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Hey Guys,

Here's an intersting article regarding the use of looping technology out of control.

http://www.record-producer.com/learn.cfm?a=1530

The best bit is.....

.."To put my own slant on this... Years ago when recording equipment was fiendishly expensive, it used to be a 'barrier to entry'. So only people who were really talented and determined ever got the chance to succeed. The musical riffraff couldn't get beyond this barrier and above it was a totally professional world. Now however, anyone can bash out a track in their bedroom and the recording quality is likely to be good. And these tracks get sent to record labels, publishers and TV production companies. Trouble is, they are mostly 'created' by musical riffraff who don't have the talent to produce anything of real value. All they do is create clutter in the market for composers and tunesmiths and, rather than helping people succeed, I would say that it's holding back the people who truly deserve success because they can't get heard above the noise....."

Gotta agree here, but, um, how do you determine if you're the riff-raff ? LOL.

cheers, niteshift




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Originally Posted by niteshift
Gotta agree here, but, um, how do you determine if you're the riff-raff ? LOL.



Easy for me - I'm part of the riff-raff grin

Some interesting ideas here - certainly there is no argument from me that it is easier for the average Joe to get something recorded nowadays.

There are a couple of things I take issue with though:

(1) "Trouble is, they are mostly 'created' by musical riffraff who don't have the talent to produce anything of real value."

That's funny - it's been a long time since I've felt that the average product from the record companies has had any real value.


(2) "All they do is create clutter in the market for composers and tunesmiths and, rather than helping people succeed, I would say that it's holding back the people who truly deserve success because they can't get heard above the noise....."

I have a hard time buying this. I don't think someone who makes recordings in his back room and fires them off unsolicited to a publisher or record label is going to get in the way of anyone. I don't know exactly how record labels go about selecting artists but I suspect they don't generally do it by listening to unsolicited submissions. And if they do, then the good stuff would sound better among crap than it would by itself. smile

Let's suppose he's right though - Given the choice between a system that allows only a few to express a professional sounding artistic vision and one that allows everyone to express their own (usually non-professional) vision - I go with the latter. It's more healthy, more diverse, and, for me, more fun. smile

I'd be interested to hear Brian's take on this. After all he gets like 30,000 CDs comprised of like 300,000 songs when he opens the JPF competition. And they include artists both from the riffraff and established, famous acts. If he can sort it out, why can't a record label?

Scott



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Hey Scott,

Yeah, he's pretty strong in the wording.

I think, what he's referring to is the "push button" type of music creation, which is just joining bits of pre-recorded stuff together. Endless loops, and overdubs. No live players or actual artists, and I've got to agree there.

Music really is just loops, repetitive beats etc, but if a whole bunch of people are just using the same generic material that comes with a reording programme, then you just get muzac out the other end. No creativity, no human expression.

I think the technology should be used as an adjunct to creativity, and expand it, rather than replace it.

The good thing about the use of "artificial" music is that, in the end, it will all become blandness, and the artists who can actually sing , write a tune, perform live, and entertain an audience should win out. Well, ....hopefully...in a perfect world.

cheers, niteshift

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I think my Taxi membership, and the services of mentors like Pat Luboff & John Braheny, have helped me grow from "riff raff" (which I definitely was when I started) to professional songwriter/producer.


Vikki Flawith: Songwriter/Composer, Singer/Voice Teacher

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Originally Posted by niteshift
I think the technology should be used as an adjunct to creativity, and expand it, rather than replace it.



That's a good point, Nite...

Back in the mid to late 90's there was thinking in the photography world that digital imaging and photoshop-like software would allow any Tom, Dick or Harry to create works that only darkroom masters could previously.

Turns out all it did was let average artists create average images even faster. And good artists create good images even faster. I never saw an example though where it made an average artist into a good one.

If the artistic vision isn't there, no amount of technology will help. smile

Of course, who knows what will happen in the future? grin

Scott

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He writes about a new form of crap while forgetting all the old crap we've always heard. Somebody sent me a YouTube of the old Miami Vice episode where Frank Zappa played a villain...the background music was unbearable.

"Professional" never automatically translated to "excellent"...it just means that someone is getting paid. The ones who decide what to release...those are the ones to watch. All levels of quality will always try to get marketed...


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The easiest thing to do would be to take borrowed and manufactured samples and pass that off as a performance.

But that is beginning to make those that may not be as skilled in their performance or even writing ability look better and better.
There is still many on the net that are out to fullfill a creative desire and need to use their hands.
Just like before, the establishment will gravitate to that.

Even the popular musicians are annonncing their disdain at how technology gets used.
It's as if software can replace what loads of engineering and having to travel to different locations can do.
It reminds me of people that do these complex rythmn samples and compare themselves to Steely Dan or prog acts.
They ought to get back to the band and their fans on that.

Technology definately has it's advantages, but not to the point of costing inventiveness.

I am just out for my own creative endeavors myself and like to use my fingers with the instrument, and there are many like me.

But the software would make it so easy to supplement for skills I don't have.

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Hey Guys,

Yep, gotta aggree with the Taxi thing. I've only been a member for a couple of months, but it sets a standard, and therefor lifts eveyone's game. It's filtering out that which should not be heard in the clutter. Bad vocals, bad production, just bad musicianship, gets the chop real fast.

I put the article up, mainly because the is no filter at the moment. Just because a song can be recorded, doesn't mean it should be. As Scott pointed out, the technology was initially meant for professional people to enhance their skill and make their job easier.

I've always said DAW's should come with a drivers' licence. smile

Before digital, you had to be very careful in which songs were selected for recording because of the cost involved. Therefor there was an amount of self quality control. Songs were worked and re-worked, until they were ready for recording.

I think this ethic is returning after the rush of the last few years to concentrate on quantity rather than quality. I often smile at those who say they may have written 50 or 100 songs in a year. I think that might be 100 sketches of a basic melody line or a few scribbles in a notebook.

Perhaps, and hopefully, it has all come full circle, and the song and performance itself will return as the centre of attention.

cheers, niteshift

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What's bad is always going to be subjective.
It usually relies on that given musicians click.

But I have have heard contestents the few times I have watched American Idol that sound like a farm animal having a nervous breakdown.

I guess there has to be some type of system to at least stay in tune.
But there are also people that specialize in being out of tune.

Like some of this off key material that gained some wide acceptence that the musicians elite would'nt have accepted.
I guess slogging it out in the local club will never be replaced despite the technology and many more options through the net.

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Quote
I guess slogging it out in the local club will never be replaced despite the technology and many more options through the net.


Yep, that sums it up in a nutshell.

cheers, niteshift

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Glad to be part of the riff raff. I am very lucky I get paid for being part of it and that is a bonus. I know some very talented riff raff people who do not get paid for their music and there is a huge number of untalented riff raff people who make millions. Funny old world.

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Geez Jim, you really are profound !

Similar to my thoughts.

I think I don't mind being part of the riff raff also.

I have a conversation with "top" guys one day, and then another with an artist who shows huge potential, but unrecognised.

It's all a crap shoot, but there is a recognised standard, and that standard has always been the same. It hasn't changed since music was first recorded.

You can just tell when a piece of work is passionate, or it isn't. As one who did "music to order", I'm glad I don't do that anymore.

Oops....looks like I'm an arty fart, fulfulling my inner self, better be careful of that one, it leads to disaster......

cheers, niteshift

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Well I am not an arty fart just an old fart. I do not care how famous a person is I judge everybody on their music. Some music I like.... other stuff I dislike. Just cause some music is made by somebody famous does not make it good and vice versa. Funny old world.

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Am I being heard above the noise? Of course not. I never have been, and I doubt I ever will be. I can't afford a big enough megaphone.

Has the cheapening of technology and the presence of the Internet made the situation worse? Yes and no, in my opinion. This isn't the first time technology has gotten cheap; it seems to do it every 20-30 years or so--and frankly, it was a little easier last time around for a working band to make a name for themselves than it is today. (Jes' my opinion, of course. I's routinely full of opinions.)

I have likened searching for good music to hunting for diamonds in a sewer plant. Thanks to the Internet, the sewer plant has gotten a lot bigger. There are more diamonds--but you have to dig through a lot more c**p to find 'em.

Internet aside, if I were to think like a music publisher (and I'm trying to learn, because I intend to become one with the release of the next album), I think I could screen out a lot of the c**p that came through the door just because of how it was presented; if you and your material look and act like you know what you're doing, I might consider you professional enough to listen to. If you don't, I have a dumpster and am not afraid to use it. I probably would pay very little attention to what's on the Internet because there's no filters there--there's nothing that tells me what's good or bad, and I wouldn't have the time to wade through it all.

However, I think there's another factor involved besides the sheer voilume of stuff, and the difficulty in finding the good stuff. That's the closed-circle mindset I think exists in the record companies. Right now, I think, it's a club being run by and for the people who are already in the club, and it's important to them not to let new people in. (Oh, people do break in occasionally, but it's harder than it used to be. There are a lot fewer people making decisions, and they're a lot harder to reach.)

That, too, is cyclical, and it will come to an end--again--eventually. I do not know if it will happen soon enough for me to take advantage of it. (I'm an old fart, too.) And that last, I think, is why I keep working on getting that bigger megaphone.

Joe

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Hey Joe it does not matter how big the megaphone is cause the peope who make the big decisions are all deaf. What you need is a telephone an an influential friend who can give you a phone number and an introduction. Miraculously the infuential folk all of a sudden get a hearing aid.

You do not need talent or a big megaphone just influential friends.

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Actually being handsome and/or having big boobs makes some people much more talented.


Colin

I try to critique as if you mean business.....

http://colinwardmusic.com/

http://rosewoodcreekband.com/


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Colin, I wouldn't know. I lack in both categories.

My daughter, who is blonde, actually dyed her hair red once to see if it would improve her grades.

It did...

Joe

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Originally Posted by Colin Ward
Actually being handsome and/or having big boobs makes some people much more talented.


Yep I noticed this when my boobs started growing. If they continue to grow at the same rate I will be a genius soon.

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Close your eyes and open your mind. You can hear the good stuff and distinguish it from the stuff that was good the first time around. It's the formula kind of stuff that turns all good things into cloned material. I personally applaud the riff-raff and their bright new takes on things.

Great expression Big Jim, looks like a cold draft made its way under the kilt...

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Question: why is it that "everybody" is always worrying so much about those people who are not listening to them, rather than those that do?

I think the lower bar for entry into the recording field is awesome, because it allows many more inexperienced artists (myself included) to enter the field and grow. Ultimately, I believe, the wide availability of professional grade recording gear will raise the bar for top artists, not lower it. If every Tom, Dick and Harry today can sound like U2 tomorrow, U2 better crank up their game!

As for being heard above the noise... one could also go out and search a quiet spot to play in! wink


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Originally Posted by niteshift
Hey Scott,

Yeah, he's pretty strong in the wording.

I think, what he's referring to is the "push button" type of music creation, which is just joining bits of pre-recorded stuff together. Endless loops, and overdubs. No live players or actual artists, and I've got to agree there.


That is how hip hop is made. Drums machines and MIDI bass and guitars, and 'samples'. The music for most of the top selling albums in hip hop albums out there was made entirely at the computer.




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Originally Posted by niteshift
I think the technology should be used as an adjunct to creativity, and expand it, rather than replace it.


Composing music using loops does not 'replace' creativity. My discovery of music creation software has allowed me to become more creative and has released talent in me that I did not know I had, especially considering that whatever talent was there couldn't be brought to the surface with a five chord mastery of the guitar. Since I have gotten into this, I have actually learned how to play the piano pretty well. All the software instruments and loops definitely enhance my creativity.


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Originally Posted by rblight
That is how hip hop is made. Drums machines and MIDI bass and guitars, and 'samples'. The music for most of the top selling albums in hip hop albums out there was made entirely at the computer.


You shouldn't look down on that. It's not like the top hip hop guys have that "make a new song" button. There's considerable skill and talent involved in making a good hip hop record and the people making them are musicians, same as us.


Jim Offerman ~ inspirational pop music
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People seem to forget that at one time any old elvis or johnny C. could walk into a small recvording studio and for very short money record songs for their Mama. The so called "big" labels stole that from the riff raff about 45 years ago so I'm glad we're finally getting it back.

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Hey Guys,
You need talent and determination, and every one sytarts off as riff raff,
Some dont keep moaning about it, If you have talent you will be dragged in by the balls or whatever .

It is true that a lot of people are ballsing it up for the talented ones,

A great recording of a crap song will get you know where, why not a simple recording of a Very Good Song.

Forget the steel guitars and the false country accents.

Just learn to write great songs, and maybe some of you should spend a little less time on here patting each others back sides.


Writing Great songs are a gift,

Getting those songs to the right ears is the hardest part.

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"know where" is a funny play on "nowhere" is that what you were going for?

If a great recording of a crap song will get "you-know-where" then I will have to say that "where" is on a Britney Spears, Hillary Duff, Green Day, most rap, most nu-metal and ALL of the childish "emo" stuff that seems to attract the ears of the new-wanna-be-goth generation. So from what I've experienced, a crap song with enough reverb and backing vocals will get you a big fat recording contract if you have a pretty face, or a marketable image. Care to dispute that?

Simple recordings of very good songs are plentiful these days, on the large scale look at John Mayer, Ben Harper, Norah Jones, on the 'smaller' scale...just spend a few minutes browsing on CDBaby.



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Talent is way way down the list when it comes to writing, playing, getting noticed, recording or performing.

Just look at the charts. Tell me that this is the cream of what is out there.

What is the secret to success?..... Who knows? but it aint talent.

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The talent seems to be in the perception.
People don't post their music for others to hear it obviously because they want others not to like it.
On most music forums there are many that take what they find to be a strength, whether they find that to be a lyric, a vocal, or what have you, and then try to pedal it as a service (whether or not they are a professional) and to be a forum darling and sell samples while others meander around to find themselves.

I can not say between darlings and meanderers that one is better than the other.

But however good or bad one thinks of these major acts, they had to put themselves out there and go through those channels and have the business savvy to survive in the major scale.

Hell, these bands like Linkin Park could probably control our economy a lot better than who is in charge.


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Back to the idea of being heard above the noise; the one thing I'd really like to hear done is to throw away the compressors for a bit, that'll bring some of the 'honesty' we all feel is missing in pop music these days.

The first impression I get of most pop music I hear is the uber-compressed super-elevated volume levels from track to track. Wether it's a plug-in that's left to do it's thing with a preset patch or an over zealous engineer; that exaggerated volume level is both unnatural and gimmicky, and something you won't hear on the more 'organic' honest sounding lower budget acts.

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I'm a mastering engineer and my company deals exclusively with independent musicians.... just about EVERY "organic honest sounding lower budget act" comes through the door and says they want it to sound like all those major label discs. Even ones that say - No, keep the dynamics! Don't overcompress! Blah, blah - they come back and say sounds great but - uh - can you make it louder?

If its a good song - compressors don't help or hurt it from being a good song.

And make no mistake Marc- those engineers know exactly what they are doing and its for a reason. The record comanies and ARTISTS are lushing them to make it sound that way


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There is nothing wrong with a bit of compression..... adds richness. Like most things best used in moderation. Too much of anything is bad.

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True, as soon as you hear the compression, it's already too much. The thing that bugs me about it though is just what you've said, they want it louder. Most average listeners will equate volume with 'good-ness' because they listen to music on their s**tty sounding MP3 players... same can be said for reverb, how many artsists have you experienced Paul who immediatley think they sound better with more reverb, even when you're pretending to add it?

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That said allowances MUST be made for the different types of voices and style and genre of the song. That is why I have so much respect for studio engineers.

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Absolutely Jim, making a living out of not only your technical expertise, but your ability to 'zone in', hear and treat sound to make a cohesive final product is enviable at least.

My issue is with the homogenizing of pop music, be it rock, country or whatever. Case in point, take your favourite classic or alt rock cd or country cd into your DAW, adjust the volume to a comfotable level and note the VU meters. Then take a Creed, Nickelback, Greenday, Blink 182, Rihanna(sp?), Diddy; you get the picture...at the same volume level, and note the meters, even during the quiet sections, they're still often maxed out at 0dB. I know we don't engineer with our eyes, but they give proof that the dynamics are being stripped out of popular music in favour of sheer impact.

Is it an engineering or mastering issue then? To me, the dynamics are just as important a part of good music as is the melody, harmonic structure or even a guitar solo. Obviously, I can't argue with success, but I don't have to agree with it either.

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Is it an engineering or mastering issue? ... Both really which the primary underlying drive is to get some sort of advantage over the other guy. I think most artists/producers/A&R people are really either too lazy or too scared to buck a trend and do things differently. They analyze the last hit and try to figure out how it worked. Unfortunately rather than focusing on just having great talent with great songs they focus on other things and the technical side of the audio is just one of them. They're always tweaking image, song choice, etc too rather than developing an srtist into THEMSELVES. Artists are created and I don't believe ANY of them are doing what they really want to do. That's killing the industry more than mp3's. Engineers fall into it too. So, in my opinion, I blame everyone.


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Originally Posted by Marc Novoselec
same can be said for reverb, how many artsists have you experienced Paul who immediatley think they sound better with more reverb, even when you're pretending to add it?


Too many people think its the gear that makes the sound when it's really all too frequently the person that makes the sound.


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I notice that in any good classic rock album and so on that reverb is used more for effect.
Pink Floyd's The Wall for example uses reverb and echo to compliment a song, not for musical masturbation.

I used to be in to noise and ambient music and was consumed by it.

And there are good ambient acts that know how to apply those effects.
But that is something that needs to be put in gradually with the songwriting.
I just try to use enough so the recording is not dry.
A flat sound shows songwriting and playing better anyway.

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Originally Posted by Marc Novoselec
Absolutely Jim, making a living out of not only your technical expertise, but your ability to 'zone in', hear and treat sound to make a cohesive final product is enviable at least.

My issue is with the homogenizing of pop music, be it rock, country or whatever. Case in point, take your favourite classic or alt rock cd or country cd into your DAW, adjust the volume to a comfotable level and note the VU meters. Then take a Creed, Nickelback, Greenday, Blink 182, Rihanna(sp?), Diddy; you get the picture...at the same volume level, and note the meters, even during the quiet sections, they're still often maxed out at 0dB. I know we don't engineer with our eyes, but they give proof that the dynamics are being stripped out of popular music in favour of sheer impact.

Is it an engineering or mastering issue then? To me, the dynamics are just as important a part of good music as is the melody, harmonic structure or even a guitar solo. Obviously, I can't argue with success, but I don't have to agree with it either.


Yes this is a modern trend. Nothing wrong with loud music but as I said in an earlier post this can be achieved with a volume control rather than recorded at louder levels. Music recorded this way tends to sound false and some of the quieter elements and huge areas of waveband are false sounding. It is all down to taste but probably more due to the fact that most young folk listen to MP3 through crappy earplugs. All previous standards and recording techniques go out the window if we are aiming at this market. They are compensating to allow for this style of playback.

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Originally Posted by BIG JIM MERRILEES
It is all down to taste but probably more due to the fact that most young folk listen to MP3 through crappy earplugs. All previous standards and recording techniques go out the window if we are aiming at this market. They are compensating to allow for this style of playback.


I'm going to agree and disagree (if that makes any sense). I think most of the crappy earplugs today are probably more accurate or "better" than a lot of the systems that consumers have had over the years of enjoying music at home. Yamaha NS-10s are some engineers be-all-and-end-all but I hate them. However the theory has always been if it sounds good on these then it'll translate well in a variety of playback area. I think most earbugs sound better than the NS-10s.... I look more at the accessability of the mp3 units themselves. It's like having your own radio station and everyone wants their track to stand up to the track before and after it. And I understand this temptation but its so "outward" focused to believe your music is better if stacks up to others. I'd rather artists/engineers/etc. be "inward" focused and make decisions based SOLELY on "whats best for the song/record.


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I agree that is why I mentioned Mp3 which is not as good as CD quality whatever you play them through. There are some pretty good earbuds out there I have several sets that range from very poor to very good they are handy for checking out a master or how good a recording sounds. A lot of youngsters nowadays use the cheap earplugs that come with MP3 players and lets face it most of them produce really crap sound.

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I'd like to go back to the tangent thought mentioned earlier about reverb. Some of us, particularly me, have very singing voices for the average ear. my voice is fairly monotoned, not rich in texture and has virtually no overtones and/or undertones. If I record it dry, it's barley listenable. By adding a small amount of compression and wetting it with a little more reverb, itis almost listenable.

Now, I am not a singer by trade (thank God...I'd be even broker and emaciated). I am a composer, lyricist and musician. I sing solely for the purpose of giving a "real" demo singer an ideas of what I had in mind for the vocal. But, I have found that many prpfessional singers sound even better with some reverb on their vocal. I am a big fan of reverb until it gets to the point it is "ringy" and/or the voice sounds too "distant". Of course, we all have our opinions, often differing, about what does and does not sound good. This is my opinion.

Wishing all of you tremendous success.

Alan

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My preferred method for applying reverb is to record everything dry, and then apply a simple 'verb to the whole mix, no compression. For my music, that's all I've had to do to date. Unless it's using some percussion samples from my Handsonic that have 'verb already applied to them and I can't remove it.

A teacher I had in college had this great quote in reference to this topic; "You can't polish a turd, but you sure can put a lot of reverb on it!"

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The standard way of recording vocals is to record dry. Compression and Fx can be added later. It is like seasoning you can always add salt and pepper to a meal but once in you cannot take it out. As I said before a little goes a long way so add too much then all you taste is salt and pepper.

My pal who's studio I use says "You cannot polish a turd but you can make it taste slightly better"

Marc I have added fx to a already mixed track just to add ambience to the whole piece....but have never mixed all the dry tracks together and then added FX. I can see that that might produce almost a "live" feel to the track.

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I got the idea listening to a Weather Report record back in college...my headphone jack wasn't properly inserted and left me with a very hollow sound, phased out somehow. But it sounded almost like if you were listening from outside a closed auditorium, mostly the lows coming through, very cavernous. So I played around with the concept a bit and came up with that idea. Give it a try with something you're not commited to as a final mix, you might like it!

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I know that my .wav software has echo that goes between 0 and 100 (Creative Pro Studios and occasionally wavepad). I do not apply reverb or echo up until after that final track, and not much past 20 and try to be careful with the volume control.
Audacity is great for panning also, I have found.

I do mostly bassy music and have an analog mixer when I use it.
There seems to be that certain thwack with analog.
I really have no need for nothing more then that at this point.

The bass and drums may be too abrasive with too much compression.
I have tested it out in different speakers.
There never seems to be the perfect standard for that.

Echo toughens up the sound while the reverb wets the sound down.
A compression in itself it seems.

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Originally Posted by Marc Novoselec
I got the idea listening to a Weather Report record back in college...my headphone jack wasn't properly inserted and left me with a very hollow sound, phased out somehow. But it sounded almost like if you were listening from outside a closed auditorium, mostly the lows coming through, very cavernous. So I played around with the concept a bit and came up with that idea. Give it a try with something you're not commited to as a final mix, you might like it!


You a Joe Zawinal (excuse possible spelling errors) fan? me too Weather Report must be the most underated band ever. I had the priveledge of working with Chic Corea and Return to Forever back in early seventies I was roadcrew at the time and we were contracted to work for some touring bands. If you have not already check them out.

PS You do not really need to experiment with sound FX listening to Weather Report. The guys especially Joe inveneted most of them and constantly pioneered new technology including keyboards with notes in reverse order or playing sound bites and samples. Takes me all my time to play a tune on a normal keyboard.

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I think it was Weather Report and Return to Forever that really made me want to practice, to know that level of proficiency myself. I still listen to both of them. With Jaco, they found their apex, without him it just seemed a little too generic, though that word hardly applies to them.

It's so hard to find contemoporary jazz written as well as that these days, with the few exceptions of YellowJackets, Uzeb and Pat Metheney aside, so much of it sounds the same, or atlesat written by the same people.

I remember learning those bass lines with my RECORD player, lifting the needle, trying, putting it back, lifting the needle trying...sigh, those were the days eh? I performed Continuum at my grade 13 year end talent show and nobody got it. Geesh!


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