Just trying to understand...

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MoreSpaceEcho
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Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Wed May 04, 2011 10:16 am

Qlevel wrote:
Because of this, listening to a whole album of organic rock with the same instruments used on every song is like eating food made of the exact same ingredients with only subtle variations.
i am sorry that you cannot enjoy a record such as 'back in black'.
I guess I've become musically jaded; a tight rockin' band doesn't really impress me anymore. I've heard it so many times that I am ready for something new.
so, i have to ask, what DOES impress you? do you only like music programmed on a computer by one svengali-like dude sitting by himself? do you like a tight, rocking band IF they also have the drums gridded and sample replaced, the vox autotuned, and 1600 overdubs happening at all times? i ask this sincerely. this seems like a crazy statement to me, so i'm just trying to understand.

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Post by willhouk » Wed May 04, 2011 10:20 am

I guess the word "taste" is a good word to describe how we like/don't like different kinds of music. Some people actually taste music (albeit a very small number of people) others see music. I like some food, and don't like other food. I think I'll eat the food I like, and I'll cook the food I like too.

I'll listen to the music I like, and record the music I like too.
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Re: Just trying to understand...

Post by JGriffin » Wed May 04, 2011 10:57 am

Qlevel wrote:Hi all. I'm certainly not the most experienced person out there, so forgive me if I sound naive, but I have a pretty decent home studio and have had the opportunity to work with Larry, among some other recognized pros in the field. I'm sort of aspiring to do engineering/production professionally, but I've mostly been on the other side of the glass in my (relatively small amount of) recording experience. Right now, I'm still just trying to get a feel for the ways of the industry and gain as much knowledge as I can. However, the more I read, the more I'm beginning to be turned off by what seems to be a general disdain for "fakery/cheating" made possible by modern technology in the studio: Auto-Tune, drum replacement, overproduction, overcompression, use of DAW's over tape, etc. I'm not trying to start another analog vs. digital debate; I know the pros and cons of each. Naturally, there's going to be some bias since this site has the word "tape" in it's name. I guess my real question is: what's the fascination with re-creating the old?
...
But seriously, I'm just curious. To indie producers and engineers: what is it that you like about an "old" sound? Is it purely for nostalgic reasons, or do you find it to be superior to more heavily-produced music? Do you ever feel the want to make something that sounds polished and processed (like today's pop)? Lastly, is there anyone out there who feels like me?
I can, of course, only answer for myself. I'm fairly open when it comes to this stuff. If the record sounds great I hope I'm not going to judge it on how it got that way. I also have a broad range of things I think sound "good." I'm as big a fan of super-clean Steely Dan records as I am of rough, pitchy, sloppy records by the Flaming Lips. I think some of the Lady Gaga stuff sounds amazing. As does "Heidi's Head" by LiLiPut. I think there's a time and place for different approaches to music-making.

I understand your reaction to some of the "disdain" you're seeing here; sometimes you'll notice me railing against it. As far as your goals, if you do intend to make a living in this industry you'll probably do well to know the super-polish-y techniques, because you may get those clients. Plus, here's the other part of that: all the guys on here who despise that stuff, won't be going after those gigs--but you know they're out there. Pop isn't going away anytime soon, and someone has to make those records. If that's what moves you, it may as well be you making them.
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"Lots of people are nostalgic for analog. I suspect they're people who never had to work with it." ? Brian Eno

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Post by dfuruta » Wed May 04, 2011 11:05 am

If you like your music to look like a neon clusterfuck, that's your problem: don't think that we'd all have the same aesthetic if only we had your sensory sensitivity. If you like gaudy and catchy music due to some synaesthetic effect, maybe you should learn to enjoy visual subtlety.

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Post by Qlevel » Wed May 04, 2011 11:24 am

MoreSpaceEcho wrote:i am sorry that you cannot enjoy a record such as 'back in black'.
It's not that I can't enjoy it. In fact, I like Back In Black for it's great songs and instrumentation.
MoreSpaceEcho wrote:so, i have to ask, what DOES impress you? do you only like music programmed on a computer by one svengali-like dude sitting by himself? do you like a tight, rocking band IF they also have the drums gridded and sample replaced, the vox autotuned, and 1600 overdubs happening at all times? i ask this sincerely. this seems like a crazy statement to me, so i'm just trying to understand.
No, and no. I like anyone who can combine memorable, well-written songs with an interesting production (as in something that hasn't already been done 100000 times). However, if the songs are quality enough, it will tide over even some of the worst productions. Honestly, there isn't much that "impresses" me anymore since there isn't a whole lot of stuff coming out that could be considered brand new, but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy it. I would generally prefer a more modern-sounding production like I described, but there's no 100% satisfaction in any form of art.
Gregg Juke wrote:Just a thought-- If that's really the issue, then maybe your entire question is a moot point, and kind of a baseless "straw recorderman," if you will. It's not really a question of why people use certain methods, or which ones are better, and why, it's really about your search.
You're probably right - it's hard to describe this stuff, especially since I really don't want to knock anyone's genre. I wasn't questioning why certain methods are used, but instead what it is that people like about them out of pure curiosity. I just wanted to hear all sides since I've never had anyone really give me a good explanation. I found your responses interesting.
dfuruta wrote:If you like your music to look like a neon clusterfuck, that's your problem: don't think that we'd all have the same aesthetic if only we had your sensory sensitivity. If you like gaudy and catchy music due to some synaesthetic effect, maybe you should learn to enjoy visual subtlety.
You like what you like, and I like what I like. I never said everyone has to like what I like.

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Post by kinger » Wed May 04, 2011 11:25 am

willhouk wrote:I guess the word "taste" is a good word to describe how we like/don't like different kinds of music. Some people actually taste music (albeit a very small number of people) others see music. I like some food, and don't like other food. I think I'll eat the food I like, and I'll cook the food I like too.

I'll listen to the music I like, and record the music I like too.
I'm with you. I'm not sure what there is to "understand" about why people like a certain type of music unless you want to actually understand all the things that happen in a person's brain when exposed to different audio. I think the food analogy is a good one; I like chocolate ice cream because when I put it in my mouth it causes some kind of neurological/chemical reaction that causes a pleasant sensation, much like when I listen to Van Morrison. I don't like broccoli because it tastes like ass, much like I imagine Celine Dione must taste.
Last edited by kinger on Wed May 04, 2011 2:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Wed May 04, 2011 12:12 pm

Qlevel wrote: I like anyone who can combine memorable, well-written songs with an interesting production (as in something that hasn't already been done 100000 times).
well i think we all like that!

for me, i used to be all about "interesting" production. a la eno/lanois, tchad blake, etc. and i still love that stuff. but at some point i started listening to more 'band in a room' style records, and in a lot of cases, i found that stuff to be MORE interesting to listen to.

so while just putting mics in front of people and letting them play has indeed been done 100000 times already, i'd say it's still a pretty good way of making a record. and i mean, assuming you have a good song with the right arrangement, if you capture really good sounds and performances off the floor, isn't that interesting enough? sure, you're gonna doll it up a little with the usual eq/compression/delay/reverb and whatnot, but i think a lot of engineers fall into thinking they need to do a bunch of stuff to make it more "interesting", and really, i think most bands just want to sound like a slightly larger than life version of what they already are.

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Post by timh » Wed May 04, 2011 12:27 pm

I can appreciate stuff like Lady GaGa, but I just can't love it and listen to it because it's not respectable. I'm sure we would all love to see/hear music that's completely new to us in some way, but I think the truth is- that's not gunna happen because nothing is original. Sure- GaGa is newer and more original today than The Beatles, but it's really nothing Madonna didn't do. GaGa's doing the same thing just taking it up a notch, but I don't think that makes it original.

I'm 19. Probably would otherwise be listening to GaGa. But I'm not. I've been listening to Bruce Springsteen's 4track cassette recordings he did in his bedroom 25+ years ago. Not at all original. But if I'm going to listen to something be unoriginal, I would choose Springsteen's 4track's over GaGa's 96 tracks any day. Why? because they have something that GaGa lacks, and that is soul, emotion, feeling, etc. Everything I hear on the radio is SOOOO damn bland and tasteless. The poetry is HORRID. It's just sick.

I'll probably never get sick of the same ol' 5 piece rock n roll band, because as long as there are talented people manning those rock bands, well that's all I need. And maybe you're just looking in the wrong places. That's the problem with current music- you really gotta DIG to find the good stuff. They're not gunna dangle it in front of your face like they used to.

suggested listening-
Conor Oberst & The Mystic Valley Band- Outer South
The Gaslight Anthem- The '59 Sound
Anything from Taylor Hollingsworth
Drive-by Truckers (My favorite is Decoration Day)
Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins
Monsters of Folk

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Post by Bro Shark » Wed May 04, 2011 12:51 pm

I'd say fuck what everyone else is doing. Make records like you want to hear. Start recording bands/artists, and start experimenting with sound. Maybe in 10 years we'll all be praising your name as a revolutionary. Work your ass off. Good luck.

EDIT: Not-good-enough response, so here's some detail. Yep, I'm totally with you. Standard rock music is boring. Sure, "Back in Black" is great. Know what? I've heard it a billion freaking times. It's out there; it's part of the popular lexicon. I don't need to hear it ever again. Literally!

I love crazy sounds and strange music. I love listening to Masonna, Autopsy, Ornette Coleman, Robert Johnson, Diamanda Galas. I love the last two Abigor records in an almost pathological way (check them out). I want to hear people stretch and expand sound past its breaking point.

The greatest recording I know is a mono, made-for-radio live recording. It came out on a 4 disc set called "Live in Japan" by John Coltrane.

Listen to that, and then tell me how great "Back in Black" is.

I'm with you dude.

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Post by GussyLoveridge » Wed May 04, 2011 1:31 pm

I put a bunch of thought into this topic a while ago and came up with some pretty simple answers that seem to work for me.

1) I don't like music/production where the instruments sound "better" when they're recorded and mixed than they do in real life. This obviously is subjective, but I think for the most part I'm talking in terms of tuning and glisten-y brightness. I love stuff that is processed and sounds different, just not "better" if that makes any sense.

2) When I listen to music I love hearing little bits that stick out, something a little off time, a pleasant back ground noise, the overtones between the actual notes of an instrument, everything that happens between the notes is as important to me as the notes themselves.

But both of these things I find to be found on both modern and older records. Just maybe a little less in modern. There seemed like a lot of stress on getting incredibly clear and clean sounds over the past piles of year as equipment got cleaner and quieter, but I think some people lost sight of the things that make records unique (performance and feel) and spent too much time focusing on getting something ultra-clean and clear.

I'll personally take a great performance over great sound any day, as long as the sound isn't so poor that it drags me away from the performance.

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Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Wed May 04, 2011 2:05 pm

GussyLoveridge wrote:everything that happens between the notes is as important to me as the notes themselves.
that's the stuff i find the most interesting!
Bro Shark wrote: I love listening to Masonna, Autopsy, Ornette Coleman, Robert Johnson, Diamanda Galas.
wouldn't you say all that stuff was actually recorded/mixed in fairly straightforward* fashion? i.e. the interesting stuff was all happening in front of the mics?

*ok, in the case of masonna, "straightforward" means "through 6 distortion pedals"...

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Post by dfuruta » Wed May 04, 2011 3:06 pm

MoreSpaceEcho wrote:
Bro Shark wrote: I love listening to Masonna, Autopsy, Ornette Coleman, Robert Johnson, Diamanda Galas.
wouldn't you say all that stuff was actually recorded/mixed in fairly straightforward* fashion? i.e. the interesting stuff was all happening in front of the mics?

*ok, in the case of masonna, "straightforward" means "through 6 distortion pedals"...
Diamanda Galas and Abigor have a fair amount of trickery. Robert Johnson is as old-school as it gets!


Bro Shark, I can't tell you how much it made my day to see Masonna as a positive example, especially in the same sentence as Ornette. Thank you.

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Post by Bro Shark » Wed May 04, 2011 3:41 pm

Yay! Ulver's another. Especially Blood Inside. Holy shit, that album sounds... insane. I just got their new one. It's sitting on my desk, waiting for me to free up enough time and attention.

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Post by cjogo » Wed May 04, 2011 10:08 pm

Bro Shark wrote:Yay! Ulver's another. Especially Blood Inside. Holy shit, that album sounds... insane. I just got their new one. It's sitting on my desk, waiting for me to free up enough time and attention.
ULVER Wow been hidden too long in this little West Coast town -- strange stuff --- reminded me of late 60's underground stuff we used to collect in high school ....thanks for the music.
whatever happened to ~ just push record......

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Post by IDQ » Thu May 05, 2011 2:22 am

Quite an interesting topic... figure it out and you'll get rich.

I'm sadly stuck being the worse kind of snob (in what I listen to I mean; what I produce is purely amateur): I really like great songs written by good musicians and recorded in a creative, high-quality fashion.

So, I don't quite get the urge to listen to Frank Black tapes recorded on a boombox; and I can't stand most pop music (though kudos to the nameless/faceless engineers and producers who MAKE all of it, since the "musicians" themselves are largely talentless); and I can't really listen to most "prog" and some jazz because it's excellent performance without any "soul" for lack of a less specific/cheezy word.

I think that the rare intersection of those 3 things is probably why the people on this board are inspired to keep doing what they do. So yeah, all of that said, I really like cutting edge production too, but it's only rare that it meets its potential. A couple of records that I think showcased production without making shitty music:
AIR - 10khz legend
Radiohead - Kid A (well, and pretty much all their albums but the first two)
A lot of Autechre albums
Peter Gabriel - Up
Sufjan Stevens - Age of Adz

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