Do you care if stuff's in tune?

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Do you care if stuff's in tune?

Post by percussion boy » Sun Jan 18, 2009 11:17 pm

The Joy Division atonality thread got me thinking:

Does it matter to you all if stuff you record is in tune? Guitars, vocals, whatever? Is it situation-dependent?

Some singers who get called out frequently here for missing notes (I'm looking at YOU, Neil Young) sound fine to me. Other times, an out-of-tune vocalist seems to actually lose definition in a mix -- like they're disappearing.

And then there's sax and guitar stuff that's in between the piano notes but feels more bluesy than sour.

Anyway . . . Thoughts? Opinions? Grievances?
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Post by ;ivlunsdystf » Sun Jan 18, 2009 11:45 pm

It depends. Seriously. That is what I think. When I am listening to Bernstein versions of Beethoven concertos it had damned well better be in tune, but when I am listening to 1978 oi!oi!oi! british punk or sleepy john estes I expect it to be out of tune. THe worst thing that ever happened to Ween was tuning. Etc.

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Post by A.David.MacKinnon » Mon Jan 19, 2009 6:52 am

It depends on the singer and the style really. If something is really, really, really out then it must be fixed. My preference is to have people sing it till they get it right (or as close as they are able). If they are way off it's usually because they don't really know the part or there's something about the headphone mix that's throwing them off.

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Post by Corey Y » Mon Jan 19, 2009 7:44 am

When it comes to technology, yes. I always make sure guitars and basses are tuned regularly, to the same electronic tuner and check the intonation. As for performance, depends on the intent of the artist. If I know they're trying to achieve something melodically/harmonically and struggling I try to help them get there as best I can. If they just have a taste for dissonance and that's their thing, that's fine with me. I'm trying to capture the sound they want, so I try not to impose my musical sensibilities, though I will ask if it's on purpose.

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Post by cjogo » Mon Jan 19, 2009 9:22 am

We have to ---if they are to have accompaniment. Most of our recording system is MIDI to the guitarist ...if they are out ~ we have to hold pitch wheels or spend the time to edit each sample.. No thanks, the clients can not afford the added time > everyone tunes to a "reference 440" somewhere ~ BEFORE the recording session starts.
Last edited by cjogo on Mon Jan 19, 2009 3:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by losthighway » Mon Jan 19, 2009 9:29 am

The issue is contextual for me too.

I do have this one problem, I call it my "tuning ears". When things being in tune becomes an issue during a session and you really start to listen for it. At some point my brain taps into the pitch of everything and any slight bend sharp or flat from any instrument stands out horribly. This is never a good scenario with guitars, or saxophones because the way they are played, physically, can do often pull them a bit sharp on accident.

It's like OCD. Ruins everything. Ugghhhh.

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Post by vvv » Mon Jan 19, 2009 9:30 am

I always try to be in tune, but I know, especially on lead guitar, by the end of a solo I sometimes am out.

That's usually when I've played a pretty energetic solo, and so I often keep it.
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Post by Dave-H » Mon Jan 19, 2009 9:58 am

I like it all in pitch! I have perfect realitive pitch & when stuff ain't right it drives me NUTZ :D
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Post by RefD » Mon Jan 19, 2009 10:05 am

depends on context.
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Post by Jay Reynolds » Mon Jan 19, 2009 10:15 am

I think there is a big misconception about what constitutes an "in-tune" performance. Good singers are not 100% to-the-cent in tune 100% of the time. Even vibrato will pull your voice off pitch just a little. It about picking your battles.
All-time favorite performance with questionable pitch: Mannish Boy by Muddy Waters. A lot of that stuff isn't even in scale, much less in tune.
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Post by nordberg » Mon Jan 19, 2009 10:47 am

i was just thinking about this because i was listening to eno's taking tiger mountain by strategy... i don't know if i could have dealt with so much out of tune stuff recording, but man i love that record!
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Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Mon Jan 19, 2009 11:06 am

losthighway wrote:I do have this one problem, I call it my "tuning ears".
jesus, yes. tuning drums will turn you into a crazy person. i was tuning a problematic snare the other night...after messing with it for awhile i was finally getting it to behave. so i'm going around it really listening to the overtones and super-duper-fine tuning it. just then a client arrives. as i'm walking down the stairs to let him in, i'm listening to the sound of my footfalls in the stairwell, hearing the overtones of the little metal strips on the stairs and thinking "oh. no. those sound all wrong..."

sometimes i'll be scratching my facial hair and wondering if the right side of my face isn't ever so slightly sharp from the left.

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Post by Aquaman » Mon Jan 19, 2009 11:33 am

Some things are SUPPOSED to beat against others. Use your ears.

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Post by masonpitzel » Mon Jan 19, 2009 12:24 pm

I don't know exactly how I feel about this being in-tune business. Which is weird -- having absolute pitch and all, you'd think any off-key-ness would bother me outright.

I guess I just like the performance to be real. I don't like when poor singers try to fix their pitch electronically so they can actually hit the notes. And I don't like when people will try to intentionally throw their performance so it suits whatever genre they're trying to pigeonhole themselves into. (The whole point of punk rock was that you could front a band even if you couldn't sing a damn note, not only if you couldn't sing a damn note. Not even to mention that fucking Wolf Parade/Clap Your Hands Say Yeah howl that's currently en vogue with the scarf people of the world.)

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Post by suppositron » Mon Jan 19, 2009 12:42 pm

Unless I'm recording Flipper.

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