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When is technical ability/obsession a hindrance to our musical creation?


Makzimia
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Not much different than a drummer who knows programming when he hears it, I suppose. Perfection is the game when you are a violinist though, especially classical. You never achieve it - and you never quit trying to.

 

Welp, I hope they knock the orchestra off a good bit better before there are none.

 

Your comment was one to give me pause, and I appreciate it more than I can currently put into words, BlueGreene. ;-)

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I was moved by that pottery piece so much because I think my best work is the stuff that just comes out in one fluid motion. It was a breakthrough to realize I didn't have to make something on the grounds that it must be good to finish (it sucks). The point was to simply make it. If you aren't in the habit of following through with ideas, what happens when a good one does come along?

 

 

 

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In a couple ways tech can hinder.

 

1) New gear all of the time which must be learned and mastered ALONG WITH OUR MUSIC CHOPS.

2) Sometimes it is just easier to get it right the first time.....without spending HOURS editing.

3) I hate Autotune. This discourages developing actual singing ability.

4) So many choices ! Did you ever just spend HOURS trying different SOUNDS?

 

dAN

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In a way that explains how I work. I emphasize getting the music down fast, while the muse is hanging out. Instrumental parts, vocals, and lyrics pretty much tumble out. But after that's done, I get super-detailed in terms of making tons of little changes.sult.

 

That is the same thing that happens to me. I lay down the MEAT of the song in 2 or 3 hours and then spend up to 30 hours TWEAKING....cutting, arranging, orchestrating , re-drumming, re-singing and finally mastering.

 

Dan

 

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I suspect that a lot of people get obsessed with details and perfection because, frankly, they are trying to create material that is simply above their true skill level.

 

Skill levels among popular artists, amateurs, hobbyists, and the self-taught in general, are all over the map. I tell people that if you graphed my skillset with a vertical bar graph, it would look like a broken comb. Big spike here, half-spike there, no spike here and there, all across the board.

 

Didn't sing that song so well? Instead of a half-hour tracking redo, you turn to the software and spend four hours tweaking. Don't know how drummers think? You turn to the loop library and spend two hours auditioning "perfect" loops pre-recorded. Just can't strum that thing on the beat? Cut, paste, nudge, crossfade, nudge, double, time-shift, tweak, listen, tweak, listen all the bloody day long.

 

I have this notion that one reason (among others) the Beatles liked ADT and double-tracking so much was that these techniques can do a lot to hide small rhythmic and pitch flaws. George in particular, if you listen closely to the first four albums, had issues playing in time. At least in those early years - he certainly fixed all that over time. So it's natural to turn to studio techniques - call them tricks or gimmicks if you want - to airbrush or blur imperfections.

 

If you can walk into the studio and just nail the part right off, you won't need to trouble with all the clever tools and techniques to tweak it all out.

 

Personally, the most valuable thing Melodyne has done for me is to give me visual feedback to help me learn how to sing more in tune, and to identify problems with phrasing. For example, I can see how I would hit the note right off ok, but closing out the phrase, I would quite often lose the pitch. It's an amateur giveaway, that flaw. But I never really identified the issue till I saw it "in the blobs", which you'll understand if you've ever worked with Melodyne.

 

So I recommend turning the process around and use the software more often as a learning tool, and less often as a fake-it-up tool.

 

nat

Edited by nat whilk II
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Perhaps it might be worth noting, with all do respect to Confucious, and pottery, that no one with the nerve to stand in front of a few thousand people and perform the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto got there without countless hours of perfecting. It goes with the territory. It's what has to be done for it to happen at all. There were concertos that took me months of daily work... 4, 5, maybe 6 or more hours a day, shredding. It ain't improv. Obsession is the way. You live it.

 

At first I'd just be getting a handle on it, finding fingerings and bowings that work for me, if what's on the paper doesn't already. Then on to working difficult passages to get through them and get them up to speed. Glueing it together and make it through without a breakdown is next, and then without a wrong note, and then all the way through without worrying about wrong notes anymore, but getting the music to happen as I feel it and so that nothing that's difficult will appear that way. Memorization just happens along the way for the most part.

 

Then having mastered the piece and it's difficulties it's time perform, to just sing, and let go, be in the moment. Probably still hoping to be perfect, but something happens and well, there went that. That can be a relief in a way, as long as it wasn't too awful. That's often where it's possible to settle down and just play and express yourself, with the energy you have to bring at that time. One more time with feeling. It is impossible to play it exactly like anyone else, and no one can do it the way you do it.

 

As I said in an earlier reply to a comment... from a piano teachers wall, I think. Perfection is something we never achieve, and we never quit trying to.

 

 

Like everyone else though, there's only so much gas in the tank, and sometimes another take will have to happen after a nap, or on another day, and so the editing begins. Sometimes I wish it wasn't possible.

 

Boy would that slow things down for some, and overturn the cart for others. smiley-wink

 

No paddle, or a canoe, matches are wet, clothes are wet, feet are cold. very-happy.png.197c47f720636f02390cc2b0a33804da.png' alt='smiley-veryhappy'>

 

Anyway, all to say that I think that there's no right or wrong amount of obsessing, or perfecting that can applied across the board. It depends on the gig, what the music seems to require and what a person can tolerate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A few years back I recorded some "live studio" organ tracks... I was using VSTs but I wanted to go for a live feel so I would press record and jam along to the track. I screwed up one note in the entire performance but felt it was part of the performance which was otherwise very good. My friend heard the track and wanted to fix it in the MIDI editor. It was an easy fix but I told him to keep that note in there... my attitude at the time and still is at the present, if we only had tape, we would keep more "mistakes" knowing the rest of the track was good. The surprises are lost today because its so easy to fix mistakes.

 

My biggest issue though with DAWs is switching between right and left brain activities. I am most productive when I am only thinking about performance. So I`ve learned to set up my sessions before pressing record with the tracks and VSTs I think I will need. That way all I have to do is arm the track and go.

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I've recently been watching the old "Avengers" British TV show (the one with John Steed and Emma Peel) and as I was watching the opening credits I thought of this thread. About 22 seconds into the opening (see the video below), there is a percussion roll that lasts about 10 seconds. You can hear it 'waver' back and forth. My guess is that this would never be allowed today. In fact, it would probably be done with a loop to be sure it was perfect.

 

[video=youtube;fk-JPPmL2OM]

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I've recently been watching the old "Avengers" British TV show (the one with John Steed and Emma Peel) and as I was watching the opening credits I thought of this thread. About 22 seconds into the opening (see the video below), there is a percussion roll that lasts about 10 seconds. You can hear it 'waver' back and forth. My guess is that this would never be allowed today. In fact, it would probably be done with a loop to be sure it was perfect.

 

[video=youtube;fk-JPPmL2OM]

 

I shudder to think of the what would be done to Robert Plant, Mick Jagger today. Mick is way off sometimes. Can't think of the name, thinking of that song that starts with, "I've been hauling ass along... ... ....dyin to meet you." The background vocals, the 'oohs' are pretty much all over the place. Double tracked but still clearly, audibly out of tune. Maybe they should have tracked him another time or 2 and had him zero in on it a bit better. The ear gets used to things, it has it's charm as it is, and I can't imagine preferring a version sanitized to today's *standards. Sanitized. Yep, that's about it.

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