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redEL34

Why was "pitch control" so important they had it on almost every 4 track cassette recorder

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I remember reading once many years ago that the key of Bb is the most appealing to humans.

 

I have no idea if that is indeed true or what the science might be behind it, but I’ve never forgotten that. In fact, a band I was in at the time was writing a song we wanted to be very upbeat and jaunty (it reminded me at the time of Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now”) so we purposely put it in Bb. It didn’t become a hit (so much for that theory perhaps?) but hopefully it made the few people that did hear it happier in that key. :)

 

in the case of Madonna, I would argue that the nature of those songs required a higher pitched voice and one that was in vogue (pun intended) at the time. So that the producers would have worked to make her voice sound as fashionable as they could is not at all surprising. And if the technology made it easier, of course they would have used it.

 

She’s not a baritone, however. That’s a lower-register male voice like, say, David Bowie.

 

 

Well, a female baritone! She seems to have a deep voice on later recordings..Anyways, I might put that in the same category as a I / IV/ V. Over and over. Hits over and over. Using the same 3 damn chords. I think there is a lot yet to understand why people like what they do. Most people can agree on what is a good song and what isn`t (yeah, genres, etc. but lets just focus here). Millions of people do not spend hard earned money(well, most) on music they do not like. Maybe it`s the wise-man who said something to the effect of "I can`t describe it, but I know good porn when I see it". I think it`s like food. Generally, we like and eat the same types of food. We agree it`s tasty. There is a formula for that, there must be one for music as well, however far more unexplained.

Edited by redEL34

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Well, a female baritone! She seems to have a deep voice on later recordings..Anyways, I might put that in the same category as a I / IV/ V. Over and over. Hits over and over. Using the same 3 damn chords. I think there is a lot yet to understand why people like what they do. Most people can agree on what is a good song and what isn`t (yeah, genres, etc. but lets just focus here). Millions of people do not spend hard earned money(well, most) on music they do not like. Maybe it`s the wise-man who said something to the effect of "I can`t describe it, but I know good porn when I see it". I think it`s like food. Generally, we like and eat the same types of food. We agree it`s tasty. There is a formula for that, there must be one for music as well, however far more unexplained.

 

I don’t think it’s unexplained at all. That there is a formula for pop music goes back to at least Stephen Foster.

 

People like familiar. They don’t want to hear dissonance. It not because radio stations force it on people that Classic Rock stations have been playing the same few dozen songs for decades now. It’s because you play something different and people turn the station.

 

Pop music follows trends as well. It’s not something recent that makes it so that every pop record sounds the same. They have ALWAYS all sounded the same without their time period. Singers in the same registers; same synth sounds or horn arrangements; similar production

techniques.

 

So I believe Madonna was probably sped up to make her sound more like the GoGos or whoever they were chasing at the moment.

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I don’t think it’s unexplained at all. That there is a formula for pop music goes back to at least Stephen Foster.

 

People like familiar. They don’t want to hear dissonance. It not because radio stations force it on people that Classic Rock stations have been playing the same few dozen songs for decades now. It’s because you play something different and people turn the station.

 

Pop music follows trends as well. It’s not something recent that makes it so that every pop record sounds the same. They have ALWAYS all sounded the same without their time period. Singers in the same registers; same synth sounds or horn arrangements; similar production

techniques.

 

So I believe Madonna was probably sped up to make her sound more like the GoGos or whoever they were chasing at the moment.

 

Yes, but I`m going to go back to the original question, because I like a good conspiracy. Well, 2 parts. First, "pitching up" seems to have been a successful technique since the Beatles(probably before). It makes music sound "better", highlighted in the 2 examples I posted. The second part of this is the 440hz vs 432hz tuning. The legend goes 432 is more pleasing to the ear. I love this kind of stuff.

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Yes, but I`m going to go back to the original question, because I like a good conspiracy. Well, 2 parts. First, "pitching up" seems to have been a successful technique since the Beatles(probably before). It makes music sound "better", highlighted in the 2 examples I posted. The second part of this is the 440hz vs 432hz tuning. The legend goes 432 is more pleasing to the ear. I love this kind of stuff.

 

Your two theories contradict. If 432 is more pleasing than 440, then why aren’t people slowing recordings down instead of speeding them up?

 

i think when records have been sped up, it’s probably done more to achieve a faster tempo that maybe they wish the track had originally been played at rather than to raise the pitch or create certain artifacts.

 

Also, while we can name the recordings we know were sped up because someone thought it sounded better to do so, we don’t how many times it was considered and discarded because it was decided it sounded better at the original speed.

Edited by Vito Corleone

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Your two theories contradict. If 432 is more pleasing than 440, then why aren’t people slowing recordings down instead of speeding them up?

 

i think when records have been sped up, it’s probably done more to achieve a faster tempo that maybe they wish the track had originally been played at rather than to raise the pitch or create certain artifacts.

 

Also, while we can name the recordings we know were sped up because someone thought it sounded better to do so, we don’t how many times it was considered and discarded because it was decided it sounded better at the original speed.

 

I did notice that they contradict. Maybe another topic for another day. All I`m saying is we have hard evidence, maybe it`s an anomaly, of a relatively obscure song getting propelled in to the Billboard top 20 after the pitch was raised. I`ve gone round and round about this on other sites with about a 50/50 agreement, so I thought it would be fun to bring up here.

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Sometimes they would adjust the songs speed because making it a little faster would just make the whole thing groove better.

I think I remember that they did this on City of New Orleans by Arlo Guthrie.

Of course, the by-product of this was a change in pitch. I'm sure if they could have just sped it up without the pitch change they would have often preferred to do it that way, but it wasn't an option at the time.

 

It`s a very interesting topic IMO. If it`s such a popular effect that it was the only "effect" besides eq on the 4 track I still have when I was 16 in 1990, why?

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I did notice that they contradict. Maybe another topic for another day. All I`m saying is we have hard evidence, maybe it`s an anomaly, of a relatively obscure song getting propelled in to the Billboard top 20 after the pitch was raised. I`ve gone round and round about this on other sites with about a 50/50 agreement, so I thought it would be fun to bring up here.

 

Yeah it’s a fun discussion and I like going round with this stuff too.

 

But I think you’re taking a big leap to think that because this or that recording sounded better sped up means it is some universal truth about people respond to recorded music. It could just mean THOSE songs were originally too slow to be as effective as they could be.

 

Every band works with tempo to find the right groove or whatever. I think most sped up recordings are a matter of “it sounds a bit better played a little faster”

 

I really don’t think pitch matters except that you want to find the key that best suits your vocalist. I dont really believe humans hear Bb has the happiest of all keys.

 

But maybe they do? We all know it’s a fact that Dm is saddest of all keys. :)

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Yeah it’s a fun discussion and I like going round with this stuff too.

 

But I think you’re taking a big leap to think that because this or that recording sounded better sped up means it is some universal truth about people respond to recorded music. It could just mean THOSE songs were originally too slow to be as effective as they could be.

 

Every band works with tempo to find the right groove or whatever. I think most sped up recordings are a matter of “it sounds a bit better played a little faster”

 

I really don’t think pitch matters except that you want to find the key that best suits your vocalist. I dont really believe humans hear Bb has the happiest of all keys.

 

But maybe they do? We all know it’s a fact that Dm is saddest of all keys. :)

 

Well, as a semi-avid conspiracy theorist all things are possible. This one just happens to be the most entertaining due to is directly tied to music. I take that back, it`s not a conspiracy, it`s speculation. I agree with your assertion that it may just be observational on the producers part. And maybe songs were released that way, only to have another producer say "ah-ha!" I`m going to stoke this back up again, I used to watch "Live at Daryls House" and they did this all the time, and it TOTALLY changed the feel of the song. I dunno..

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Well, as a semi-avid conspiracy theorist all things are possible. This one just happens to be the most entertaining due to is directly tied to music. I take that back, it`s not a conspiracy, it`s speculation. I agree with your assertion that it may just be observational on the producers part. And maybe songs were released that way, only to have another producer say "ah-ha!" I`m going to stoke this back up again, I used to watch "Live at Daryls House" and they did this all the time, and it TOTALLY changed the feel of the song. I dunno..

 

If there was some “magic key” to a song, then why not just play it in the key in the first place? Why try to change it to that key later? (And how many songs have ever been sped by more than one semi-tone? They all just happened to be a 1/2 step off?)

 

that fact that they changes are being made at the very end of the process leads me to believe it’s much more of an afterthought.

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If there was some “magic key” to a song, then why not just play it in the key in the first place? Why try to change it to that key later? (And how many songs have ever been sped by more than one semi-tone? They all just happened to be a 1/2 step off?)

 

that fact that they changes are being made at the very end of the process leads me to believe it’s much more of an afterthought.

 

As I mentioned, could be. But that`s no fun:(.

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I did a session once with a ‘new age, worship the universe, the universe is tuned to 446.4’ guy.

 

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I did a session once with a ‘new age, worship the universe, the universe is tuned to 446.4’ guy.

 

Was it a miraculous difference?

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And unless you have the “correct” version to compare it with, how do you even know it’s been sped up?

 

Can you not hear it in the altered timbre of the instruments and voice?:idk: Think "Chipmunks", but not quite so over-the-top.

Edited by SteinbergerHack
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Can you not hear it in the altered timbre of the instruments and voice?:idk: Think "Chipmunks", but not quite so over-the-top.

 

Sometimes, but not always.

 

It never occurred to me that Madonna’s voice had been sped up. I know she sang lower as she got older, but don’t most of us? But in retrospect, yeah it makes sense. I just always thought she sounded a little chirpy. Lol.

 

I have a pretty good sense of what I call “trained pitch”. I can string a guitar and tune it to A-440. I can sit at a piano and tell it is tuned high or low. I can sing an “A”.

 

But i can’t tell a note or key of song just by listening to it. I’ve just memorized certain sounds over the years.

Edited by Vito Corleone

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Sometimes, but not always.

 

It never occurred to me that Madonna’s voice had been sped up. I know she sang lower as she got older, but don’t most of us? But in retrospect, yeah it makes sense. I just always thought she sounded a little chirpy. Lol.

 

I have a pretty good sense of what I call “trained pitch”. I can string a guitar and tune it to A-440. I can sit s pianon and tell it is tuned high or low. I can sing an “A”.

 

But i can’t tell a note or key of song just by listening to it. I’ve just memorized certain sounds over the years.

 

My non-musician wife has perfect pitch and what I call a "musical memory."

 

If I want to hear Middle C I don't ask her to sing the note by name but to sing the first note of "Hey Jude."

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My non-musician wife has perfect pitch and what I call a "musical memory."

 

If I want to hear Middle C I don't ask her to sing the note by name but to sing the first note of "Hey Jude."

 

I can do that too. I consider it a musical memory thing. It sounds more natural for your wife though. Mine comes mostly from having heard Hey Jude so many times in my life that the opening note is burned into my brain.

 

Ive known people with true perfect pitch. I worked with a guitarist years ago (he was blind, BTW) for whom you could hit any note on a piano and he could call out to you what that note was as fast as you could play it.

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One of my bandmates, who seems to have a natural instinct for singing harmony, says he associates colour with pitch.

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One of my bandmates' date=' who seems to have a natural instinct for singing harmony, says he associates colour with pitch.[/quote']

 

thats interesting. Has he explained how that works for him and is it something he uses when singing or is it just something he recognizes?

 

harmony singing is something I had to learn to do as well. When I first started out I couldnt sing harmony to save my life. Best I could do was learn a part as I would a main melody and sing it while blocking the other singers out as they would throw me off.

 

Now I can just naturally sing a nice harmony to pretty much any melody it I know the chord changes under it

 

 

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I do think that tape was occasionally sped for effect, possibly to put the timbre of the vocals and the instruments into a more exciting range. But you can still play along with tons of songs of all eras with a guitar tuned to A=440 or slightly higher for European recordings, since they had a slightly different concert pitch.

 

I doubt the pitch control on four tracks was put there solely as an effect or for experimenting with varispeed effects. I think it was intended as a matching or calibration control, which you might need for working on tracks recorded on somebody else's machine. I also recall that Yahama had a really cool early four track that could get higher fidelity out of a cassette by recording at higher speeds.

Edited by Zooey

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I do think that tape was occasionally sped for effect, possibly to put the timbre of the vocals and the instruments into a more exciting range. But you can still play along with tons of songs of all eras with a guitar tuned to A=440 or slightly higher for European recordings, since they had a slightly different concert pitch.

 

I doubt the pitch control on four tracks was put there solely as an effect or for experimenting with varispeed effects. I think it was intended as a matching or calibration control, which you might need for working on tracks recorded on somebody else's machine. I also recall that Yahama had a really cool early four track that could get higher fidelity out of a cassette by recording at higher speeds.

 

I had an 8track cassette deck like that. TASCAM 488

 

surprisingly decent quality considering they squeezed 8-tracks out of a cassette.

 

I agree that pitch controls were mostly for matching things up. What are you going to do if you want to overdub a piano track and it’s not tuned quite the same as the guitars you already laid down?

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I remember someone in music school saying that Bach had a theory that different Keys expressed different emotions I guess.

 

D major was supposed to be triumphant.

 

And D minor is the saddest of all keys.

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Del Shannon originally recorded "Runaway" in Am. The engineer thought the song should be faster and sped up the tape to a few cents shy of Bbm.

My band plays it in Bbm. The guitarists capo the first fret.

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I had an 8track cassette deck like that. TASCAM 488

 

surprisingly decent quality considering they squeezed 8-tracks out of a cassette.

 

I agree that pitch controls were mostly for matching things up. What are you going to do if you want to overdub a piano track and it’s not tuned quite the same as the guitars you already laid down?

 

one of the things that tascam did to make that work was to use two four track heads that were slightly staggered so that no adjacent tracks were on the same head

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One of my bandmates' date=' who seems to have a natural instinct for singing harmony, says he associates colour with pitch.[/quote']

 

That`s interesting, My wife has a natural instinct for it too, and will sing along with songs in the car in perfect harmony instead of the same pitch as the vocalist. She sees it as numbers. 1,2,3,4.

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How the heck could they do pitch control for a CD???? Weird wild stuff.

 

Vary the sample rate slightly, or adjust the clock... play back at 44 kHz instead of 44.1 kHz and you lower the pitch. It's actually fairly simple really.

 

 

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