The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
Why were vocal recordings so much better in the 1950s?
Old 3 days ago
  #1621
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
i mainy linked to this video 'cause of jeff healey

i possibly should have posted something from linda ronstadt (maybe with little feat?) to better satisfy the critiques...

...but then, i tend to link but to singers who i either worked with and/or dated so i'm not gonna replace sass' video!

Last edited by deedeeyeah; 3 days ago at 04:24 PM.. Reason: edited twice for personal reasons...
Old 3 days ago
  #1622
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by robert82 View Post
All I hear is melisma.
Melisma is no young diva, of course. A lot of Baroque music from composers like Giacomo Carissimi employed her reservedly, and - I think - with reasonable taste.

But, Jacopo da Bologna's [madrigale] Un bel sparver made her sound pretty much the same as dd's second pair of Italian shoes look.

Toward the end of my high school days [early '70s], I had the privilege of participating in the Florida State University summer camp's Madrigal Singers [how I made that cut is another story]. We got to do several of the old numbers - including Psaume: Loué soit le Seigneur from Le Roi David - composed in 1921 by Arthur Honegger [Mézières, Switzerland]. That was perhaps the closest I've ever been to performing with melisma in public. . .the cheap thrill that stole the show and sold the concert. Everybody loved her!

Cecilia Bartoli was born too late, though. . .and I have no idea what DECCA was thinking - even their trees used to be so much better in the '50s.


Ray H.

Old 3 days ago
  #1623
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RayHeath View Post
Melisma is no young diva, of course. A lot of Baroque music from composers like Giacomo Carissimi employed her reservedly, and - I think - with reasonable taste.

But, Jacopo da Bologna's [madrigale] Un bel sparver made her sound the same as dd's second pair of Italian shoes look.

Toward the end of my high school days [early '70s], I had the privilege of participating in the Florida State University summer camp's Madrigal Singers [how I made that cut is another story]. We got to do several of the old numbers - including Salmo from Le Roi David - composed in 1921 by Arthur Honegger [Mézières, Switzerland]. That was perhaps the closest I've ever been to performing with melisma in public. . .the cheap thrill that sold the concert. Everybody loved her!

Cecilia Bartoli was born too late, though. . .and I have no idea what DECCA was thinking - even their trees used to be so much better in the '50s.


Ray H.

https://www.youtube.co/watch?v=jA4mOHOjq0c
don de los reyos

i love your exquisite taste - however, cecilia bartoli or renée flemming are quite horrible examples when it comes to ancient music... *

...but tell me more about that summer camp and how you got there: what was her name? :-)

dd
(intrigued!)


oh, and regarding decca, that's quite clear: dying forest syndrome!


* we got a conservatory here in town, specializing in ancient music - which has led me to listening to mostly ancient until i turned about 16 years old; it was a pretty tough cut from carlo gesualdo to janis joplin then...
Old 3 days ago
  #1624
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
[. . .] i love your exquisite taste - however, cecilia bartoli (or renée flemming) are quite horrible examples when it comes to ancient music [. . .]
I kinda took Cecilia Bartoli and Renée Fleming as kids having fun on the lawn?


I Ran. . .again,

Ray H.
Old 3 days ago
  #1625
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RayHeath View Post
I kinda took Cecilia Bartoli and Renée Fleming as kids having fun on the lawn? (...)
maybe that explains their fondness for the squeaky high register?!

Quote:
I Ran. . .again
yeah but that still doesn't explain your trip to the summer camp: anything to do with your affection to (swiss) german girls?
Old 3 days ago
  #1626
Lives for gear
 
Sharp11's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by robert82 View Post
All I hear is melisma.
Well, when there’s no real melody or song structure, it’s got to be all melisma all the time ...
Old 3 days ago
  #1627
Lives for gear
 
robert82's Avatar
Zero melisma, all the time. This is how I like the human voice.

Old 3 days ago
  #1628
Lives for gear
 
edva's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by robert82 View Post
Zero melisma, all the time. This is how I like the human voice.

Interesting example, given the etymology of the term.
But zero there for sure.

No coloratura either
Some here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0v_0c783Xi0
Old 3 days ago
  #1629
Lives for gear
 

And who can forget "Sweet Melisma", by the Allman Brothers?
Or the noted singer, Melisma Manchester?
Chris
Old 3 days ago
  #1630
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
[. . .] we got a conservatory here in town, specializing in ancient music - which has led me to listening to mostly ancient until i turned about 16 years old; it was a pretty tough cut from carlo gesualdo to janis joplin then...
Across the evening sky, all the birds are leaving.
But how can they know it's time for them to go?
Before the winter fire I will still be dreaming.
I have no thought of time.
Kind of takes us back to notions of meaning and relevance.

Looking through a long lens, any space between the old and the ancient is naturally compressed.

Fifty years from now, no one much will be around to recall the '50s - much less assert the unmatched superiority of '50s vocal recordings. . .aside perhaps from some nut fleeing an artificially intelligent laser drone.

I am curious how 16 year old teenagers - overrun by their own pop culture - will then hear Janis Joplin singing about Me and Bobby McGee, or how they will hear Roger Miller, or Boxcar Willie, or Elizabeth Cotten's Freight Train? Or any number of diverse performers in the past century who rode her train? For Janis, it was mostly a diesel, Bobby had thumbed down. I suppose Frank Sinatra's 1958 train song would have been Come Fly With Me? Later his 1964 recording of the 1954 tune Fly Me to the Moon moved the train forward in the space age of the Apollo missions. Good enough; I love those tunes. For PP&M or Lightfoot, Early Morning Rain? For the Beatles? Ticket to Ride, or Hey Jude, or While My Guitar Gently Weeps? The train was rounding a critical bend. Curtis Mayfield gave us People Get Ready almost like a prayer. Don McLean talked about the three men he admired most catching a train for the coast in American Pie, and about a true artist in Vincent. Some where hit by Grand Funk Railroad. Elton rocked stadiums with Bennie and the Jets, Rocket Man and Daniel. And so on. All of it, music that takes us places - in our hearts or in our minds.

What will be the meaning and relevance of what we leave behind us? As we look at notions of communication and art, what are the trains we will lend to the future that will help carry them forward?

Giving them the past [including exquisite '50s vocal recordings] is good, fitting and altogether proper; but not sufficient. It is useful to admit what is [already today] beyond us - and to be humble about that [1]. It is useful to value the past and the present while pressing forward.


She caught the Katy, left me a mule to ride,

Ray H.

[1] As exemplified by Artur Rubinstein, the keys player that Karl looks like. . .who's name had previously escaped me.

Old 3 days ago
  #1631
Lives for gear
 

Sandy and her song, the young Richard Thompson's beautiful guitar backing support... Would my on my Desert Island collection-sublime.
Chris
Old 3 days ago
  #1632
Lives for gear
 

hole-in-one!

i was a HUGE fan of fairport convention (plus jethro tull, colosseum, gentle giant, king crimson etc.) and they were amongst the first bands i mixed as a young pro (foh)! tull (monitors) came much later but with dave pegg playing bass, for me it was kinda two band come together in one person!

here's a pic from the bass he used with tull for a long time and later took to his house in the bretagne (where i visited him two years ago)...



[sorry for leaving the 50's once more (and possibly forever with regard to this thread) - while it's usually that i feel too old for some music the younger generation is into, in case of the 50' it's that i'm too young to dig the era and its music...]
Attached Thumbnails
Why were vocal recordings so much better in the 1950s?-20170713_190311.jpg  
Old 3 days ago
  #1633
Look, I hate to be that person, well maybe I don't. But is it at all possible it's simply that tastes have changed?

You don't have those sorts of voices anymore, you just don't hear them. America and its accents are homogenizing into international American (i.e. Californian). There's been a huge emphasis on emulating the voices of one ethnic group, great as those voices are you don't reach your full potential as a fish by trying to chase down antelope.

Those kinds of songs just aren't written anymore. Not for pop. Maybe some individuals out there are writing them, but they're not getting the marketing machine behind them to ride the gravy train. If those individuals can't make it with those songs then they're not going to do it for the mainstream. Our humor has changed, the images we try to convey in music have changed.

Production doesn't do that stuff anymore. You don't get songs full of distortion and low-passed to heck, that aren't made as loud as possible with stereo widening and goodness knows what else. When did you last hear a recording that sounded like an actual band playing together that wasn't only sounding that way as an ironic punk music mess (oh hey, look we have credentials because we can't play our instruments! Integrity man)? Arranging and pushing vocals in a mix full of mids is a different thing to pushing them when you can just carve it all away.

I mean sure, probably better vocalists, engineers, producers, equipment, whatever you want to believe. But also I just don't think there's a market for it, not as in it couldn't be marketed and people wouldn't listen or think it's cool, but as in record companies have no interest in marketing it and turning it into a lifestyle choice, especially now they see the past of these recordings as problematic, which is ironic considering how problematic the present is that they've sold us all.
Old 3 days ago
  #1634
Lives for gear
 
edva's Avatar
And the music of the 50's was of course influenced by the music that had come before it.
Like this 1938 recording, Billie Holiday on vocals, and I'm pretty sure a young Buddy Rich on drums.
I'm sure this kind of stuff is all but forgotten, but it was a step along the way.
Nice music too, well played and recorded.
IMHO. Good luck.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wv8SJUCPcsU

With BR for sure.
This video I think shows a lot of linkage right up to the present day.
Well, almost.
https://youtu.be/Pdq8tYRALkM

Last edited by edva; 3 days ago at 12:18 AM.. Reason: +
Old 3 days ago
  #1635
Lives for gear
 

I put Amy Winehouse, in the Billie Holiday lineage. Based in Tony Bennett's comments, he thinks so too.
Chris
Old 3 days ago
  #1636
Lives for gear
 
Sharp11's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by robert82 View Post
Zero melisma, all the time. This is how I like the human voice.
The thing I'm bothered most by in the melisma department is the poor choice of notes sung - it's usually the same set of pentatonic runs that don't match the chords (if there are chords) or in some cases, even the key.

I suspect it's a by-product of the american idol phenomenon - so much showy bs without substance.
Old 3 days ago
  #1637
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by edva View Post
[. . .] I'm sure this kind of stuff is all but forgotten [. . .]
Forgetting that kind of stuff would be a crime against humanity!
Old 3 days ago
  #1638
Lives for gear
 
vernier's Avatar
Good vocal recording, no jive . .

Attached Thumbnails
Why were vocal recordings so much better in the 1950s?-brooksarthur1.jpg  
Old 3 days ago
  #1639
Lives for gear
 

He may not seem like the hippest singer-songwriter, here at GS. But John Denver had a great voice and wrote a lot of great songs-like this one.
Chris
Old 3 days ago
  #1640
Lives for gear
 
robert82's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by chessparov2.0 View Post
He may not seem like the hippest singer-songwriter, here at GS. But John Denver had a great voice and wrote a lot of great songs-like this one.
Chris
Heh, hehh to me John Denver is more dated than Dean Martin or Andy Williams . . . Maybe cause it's a period of my life I'd rather not remember . . . .
Old 3 days ago
  #1641
Lives for gear
 

I think Elvis dated the most. (other than Tom Jones or Joni Mitchell)
Chris
Old 3 days ago
  #1642
Lives for gear
So somebody thinks Tom Jones is dated? That’s absolutely ridiculous!


What’s new pussycat?

Ray H.

Ok, maybe you should get a thumb for fingering Mr. 'Lead and How to Swing It'. Although I still love You're My World and It's Not Unusual - maybe even Delilah. But you totally lose thumbs for dissing both Elvis and Joni.

Oh, I see. You were saying they dated the most? Then three thumbs up! Well, two anyway. . .Sorry, Tom. . .no amount of dates can clear that image left in my head.

As to John Denver, I love the guy - really, truly. He fills up my senses. . .and with zero melisma. Well, zero melisma if you don't count the yodeling - but then you gotta not like Roy Rogers and Gene Autry? Still, that weak [Oh, God] thing with George Burns didn't hold a candle to Bruce Almighty.

And finally, without Dean Martin, there is no Rio Bravo. Not even Robert Mitchum could have pulled that off. And without Rio Bravo there is no Angie Dickinson - that would have been another crime against humanity!
Old 3 days ago
  #1643
Lives for gear
 
Looneytune's Avatar
Hilarious thread
First few posts said it all!
Ahh Gearslutz
Where anything audio goes
Old 3 days ago
  #1644
Lives for gear
 

And let's remember the Dating mantra "billion year old carbon", is in the Holiest of Hippie writs... "Woodstock".
By the Songstress, knowneth as Joni.

And the Dude saw it was Good.
Chris
Old 3 days ago
  #1645
Lives for gear
 

The op made a statement that the mentioned singers on the era recordings sounded like they are right in front of the listener...or something to that effect.

The recent presented position.... that John Denver has a good voice (wtf that has to do with the topic, I don't know). ..could...cause an engineer to take a moment to analyze an isolated vocal...say..Andy Williams in 1956 and again on say, a 1962 track (which I've done)...and compare what's happening there sonically....to....let's say John Denver's 1972 intro singing on "Friends With You"...or even later stuff.

The diff is forrrrrr surrrre....the engineering decisions starting right at the first overdub of JD. The vocal sonics are very very small. I'm sure the mastering engineer also contributed. Yeah, you could've tracked John's voice to sound like 1956, 1962.....and yeah...the result...with his type of voice....could've been much more "right in front of you"....like Sinatra. Better yet....he would've sounded pretty much sonically exactly like a 1959 thick-sonic'd Nick Reynolds of KT. A little more nasal by a bit.

But.....nobody was capturing John's voice that way. It wouldn't have even sonically worked in conjunction to the instrument overdubs.

Which leads to what someone else mentioned...it just ain't in style to capture a 1955 vocal sound (forgetting heavily cliche early r&r echoplex type affairs). And yeah, guys don't really sing in that style as much now or try to develop that style approach (wtf was Buble into?.....He forgot to tell his engineer imo). Sort of like...who the f*** uses a Cary Grant etc type speech approach now in acting? That all went out around the same time as the final crooners.

I don't have an interest to recreate 1950 but if I were doing it...and with a singer latched into that style....I'd approach the re-creation experiment with a pile of original ribbons, a roomful of Chandler stuff (as I'd have to spend a couple of weeks piecing a wired signal flow together that sounds right to my ears)....I'd analyze some of the Billy Strange arrangement scores (not to mention an even-deeper dive into Wizard of Oz...which you have to do before you ff 20yrs), have a pre-production meeting with whoever I was going to have do the lathe work......man..it would take some time to put together. The tape format would be the easiest decision of the entire project.

It can be done....but....you'd really have to be into it as a labor of love.
Old 3 days ago
  #1646
Lives for gear
 

Not "good" Noodle, it was a "great" voice. John Denver sang for a small group of us-informally-Acapella (no mic/no guitar!) and it sounded stunning! (early 80's).
His voice actually further improved, versus 5-10+ years before. John told us afterward that was why, he wanted to go back and re-record some of his hits.
(which James Taylor did on a couple of his own songs, on his first "Greatest Hits" album-same reason)

I had enjoyed Denver's well known hits up to that point, but that experience made me a big fan. Like I was already, of his brother Gilligan.
Chris
Old 2 days ago
  #1647
Gear Guru
 
monkeyxx's Avatar
I think a lot of the semi modern Thom Yorke / Radiohead stuff is very "50s sounding" in terms of the engineering decisions. A song like "Nude" for example. I'm sure it's intentional. I'm sure there are other examples of this also that I'm not aware of, happening right now. I want to call it "big voice" or something, a style.
Old 2 days ago
  #1648
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharp11 View Post
. I suspect it's a by-product of the american idol phenomenon - so much showy bs without substance.
I bet part of it is how little time they get to "wow" the judges

Quote:
EW
12. What's the maximum and minimum length a song must be?
It depends in large part on the number of contestants left and the length of the performance show, but the song length usually ranges from 90 seconds to two minutes. But you can do a lot in that time; in season 4, Constantin Maroulis managed to squeeze the nearly six-minute-long ''Bohemian Rhapsody'' into two minutes and barely break a sweat.
📝 Reply
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
🖨️ Show Printable Version
✉️ Email this Page
🔍 Search thread
♾️ Similar Threads
🎙️ View mentioned gear