naturally?

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        • #19
          Originally posted by Folder View Post

          But sometimes a mistake might be better than your original idea. Also you have to consider getting the feel right can make or break a take. You may play something correctly but it might not have the right soul or mojo. I've made obvious mistakes when recording parts but left them in because they just felt better than other takes that might have been more technically correct.
          I have no problem with that. You know you're recording so you record, mistakes or not, and you decide what you want to keep. If a client asks me to record everything that's played, I'll be happy to do it. He's going to be paying me for listening to it all, and editing, too (unless he takes the disk home and does that himself) so that's more money I can make.

          But I get bored pretty easily. I might just hand the client a handheld recorder, send him off to another room, and tell him to call me when's found a better idea and learned to play it so we can record another take.

          I'm SOOOO glad I don't have to do this for a living.

          --
          "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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          • #20
            Keith Richards in the latest Rolling Stone magazine interview:

            Look at that little glass screen there [points to control-room window]. It's blank. If you want a canvas, silence — this is your canvas. So if I try to put music into visual terms: You make a little noise here, set up a beat here, and then you start to add a little bit and then, "Oh, no, take that away." I look upon it as an audio painting, really, when I'm making records. "What's needed here? Overload it with guitars, and then take all of them out and just use a bit of this one." Your paintbrush is that damn desk, with little faders, and it's never ceased to fascinate me.

            http://www.rollingstone.com/music/fe...uture-20151008

            Here's where the magic happens:

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            • #21
              A friend of mine helped me out by letting me use his Tascam 80-8 while he was working 12 hour overnight shifts. The only rule was that the material had to be original. He said "I don't want to come home in the morning and find Beatles songs on my machine."

              I jumped at the opportunity to work with a multi-track so I would struggle to find ideas for things to record and put down just about everything I could come up with. He would later listen to the material, pick out the good parts then I would develop the ideas further.

              On more than one occasion, he pointed out things I either didn't remember recording or considered throw away ideas just for building recording chops. These "demos" were then refined and turned into songs by my band with a few of them being quite successful.
              Every worm, every insect, every animal is working
              for the ecological wellbeing of the planet.

              Only we humans, who claim to be the most intelligent
              species here, are not doing that. ~Sadhguru

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              • #22
                Originally posted by Folder View Post
                Keith Richards in the latest Rolling Stone magazine interview:

                Look at that little glass screen there [points to control-room window]. It's blank. If you want a canvas, silence — this is your canvas. So if I try to put music into visual terms: You make a little noise here, set up a beat here, and then you start to add a little bit and then, "Oh, no, take that away." I look upon it as an audio painting, really, when I'm making records. "What's needed here? Overload it with guitars, and then take all of them out and just use a bit of this one." Your paintbrush is that damn desk, with little faders, and it's never ceased to fascinate me.

                http://www.rollingstone.com/music/fe...uture-20151008

                Here's where the magic happens:

                Never seen that video before. How fascinating!
                my tunes

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by Folder View Post
                  Keith Richards in the latest Rolling Stone magazine interview:

                  Look at that little glass screen there [points to control-room window]. It's blank. If you want a canvas, silence — this is your canvas. So if I try to put music into visual terms: You make a little noise here, set up a beat here, and then you start to add a little bit and then, "Oh, no, take that away." I look upon it as an audio painting, really, when I'm making records. "What's needed here? Overload it with guitars, and then take all of them out and just use a bit of this one." Your paintbrush is that damn desk, with little faders, and it's never ceased to fascinate me.

                  http://www.rollingstone.com/music/fe...uture-20151008

                  Here's where the magic happens:



                  That was a great post Folder.

                  While I totally love what Keith said there, and I believe it's a great analogy, what he's talking about and what they are doing in that video is a completely different approach than what I think Mike was referring to - if not a "write it in the studio" approach, the Stones were taking at least a "learn it and work out the arrangement in the studio" approach that has traditionally only been available to a select few - or at least that was the case in the days of big studios and mega-selling artists; with modern home studios of sufficient size and capabilities (enough channels, mics, recording skill, isolation, etc.) taking that approach is probably an option for more people now than ever. Back in the day, you had to have a huge budget to do that - it wasn't very cost effective, but some of the biggest bands liked, and were afforded that approach. Today, given the earlier caveats, it can be done at home.

                  However, I don't think the majority of people are approaching modern recording that way, with a full band working out songs and sounds and arrangements from start to finish in a studio environment - whether the studio is home or commercial. Today, more often than not it's people working on things at home by themselves, or maybe along with a friend or two. For those who are paying for arrangers and multiple session musicians and a musical director / producer, the use of charts and / or having a rehearsal before going in to a (usually commercial) studio is very common. For those folks, once it's rehearsed and locked in, that's what is expected in the studio, and at that level, consistency tends to be quite good, although you still get occasional takes that are "more magical" than others, when everything and everyone just seems to click...

                  Of course session players (singly and sometimes in small groups) do a lot of tracking and overdubbing at personal studios too - whether their own, or the client's. And I think that's great - I love it when there's some musical interaction going on; I think that really tends to be beneficial, especially if you get some really talented people together and give them some freedom to offer their input. No one can have great ideas all the time, and one good idea from someone else can make all the difference. People playing together (or even multiple people on the same track, via overdubbing) tends to sound more interesting to me more often than stuff that was played entirely by one person, although that can occasionally be interesting (and impressive) in it's own way too.
                  **********

                  "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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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by MarkydeSad View Post

                    Never seen that video before. How fascinating!
                    There used to be a longer version on Youtube. At one point you see Keith coming up with the bass line.

                    I think it originally came from this:

                    http://www.amazon.com/Sympathy-Devil.../dp/B004IZ3VKO

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by onelife View Post
                      He would later listen to the material, pick out the good parts then I would develop the ideas further.

                      On more than one occasion, he pointed out things I either didn't remember recording or considered throw away ideas just for building recording chops. These "demos" were then refined and turned into songs by my band with a few of them being quite successful.
                      Oh Yeah outside opinions can be very useful.

                      I've let other people make decisions for me when I couldn't decide which take or direction I wanted to go. Most of the time I think the right decisions get made but there are always a few I still wonder if maybe I should have played a different bass note or a different rhythm or something.

                      I've also helped make decisions for other people. Pointing out sections that may make a good verse or chorus or bridge or what not. Then helping them arrange various parts it into a song.

                      It's called collaborating.
                      Last edited by Folder; 10-12-2015, 03:02 PM.

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                      • #26
                        Phil got it right. Recording during any phase of a project can be a vaulable part of the creative process. When you're the Rolling Stones, nobody worries about how much it costs to do that in a studio rather than at home or in your reheasrsal space because it's just a drop in the bucket compared to how much the final product will bring in. If that's where you want to work and you have the budget for it, go for it. There may be a track or two coming out of some playing around that finds its way into the final mix. But more often, what comes out is a song, and one that can be recorded as a song.

                        But today a lot of music is produced on a much smaller scale, both production budget and real income. Generally there's more time than money, and it's no big deal to record everythig you do, as long as it helps you get to the end.

                        When you're a crack musician or singer and you have a dollar and time budget, you write the sone, perform it, and it's done. That's what commercial musicians get paid to do. In your typical Nashville session there'll be a chord chart, the musicians will run through it a time or two and maybe catch things like some parts that clash so they figure out when to lay out or play different voicings that work better. Maybe the lead guitarist needs a couple of minutes to practice the hook, or the steel player gives a little thought to his solo. But they don't say "Gee, I wish that tape was rolling. I loved how I came out of that solo," they say "OK, let's do a take."

                        What I don't have the patience for is to work with someone who really has a lot of homework to do, and all I can do to help him is keep the recorder going and maybe say "that was pretty good, want to hear it?" I'll record an evening of the Rolling Stones for $200, but the guy who comes in for 10 hours trying to find something to record and take away gets the $350/hour rate.

                        --
                        "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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                        • #27
                          Is anything that any magician does actually magic? If someone does a remarkably beautiful job on the stucco on my house, is there magic involved? What about an amazing meal prepared by a French chef?

                          I don't believe in magic. I believe in talent, intuition, focused intent, blood, sweat, tears and skillzzz, the result of which can seem like magic. Happy accidents are not magic, neither mine or anyone else's. Nor is a wrong turn that works out well. Goes double for dumb luck and using the recording studio to sift through detritus because there's no other way. There might be a tolerable result of some kind-but it's not likely going to seem magical and I'm unimpressed by such things.

                          Whenever I've managed to but a real shine on it, it's been due to a lot of polish, whether I was playing music that's been veritably etched in stone, or making it up as I went, there were years of work involved in one way or another, not magic.

                          I was rather amazed when I went to improv school. Dang, I signed up to be a mathematician. Improv had seemed so magical till then.

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