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Danger in Digital ???
Old 25th July 2020
  #1
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Danger in Digital ???

Greetz
Maybe I should've titled this thread Invasion of the Robot Soldiers who are taking over and many would say ruining Music by programming modern musicians and putting everything through a digital meat grinder. I didn't call it that because I don't hate digital. In fact I love the fact that this in-depth analysis would be impossible as it is, so visual and so widespread, if it weren't for digital.

So this is NOT a slam on Digital. It's a cautionary tale with examples of the dangers that must be addressed and in many cases, accepted, if you love HUMAN Music. But hey, if you prefer to goose-step that's on you and perfectly valid... just kinda sterile AF IMHO of course.


Check this out if you dare!!!



I am interested in what other musicians, producers and recording engineers (not that they don't overlap in the best of them) think and how you imagine such awareness might affect you in your Art.
Old 26th July 2020
  #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by enorbet2 View Post
Greetz
Maybe I should've titled this thread Invasion of the Robot Soldiers who are taking over and many would say ruining Music by programming modern musicians and putting everything through a digital meat grinder. I didn't call it that because I don't hate digital. In fact I love the fact that this in-depth analysis would be impossible as it is, so visual and so widespread, if it weren't for digital.

So this is NOT a slam on Digital. It's a cautionary tale with examples of the dangers that must be addressed and in many cases, accepted, if you love HUMAN Music. But hey, if you prefer to goose-step that's on you and perfectly valid... just kinda sterile AF IMHO of course.

Check this out if you dare!!!

I am interested in what other musicians, producers and recording engineers (not that they don't overlap in the best of them) think and how you imagine such awareness might affect you in your Art.
@ enorbet2 you posted a great video.

Recording in Pro Tools or any DAW is the way of the world and a click (metronome) is normal for collaboration.

Yes I understand the points of varying BPM in iconic records which worked in the days of tape, but it reminds me of reading Eric Sarafin aka the Mixerman.

Eric is a platinum record producer and mixer. If I recall correctly, Eric records the drums and edits to the beat by physically splicing the tape. Eric also (at the time I read his work) absolutely hated Pro Tools. OK, so the thing about Pro Tools is that you record to a click. Eric hated Pro Tools and yet he adhered to the philosophy (I assume for reasons of synced editing) of keeping tracks in sync.

For example, my cover band had a drummer five years ago that refused to play to a click. This meant that when we happened to be recording demos in a studio the engineer could not edit and use different takes on songs. All the songs had to be one take.

That former drummer was counterproductive to workflow.

These days it's just a fact of life to record to a click. I record my guitar tracks to a click in Pro Tools. I take my tracks to a studio. At the studio a drummer plays to my song with a click. A vocalist records vocals, and then bass and keys. The song is recorded with separate artists and musicians to a click and then mixed.

The only way this works is to record to a click.
Old 26th July 2020
  #3
Quote:
Originally Posted by RicTone View Post
@ enorbet2 you posted a great video.

Recording in Pro Tools or any DAW is the way of the world and a click (metronome) is normal for collaboration.

Yes I understand the points of varying BPM in iconic records which worked in the days of tape, but it reminds me of reading Eric Sarafin aka the Mixerman.

Eric is a platinum record producer and mixer. If I recall correctly, Eric records the drums and edits to the beat by physically splicing the tape. Eric also (at the time I read his work) absolutely hated Pro Tools. OK, so the thing about Pro Tools is that you record to a click. Eric hated Pro Tools and yet he adhered to the philosophy (I assume for reasons of synced editing) of keeping tracks in sync.
A couple things here......

First, Eric's methodology has changed quite a bit. AFAIK he still avoids Alsihad when possible, he's pretty much completely gone over to Logic with a Slate Raven setup.

Second,

Quote:
For example, my cover band had a drummer five years ago that refused to play to a click. This meant that when we happened to be recording demos in a studio the engineer could not edit and use different takes on songs. All the songs had to be one take.

That former drummer was counterproductive to workflow.

These days it's just a fact of life to record to a click. I record my guitar tracks to a click in Pro Tools. I take my tracks to a studio. At the studio a drummer plays to my song with a click. A vocalist records vocals, and then bass and keys. The song is recorded with separate artists and musicians to a click and then mixed.

The only way this works is to record to a click.
I disagree. It depends on the kind of music you're dealing with and the quality of your musicians.

I never play with a click if I can possibly help it. I lay down rhythm guitar and scratch vocal tracks along with the drummer. I'm the "click". The reason being that at particular parts of the song I'll slow down or speed up, according to how I interpret that song.

If it feels right it is right.

If, on listening back a couple days later, there are tempo artifacts that are annoying or wrong sounding the whole thing gets done over.
Old 26th July 2020
  #4
I would like at this juncture to point out one of the greatest and least used inventions for the solo musician looking to retain natural pacing... the Music Memos app on your iPhone.

Most people think this app is a toy... and they’re right. But it’s also incredible for the guitarist as it allows you to simply play in your song with an acoustic or clean guitar tone, record it with your iPhone mic or a interface if you want it to be the final track and it will beat match the entire song for you and even attempt to determine your chords.

This means you then get your scratch track imported to logic or GarageBand with the correct metronome beats for the whole song with virtually zero effort. Export it elsewhere or start layering up the rest. This one tool will bring the natural back into your digitally recorded tracks.

Of course you do need to have natural timing and groove, but even if you didn’t you can at least use it to retime the result where you need some tightening up while leaving some natural feeling there.
Old 26th July 2020
  #5
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If you haven't, search the inter webs for John Bonham's isolated drums from Polar Studios - it's lots of parts of songs from In Through The Out Door as well as songs that ended up on Coda. If you imported it into Pro Tools, it doesn't line up on the grid at all, but the way the groove breathes is great.

There are some drummers who are masters at playing to a demo done by guitarists without a click and it sounds natural - my bandmate doesn't record to a click and he's found several session drummers who have been able to play along to the song and make it work.

I tend to work on a click because I'm moving stuff around, but much prefer when I can have our band drummer playing to what I'm playing.

Great food for thought.
Old 26th July 2020
  #6
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Regarding click tracks, they pre-existed digital recording exactly because they were needed and became useful tools. On the flip side of that coin at the beginning of the "Digital Age" an opposing kind of tool was created called something like "The Human Clock". It was a sensor from which a click track was derived from the most time cool dude in the band, most often drummer's kick or snare. It too is a useful tool. It's enforced sameness I see as the enemy of Art. Balance and judgment count for a lot compared to mere accuracy.
Old 27th July 2020
  #7
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Yeah, using digital to record and edit the songs is great. Letting it CONTROL the music is not. So much popular crap I hear nowadays has no human element or feeling in it at all. Even the vocals are digitally perfect, with all the feeling removed. Even Eric Johnson has realized that if you were to perfect every single note, the piece becomes sanitized of all humanity.

I like to hear inspired composition AND performance, with interaction between the musicians. Oh, and I despise clicks, for the most part.
Old 27th July 2020
  #8
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Click tracks well pre-dated DAWS, especially in film and television production music. The first dates I played on, in the late 70s, featured click tracks by recording a metronome on one track of the 24 track tape.

The video looks at a narrow topic, rock music in the late 60s to early 70s, but ignores musicians who, just beyond that period, we’re looking for timing perfection, especially in funk and fusion genres. At that time, synths were being used with sequencing capabilities by way of cv ins and outs - if you couldn’t nail down a tight disco, or funk groove, by 1977, you were out.

He does make good points though, and imo, any good musician today should be able to play spot on with a click, or around a click, or with no click at all - that’s the state of the art of recording in 2020.
Old 27th July 2020
  #9
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i only got fascinated by some playing along the machines once which was dave wackl with chic corea - i also took me just a single attempt to dismiss the option to lock tracks to a grid when recording danny gottlieb.

heck, not even steely dan used a click, at least not live and when pete erskine was their drummer: i did feed a metronome to his cans but just two bars before the start of each song and had to take it out after another two bars into each song...

nevertheless, i do occasionally use a click for overdubs but it's a variable click which follows a performance recorded without click.
Old 27th July 2020
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
i only got fascinated by some playing along the machines once which was dave wackl with chic corea - i also took me just a single attempt to dismiss the option to lock tracks to a grid when recording danny gottlieb.

heck, not even steely dan used a click, at least not live and when pete erskine was their drummer: i did feed a metronome to his cans but just two bars before the start of each song and had to take it out after another two bars into each song...

nevertheless, i do occasionally use a click for overdubs but it's a variable click which follows a performance recorded without click.
Not sure where you got your information - Steely Dan was a pioneer of playing to quantized drums; back in 73 Roger Nichols made a tape loop of the drums because they weren't getting a steady enough tempo... fast forward to the Wendel drum machine. So even through 93 with Kamirykad they were still using the Wendel (then the Wendel Jr.) for tempo accuracy.

Here's an interview with Roger talking about the tape loop and then creating the Wendel - in the 70s...

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1404503436304631
Old 27th July 2020
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nedorama View Post
Not sure where you got your information - Steely Dan was a pioneer of playing to quantized drums; back in 73 Roger Nichols made a tape loop of the drums because they weren't getting a steady enough tempo... fast forward to the Wendel drum machine. So even through 93 with Kamirykad they were still using the Wendel (then the Wendel Jr.) for tempo accuracy.

Here's an interview with Roger talking about the tape loop and then creating the Wendel - in the 70s...

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1404503436304631
pls note the specific context: i know 'cause i was pete's drum tech for the american leg of the tour (or mixed monitors on a couple of shows) and as such, i had to dial in the tempo on the rhythm watch for the start of each song (or mute the click when mixing monitors; don't recall who else got the click though).
Old 27th July 2020
  #12
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There is a thread over on the electronic music side about 'automatic music' which is in some ways the antithesis to this at least in a general way in that it hinges on the failed theory that music is simply a collection of vibrations that follow rules i.e. they are proportionally related. It depends on how one defines music which for me is simple: define it any way you want, but I am not interested unless the artifact is the result of a person expressing something. Quantization can be a part of this such as the case where you want a drum machine to have a relentless quality and that is a part of your vision vs shoring up an instrumental performance to a grid as in the video which removes much of the expression of the player.
Old 27th July 2020
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
pls note the specific context: i know 'cause i was pete's drum tech for the american leg of the tour (or mixed monitors on a couple of shows) and as such, i had to dial in the tempo on the rhythm watch for the start of each song (or mute the click when mixing monitors; don't recall who else got the click though).
thanks for clarifying - for live, yes, given how picky Donald was about tempo that makes sense.

I'm not sure what they did on Two against Nature since it was without Roger...
Old 27th July 2020
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nedorama View Post
thanks for clarifying - for live, yes, given how picky Donald was about tempo that makes sense.

I'm not sure what they did on Two against Nature since it was without Roger...
dunno about studio work - i do know that for live shows, i did (to some extent) depend on the drummer: ricky lawson (bless him!) told me he used a click troughout most songs but then he was VERY much experienced playing along the machines from his days with michael jackson, phil collins etc. when the entire light show hang on his akai samplers...

___


regarding donald being picky about time, here's a funny anecdote: on one occasion after the sound check, he asked pete to go 'one tick' faster in a slow song for the show (possibly babylon sisters; not 100% sure about this though) - pete then told me to 'speed up' two bpm's or else the effect would become noticeable - and so i did.

after the show when walking off the stage, donald said to pete (in a somewhat pathetic way): 'didn't i say ONE tick'?! worth noting that no one in the world besides pete and me could know what tempo was chosen; at least that's what we thought... - true story!

and the moral of the story: even if you're a world class drummer, don't try to fool someone like donald ***en...
Old 27th July 2020
  #15
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Totally OT but isn't it kind of hilarious, let alone pointless and possibly insulting, to employ such politically correct censorship? I mean taking the first 3 letters out of Donald's legit last name is asinine when everyone who cares knows exactly what those letters are.
Old 27th July 2020
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by enorbet2 View Post
Totally OT but isn't it kind of hilarious, let alone pointless and possibly insulting, to employ such politically correct censorship? I mean taking the first 3 letters out of Donald's legit last name is asinine when everyone who cares knows exactly what those letters are.
It’s an algorithm, it posses no ability to judge.

Let’s see what happens when we capitalize Donald ***en

Edit: Yep, still there. 😆
Old 27th July 2020
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharp11 View Post
It’s an algorithm, it posses no ability to judge.
Granted and obvious but this is the sort of snafus that people, like the person who wrote that algorithm, flirt with when squelching reality.

There was a decent movie about Freddie Printze where his long time comic buddy from NYC is visiting him in Cali and he cautions Freddie on trust. He says something to the effect of...

"Look Freddie, back home in New York if a guys says 'I'm gonna kill ya' we know what that means... he's serious. Here in Cali if a guy says 'Have a nice day' he could mean 'I'm gonna kill ya'.

I love Cali and all but I prefer NYC's often brutal but perfectly clear honesty. I'll take brutal over devious any day. At least I know exactly where I stand.
Old 27th July 2020
  #18
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Another completely OT post and one that may get no response. I've worked with a few top notch musicians and while some people might call it "bitchy" I was intrigued meeting Linda Ronstadt early in my career that though she came across as light, even ditzy in public, backstage she ruled that band like a BOSS! I thought it was great and my respect for her grew... might have been different if I was on the receiving end I suppose.

So if anyone else feels as candid and also respectful, and since we have 2 posters already with some personal experience with Steely Dan... well... shucks...I just have to ask ... What was it like to be around Carolyn Leonhart. She's just ridiculously beautiful and incredibly talented which could be a recipe for ummm lets just call it "an imperious nature". I doubt she is any manner of shrinking violet but she has always fascinated me partly because of what appears to be long term stability maybe even loyalty, certainly the appearance of professionalism which I greatly respect.

Any comments or interesting anecdotes... ?
Old 27th July 2020
  #19
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Another completely OT post and one that may get no response. I've worked with a few top notch musicians and while some people might call it "bitchy" I was intrigued meeting Linda Ronstadt early in my career that though she came across as light, even ditzy in public, backstage she ruled that band like a BOSS! I thought it was great and my respect for her grew... might have been different if I was on the receiving end I suppose.

So if anyone else feels as candid and also respectful, and since we have 2 posters already with some personal experience with Steely Dan... well... shucks...I just have to ask ... What was it like to be around Carolyn Leonhart. She's just ridiculously beautiful and incredibly talented which could be a recipe for ummm lets just call it "an imperious nature". I doubt she is any manner of shrinking violet but she has always fascinated me partly because of what appears to be long term stability maybe even loyalty, certainly the appearance of professionalism which I greatly respect.

Any comments or interesting anecdotes... ?
Old 27th July 2020
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RicTone View Post
(...) For example, my cover band had a drummer five years ago that refused to play to a click. This meant that when we happened to be recording demos in a studio the engineer could not edit and use different takes on songs. All the songs had to be one take.

That former drummer was counterproductive to workflow.

These days it's just a fact of life to record to a click. I record my guitar tracks to a click in Pro Tools. I take my tracks to a studio. At the studio a drummer plays to my song with a click. A vocalist records vocals, and then bass and keys. The song is recorded with separate artists and musicians to a click and then mixed.

The only way this works is to record to a click.
not really: of course one can punch into, fix or stretch tracks which are not recorded to a click and didn't get aligned to a grid! in some genre (outside western pop music) and in some places (outside the western world), it's even the norm!
Old 27th July 2020
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by enorbet2 View Post
(...) I just have to ask ... What was it like to be around Carolyn Leonhart. She's just ridiculously beautiful and incredibly talented which could be a recipe for ummm lets just call it "an imperious nature". I doubt she is any manner of shrinking violet but she has always fascinated me partly because of what appears to be long term stability maybe even loyalty, certainly the appearance of professionalism which I greatly respect.
she's a pro in the best sense of the word and very easy to work with: i tracked a couple of songs with her when she did overdubs* on some tracks of a band i can't recall right now... (wait: something with 'swiss percussion'?)

i could think of additional terms to describe her in very positive ways but i think it'd be inappropriate - i can also think of other musicians who imo were a pita but again, imo it'd be inappropriate, no matter how well-know or unknown a person might be.


* since we're on gearslutz (what a ****ty name btw!): pretty sure i used a u67 into a tc gold channel into a tascam mx2424...
Old 27th July 2020
  #22
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She is an incredibly gifted vocalist. I love her work on the Steely solo albums.
I'm sure she would be very professional to work with as well. An easy voice to record with the right gear.
Regards.
Old 27th July 2020
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by enorbet2 View Post
Another completely OT post and one that may get no response. I've worked with a few top notch musicians and while some people might call it "bitchy" I was intrigued meeting Linda Ronstadt early in my career that though she came across as light, even ditzy in public, backstage she ruled that band like a BOSS! I thought it was great and my respect for her grew... might have been different if I was on the receiving end I suppose.

So if anyone else feels as candid and also respectful, and since we have 2 posters already with some personal experience with Steely Dan... well... shucks...I just have to ask ... What was it like to be around Carolyn Leonhart. She's just ridiculously beautiful and incredibly talented which could be a recipe for ummm lets just call it "an imperious nature". I doubt she is any manner of shrinking violet but she has always fascinated me partly because of what appears to be long term stability maybe even loyalty, certainly the appearance of professionalism which I greatly respect.

Any comments or interesting anecdotes... ?
Once is enough. Especially regarding Steely Dan.
Old 27th July 2020
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
not really: of course one can punch into, fix or stretch tracks which are not recorded to a click and didn't get aligned to a grid! in some genre (outside western pop music) and in some places (outside the western world), it's even the norm!
While what you write is true, on the grounds of my integrity in music I choose to never stretch tracks or use copy and paste.

I record and present tracks as they truly exist.

I'm not saying there is anything wrong with artificially altering tracks, but it's nothing I would ever do.
Old 27th July 2020
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RicTone View Post
While what you write is true, on the grounds of my integrity in music I choose to never stretch tracks or use copy and paste.

I record and present tracks as they truly exist.

I'm not saying there is anything wrong with artificially altering tracks, but it's nothing I would ever do.
This is akin to people who like to tag their photos with #nofilter not realizing the camera and the act of photography is all about being a filter.
Old 27th July 2020
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharp11 View Post
This is akin to people who like to tag their photos with #nofilter not realizing the camera and the act of photography is all about being a filter.
I''m well aware of what you say but it actually is an issue of integrity in terms of performance.

Editing is another matter altogether.

I'm well versed in the act of editing. I've edited over 600 network television shows for Fox, NBC CBS and networks all over the world.

I understand editing. Editing is a good thing.

I do edit guitar tracks but I never stretch/copy/paste to alter reality.

But whatever you like is fine with me, I don't care what you or anyone believes.
Old 27th July 2020
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharp11 View Post
This is akin to people who like to tag their photos with #nofilter not realizing the camera and the act of photography is all about being a filter.
You're missing the point - #nofilter means that none of the app filters were used to change contrast, sharpen, or facetune the image. I'm hoping that you know this and are being sarcastic, but hard to tell on the interwebs...
Old 27th July 2020
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RicTone View Post
While what you write is true, on the grounds of my integrity in music I choose to never stretch tracks or use copy and paste.

I record and present tracks as they truly exist.

I'm not saying there is anything wrong with artificially altering tracks, but it's nothing I would ever do.
well, i'm mostly using my 'daw' the same way i used to use 'hd recorders' or 'tape machines' too and if you chose not to alter things after recording as only this holds up to your ideas of 'integrity', that's fine.

it's just that imo playing along a static click (something which your former drummer obviously refused to practice and learn) imo isn't necessarily needed or wanted under any condition - in fact, the only superficial benefit i can see is that it lowers the bar in terms of skills needed for engineering and hence enables pretty much anyone and his/her dog to edit...

...and - since you brought it up - doesn't necesserily help to establish or maintain artistic integrity nor does it lead to 'better' results; on the contrary, imo it mostly damages the freedom of expression and hence the artistic value: i consider varying the tempo as equally valuable as varying say the dynamics or the pitch!

and yet i'm quite happy all these different approaches, techniques and tools exist: on some rare occasions, it enabled me to save performances which otherwise would have become useless as they indeed did not fit but after modification, the processes being applied became unnoticeable in the sense that no one could tell that different parts were recorded at different times by different musicians on different continents (and in a different pitch).

'fake' but VERY credible; difficult topic these days... :-)



p.s. there's a theoretical reason why i don't give much in terms of some generic/non-specified 'integrity' regarding recording and/or mixing of music: there is no such thing as a 'true' way to capture audio (or a pic) - the gear we're using inevitably shapes the results in mysterious ways and there's no way around it...
Old 27th July 2020
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nedorama View Post
You're missing the point - #nofilter means that none of the app filters were used to change contrast, sharpen, or facetune the image. I'm hoping that you know this and are being sarcastic, but hard to tell on the interwebs...
Of course, but the camera, its lens and the way its algorithms are designed are doing its own sharpening, contrast, saturation - especially for many people who simply shoot in auto mode.

Great photographers like a Ansel Adams, Ed Weston and Ernst Hass had no problem using the apps and filters of their day - it was called the darkroom. It’s where the raw image became art; what many of today’s picture takers are doing is letting the camera decide the “art” for them - the “filter(s)“ being applied for them, automatically.
Old 31st July 2020
  #30
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enorbet2's Avatar
I suppose we shouldn't talk about Digital Drum Machines vs/ Real Drummers
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