There's plenty of blame to go around for the collapse of record sales, but I fear there's also a relationship
between production methodology and commercial success that few in this business want to face.
My theory about older recordings is that they are from an age when music resonated very deeply with
almost everybody. Ensembles of musicians were listening to each other and finding a common point of
reference that they all played to. I've long suspected that same virtual reference point is what makes
music accesable and pleasurable. The music becomes an emotional experience that we as listeners share
with the performers. This was partly the result of technical boundaries, & limitations.
Recordings weren't pushed into overproduction nearly as often, simply because it cost a lot of money to
do that. Folks generally stopped producing at the point things felt right in spite of any bad notes,
distortion and other technical flaws.
It was all about the feel!
The more overdubbing, editing and general "fixing" that is involved, the less focused that
emotional "feel" seems to become.
I think that eliminating things that distract from "feel" is important, but all too often people's egos take
over and production turns into an exercise of eliminating what was wrong, while completely losing sight
of what was right, thus destroying the "feel" of the performance in the process!
Most of the "classic" records of the past involved a great deal of commitment from the artist, and
recording sessions were truly a special occasion for them.
I for one don't think the current advances in technology have meant that better records are being made.
It's just that now, more people are making them because it "IS" affordable.
This means more stuff to wade through in a dying market.
What many fail to recognize is that Rock and Roll isn't perfect, it's far from it. All those things you notice,
drum sounds & fills, guitar tunings, vocal phrasings, etc... that's what makes it "rock and roll".
If it were perfect, it would be Steely Dan. Think of the Rolling Stones as the "anti-Steely Dan" and you'll
get the picture. If you want proof, listen back to the music of the 50's, 60s, & 70s. Cause there are some
really amazing, emotionally resonant performances that are out of tune, or slightly out of time, but boy
do they touch you.
The beauty is in the attitude, the "fuck you", the I don't give a shit if you like it or not!
No apologies for being out of tune, no apologies for being out of time... just loud, raw, & emotional....
(if you're looking for deep, look elsewhere!)
To sum things up, all this modern technology affords us the opportunity to screw up the sound in ways
not available to us in times past. More often than not, music is drowning in technology these days.
I suspect we really need to get back to the basics in order to have any hope of fixing this.
Artists need to learn how to make themselves come across to an audience once again.
And we, the people in charge of recording, need to understand how best to capture these "live"
performances while not getting in the way of the music, thus retaining all the elements that make each
performance vital and unique.
The benchmark for quality that I grew up with has been mostly absent for the last couple of decades, so
there's no reason to expect today's young performers to know the difference. They have no reference.
Especially in this world of, Beat Detective, Auto Tune, Mixing in the Box and Plug'ins.
Beyond everything else, it's sad state of affairs that today people often confuse quality with fashion?
(some quotes taken from internet forums!)
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