Tempo Shock

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buenavista
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Tempo Shock

Post by buenavista » Thu May 24, 2018 4:28 pm

Anyone ever experience what I call "tempo shock"?

Explanatory Anecdote:

Currently rotating between 3 songs. Writing, recording, mixing at same time. They are all on the grid. One is 108 bpm. One 126 . The other is 142. Yesterday I spent about 5 hours in the evening on 108. Before I called it quits for night, I decided to listen to 126. I felt like I entered an alternative reality where the timing was just so completely sped up and unnatural. Which I would actually be OK with, but what is weird is that the timing just sounded completely whacked out on everthing, like the drums had sped up, but the bass hadn't. However, just a few days ago I was working on 142, and then after awhile gave 126 a listen and it sounded like everything was in slow motion. So same song, in one instance sounds sped up, and in one instance sounds slowed down.

What mostly has me concerned is it shakes my confidence in my ears a little bit. In both those instances, I noticed what I thought were "timing" issues between the different instruments. But I never noticed those timing issues before. If I wake up in the morning and listen to any of those songs fresh, they sound completely normal.

Just wondering if anyone else out there has experienced this and if you might share your insights.

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losthighway
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Re: Tempo Shock

Post by losthighway » Thu May 24, 2018 6:20 pm

Totally understandable. Long periods of time and focus on any one element that makes music work can do weird stuff to your brain.

Start problem solving a guitar with some intonation problems you notice. You'll eventually hear microtones of pitch differences between totally solid guitars. I've become convinced that several layers of guitar needed to be completely replaced, returned the next day and realized I'd lost my mind and they were fine. The studio can be a weird space ship where you lose it.

Similar to the tempo thing, I've over-edited a rhythm hook on the part of the drums/bass that was rushed with excitement and made it "correct", then returned to find that I'd made a weird monstrosity and the natural take sounded better.

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losthighway
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Re: Tempo Shock

Post by losthighway » Thu May 24, 2018 6:29 pm

This also reminds me of when I hole up to do my own vocal tracks. My singing pitch is about a B minus on a good day, but my listening pitch is more of an A minus (which is baffling but I've learned to accept it). I'll start sweating my pitch, and I'm anti-pitch correction software. I'll start losing my bearings and then I plug in my chromatic tuner to get some objective data (a practice kind souls on here have correctly pointed out is madness). I'll start singing an energetic part that was coming out a bit sharp about as close as 'in the green' as I ever have. Come back and listen and my entire timbre and delivery sounds totally bizarre, like I've rearranged my whole mouth to bring the sharp notes down a hair. Terrifying stuff really, I wouldn't wish it upon my worst enemy.

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markjazzbassist
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Re: Tempo Shock

Post by markjazzbassist » Thu May 24, 2018 7:20 pm

yeah i'd recommend stopping and working on something else or calling it a day at that point. as a bassist i'm uber conscious of timing between the rhythm section, sometimes i hear "micro mistakes" where the bass and kick are delayed by nanosecond. i think i'm terrible. come back the next day and realize it sounds super tight and groovy, i was just listening/working on it for too long and lost my mind.

another way of looking at it is try and "turn off" the engineer/producer ears and "turn on" your consumer of music ears. like stop listening critically and listen for enjoyment is another way to put it. that always helps me to hear it in a better context as well.

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losthighway
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Re: Tempo Shock

Post by losthighway » Thu May 24, 2018 7:43 pm

markjazzbassist wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 7:20 pm
another way of looking at it is try and "turn off" the engineer/producer ears and "turn on" your consumer of music ears. like stop listening critically and listen for enjoyment is another way to put it. that always helps me to hear it in a better context as well.
Sometimes standing up and dancing to it helps to achieve that.

buenavista
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Re: Tempo Shock

Post by buenavista » Thu May 24, 2018 8:18 pm

This is exactly the kind of stuff I'm talking about. Thanks for the replies, makes me feel less crazy.

I wonder what professional mixers constantly listening to music might have to say on this topic. Any rules you guys or gals might have to make sure that your decisions aren't being negatively influenced by fatigue, or an overly critical ear, or weird psycho-acoustic shit?

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A.David.MacKinnon
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Re: Tempo Shock

Post by A.David.MacKinnon » Fri May 25, 2018 4:37 am

A big chunk of my work these days is mixing. My two biggest tips would be to take lots of breaks and to do most of the work at low volumes. Those two things have made me quicker and way more productive at the job.

Taking breaks really helps you reset your brain and hear the big picture instead of the tiny details. Listening at lower levels helps with that too. When you’re blasting the monitors you can hear every tiny detail that likely won’t be audible in normal listening situations. Lowering the volume really helps you focus on the important things and get them in the right place before you go crazy on the things that 99% of people will never hear.

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Re: Tempo Shock

Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Fri May 25, 2018 9:39 am

i've had this same experience, work for hours on a real slow tune, put a fast one on and it sounds BLAZING. work on that fast one for awhile and i start to think 'is this dragging?'

it's very easy to drive yourself crazy.

+1 to breaks and low levels.

also, get out of your chair and go listen from the couch in back. this really helps me hear things 'like a normal person' and not like an overly-tired, stressed out engineer.

also x2, make a mix of each of your three tracks and put them all in a new session where you can listen to them in sequence. this is another good perspective-restorer.

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Gregg Juke
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Re: Tempo Shock

Post by Gregg Juke » Fri May 25, 2018 10:19 am

This reminds me of-- the mustard and qualude sandwiches some of my college friends used to consume (sorry, channeled vvv for a moment :twisted: ).

But seriously folks, any amount of hyper-critical listening will begat more-- hyper-critical listening. Your ears are fine. But give them, and your brain, a rest.

GJ
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ShinyBox
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Re: Tempo Shock

Post by ShinyBox » Fri May 25, 2018 10:41 am

I have a good friend who turns out really high quality tracks (produces, engineers, plays drums, guitar, bass).

Hung out with him for a few days, and it felt like he spent more time in the coffee shop across the street than he did working (an exaggeration).

Constantly taking breaks (10-15 minutes), but at the end of the day, lots of quality work done...

$.02

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vvv
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Re: Tempo Shock

Post by vvv » Fri May 25, 2018 11:57 am

GJ: :lol:

But it's stories like these make me missing smoking.

And I don't mean crack (what I've never ...)

Anywhat, yeah - take a break before any such change-up.

Also, a pro tip: do not use habanero or especially ghost-pepper mustard with yer 'ludes because if ya fall asleep before getting some carbs and water, yer tongue could fall off.
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I mix with olive juice.

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