A caution against losing sight of the final product

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by devinb, Feb 12, 2008.

  1. devinb

    devinb Member

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    My thoughts about starting this thread spawned from the a couple of threads here in the recording section, as well as discussions that have been taking place on another (lesser) forum I read.

    A while ago we had a thread here about Auto-Tune, there's currently a thread about overdubbing.

    Particularly in the studio, but also as guitar players, everything we use is just a tool to realize artistic vision.

    I love my number one acoustic more than I've ever loved any other instrument I own. That said, in the studio there are choices I make to enhance the sounds the guitar produces...maybe nothing significant, but the use of a couple of ribbon mics that naturally roll off a little of the treble...

    There are albums I love that were recorded at home, or on an extremely tight budget and low hours in the studio...there are live albums that I love...but in the end, I think that anything that helps realize an artistic vision should be fair game.

    I'm far from a great singer, but I'd never ask another person to sing my songs for me. My pitch isn't bad, but I've always thought my voice was a bit thin, maybe a bit boyish, and at times nasal. My range isn't great...Connor Oberst sang, "I could have been a famous singer if I had someone else's voice." It rings true a bit for me, I'd like to think.

    I think the bottom line is this...I don't want to have to make a decision about whether or not I like an album based on some 'tell all' website that documents all the cheats the artist used. If they conceptualized a great album, but needed some help realizing it, that's okay by me.

    Unless you're still recording direct to wax cylinder, you're using some degree of studio magic...compression, a little reverb, whatever. I think the only line that should be drawn is the line of whether or not it improves the final product. To me, this doesn't necessarily mean digitally enhanced timing, or Auto-Tune...I like a little bit of a raw feel in my music, but what someone else does with those things is their business, in my opinion.

    If a visual artist decided to use a ruler to have a perfectly straight line, I don't think less of them.
     
  2. rob2001

    rob2001 Member

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    Thats somthing I think about often when i'm recording my 3 piece rock/blues/funk band. For me, the song tells me where to take it, either super produced sounding or a raw, live feel. As for the "tricks" being used these days, I don't subscribe to time comp'ing, auto tune or any other trick that doesn't involve a real performance. But really, the people that might hear our product would have no idea on production methods or if we time alligned the drums. The bottom line for me is that "I" know what we did and how we got there. It's a matter of pride for me. I'm not sayin new methods of recording are bad, whatever works or floats the boat is cool with me. I like knowing we did stuff "old school".
     
  3. elambo

    elambo Member

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    There's a reason why a great producer drives a Rolls Royce and has 4 houses.
     
  4. rob2001

    rob2001 Member

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    No need to get sarchastic! Thats why I put in the line "new methods aren't bad, whatever floats your boat is fine". :AOK

    By old school I mean solid performances on all tracks start to finish, no punch in's to fix clams. No auto tune, no time alligning the drum tracks. No slowing down the tape so a singer can hit the high notes. I don't cut and paste together 10 rythym guitar tracks. If I want a doubled guitar, I play it again. ETC..ETC... ETC... Basicly anything that "fixes" somthing that was wrong to start with. I don't consider compression, effects or multi tracking fixing a bad performance, they enhance whats there. If a guitar track has a clam in it, it will only compress the clam, not fix it. And if there is a mistake, I'll go back and do the track again.

    I consider this one of the luxuries of having my own studio. Doing stuff like this takes alot of time and if it were paid studio time it would cost a fortune. I know, i've been there.

    Most of my process is pretty modern if you look at the big picture. I guess I just draw the line at digital editing and techniques that don't involve working with a real performance, be it live or overdubbed.

    Again, i'm not saying other new methods are bad, i'm sayin this is what works for me and my band and though it takes time, we are proud of the results and the work it took to get there.
     
  5. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    Well, yeah... but I'm not sure I see the connection to the topic at hand...

    Do you mean because of focusing on the end result?
     
  6. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    What I think is most important to a good recording is having a good f***ing time making the record. If you're not having fun, no one else will when they listen to you.
     
  7. Zero Point

    Zero Point Member

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    Yet we love "The Wall" ... ;)

    Hehe, actually I guess it is more apt to cite "The Final Cut" :)

    Since not many times on the Wall did the Floyd actually gather as a group...

    -ZP
     
  8. elambo

    elambo Member

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    Maybe I read through too quickly, but he seemed to be describing the job of the producer. It's not easy. To do it well, consistently, earns respect and of course a lot of money.
     
  9. elambo

    elambo Member

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    Good point, but that's assuming that the genre is meant to be fun. My favorite album of all time (Radiohead's OK Computer) isn't exactly fun, but it's genius, and it really moves me in all directions, even after the 300th listen. Something tells me they weren't having too much fun while putting it together.

    But it's perfect for their audience, something their producer, Nigel Godrich, knew how to help achieve. Which comes back to importance of the producer knowing how to steer the boat.
     
  10. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    True, I can absolutely dig that and I respect it. But is that esoteric/intellectual approach succesful when it comes to making hits?

    I know, I know, someone can always point to a bizarre novelty record or something... and you're right that hits are not everything.

    Anyway, turning away from "what makes a hit?" for a moment....

    My comment was very subjective, it was really about what I like to hear, the music/recordings I like to make, and my approach. It doesn't hold up as a universal truth and I realize it's an over-simplistic... some of my favorite records (hits or not) had nothing to do with fun at all, but they came from a deep place. So to put it another way, the records I personally enjoy the most - to hear or to create - sound like whoever made them loved making them, whether "fun" is the right word or not. XTC's Apple Venus didn't sound like "Wheee! Fun in the studio!" but it sounds like it was a blast to make anyway.

    None of the above precludes the need for talent, skill, chops, pocket, groove, melody, harmony, intelligence, experience, good tone, good gear, good ears, etc. Stoopid fun is not my thing.

    (BTW... Radiohead has never moved me) :)
     
  11. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    I read him as saying: some people's posts would seem to indicate that they are less focused on getting the best results they can, than on whether certain methods are "cheats" or not.
     
  12. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    Funny, I never did, and I had been a Floyd fan going back to Piper. I have no beef with it, I'm just saying I never particularly liked it and never bought it. Just a subjective thing.
     
  13. rob2001

    rob2001 Member

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    Fair enough...I guess I said old school because i'm sure a lot of guys into recording would wonder why I wouldn't want to take advantage of modern digital editing techniques. It's all cool with me, I just have my preferences. I'm sure in time i'll warm up to some new processes.
     
  14. rob2001

    rob2001 Member

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    Radiohead hey? I'll have to give them a listen.
     
  15. Kenny D

    Kenny D Member

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    I'll use comping, editing, punch-ins, and redoing the track, whichever works best for me. I have no problem with technology. I also don't have any vocalists to worry about so AutoTune isn't an issue for me, thank God. I have used it when I helped record other group(s) though and it was a God send.

    On some occasions, I'll just rewrite a part to make it work.

    I, too, own my own studio (PT HD-2 based) and don't have to pay for time but I also don't want to waste a day on something that I can do in the editor in 5 minutes. Especially if it is one of my band mates whose family is sensitive to how much time they spend on my project (we're a bunch of middle-agers).

    Yes, studios can make bad musicians sond good but those "artists" can't fool anyone in a live performance. Anyone remember Ashlee Simpson?

    If you have it use it. That's what it's there for.
     

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