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 Forum index » How-tos » Production - engineering/mixing
Interaction between Production and Composition
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paul e.



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PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2005 11:10 am    Post subject: Interaction between Production and Composition Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

recently, an excellent engineer/mixer who mainly produces electronics, gave me a production tip that was so helpful i thought i should post it here..i am sure quite a few members here already know about this technique, but i think some might find it interesting...

anyway, what he said was, when you are beginning to compose a piece, and you are choosing your sounds and voices, first think in terms of frequencies a given sound resides in and the energy sound uses up, before you begin to finalise your choices of sounds..

the upshot of this is, let's say, for example you are messing around with a patch, a pad or something, and you suddenly get inspired..so you throw on the sequencer and record a figure or two...

now you think 'i need another sound'...

compositionally, you may think 'well i want a menancing bass tone to go along with this somber pad figure'...

but it is also useful at this point to analyse the freq. content and energy content of the pad that you have already recorded...

maybe you discover that in fact the pad has some sub-bass tones...now when you go and search for a good bass patch, you can select a bass sound that does not also have a lot of sub-bass content, so that it does not clash with the pad, causing lots of mixdown issues later on

you will still have to find a 'menancing bass' to satisfy your compositional concept, but now you know to avoid anything with too much sub-bass

the great thing about analyising the freq. and energy content as it relates to compositional choices, is that when it comes to mixdown, there will be less issues with muddiness in the bass or distortion in the hi freq etc, and less need for surgical EQ'ing or other fixes

btw..actually the engineer in question is a member here - kris 'thrash' weston and a former member of the Orb ] -

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zynthetix



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PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2005 8:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

useful advice...and damn, I didn't know we had a [former] Orb member.
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mosc
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2005 8:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Yes, essential advice. This is very important when doing live improvisation using synthsizers. In conventional ensembles, like jazz trios and quartets, the spectrum is divided up automatically by the ranges of the instruments. Often, when I'm improvising, I listen for the holes and try to fill them. It's just a matter of balance. It would take miraculous post production to fix music that isn't balanced. You are better off to avoid even trying.
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Kassen
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 23, 2005 5:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Some truth here, but I think it´s this additude taken too far that makes modern music sound like it does. The notion that the spectrum should be "ballanced" in some arbitrary way is largely responcible for everyhthing sounding the same these days, I think.

A while ago I saw this in action with the development over the ages neatly illustrated. I was attending the cutting of a record and the controlls of the equipment were tended to by a young fellow under the supervision of what´s probably mainland Europe´s most senior record cutter. One of the tracks on this record simply had no signals but tape hiss at all in the high area because of a concious choice of the composer. The young fellow looked at the spectrum analysis chart and immediately, without listening, brought up the high frequency eq by a large amount. This caused the older guy to shake his head violently behind his back. You could see the confusion of the young man reflected on the computer schreen where he frantically moved the parametric eq around, unable to deal with the situation. In the end it took the old guy to say something before the young fellow was broken out of his mental loop.

If you mix like the modern standard you´ll sound like everybody else today which is both fatiguing on the ear and rather harmless in my perception. I think it´s much more interesting to ask yourself wether a "muddy bass end" is realy a bad thing at all. Is it realy so bad for instruments to blend together? If you listen carefully to some 30´s Jazz recordings you´ll notice that it´s a) smudged together to the point where you can hardly make out a single instrument and b)much more pleasant to listen to than many if not most modern recordings. Please don´t do this listening test with modern "digitally remastered" cd´s, by the way, because then you´ll get modern aesthetics aplied to old technique and the results are often painfully unlistenable. There are 60´s reissues on vinyl that sound much, much more pleasant and that need not cost that much at all if you look around.

In the above situation I might bounce both the bass and the pad to tape, using a stereo analog eq over both together and liberal amounts of gain in order to blend the two together. I might also use a compressor on both together, either corelating it´s setting to the bpm or side-chaing it with a external signal in order to emphasise the groove in the result. If you have trouble seperating two signals you can go out of your way in trickery or even change the sounds themselves, but you can also turn two instruments into a single one. In electronic music it´s often very hard to determine where a instrument begins and stops anyway. This will blur the lines between counterpoint and chords, but that need to be a problem and as a technique it´s hardly modern....

The production and compositon process of electronic music is fundamentally different from the rock one yet many engineers and producers remain traped in a rock, "recording studio" paradigm in stead of a electronic music "generative studio" paradigm with regard to production which in turn is holding them back on a compositional level, or so I beleive.

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mosc
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 23, 2005 8:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Good point about those old big band jazz recordings. Back then, there was a lot of arranging and not so much production. The arranger made sure that the musicical ideas came through. The arranger keeps the winds from being stepped on by the horns.

In electro-music, the composer is the arranger (and the producer too most of the time). At any rate, IMHO, no amount of post-production craftiness can make up for a illconceived composition. Kassen is right about a lot of music sounding the same these days because of consistent over-use of post-production adjustments.

As an asside, I've learned more about recording and production by recording accoustic folk music groups and classical music orchestras than from doing electroinic music. No matter what kind of music; if you get it right on the recording, then the mix is very easy.

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astroid power-up!



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2005 3:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

it's helpful to understand what kind of aesthetic you're going for before you start. if you're not doing something for a specific arena or purpose (dancefloor, radio, commercial, film), then i find it best not to limit yourself by going for a "sound", but more of a "feeling".

this is especially pertinent in trying to get the sound from an old jazz recording. most of us don't have big ribbon mics or tape machines, and i'm sure not john coltrane and paul chambers, so i'm probably not going to get that sound. but, if i go for a feeling that is as warm, i might get something interesting.

essentially, i agree with you kassen, overbalancing is probably the second big villian in modern mixing, after overcompression. soon everything is going to have 20% white noise and the rest pink.

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paul e.



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2005 4:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Kassen wrote:

The production and compositon process of electronic music is fundamentally different from the rock one yet many engineers and producers remain traped in a rock, "recording studio" paradigm in stead of a electronic music "generative studio" paradigm with regard to production which in turn is holding them back on a compositional level, or so I beleive.


kassen

i actually think both paradigns are compatible..

we were talking about using pre amps and different ways to colour tones from synths in another thread, ..and i can imagine having a lot of fun 're-amping' synths and mic'ing those up in a big old room or something

so, even within the 'generative' sutdio, you still have good reason to use some traditional recording techniques

and in 'rock' once you get the giuitars or drums inside the computer, lots of permutations can be generated via digital editing, DSP etc etc

so you can apply the 'electronic' model of generative sounds to traditionally produced material as well

they go hand in hand..especially now that all paradigms can be folded into one small recording space and a powerful computer

i think the 'future' of music involves a process that involves both the 'recording' and 'generative' studio in one production

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elektro80
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2005 4:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

OT: Ribbon mics.. I love them. I am planning to get some of these new chinese ones.. like the Audix. These are very useful for various tasks. I wouldn´t call the coluring analog warmth though. These specidic cheap microphones have slightly less detail than the very high end stuff, but they do have that distortion .. that adds this velvety smoothness to absolutely everything.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2005 4:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

paul e. wrote:
i think the 'future' of music involves a process that involves both the 'recording' and 'generative' studio in one production


Sounds reasonable. Very Happy

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paul e.



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2005 4:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

elektro80 wrote:
paul e. wrote:
i think the 'future' of music involves a process that involves both the 'recording' and 'generative' studio in one production


Sounds reasonable. Very Happy


something tells me the future already happened 30 years ago hehehe

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2005 4:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Wink
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paul e.



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2005 4:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

elektro80 wrote:
Wink


haivng said that..

we are at an interesting time when all techniques can come to play, all at once , all in the same studio..for under 10,000 dollars


that is new

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2005 8:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

What did Yogi say, " the future ain't what it used to be. "
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