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What's the hardest music to record and mix?
Old 7th March 2003
  #1
Harmless Wacko
 

Thread Starter
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Old 7th March 2003
  #2
I just came off an emo core project myself.

I dunno, I take my hat off to pop rap & r&B IMHO that's where all the innovation is.

I cant help thinking that getting the sound up for the next generation of guitar spankers is much more than a "copy & try to improve upon" discipline.

Whereas the pop rap & R&B genres are truly coming up with new stuff from scratch (hur hur) all the time.

Dont get me wrong "I love rock n roll". It's both a living AND a life long passion for me but not much about it is very NEW.

There ya go...

To answer the question,

a) Stuff you dont like
b) Exposed acoustic stuff, where the scuff of a shirt sleeve can ruin a take.
c) A genre you dont understand

Did I win?
Old 7th March 2003
  #3
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classical music .... definately classical music for me ....


I love doing it but damn ... it can be hard to please purist classical musicians for one and then as a personal favor I tend to make it hard for myself .... looking for a perfect combination between 'live concert' and 'studio' recording feel / ambience.

Another thing with classical music is finding a well balanced compromise between keeping the original dynamic triple piano to double forte effect in there and at the same time making it radio friendly so one can listen to it in a car on the highway, .... without having to crank up the speakers for the pianissimo sections and then having them slammed around your ears with that sudden full orchestra triple forte attack.


definately classical music for me.
Old 7th March 2003
  #4
Gear Guru
 

I vote for Big Band jazz- so many mics, so much bleed, so many solos
Old 7th March 2003
  #5
Moderator emeritus
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Jules

I dunno, I take my hat off to pop rap & r&B IMHO that's where all the innovation is.
I dunno, Jules - I try, but I don't really hear much innovation in rap and what is laughingly called R&B. Tell me what I can listen to that is both innovative and musical; I'll pick up a CD this weekend. Think of me as your old Uncle Dave who doesn't like anything recorded after 1950, but who wants to understand what the kids like these days...

So I want not only demonstrable talent and creativity, but to hear an artist who has developed an innovative sound that's distinctive enough that I'll be able to recorgnize new material from them once I've heard a healthy sampling of their music - here's some examples: I don't have to know the song to recognize that it's the Basie Band, or the Glenn Miller Orchestra performing it - the arrangement tells me that. In the rock world, you don't have to hear the vocals to recorgnize the sound of a Rolling Stones record, a Van Halen record, or a Hendrix record; it's obvious from the sound of the instruments. In country music, the Judds records, Patsy Cline records, and Ernest Tubb records were all recognizable as such even before the singing starts. or tell me about a singer who is as instantly recognizable as Mavis Staples, Al Green, or Stevie Wonder.

I have a CD in the studio by an organist named Jimmy Smith, called Dot Com Blues. Most of the tunes have guest artists, and with one song, its obvious before the first measure is over that B.B. King is the guest; that's the sort of signature sound that I'm looking for in a new artist; are they out there? The rap stuff that I've heard (and worked on) tends to be fairly conservative as far as sounds and structure goes; the rhythm tracks seem to be mostly variants of a dozen or so samples, with little in the way of 'new' sound design. I am hearimg more virtual syth stuff, but it seems that most of the programmers are treading on familiar ground.

Or tell me that I'm an old fart who is out of touch...
Old 7th March 2003
  #6
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Henrik's Avatar
 

I'm not an old fart and I still don't get what is innovative about anything in today's R'n'B. I'll second the request for a recommendation of a good CD to check out.

Difficult to record? Your own stuff. And anything you don't like (which may be the rest).

Cheers
/Henrik
Old 8th March 2003
  #7
Lives for gear
 

For me, relative difficulty is not about genre. It's about arrangement and overly busy music.

I have a sliding scale with the two extremes being:

Simple = easy
Busy = PITA

Some genres are inherently busier than others, of course. But in most any genre, a good arrangement is soooooooooooo much easier to make into a great sounding record. It's a pity that I get to work on so few really good arrangements (even my own, I'm afraid). I think it's gone out of style.


Regards,
Brian T
Old 8th March 2003
  #8
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dave-G's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by BrianT
in most any genre, a good arrangement is soooooooooooo much easier to make into a great sounding record.
This belongs on a bronze plaque.

-dave
Old 8th March 2003
  #9
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sonic dogg's Avatar
The guy who recorded 'Those Darn Accordians' deserves a medal. Not just ONE accordian but several...all at once. SHHEEESH....I gotta agree with Dave...where is the innovative 'today' music? Innovative was Yes, The Moody Blues, ELO, Gentle Giant, Kansas, Todd Rundgren, that kinda stuff....well i guess my fart-ism is showing....
Old 8th March 2003
  #10
Moderator emeritus
 

Brian T nailed it, as he usually does. Great arrangements and great players are easy to record and mix. Crappy arrangements and crappy players aren't.

And since I thought about it, bib bands aren't that hard to record if they're great players playing good arrangements - you don't even need that many mikes. And bleed can be your friend.

Of course, the musicians have to commit to the solos that they play live...
Old 8th March 2003
  #11
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bbchessman's Avatar
 

The hardest thing to record is a keyboard player who wants to use patches that are totally unsuitable for recording. Specifically patches that are over saturated with effects. They can't understand why something that sounds good on their headphones at home will muddy up a record real bad.
Old 8th March 2003
  #12
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Dave Martin

And since I thought about it, bib [sic.] bands aren't that hard to record if they're great players playing good arrangements - you don't even need that many mikes. And bleed can be your friend.

Of course, the musicians have to commit to the solos that they play live...
Amen to that, Dave. Great way to record a big band:

- 1. Walk into a great sounding room.
- 2. Throw up a couple of 44s in front of the horns.
- 3. Throw up a couple of 4011s in front of the kit.
- 4. Throw a C24 in the piano.
- 5. Foam wrap a KM84 and stuff in the bridge of the bass.
- 6. Push record.


Well, maybe not quite that easy, but you get the idea.
Old 8th March 2003
  #13
Gear Head
 

Oh yeah, steps 3-5 are optional.

heh
Old 8th March 2003
  #14
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e-cue's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Dave Martin
I dunno, Jules - I try, but I don't really hear much innovation in rap and what is laughingly called R&B. Tell me what I can listen to that is both innovative and musical; I'll pick up a CD this weekend. Think of me as your old Uncle Dave who doesn't like anything recorded after 1950, but who wants to understand what the kids like these days...

So I want not only demonstrable talent and creativity, but to hear an artist who has developed an innovative sound that's distinctive enough that I'll be able to recorgnize new material from them once I've heard a healthy sampling of their music - here's some examples: I don't have to know the song to recognize that it's the Basie Band, or the Glenn Miller Orchestra performing it - the arrangement tells me that. In the rock world, you don't have to hear the vocals to recorgnize the sound of a Rolling Stones record, a Van Halen record, or a Hendrix record; it's obvious from the sound of the instruments. In country music, the Judds records, Patsy Cline records, and Ernest Tubb records were all recognizable as such even before the singing starts. or tell me about a singer who is as instantly recognizable as Mavis Staples, Al Green, or Stevie Wonder.

I have a CD in the studio by an organist named Jimmy Smith, called Dot Com Blues. Most of the tunes have guest artists, and with one song, its obvious before the first measure is over that B.B. King is the guest; that's the sort of signature sound that I'm looking for in a new artist; are they out there? The rap stuff that I've heard (and worked on) tends to be fairly conservative as far as sounds and structure goes; the rhythm tracks seem to be mostly variants of a dozen or so samples, with little in the way of 'new' sound design. I am hearimg more virtual syth stuff, but it seems that most of the programmers are treading on familiar ground.

Or tell me that I'm an old fart who is out of touch...
Interesting post Dave. There's a couple things to consider. Dr Dre, DJ Shadow, Timberland, DJ Quik, Rockwilder, The Roots, and many others in the Rap and "R&B" side of things can in fact be as instantly recognizable as Van Halen, Hendrix, or similar artist's work. And as for "new sound design" in hip hop, it changes EVERYDAY in hip hop. When I mix hip hop, I have to be much more creative than if I'm working in the more 'live' music side of things because in 'live' music (mind you, some hip hop and R&B is live) because there aren't as many set ways that things have to sound: a kick drum can sound like someone punching a phone book into your chest. A snare drum can sound like someone hitting a baseball with a wooden bat. Everyday I go for a new thing. In 'rock music", you are stuck. I mean, you can make your snare sound more 'deep' or more 'tight', but other than that, the Black Beauty's and Noble & Cooleys still have to sound like snare drums. So in my opinion, hip hop, r&b, and even "pop" are harder to mix than most other genre's of music because it challenges your creativity to find a direction for the song you are mixing, not just make things sound good.
Now that I've probably lost all creditability with anyone that has bought an AC/DC record, let me say that "rock", "country" and the other forms of more live music are much more difficult to track. In urban music, you set up your MPC, your Synths,(and your earthliftable DI's, a step every other engineer seems to off up) and your mic and your more or less good to go. In say, rock music, you could spend up to half a day just getting drum sounds. Check the phase, switch the mic, get a better cue mix for everyone, put tape on this drumhead, re tune, switch amps, switch guitars, etc... More time is spent on it during the tracking stage so hopefully less time will need to be spent in the mixing stage. I think 'country' is a bit easier to track because the level of musicianship is very high. (at least the slight bit of country I have done, which ain't much) If you really would like a list of innovative artists in the HipHop and R&B market, pm me and I'll hook you up.
Old 8th March 2003
  #15
Right now, Nelly is very recognisable IMHO,

His monotone playground / skip rope / chant vocals
His repetitious "bubble funk" grooves - (vaugely like Prince's 'Sign O the Times")

See what these cats use for:

Snares
Kicks
Hi hats
Bass sounds

As e-cue says they CHANGE it all the time! The sound palete from which they chose is VAST. The genre doesn't have the fixed standards for basic sounds that classical, rock & country engineering must adhere to.

This "engineering beauty" is of course at extreme odds with the lyrics, which are often disturbing.

So Dave, get any recent Nelly album.
Old 8th March 2003
  #16
Registered User
 
malice's Avatar
 

your own music, for sure ...

malice
Old 8th March 2003
  #17
Registered User
 
malice's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by slipperman
Harder than mixing the wife's music?
mmh, I must say you have a point. You don't have to apologies, it is an interesting question ...

But you could say working with the one you share your life with can be as great as it can be impossible.

at least I don't have to convince her that I DID work late at the studio.

Anyway, the only part of producing I still find difficult when I work with her is vocals.

For the rest, I had great fun with her ...

XOXO Slipperman

malice
Old 8th March 2003
  #18
There is only one
 
alphajerk's Avatar
 

the sounds might change but its basically all the same ****. i would much rather listen to a roots live CD than the studio albums.

although in the hiphop genre... i find that outkast are probably the most innovative of the bunch in terms of the elements they pull in.... of course maybe thats because they are further out of hip hop than most other hip hop groups [which do have pretty strict "rules", unwritten... but rules none the less]

IMO, hip hop is getting really boring lately. and no, i dont hate hip hop... i love some of what comes out. im not a narrow minded mullet wearing rock and roll snob.
Old 8th March 2003
  #19
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studiojimi's Avatar
 

the nerds rule.
Old 8th March 2003
  #20
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toledo3's Avatar
 

I thought that the original Wu-Tang stuff- 36 Chambers and the ODB and Method Man solo albums, had a pretty original sound and were innovative. I'll also "throw down" for the Pharcyde.

But everybody know that the most innovative rapping ever was on Bobby Brown's "Dance, Ya Know It," album. "My name is Brown. That's what they call me. B-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-Brown!"
Old 8th March 2003
  #21
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Popular hip-hop is in a rut lately, because they are all going for some neo"new jack swing" sound. It is supossed to be kind of laid back and jazzy, but to me the stuff is just not exciting.

For me it's all the Jah Rule/J-Lo/Ashanti style that is "harshing my mellow."
Old 8th March 2003
  #22
Moderator emeritus
 

Interesting - a couple of guys seem to imply that there are original sounds, but then lump several artists together, like "Jah Rule/J-Lo/Ashanti style" or the "Timbaland/Missy/Hampton sound". a few years ago I was assigned to write about a team of hip-hop producers (unfortunately, I can't remember the guys' names or anything specific about them other than that their office was on Madison Avenue), and one of the things they impressed upon me was that they wrote the tracks and then gave those tracks to the artists to write raps over.

In that case, it seemed that whatever production values exist come primarily from the production team and not from the artist. Does it still work that way with the artists that y'all mentioned above? Is this an accurate depiction? And actually, a whole bunch of the Jimmy Jam/Terry Lewis productions have an identifiable sound, no matter who the artist is...

And I will pick up a Nelly record the next time I'm out - that's the guy with the band aid, isn't it? I've heard a couple of his singles, but not a whole CD's worth.
Old 8th March 2003
  #23
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mdbeh's Avatar
 

Well, Missy and Timbaland work together a lot as a songwriter and producer, respectively, so that's why I lumped them together. (Hampton not really meaning anything--just part of Virginia they're from.) I can recognize their work a lot of times on the radio from both production touches and a certain style of song.
Old 8th March 2003
  #24
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cajonezzz's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by e-cue
) If you really would like a list of innovative artists in the HipHop and R&B market, pm me and I'll hook you up.
e-cue,
I for one would love a list of artists that you feel are innovative , and moreso the really obscure up n commers. could you post a few on this thread?
Old 8th March 2003
  #25
When it comes to mixing, I don't think there is category of music which is really difficult(my vote if I had one would go to European alt-pop where you are mixing 96 tracks of live music and synth tracks combined with tons of vocals and effects).

In the way things work today, most mixers mix the same styles all the time. You develop a sysytem(same gear hookups,effect patches, console and speakers you are familiar with). I mix a lot of pop/rnb and after mixing the same style over and over, it becomes almost second hat.

I do agree with E-cue though, in order to continue to get work you have to be creative and innovative with your mixing style. It goes the same for rock(even though its less tracks). Clients want to feel like you are doing something different/special even though they bring you a CD and want it to sound like "X".

Sometimes its more mind games and name dropping than anything.grudge
Old 9th March 2003
  #26
jon
Capitol Studios Paris
 
jon's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by thethrillfactor
]Sometimes its more mind games and name dropping than anything.grudge
A lot more than just sometimes...
Old 9th March 2003
  #27
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by bbchessman
The hardest thing to record is a keyboard player who wants to use patches that are totally unsuitable for recording. Specifically patches that are over saturated with effects. They can't understand why something that sounds good on their headphones at home will muddy up a record real bad.
That's true for many things though. I have a rough time with guitar players who's tones are wildly different and don't mesh well with the other player, let alone the rest of the stuff in the band. The players who have a Digicrap 101 effects at once pedal are the worst. Sometimes they have a good sound but that's 1 of 100 players who use them.

I guess the hardest thing for me to do is anything I don't like or understand. Rap is one of those things. I don't listen to much of it because I don't really "get it". And since I don't get it I don't work on it. Why should I make another bad album in a genre I don't like? Someone else will do a better job on it then I will. I do listen to Dre, Tribe, and some other stuff. DJ Shadow's first disc is prety cool but that's more trip-hop or electronica then rap.
Old 9th March 2003
  #28
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e-cue's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by studiojimi
the nerds rule.
Are you referring to N.E.R.D., or "The Neptunes"? If so, yeah, those guys do have a recognizable sound alright. Not my fav, but you can definitely tell that the dudes' that did the Kelis record did the Jay Z track, the Busta remix, the Britney Spears track, the 1st Justin single etc...

Quote:
Originally posted by Dave Martin
Interesting - a couple of guys seem to imply that there are original sounds, but then lump several artists together, like "Jah Rule/J-Lo/Ashanti style" or the "Timberland/Missy/Hampton sound".
Jah Rule, J Lo, and Ashanti mainly use Irv Gotti and Se7en to produce their records. (Although not on J Lo's 1st record, which sounds totally different). Engineers Duro and Brian Springer do most of their engineering. Missy and Timb have been together for over a decade. They also use the same engineer (Jimmy Douglas) quite often as well, so their sound will obviously sound the same. So, yeah, they are lumped together. The sound of the producers and engineers often go with the artist, and are often even done in the same studios. Remember how similar that Bryan Adams record (Waking up the Neighbors?) was to the Def Leppard record (Hysteria?) that Mutt had also produced (with engineer Nigel Green if memory serves)? Same producers, same engineers, same thing...

Quote:
Originally posted by cajonezzz
e-cue,
I for one would love a list of artists that you feel are innovative , and moreso the really obscure up n commers. could you post a few on this thread?
Sure, I'll bite. I assume you mean in the hip hop and R&B market.

Roots Maneuva... Run Come Save Me / Dub Come Save Me. In this case both the rapper and producer (Lord Gosh), I consider innovative. This is a UK based project, so you might check the import section.
Aesop Rock... Labor Days. Most of his production is weak sonically (El P does most of his production, and while it sounds 'street', it doesn't sound 'good'), but his rap style is the most innovative thing to come along in a long time. He'll spit something you'll understand a month later when watching the discovery channel. You could read his lyrics and tell he wrote them. No doubt he'll get pigeon toed with Emineem and Vanilla Ice.
Will.I.Am... Lost Change. For obvious reasons. This was part of the UK label BBE's 'producer series' (along with Jazzy Jeff, Pete Rock, Jay Dee, etc). Will (also member and producer for the group the Black Eyed Peas) is always looking into the future and coming up with new styles in production, and has some of the most studyable 'drops' (mutes of instruments) in the world. There's also a band called "Burning Star" out of LA that were supposed to have a song on this record, but it didn't make it. Their new record is incredible if you can find it outside of LA.
Cody Chestnut... The Headphone Masterpeice. Okay, the thritysomething songs on this record sound like total ****. But if you can see through the horrible production, you can hear really great songs from a really great performer. I recommend this only in terms of innovation of songwriting. He's the cat that did a song on the new piece of crap that the Roots put out. (I love the roots, but compare Illidelph to this steamy pile of oxen dung).
J Live... All of the Above. This is a much more mellow type of hip hop. It touches on the different subcultures within rap: b boys, backpackers, gangstas, etc... It's hailed as the "Blue Train" (John Contraine) of hip hop, and the artwork reflects this. His release "The Best Part" before this is quintessential underground new york hip hop at it's best. It took forever for his stuff to hit the streets for some reason.

Quote:
Originally posted by Jay Kahrs
I guess the hardest thing for me to do is anything I don't like or understand. Rap is one of those things. I don't listen to much of it because I don't really "get it". And since I don't get it I don't work on it. Why should I make another bad album in a genre I don't like? Someone else will do a better job on it then I will. I do listen to Dre, Tribe, and some other stuff.
I strive to never make a bad record in any genre of music. I'm sure you do to, but why not try to identify what you don't like about the genre of music and change it to your liking? If you don't like programmed drums, play live drums to it. If you don't like samples, play live instrumental to it and so on. Perhaps I'm being a little naive, but your point is taken.
Hell, I don't engineer anything I don't want to. (esspecially post gigs)

Quote:
Originally posted by Jay Kahrs
DJ Shadow's first disc is prety cool but that's more trip-hop or electronica then rap.
Considering there were no real raps on the 1st Shadow record, I have to agree. Hell, I know people that call OrganizedNoize (Outkast's main production crew) 'electronic'. However, I was referring to the other projects Shadow (AKA Josh Davis) has worked on such as Blackilicious, UNKLE, the stuff with him and cut chemist, etc...
Old 9th March 2003
  #29
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dtobocman's Avatar
 

Someone back there mentioned that RnB/HipHop was hardest because it called upon his creativity. I find that quality to make these genres easier to record and mix.

Straight up rock is the hardest for me because the style is well established and my recording has to compete with a well-established, 30+ year old genre -- over compressed and all (nowadays). Rap and RnB are easier because I can go about it in new ways -- as long as it's slammin, it doesn't really need to match up the same way that straight up rock does. I find rock to be sort of elusive -- you can miss the mark pretty easily, IMO.
Old 9th March 2003
  #30
Super Moderator
 
Remoteness's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by BrianT
For me, relative difficulty is not about genre. It's about arrangement and overly busy music.

I have a sliding scale with the two extremes being:

Simple = easy
Busy = PITA

Some genres are inherently busier than others, of course. But in most any genre, a good arrangement is soooooooooooo much easier to make into a great sounding record. It's a pity that I get to work on so few really good arrangements (even my own, I'm afraid). I think it's gone out of style.


Regards,
Brian T
What Brian said, plus...

Crappy engineering always makes it more difficult then necessary.
Leakage, over compressing or EQing, plus poor performances makes it (almost) impossible to mix.

You can bust your chops to make it sound as good as you can, but you'll only get so far...

IMO, good musicians, nice sounding tracks make it so much easier to mix.
You are as good as the musicians and engineers you keep!
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