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Thread March 14, 2015 editorial: comments

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1 March 14, 2015 editorial: comments

Is This the Golden Age?

You could easily make a case that we live in a golden age of recording technology. We have tools at our disposal that blow away what we had in the 60s, 70s, and even 80s. We have virtually no limit on track counts. We can manipulate, fold, spindle and mutilate audio to an unheard of degree. We have access to a universe of virtual instruments, and we have effects plug-ins that closely emulate some of the best hardware processors of all time. We even have tools that let us reach inside polyphonic audio and tune or transpose it.

But from where I stand, this increase in studio power hasn’t led to a commensurate surge in creativity. Quite the opposite, in many ways. Are we perhaps too well armed in the studio? Could it be that the limitations of track count, processing power, and post-production editing capabilities that musicians, engineers and producers faced in the ‘60s, ‘70s, and early ‘80s led to leaner, better thought out arrangements and spurred more creative music production?  Has having virtually no limitations and an almost unlimited palate of tools distracted us from our musical mission.?

We get so wrapped up in whether we should set our convolution reverb to emulate a stadium or a particular concert hall or the drum room at a classic studio — or whether we should use an Arp, Moog, or Sequential Circuits emulation for that synth pad —  that we lose track of what we’re applying that reverb for, or what the synth part should be accomplishing.

I’m as guilty of this as anyone. It’s impossible not to get sucked into the gear vortex — it’s very seductive, and I certainly am not advocating we go back to the way it used to be.

But we should not forget that the bottom line is making good music, and that technology — no matter how mind-blowing — is just a tool. We shouldn’t let it become the tail that wags the dog. Don't you think?

Have a great week.

Mike Levine
U.S. Editor
Audiofanzine
2
Hi Mike:
I'm in my home office/studio working (on a translation that's due today!) so this will be brief: I'm 100% in Agreement with your conclusion. We can't see the forest anymore for the trees. I applaud manufactures like Focusrite and others for their efforts to simplify recording gear (Ex: The iTrack for iPad). Making good music does NOT equate having every latest piece of gear out there: can anyone argue that, for example, the Beatles recordings on 'Revolver', 'Sgt. Peppers', 'White Album', etc, were some of the most revolutionary music productions of the 20th-century (and even into the 21st!) and they used primitive equipment by today's standards.
IMHO, it was their CREATIVITY as well as that of George Martin and other key contributers who were responsible for making the best music in their times.

Just sayin'...
Rob Eski in Acapulco
3
I don't see much creativity is music at all, and its not the engineers that are at fault, the artists are not bringing in new music, perhaps its all been done?
4
Quote from robertrafael.esquiveldiaz:
Hi Mike:
I'm in my home office/studio working (on a translation that's due today!) so this will be brief: I'm 100% in Agreement with your conclusion. We can't see the forest anymore for the trees. I applaud manufactures like Focusrite and others for their efforts to simplify recording gear (Ex: The iTrack for iPad). Making good music does NOT equate having every latest piece of gear out there: can anyone argue that, for example, the Beatles recordings on 'Revolver', 'Sgt. Peppers', 'White Album', etc, were some of the most revolutionary music productions of the 20th-century (and even into the 21st!) and they used primitive equipment by today's standards.
IMHO, it was their CREATIVITY as well as that of George Martin and other key contributers who were responsible for making the best music in their times.

Just sayin'...
Rob Eski in Acapulco
5
PRIMITIVE EQUIPMENT??????

EMI's TG boards & outboards, Chandlers, Studers etc ?? Yeah that's right, the ''primitive equipment'' which Audio software designers & manufacturers spend £100000s trying to emulate nowadays, failing miserably of course, lol....

Golden Age?? more like Digital Age!! and everything it entails;)
6
Ahmen to the bottom line of MAKING GOOD MUSIC. We all have our likes and dislikes but when the music is good, it's good in any genre..... (in most cases) :-)
7
I like to hear EVERYTHING that my DAW has to offer. Unfortunately this results in a very long learning curve. I was recently listening to some of my recordings from 2010 when I used Ableton version 6 and realized that my palette was complete. Why did I upgrade? Looking back it seems like I made a mistake.icon_facepalm.gif
8
Quote from Tzimi:
PRIMITIVE EQUIPMENT??????

EMI's TG boards & outboards, Chandlers, Studers etc ?? Yeah that's right, the ''primitive equipment'' which Audio software designers & manufacturers spend £100000s trying to emulate nowadays, failing miserably of course, lol....

Golden Age?? more like Digital Age!! and everything it entails;)


preach

Quote from Guitorb:
I like to hear EVERYTHING that my DAW has to offer. Unfortunately this results in a very long learning curve. I was recently listening to some of my recordings from 2010 when I used Ableton version 6 and realized that my palette was complete. Why did I upgrade? Looking back it seems like I made a mistake.icon_facepalm.gif


That's why I'm always hesitant with any upgrades these days. I'll update Studio One but I still use Lion (haven't upgraded to yosemite nor am I considering it at the moment) because 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'!

But back to the newsletter, I think the reason why Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix (among others) were such legends was because they were given equipment with perceived boundaries, and were forced to try anything and EVERYTHING in order to get sounds that lied outside of those boundaries.

These days, everything is so easily accessible that we focus more on the 'number of leaves' on a tree in the forest, instead of the beauty of the forest as a whole. By that, I mean we spend too much time on minute, otherwise unnoticeable details while forgetting what it takes to inject true emotion into the music
9
Quote:
But back to the newsletter, I think the reason why Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix (among others) were such legends was because they were given equipment with perceived boundaries, and were forced to try anything and EVERYTHING in order to get sounds that lied outside of those boundaries.

These days, everything is so easily accessible that we focus more on the 'number of leaves' on a tree in the forest, instead of the beauty of the forest as a whole. By that, I mean we spend too much time on minute, otherwise unnoticeable details while forgetting what it takes to inject true emotion into the music

Very well put. That's precisely the point I was trying to get across in the editorial. The problem, of course, is how do we reestablish the creative ingenuity that was caused by those limitations? It's hard to imagine that anyone (myself included) would voluntarily agree to restrict themselves to only 16 or 24 tracks, and no editing to fix timing errors, and only one or two synths, etc. So the answer, I guess, is that we have to channel that spirit of experimentation and ingenuity that was so prevalent in the production of those productions by the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, etc., in our own productions. Try to push the boundaries, even if we're not doing so because of gear limitations.