Classic recordings that are out of tune

general questions, comments and ideas about recording, audio, music, etc.
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Re: Classic recordings that are out of tune

Post by tonewoods » Mon Jan 17, 2005 11:38 am

The outro guitar solo on "Takin' Care of Business"...

OH MY GAWD!! :oops:
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Re: Classic recordings that are out of tune

Post by trianglelines » Mon Jan 17, 2005 11:48 am

The Fall are almost always out of tune...

John Leckie (Producer) said the worst thing he ever did was sneak into the studio and tune the bands' guitars for them. Totally wrecked their "thing."

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Re: Classic recordings that are out of tune

Post by Fieryjack » Mon Jan 17, 2005 12:04 pm

He he he,

The Fall are always out of tune. That is definitely their "sound" kinda like Kinks. (funnily enough, I think Mark E. Smith's favorite band is the Kinks....)

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Re: Classic recordings that are out of tune

Post by Stephen » Mon Jan 17, 2005 12:41 pm

Listen to the vocals on Surf City... Kind of charming actually...
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Re: Classic recordings that are out of tune

Post by theblue1 » Mon Jan 17, 2005 9:28 pm

SKEETER wrote:There is a somewhat obscure album by Jefferson Airplane called "Thirty Seconds over Winterland". The vocals on it are atrocious! But there is something about the album that makes it really good, there are a couple of cool sounding songs on it. The drummer on it is one of the unsung heroes of rock drummers, Johnny Barbeta. He also played drums on the live CSNY "Four Way Street" on the electric set. The guy has a sound all his own.
I was just listening to their earlier live album, Bless Its Pointed Little Head, last night and then only a few minutes later, read in a thread elsewhere that the drummer through much of the classic period of the airplane, Spencer Dryden had died last week. (not to be confused with Skip Spence, the original Airplane drummer and later guitarist for Moby Grape) . In fact, the reason I put the album (and Crown of Creation, too, while I was at it) on was because a buddy and I had been talking earlier in the evening about Spencer Dryden's great, really human drumming.

________________________________________________


Anyhow, on the pitch thing, I totally agree that there are a lot of great songs with less than perfect vocals.

But one thing a lot of folks, even musicians, don't always get, is that the guitar and piano (especially) have scales which are approximations of the mathmatically pure, but generally impractical pitch values based on Pythagorean intervals. (Other instruments may offer the instrumentalist some ability to sharpen or flatten the pitch by minute amounts when playing. And, actually, some guitarists perhaps instinctively manipulate the pitch of strings as they play with subtle bending strategies.)

True harmonic intervals sound sweet to the ear and very good acapella singing groups tend to gravitate toward mathmatically 'correct' intervals.

But if there is a modulation, the new intervals do not fall on exactly the same pitch as might be expected by someone whose experience is solely with even-tempered scales.

If an instrument could be instantly retuned to match those mathmatically exact frequencies, as a good singing group will instinctively do, we wouldn't need the approximation of the even-tempered scale, which 'splits the difference' in the range of values a given 'note' might fall on depending on the key. (An early attempt at a portable or modulatable scale was called the 'mean-tempered' scale not because it 'sounded mean' as one hapless writer in Electronic Musician once wrote, but because it was an attempt at an average or mean between the range of possible values.)

(I'm rotten at explaining this. Here's a possible better explanation and then a slightly confusingly formatted 'dialog' between the writer and someone. And all of it in the context of a larger discussion on pitch correction, its 'legitimacy,' etc.)


Anyhow, when a singer or singers tries to sing the true pitch of certain notes against, say, a hold note on an organ, one of them will sound 'off' because the organ is playing the pitch as determined by the dictates of the even-tempered scale while the singer is singing the note dictated by the 'true' Pythagorean interval.

So, a singer could be singing the actual true pitch, but an inartful arrangement could undercut the singer and make him or her sound 'out of tune.'

[This is why tight harmony groups often avoid accompaniment by organs and the like, sometimes using a rhythmic, even staccato guitar, or using keyboard arrangements that avoid potential conflicts -- or often skipping chordal accompaniment altogehter.]

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Re: Classic recordings that are out of tune

Post by Stephen » Tue Jan 18, 2005 5:01 am

theblue1 wrote:
SKEETER wrote:There is a somewhat obscure album by Jefferson Airplane called "Thirty Seconds over Winterland". The vocals on it are atrocious! But there is something about the album that makes it really good, there are a couple of cool sounding songs on it. The drummer on it is one of the unsung heroes of rock drummers, Johnny Barbeta. He also played drums on the live CSNY "Four Way Street" on the electric set. The guy has a sound all his own.
I was just listening to their earlier live album, Bless Its Pointed Little Head, last night and then only a few minutes later, read in a thread elsewhere that the drummer through much of the classic period of the airplane, Spencer Dryden had died last week. (not to be confused with Skip Spence, the original Airplane drummer and later guitarist for Moby Grape) . In fact, the reason I put the album (and Crown of Creation, too, while I was at it) on was because a buddy and I had been talking earlier in the evening about Spencer Dryden's great, really human drumming.

________________________________________________


Anyhow, on the pitch thing, I totally agree that there are a lot of great songs with less than perfect vocals.

But one thing a lot of folks, even musicians, don't always get, is that the guitar and piano (especially) have scales which are approximations of the mathmatically pure, but generally impractical pitch values based on Pythagorean intervals. (Other instruments may offer the instrumentalist some ability to sharpen or flatten the pitch by minute amounts when playing. And, actually, some guitarists perhaps instinctively manipulate the pitch of strings as they play with subtle bending strategies.)

True harmonic intervals sound sweet to the ear and very good acapella singing groups tend to gravitate toward mathmatically 'correct' intervals.

But if there is a modulation, the new intervals do not fall on exactly the same pitch as might be expected by someone whose experience is solely with even-tempered scales.

If an instrument could be instantly retuned to match those mathmatically exact frequencies, as a good singing group will instinctively do, we wouldn't need the approximation of the even-tempered scale, which 'splits the difference' in the range of values a given 'note' might fall on depending on the key. (An early attempt at a portable or modulatable scale was called the 'mean-tempered' scale not because it 'sounded mean' as one hapless writer in Electronic Musician once wrote, but because it was an attempt at an average or mean between the range of possible values.)

(I'm rotten at explaining this. Here's a possible better explanation and then a slightly confusingly formatted 'dialog' between the writer and someone. And all of it in the context of a larger discussion on pitch correction, its 'legitimacy,' etc.)


Anyhow, when a singer or singers tries to sing the true pitch of certain notes against, say, a hold note on an organ, one of them will sound 'off' because the organ is playing the pitch as determined by the dictates of the even-tempered scale while the singer is singing the note dictated by the 'true' Pythagorean interval.

So, a singer could be singing the actual true pitch, but an inartful arrangement could undercut the singer and make him or her sound 'out of tune.'

[This is why tight harmony groups often avoid accompaniment by organs and the like, sometimes using a rhythmic, even staccato guitar, or using keyboard arrangements that avoid potential conflicts -- or often skipping chordal accompaniment altogehter.]
We used to joke that my former producer played the ill-tempered clavier...
(He was a bit of a curmudgeon...)
Pax, Steve
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Re: Classic recordings that are out of tune

Post by uk03878 » Tue Jan 18, 2005 7:46 am

Carole King - Tapestry
Is it her nasal voice or is she simply singing flat through every song?

Outkast - Hey Ya
Turn it up loud and listen to that acoustic guitar and then try and listen to the song ever again without whincing - what ? WHAT are you playing??
It get's better as you go through the song - but at the beginning - wrong rhythm - wrong key

Black Crowes - Thorn in my Pride
Rich Robinsons acoustic intro - various notes pulled sharp and associated bum notes/fret buzzes
(well they did record the album in 8 days)

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Re: Classic recordings that are out of tune

Post by theblue1 » Tue Jan 18, 2005 10:01 am

Stephen wrote: We used to joke that my former producer played the ill-tempered clavier...
(He was a bit of a curmudgeon...)
Pax, Steve
:D

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Re: Classic recordings that are out of tune

Post by tfred812 » Tue Jan 18, 2005 10:06 am

"Has no one mentioned that gawdawful solo in The Troggs 'Wildthing'?
Talk about a teeth clenching moment."

"what is it, a recorder?"
It's an ocarina, sir.

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Re: Classic recordings that are out of tune

Post by Rigsby » Tue Jan 18, 2005 11:03 am

tfred812 wrote:
"Has no one mentioned that gawdawful solo in The Troggs 'Wildthing'?
Talk about a teeth clenching moment."

"what is it, a recorder?"
It's an ocarina, sir.
Pretty ambitious to play well the ocarina, was it one of the group?
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Re: Classic recordings that are out of tune

Post by soundguy » Tue Jan 18, 2005 11:39 am

Robert Plant really blew himself out in the early years of Led Zeppelin, he really had trouble staying in tune after 1971, thats the biggest bummer to me when I hear those records, but at least you can hear him trying to hit the notes. Perry Farrell jjust seems flat on everything thing he has ever done, I think Ive accepted that as a style. Frank Sinatra with his whopping mastery of half an octave range always seemed to have trouble with "oooo" vowel sounds, they generally seem to waver. Beyond that, any old recoriding of a mellotron is gonna have some magic moment on it...

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Re: Classic recordings that are out of tune

Post by skinnyemo77 » Tue Jan 18, 2005 11:58 am

I didn't feel like scrolling through 7 pages, but if no one has mentioned Black Love by The Afghan Whigs, I'm going to.

That album is littered with Greg Dulli's gloriously off-key vocals.

Somebody mentioned Pavement being more charming than Malkmus & The Jicks because of the singing around notes. One could make the same case regarding Afghan Whigs and The Twilight Singers (Dulli's new project).

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Re: Classic recordings that are out of tune

Post by JGriffin » Tue Jan 18, 2005 12:04 pm

skinnyemo77 wrote:I didn't feel like scrolling through 7 pages, but if no one has mentioned Black Love by The Afghan Whigs, I'm going to.

That album is littered with Greg Dulli's gloriously off-key vocals.

Somebody mentioned Pavement being more charming than Malkmus & The Jicks because of the singing around notes. One could make the same case regarding Afghan Whigs and The Twilight Singers (Dulli's new project).
Yeah, there's some vocal warts on "Gentlemen" as well. Fantastic vocalist, Dulli.
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Re: Classic recordings that are out of tune

Post by stevemoss » Tue Jan 18, 2005 1:11 pm

I've got an older 2-disc Best of the Animals compilation where the mix they use of Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood entirely goes on the chorus - tape speed changes and it's horrible.

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Re: Classic recordings that are out of tune

Post by Fieryjack » Tue Jan 18, 2005 1:15 pm

I've got one: Does anybody remember the Beatles' "I'll Be Back Again"? Paul sings the high harmony.

"....and I would be sad if our new love was in VAIN."

Paul totally bungles up the "Vain" (2nd verse, I think) and his voice just gives and can't hit the note. Martin and company have since fixed it, so if you want to hear it you'll have to listen to an earlier pressing.....

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