Clarity

rory

New member
This post is about the clarity of recordings. As we move forward in time, recordings have gotten clearer and clearer to where we are now in the state of current music. If you go back and listen to stuff done in the early stages of recorded music to things as late as the 80s, there is a noticable difference compared to things done today in the overall clarity of each instrument, and in the mix. It seems that today we are striving for perfection in both noise, pitch, tempo, etc. Even the homerecordist is unhappy when she can't duplicate whats on the radio.
<p>My question/s is/are, what might we be sacrificing for the sake of sterilization, if anything at all? I really enjoy listening to the white stripes simply because it sounds, in abscence of a better adjective, old. Radiohead is another example, especially OK Computer. It doesn't sound as good as most current music. Lastly, why are we so obsessed with having a super clean sound that is on pitch and on tempo? I don't mind music that is a little off (I don't mean bad musicianship that is completely all over the place, but I don't mind a little ebb now and again with some minor pitch issues).

Rory
 

brendandwyer

New member
I like old recordings too. And i like old bands.

I think as long as music is an industry, recordings will become more and more clear and perfect. when music is saved from the horrid confines of money and industry we will see true artistry return. I'll be long dead and rotting, well probably long rotted, but it'll happen.
 

SouthSIDE Glen

independentrecording.net
While I agree that it's the content of the music and not the quality of the recording that is paramount - I listen to 75-yr-old blues and jazz recordings just as much as I listen to brand new stuff - I'm not sure I agree with the implied premise that today's stuff is clearer and cleaner because that is what the producers of the recordings are shooting for.

I think that 90% of the reason that stuff is clearer and cleaner today is because of improvements in technology overall, not because of a conscious push for that sound. In fact, with today's emphasis on squashed dynamics and "The RMS Wars" in the pop, heavy rock and hip hop genres, I think it can be fairly argued that "clearer and cleaner" is exactly what many of todays producers are NOT shooting for.

G.
 

Joepie

New member
It's true that all the really commercial stuff tends to get as clear and crisp as possible, but I'm thinking of bands like the eels or G love & Special sauce, that deliberately add noise and a little pitchshift to their recordings to give it that "old blues" feel. Sometimes you'll even hear artificial LP-cracks...

Basically, we now have a choice whether to make it clear or fuzzy, whereas back in the days it was fuzzy no matter what. So I guess we're better off now... right?
 

surfmaster

New member
music is clearer now not because someone decided that everyone will love clear music because its the future, its because its producer's and engineer's jobs to make the absolute best product they can. if they dont make quality recordings that are up to the par of today's radio quality, they have a chance of loosing their job. a combination of many musician's drive, and these producers and engineers that creates this movement of clarity. it also is about the "american spirit" of moving forward, being better than the next guy, and doing whatever it takes (in this case "sterilizing" music) to get that polished product. good post though.

-matt
 

brendandwyer

New member
i'm not assigning "blame" for the results. What I'm saying is that because Music has become over centuries, a money making industry, it is forced to play the games of a money making industry. Think of this analagously. Take Milk. Milk in 1963 probably contained lots of things that today would be considered health hazards. Bacteria, remnants of the manufacturing process. All the things that today, Milk companies can confidently say they have eliminated. "We have the cleanest most flavorful milk. Buy our milk." An entire generation grew up drinking "dirty" milk and went on to have rewarding lives, eventually having children.

Nowadays, our efforts to live sterile and clean lives may (and this is my uneducated opinon) have increased the rates of asthmatic children by quite a bit. Mothers wipe down the entire house with clorox wipes trying to eliminate all bacteria and undesirable foreign matter. The detriments of this process we will see in years to come, however at the very least, it is known that bacteria is essential to human life. Our entire digestive tract is lined with mucus and bacteria. That's why you get the runs when you're on antibiotics. No bacteria = loose poop.

SO, in my opinion, music without "bacteria" is just more loose poop. It is not a fault of anyone, or even a fault of the industry. It is a byproduct of the "clean" is better mentality that is pervasive in our culture.

I don't want to hear anymore diarrhea music. I need some Tums.
 

SouthSIDE Glen

independentrecording.net
brendandwyer said:
Take Milk. Milk in 1963 probably contained lots of things that today would be considered health hazards. Bacteria, remnants of the manufacturing process. All the things that today, Milk companies can confidently say they have eliminated.
This is rather off-topic, but I'd give my left lung to have back the milk that was served me in 1963. It was far purer by leaps and bounds than the chemical crap that's sucked out of the udders today. Back then there were no PCBs, BGHs or excesses of inorganic fertilizers in the milk like there is now. And bacteria was never an issue thanks to pasteurization. Sorry, totally OT I know :o .

brendandwyer said:
SO, in my opinion, music without "bacteria" is just more loose poop. It is not a fault of anyone, or even a fault of the industry. It is a byproduct of the "clean" is better mentality that is pervasive in our culture.
Interesting analogy.

But the problematic questions I have with the analogy, brendan, is: what are we supposedly *doing* that makes things "too clean and clear"? Are we using too much high-quality gear? And what do you recommend to reverse this trend? Do we all go back to portable 2-track Revox recorders, get rid of our precious "studio monitors", automatically insert crackle and pop adder plugs into our DAW signal chains, and shelve off everything below 200Hz and above 5KHz so we can go back to the mud and noise of the old days?

Of course, on the bright side, we'd be able to get all these compressors, parametrics, finalizers, convolution reverbs, etc. out of the home recc's inventory. No great loss since 98% of home recc'rs don't have the slightest idea of how to use them anyway. Sure would make life a lot easier.

Just like in 1963, when the only thing in my milk was Ovaltine. :)

G.
 

brendandwyer

New member
I actually don't propose that we need to do anything. Only recognize the trend. The analogy was meant to be funny though, not taken too seriously, i mean, come on, poop? :)

Plenty of industries have risen and then become extinct. I believe that the music industry is headed for extinction. NOT that music is heading for extinction, but that there will be less of a monetary and industry involvement.

I imagine a world where artists create music for reasons other than fame and fortune. Granted this is an ideal, but we're already on that track. With the market flooded with thousands of pieces of affordable recording equipment, we're already seeing the accesibility of recording our creations becoming more within the average persons grasp. With the ease of 99 cent downloads, albums, and the hugely expensive creation of them, are being threatened. Myspace is free and allows musicians to post their own creative aspirations on the internet without the need of publicists, labels, and professional recordists.

Do i think that the music industry will collapse in 10 years, no. 20 years, maybe, 50 years, hopefully. I'm sure this is an unpopular opinion, but i would like music to become more pure, not more commercial. Is it an ideal, of course, but i like it.

One can argue that the *quality of home recordings is such that *serious artists will still record with professional studios, however, the furthering accessibility of home recording equipment is only making it more possible for artists to get satisfactory results for far less money.

Now before all the pro's go crazy, you guys are invaluable at this stage. Your knowledge that you distribute on these forums is only helping this trend continue. I believe that you guys are helping musicians gain liberation from the industry. Thanks!
 

legionserial

New member
I went into the whole recording thing with the idea in mind of getting my ideas down on some format, so I wouldn't forget them. i didn't worry too much about the intricacies of things, as I was recording my guitar over drum loops that fit. It was all lo fi, and took very little work to mix (no eq whatsoever). I was using cheap equipment, and pulling the best I could out of it without stressing myself.

Now, with much more expensive equipment, and with a more serious approach, I am getting to those sterilizing levels of perfectionism. I have sat down and wondered why. People have asked me why. This wasn't my intention at all. So why be so anal about everything?

Well....because now that I am taking a more technical approach, trying to make it sound more listenable, I take more time over it, naturally. As a result of spending hours on end listening to the same tune, you notice little things you don't like anymore. Rather than a tune you know playing where you are anticipating the next break, the next change or time shift, I start anticipating the little flaws and problems that need fixing. After hours of listening, those flaw become so ingrained into my mind, so gaping and obvious, that I can't stand them and have to get rid of. And so it goes on. The more I listen, the more the flaws glare out at me and piss me off, and the pushed I feel to get rid of them.

And with todays technology, we are more equipped to fix the problems than we were before.

End result. A little sterility.

Basically, a little problem is only a little problem until its repeated ad infinitum, then it become a major pain in the ass.

But...

I think if we are losing anything from the perfection, we are also gaining something.

At first, to me, recording music, making an album was a documentation of a bands performance. Something you could take home and replay over and over. We may have lost that now with the perfectionism. Those little live fuckups, bum notes etc, that make a band sound alive are gone.

What we get back is a new medium of presenting music. An album or recording is often more than the documentation of a performance these days. Its a creation of its own. From the arrangement of each song, to the play order of the tracks, to the album art. Its a package, an invention, a creation. And, slightly off topic, thats why I hope mp3 downloads dont kill cds, and thats why I miss vinyl. To me the finished product of an album is much more than a recording of a live band.

To that effect, the technology and the scope for perfectionism brings with it negatives and positives...
 

brendandwyer

New member
great post. i agree, i miss albums. vinyl, double LP's, lyric sheets, session photos.

But hankering for the past does nothing to influence the future, and as of this past week, The Beatles licensed their upcoming remasters for download. So.....my friends....RIP Albums, we loved you. It's only a matter of time.

Dun dun dun....
 

rory

New member
Thats an interesting opinion. I remember even when I started playing in bands 10-13 years ago, we did our "demos" at home (I'm using the term as I believe it once was and still sometimes is used. We had a loose arrangement of a song and it wasn't really meant to be shopped around yet to get us gigs) and then went into a studio to do the "real" thing. It was an experience for us and I'll never forget it.
<p>I imagine, from what I've seen at work and through my loose connections of musicians in the area, that many people do their "real" recordings at home and intend to shop those around, bypassing the professional studios. And granted, these recordings probably sound better than the ones I did at the real studio when I started out!
<p>I do a lot of recording for local bands, and most of them have semi-professional equipment at home. What I have to do in order to get their business is to convince them that my space is better, my knowledge is more expansive, and you will get a better end product if you let me worry about the technical things and you can just concentrate on the music end. I believe that people still want to have the studio experience, but with most things in our culture we tend to do the quickest, cheapest alternative.
<p>All that being said, I really don't know how I was going to originally relate this to clarity. I suppose because I do a lot of "indie" or "grunge" bands, they despise the radio sound and generally want to do tracking in the same room. Sometimes I fight that battle, sometimes I don't want to because it works. My recordings aren't "professional" (I don't mean professional=good, in this case I mean clear) sounding, maybe its because I can't do a professional sounding recording, maybe its because I don't want to. Probably a little of both.
 

legionserial

New member
brendandwyer said:
great post. i agree, i miss albums. vinyl, double LP's, lyric sheets, session photos.

But hankering for the past does nothing to influence the future, and as of this past week, The Beatles licensed their upcoming remasters for download. So.....my friends....RIP Albums, we loved you. It's only a matter of time.

Dun dun dun....

Well, I really hope we don't lose CD's to mp3's. I've always liked concept albums, something that can only benefit from new recording technologies and I think mp3's could kill that. The beatles may have licsensed remasters for download, but how would Sgt Peppers as an entire album translate to a bunch of separate mp3's per tune? Or what about Messugga's Catch Thirtythr33? Not as well I would imagine. For one, there won't be anymore segues, and that would be a shame. Any how is anyone sposed to listen any classical concertos or symphonies without having spaces in between each track. Its not like we could download an mp3 of an entire concerto. Who could be bothered? Thats not to say I don't think mp3's are great, my entire CD collection is on mp3 for ease of use. But I wouldn't want to be denied the option of listening to CD quality music for another thing...

Sorry, deviating from topic here a bit...
 

SouthSIDE Glen

independentrecording.net
brendandwyer said:
I imagine a world where artists create music for reasons other than fame and fortune.
With the exception of folks like Dewd, I don't think that world ever left us. Those who are in this to become rich and famous are little different from folks who play the lottery or the blackjack table for the same reason. But those are in the minority, or at least those over 25 yrs old are.

But in my experience, most artists - be they musicians, painters, architects, actors, comedians, what have you - are not in it for the f&f anyway. They're in it because that's what they love to do. That is someting that has never changed and never will.

The problem is that homo sapiens as a species has not grown out of the adolescent greed stage yet. Idealized societies or even idealized sub programs that have elements of idealized anarchy or idealized communism in them are unfortunately doomed to either failure or manipulation by the greedy. There's no way around it in our living future. I'm not advocating it, I'm just saying that's how it is.

When an artist does something purely out of love of the art and get's lucky enough to find an audience that enjoys the entertainment enough to be willing to pay to support the artist, there is a market that the artist is not interested in managing. If he doesn't manage it, it will die. If he does, his art will die. It's because of this dilemma that business managers are hired. Business managers tend to be those that care about the business first, and care about the audience and the art only second and third. They care about money. So we have people that care about the money who wind up being in charge of any market that crops up in a capitalist society. That's the way it is, bub. Sorry.

And, no, the Internet is not the great greed killer the idealists believe it to be either. When you have a half-billion artists vying for attention on one medium, thats when promotion channels become important. Word of mounth, as powerful as it is on the Internet, is not as powerful as something more "proactive". Setting up specific locales/channels/links/etc. that make it easy for the consumer to find the type of artist he wants when he wants it, instead of waiting for the electronic grapevine to rattle. So with these promotion channels come promoters. Promoters become managers, and we're right back in the same old greed game again.

I remember youthful idealism; it disappears about the time you have kids you need to take care of in a world already ruled by the greedy. Idealism survives that point, but it takes a more reasoned form. :cool:

G.
 

brendandwyer

New member
unfortunately you are right.

I don't know about the married with children thing. I'm gay and we've only recently been able to have that as an option. Without youthful idealism we wouldn't have that.

So from my vantage point, youthful idealism drives change. But now i'm off topic.

Many many people on the periphery of the music industry feel as i do. I would assume that many people directly involved in the music industry echo your sentiments G. Just different opinions due to different perceptions
 

SouthSIDE Glen

independentrecording.net
brendandwyer said:
I don't know about the married with children thing. I'm gay and we've only recently been able to have that as an option. Without youthful idealism we wouldn't have that.
Hahaha, where were you when I needed you in the other thread yesterday when Dewd idiotically claimed that everybody was into this for the chicks? It would have been great to have you set him "straight"...so to speak ;) :D

Well, for the record, I am a boring ol' hetero who is not married and who has no children himself, so I am not speaking from personal bias so much as I am from general observation. Perhaps I should have said something more along the lines of the wisdom of age instead of specifically becoming a parent. Anyway I think the idea holds either way.

brendandwyer said:
So from my vantage point, youthful idealism drives change. But now i'm off topic.
Oh, I agree that youthful idealism is often the seed of change. But only rarely does the ultimate change actually resemble the idealism that created it.

brendandwyer said:
Many many people on the periphery of the music industry feel as i do. I would assume that many people directly involved in the music industry echo your sentiments G. Just different opinions due to different perceptions
First let me say that I do not personaly like or advocate the scenario I described; it's not my sentiment. I'm just reporting it as I see it.

There is nothing worng with idealism. It's just not a very good weapon against the business of greed. Use the idealism as one's motivation, but it'll take a pragmatic and frankly jaded understanding of the motivation and tactics of greed itself to be able to ultimately defeat it. Sun Tsu. :)

[/philosophical rant]

G.
 

omtayslick

New member
SouthSIDE Glen said:
I remember youthful idealism; it disappears about the time you have kids you need to take care of in a world already ruled by the greedy. Idealism survives that point, but it takes a more reasoned form. :cool:

G.

Hey Glen,
Whether you have kids or not, you certainly nailed that point.
 

brendandwyer

New member
Glen, i don't know where i was but i should have been there!

We're all talking about the same thing. Hoping things will change in the way that you hope they will eventually ebbs and your left with the realization that you have to play the game, and if things change the way you want along the way,all the better.

I'm a liberal and a Star Trek fan. Which means that i'm foolishly optimistic, and i know what the future is going to be like :)

Haha, i'm so off topic now i'm not even sure what the topic was.
 

up-fiddler

Taming the World--for now
SouthSIDE Glen said:
I remember youthful idealism; it disappears about the time you have kids you need to take care of in a world already ruled by the greedy. Idealism survives that point, but it takes a more reasoned form. :cool:

G.

The upside is that we become better songwriters in the process. Less cliche', more content, etc.
 

Doc Holiday

New member
SouthSIDE Glen said:
I remember youthful idealism; it disappears about the time you have kids you need to take care of in a world already ruled by the greedy. Idealism survives that point, but it takes a more reasoned form. :cool:G.
This is true. But I still wrestle with it. :)
 

AGCurry

New member
Clarity? Try Miles Davis's "Kinda Blue" album, recorded in 1958, I think. THAT'S clarity, a real example of *high* fidelity. Not too long afterwards, we had Phil Spector and the Rolling Stones - NOT clarity.

The musicians, the room, and the production have so much more to do with clarity than the signal chain.
 
Top