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Over produced, well produced, and under produced Effects Pedals, Units & Accessories
Old 20th July 2018
  #31
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norfolk martin's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
T
These days, many people go to the merch table to take home a souvenir of what they just heard in a club. In that paradigm, the difference between live and CD is often far too vast. I mean, you can still add in enough that it sounds "complete" enough for radio, but you don't have to go crazy. And you shouldn't.
I have mixed feelings about the paradigm you describe. On the one hand, I was always a fan of live recordings when I was younger, partially because the Classic 70s studio sound was often so dry and close mic'd that it lacked excitement.

I do think things have swung too much in the other direction, however. Albums such as Sgt Pepper or Pet sounds recorded with just enough elements beyond a live performance would , IMO, be sadly diminished by such a process.

By the general ideas current at the moment, "Tomorrow Never Knows" from Revolver wold be the epitome of "over production." It was also IMO, a brilliant radical step in popular music.
Old 21st July 2018
  #32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
To me, the bar for "how slick" has moved because of the shift in how and where many people's records get sold.

These days, many people go to the merch table to take home a souvenir of what they just heard in a club. In that paradigm, the difference between live and CD is often far too vast. I mean, you can still add in enough that it sounds "complete" enough for radio, but you don't have to go crazy. And you shouldn't.
I must say I don't appreciate that development. Without truly keeping an ear on comtemporary music (for reasons like those I'll mention now) it seems to create a situation where records are way too often either entirely sterile - nudging a snare drum hit two miliseconds to put it on grid, autotuned vocals, you know... modern pop sound that many of us love to hate - or under produced/crappy sounding "authentic" records.

The other hand the whole "record as a souvenir" encourages a mentality where too much otherwise great music sounds like a glorified demo. The whole "we can't do it live so it shouldn't be on record" which can be such a bummer when recording a band. And when many of these contemporary records are also recorded on digital junk it often makes for a boring one dimensional sound. Not that I'm always opposed to records that brings the illusion that the listener is transported to a rehearsal session with incredible sound... the first Happy Mondays album sounds great to me. But it often seems that both the "3D" huge sound are missing and so are a lot of potential creative enchancments just because they can't be performed live that easily.

In the words of the great Mike Chapman when discussing his perfectionism with Blondie while recording some of their finest work: "We're not documenting a live performance here". In todays music I'm not hearing enough records that are both produced to the highest possible standards but are still not "Pro Tooled" to death.

I might just be old fashioned in this regard. But oh my, the world would be a more boring place without records like My Bloody Valentine's Loveless, Simon & Garfunkels Bridge Over Troubled Waters or the really obvious ones like Sgt. Peppers or Pet Sounds. Those records can hardly be performed live without some corners being cut but that doesn't make them artistically or sonically any less awesome.

Sometimes this "authentic" buzzword is used as an euphemism for incompetence or lazyness and also sometimes keeps people from using recording and mixing creatively. I mean, the band didn't "feel it" any less just because a well timed reverse delay is added

Last edited by WarmJetGuitar; 21st July 2018 at 11:41 AM.. Reason: Don't want my post too authentic so sent it for post-production at an expensive facility.
Old 21st July 2018
  #33
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ThorSouthshire's Avatar
Production is the focused process of making ideas into a sellable finished product. The person doing this is the producer. It can be a seperate person or the artist recording but nontheless always has to be done in some way or the end product will be sketches, and not really songs. Some artists do this process automatically when playing and writing a song, but it's still production. Lack of production is the biggest reason why music sounds amateurish or bad. Everybody has something to say, no matter how talented, it's a matter of presenting it the right way so that it's understandable and believable and finding the right market for it.

Overproduction is when the producing process gets hung up in details or takes to long so it strays too far from the original idea or feeling. It's not the same as bad production, or over-processing. It's basicly when the focus becomes the production, and not the song. Many tend to use the term for glossy sounding records but that's not quite right. I wouldn't call a Steely Dan record overproduced for instance..
Old 21st July 2018
  #34
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Any discussion pertaining to producers and record production needs to acknowledge the paradigm shift that we have recently experienced. During the last half of the 20th century the symbiotic gate keeping activities of record labels and top 40 radio controlled most of what we listened to. Todays recording activities, for many reasons, are totally different structurally and the role of producers has also experienced significant operational change. In the old days producers were the executive in charge of delivering for the label the product the label wanted and was paying for. Today the artist has the last word, for better or worse, about most everything they feel strongly about. Producers of major label recordings today act more as a go between of the artists and label interests: It is a much less autocratic role and requires a lot of diplomatic skill.
Highly skilled producers are still very important in achieving a great recording however, generally speaking they are chosen and work for the artist, not the end user of the recording.
Hugh
Old 21st July 2018
  #35
Gear Maniac
 

some good thoughts going on here... interesting read - my take on it?

As a producer - it's your responsibility to measure how much production you need to apply


Example 1;
extremely tight, touring band come in the studio, guitarist's already got his patches on his pedal board ready to go, singer can sing, drummer can play to a click - if you can do a good engineering job there won't be much production needed

"thanks dude, you did a top job of capturing the sound of our band"


Example 2;
young, up and coming band with a few good songs come into the studio... you need to shave off all the overly long college introductions into each song, drummer doesn't even own a drum key, you need to help the guitarist find the right amount of drive and delay on his tone, the singer needs help coming up and executing harmonies.

"thanks dude, you really helped us to establish the sound of our band"
Old 21st July 2018
  #36
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by WarmJetGuitar View Post
In the words of the great Mike Chapman when discussing his perfectionism with Blondie while recording some of their finest work: "We're not documenting a live performance here".
Right. Their business model was to use radio and MTV to sell perfect records by the truckload to people who, mostly, had never heard the band live and never would.

A ton of people make a really good living doing that back then. It's different now.
Old 21st July 2018
  #37
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Most overproduced record of all time: "MacArthur Park", Richard Harris' melodramatic outpouring, 1968.
Second up, some of Al Stewart's stuff. Every 70s ballad had to have a sax solo.

Fave minimal production stuff: early Police, Clash.
Old 21st July 2018
  #38
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by robert82 View Post
Most overproduced record of all time: "MacArthur Park", Richard Harris' melodramatic outpouring, 1968.
You have to divvy up the blame with Jimmy Webb. If he never has that recipe again, it's fine by me.
Old 21st July 2018
  #39
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by robert82 View Post
Fave minimal production stuff: early Police, Clash.
"Sixteen Tons," "Fever," "King of the Road."

Then there's always the Neville Marriner/Academy of St. Martin in the Fields version of 4'33." That recording of it is especially minimal because they edited out the page turns.
Old 21st July 2018
  #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
"Sixteen Tons," "Fever," "King of the Road."
Of course. Classic country is bare bones excellence.

Quote:
Then there's always the Neville Marriner/Academy of St. Martin in the Fields version of 4'33." That recording of it is especially minimal because they edited out the page turns.
Wrong-o. The piece can be played by any number of musicians. The use of a full orchestra constitutes overproduction.
Old 21st July 2018
  #41
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by robert82 View Post
The use of a full orchestra constitutes overproduction.
Hard to argue with that.
Old 22nd July 2018
  #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WarmJetGuitar View Post
The other hand the whole "record as a souvenir" encourages a mentality where too much otherwise great music sounds like a glorified demo.
in my observation, plenty of the records sold at the table at the back of the room are bona fide "studio" records and not only-what-we-do-live 'gig tape' type recordings. The concert-goers just want a souvenir and they are not going to listen to it first. They will buy it anyway. It's the band's opportunity to deliver whatever artistic expression they wish. In fact, I have overheard many band discussions where they decided that recording a 'gig' type record was pointless, since that was what the audience just heard.

I did know some people who were in the merch business - following bands around on tours - and they told me about a system where they would record the line out of the board and then high-speed dub it on to USB sticks. They would start at the intermission and the system was fast enough so that they could have the first batch at the table as the people were filing out. You were literally getting tonight's concert. The show you just attended. So if you yelled "Free Bird" in the middle of a quiet section - you would be on there.

The beauty of the system was that if the memory stick did not sell it could be erased and sold the next night or the next.
Old 22nd July 2018
  #43
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Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

A record producer is the same as a director in film or theater. It's somebody having a talent for drawing performances out of singers, musicians and recording engineers that are better than everybody involved believed themselves capable of. There's no such thing as "self-production" in my experience. Without a producer, recording takes many times as long, typically at least 5 times. Most successful producers have prior experience working under an experienced producer.
Old 23rd July 2018
  #44
Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
....
The beauty of the system was that if the memory stick did not sell it could be erased and sold the next night or the next.
Hopefully, over all, that system was extremely beautiful.

Last edited by joelpatterson; 23rd July 2018 at 02:27 AM..
Old 23rd July 2018
  #45
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I remember reading a quote from a big producer that went something along the lines of;

A producers job is easy, they just need to make sure the band is right, the song is right, the key is right, the tempo is right, the instruments are right, the gear is right, the studio is right, the lighting is right, the food is right... etc.

I think it was somewhere in the book Behind the Glass which is a great read, talking with different producers about how they work. Highly recomeded.
Old 23rd July 2018
  #46
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norfolk martin's Avatar
 

I do disagree with some of what's being proposed here. To me, the function of a producer is to improve things - to supply something that is necessary and the artist cannot supply on their own. Otherwise, I see no need for a "producer."

Sometimes that can be done by acting as babysitter, psych counselor and best friend, but sometimes it involves telling an artist that their vision isn't perfect, and they have to do to something differently.

A classic example of "production" to me would be George martin telling the Beatles to take "Please Please Me" away and re-work it as a faster song with a harmony lead.

I can just imagine the pissing and moaning some members would have made in that situation. "it's my song! no damned producer can force me to change my artistic vision - I wrote it slow and dreary and that's how I want it."

I'm sure that, at the professional musician level, its a bit different, and you don't usually have to ask the bassist and drummer to play together, or tell the guitar player that his favorite "trick" on the guitar sounds great but is completely inappropriate for this song. They you can concentrate on the more subtle, pseudo-psychological aspects. But at the local level , you have to do a lot of stuff like Hans Island is describing.

I used to do some production on the local level, and when deciding whether to take on a project or nor, I would first listen to the band's demos. I'd make a remark like "it's taking a little too long to get to the hook" or "you don't need to repeat that riff so many times before you get to the vocal." If someone had a fit, about how I couldn't tell them what to play/write, I knew this was not a project to take on.
Old 23rd July 2018
  #47
The way I learned the role of producer -- by doing it -- meant a relatively expansive role. As producer-of-record on a number of often quite different projects, I've done everything from mic setup, hauling gear, going out for burgers, taking over the engineering (sometimes just for a bit and sometimes for the duration), guitar tuning [sigh], and even playing parts on low budget demos.

When I was coming up in the 80s, while the actual role of producers was already a bit all over the map, there were still many musically educated producers working higher end projects, people who could intelligently follow -- and make suggestions about -- arrangement charts, people with an overarching vision and deep studio experience.

Sometimes the vividness of the producer's vision could conflict with that of the artists. I think one of the most famous examples is Neil Young's first solo album, produced by Jack Nietzsche. A lot of folks love the album -- I do, it's super adventurous, interesting production choices, some really piquant, interesting string section work. Neil reportedly hated it. (It probably didn't help that he had a very, very serious falling out with Nietzsche unrelated to music -- and Nietzsche is not in any way a sympathetic character in that story. Great producer in some ways; not much of a human, apparently.)

Of course, it all depends on the project -- and who is paying for it. In the recording biz, as in so many other fields of life, the 'golden rule of business' [he with the gold, makes the rules] means that the producer -- who we'd probably call the project manager in another field -- is the ostensible boss on the scene, answering to the contractual arrangements under which he was hired and the project was undertaken.
Old 29th July 2018
  #48
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soundbarnfool's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by robert82 View Post
Most overproduced record of all time: "MacArthur Park", Richard Harris' melodramatic outpouring, 1968.
Second up, some of Al Stewart's stuff. Every 70s ballad had to have a sax solo.

Fave minimal production stuff: early Police, Clash.
I actually thought that overblown production was right for the overblown material and it does convey a certain weird unique and apparently marketable in it's time "overblowness"...

er, "overblownness" or maybe I was right the first time?

Last edited by soundbarnfool; 29th July 2018 at 05:31 PM.. Reason: pun
Old 29th July 2018
  #49
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by soundbarnfool View Post
I actually thought that overblown production was right for the overblown material and it does convey a certain weird unique and apparently marketable in it's time "overblowness"...

er, "overblownness" or maybe I was right the first time?
... while the rest of us live our whole lives underblown.

Last edited by Brent Hahn; 29th July 2018 at 08:07 PM..
Old 29th July 2018
  #50
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vernier's Avatar
Since 24 track, everything sounds over produced imo.
Old 29th July 2018
  #51
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BIG BUDDHA's Avatar
great production means beautiful choices made in every direction. the song is shining bright.

bad production means poor choices made in every direction. just a train wreck....

too much going on, poor choice of instruments, wrong key, boaring arrangements, tempo dragging, no hooks, intro too long, etc etc.

someone has to sort it all out, and thats the producer guy.

someone with clear vision, experience and talent.

Buddha
Old 29th July 2018
  #52
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robert82's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by vernier View Post
Since 24 track, everything sounds over produced imo.
Interesting take.

I first got interested in recording when the biggest machine was maybe an Ampex 8 track. I remember doing some classical stuff, and my buddy and I were all "Two mics only! Live takes!" Folk and rock stuff had to be more or less live, even if multi-miced/tracked.

By 1976, Fleetwood Mac was working on Rumors, and the whole process was mired in drugs and reels of exhausted, deteriorating tape. Yeah, 24 tracks . . . all patchworked together, god knows how many takes for each track. A sonic quilt, if you will.

To me, and to some of us in those days, that was overproduction. But making an album sort of became that procedure in the 70s and 80s. Dead rooms, many tracks, hours and hours and hours mixing. Has it improved in the digital age?
Old 30th July 2018
  #53
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GreenNeedle's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mahler007 View Post
Hi Slutz,
I've been thinking a lot lately about the term "production" with regards to records, and I am hoping to start a discussion about what the terms in the above subject title mean to you (if anything).

I'm not sure that I've ever understood what exactly a "producer" does. While I of course know of several, the job seems to be difficult to define quantitatively (much less so than engineer, perhaps). It seems like producers can be everything from super creativily talented individuals to hacks with ties...

Along these lines, and to get things rolling, I have a few open questions. They are intended to stimulate conversation only, and certainly do not have concrete right and wrong answers. The questions are all based on perception and opinion, but that's sort of the point.

At the end, I'll give a few examples of projects I consider to correlate with the terms "over produced, well produced, and under produced."

Questions:
1. What is the *creative* role of a producer, and where, as an artist, does one draw the line for creative control? Van Gogh didn't need a "producer" to make great art- neither did Beethoven. Neither did Jimmy Page, for that matter.

2. At what point does the "over" or "under" production of an album contribute to its artistic (differentiated from commercial) success? For example, would The Sex Pistols have been nearly as cool if they had been recorded in a *great* studio?

3. To what extent does our relationship with technology (ie- GEAR! heh) influence the "production" of our projects. At what point do the roles of engineer and producer overlap- if at all?

4. Does the term "production" refer to the more *musical* ingredients of a tune- such as the arrangement, instrumentation, flow, dynamicism, etc.? Or does it have more to do with its *presentation*- ie, the ambience, mood, space, and character of the music that is created during the recording/mixing process.

There could be a million more, but I'll stop there for now. As for my own opinions, here are some...

Over Produced Records
YES- 90125: It's a guilty pleasure, but you have to admit that this record is *extremely* over produced heh.

Pink Floyd- The Wall

Along these same lines, I have to bring up somebody who I really love and admire as a producer- Daniel Lanois. U2's Unforgettable Fire, Emmylou Harris's Wrecking Ball, etc. runs perilously close to being "over produced," I think, although I have to say that some of his work is among the best I've ever had the pleasure of listening to.

Well Produced
Steely Dan- the songs are impeccable, and perhaps perfect. Great, musically interesting songs and arrangements. Pristinely recorded and presented without any sort of pretentiousness. I like 'em, although I wouldn't consider myself a "big fan."

The Eagles- Not a big fan of them either, but their records always struck me as being kind of "perfectly produced."

The Police- Pretty much anything, although Synchronicity shaves a bit too close, and perhaps makes a few nicks...

Under Produced
This is realkly difficult, as things that are well known and loved that are "under produced" tend to be loved for this fact! The early Bob Dylan records, The Clash, etc...

OK, sorry this is so long winded. I'll shut up now and hope that you guys feel like taking the bait...

Cheers,
Andrew
I always thought indie music sounded like a bunch of bands that were in desperate need of producers.
Old 30th July 2018
  #54
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I believe that much like a good actor disappears into a role, a good producer, or "production" shouldn't call attention to itself, you should never be aware of the production.

If the listener is aware of the production it's because it's either lousy, or overproduced.

Of course, as musicians, we are aware, that's because we listen differently than the general public, but to everyone else, the mechanics of the art should disappear and the beholder (the fan) should fall into the experience.

That's my 2 cents.
Old 31st July 2018
  #55
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharp11 View Post
I believe that much like a good actor disappears into a role, a good producer, or "production" shouldn't call attention to itself, you should never be aware of the production.
I'm guessing you might have a problem with...

"The long and winding road... DUNH DUNH -- DUNH DUNH..."
Old 31st July 2018
  #56
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
I'm guessing you might have a problem with...

"The long and winding road... DUNH DUNH -- DUNH DUNH..."
Yeah, that one falls into the latter category, but if you strip away the gloss, all you hear is the lousy piano playing and John's weak bass , so ....
Old 31st July 2018
  #57
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharp11 View Post
Yeah, that one falls into the latter category, but if you strip away the gloss, all you hear is the lousy piano playing and John's weak bass , so ....
Coulda split the diff, maybe.
Old 31st July 2018
  #58
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I have had the "pleasure" at times of working with a producer or two who from the start assumed they knew what the songs needed and what the sound was going to be. Glad I don't have to deal with those folks anymore. They were typically smug, condescending twats who had the artistic sensibility of a used car seller.
Old 31st July 2018
  #59
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By the definitions I'm seeing her, a lot of highly regard recordings are "over produced"

Take "tomorrow never know " from Revolver, or "A Day in the Life" from Sgt Pepper.

I suppose this raises the question of what if the artist "over-produces?" Is it still overproduction or is it now just part of the song?

I was told this while taking demos of a band I was in in the 70 around A&R men (you still met with people and played them a tape in those days).

"A recording company signs you for what they think you could be, and what you could sound like, not necessarily for what you are or what you sound like now."

This is true, however much it irritates artists.


That's why they hire producers with the full intent of changing things up a bit , not just to implement the band/writers desires.
Old 31st July 2018
  #60
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mahler007 View Post

Over Produced Records
Pink Floyd- The Wall
Blasphemy!!!
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