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Common tools that never get used?

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Re: Common tools that never get used?

PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 11:27 pm
by Hugh Robjohns
A producer doesn't necessarily need audio engineering knowledge and technical skills. The key roles are to get the best possible performance from the artists and guide the musical direction, after all. They can rely on an experienced engineer for that... and many do.

But I will confess to irritation when some make inaccurate or nonsense claims that they simply can't support!

Re: Common tools that never get used?

PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 11:31 pm
by James Perrett
CS70 wrote:But still, if these producers are technically incompetent and yet successful, the only meaningful conclusion is that you don't need to be technically competent to be a successful music producer, innit?.

I'd say that you don't have to know much about audio engineering to be a producer (in the old fashioned sense). You just need a good ear and to know how to coax the performance you are looking for out of the artists. The problem was that these guys thought they had to be engineers as well when they plainly didn't know much about engineering so they just blagged their way through.

Edited to say - Hugh got there first!

Re: Common tools that never get used?

PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 8:39 am
by Zukan
It's interesting to see how the roles of both producers and engineers has changed over the years. Or rather the definitions for each..

Re: Common tools that never get used?

PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 10:32 am
by Arpangel
These days we are expected to multitask in our home studios. Musician, engineer, producer, IT expert. I find it all a bit much TBQH.
When I started I had to hire a studio, there was no alternative, with an engineer and/or a producer, but it allowed me to just concentrate on my music, which was a good thing.
Now we have to know about all sorts of things, that frankly, I'd rather not have to deal with.
I'm saying this because it's relevant to the main concern of this thread, what don't we have to use, simply because the less we have to use, and think about, the better for me personally.

Re: Common tools that never get used?

PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 10:45 am
by The Elf
Arpangel wrote:These days we are expected to multitask in our home studios. Musician, engineer, producer, IT expert. I find it all a bit much TBQH.
When I started I had to hire a studio, there was no alternative, with an engineer and/or a producer, but it allowed me to just concentrate on my music, which was a good thing.
Now we have to know about all sorts of things, that frankly, I'd rather not have to deal with.
I'm saying this because it's relevant to the main concern of this thread, what don't we have to use, simply because the less we have to use, and think about, the better for me personally.
It has always been that way in the home studio, from the days of sound-on-sound, 4-track cassette and open reel to the wonders we have today. Nobody sat wondering if they should or should not use the EQ on their portastudio. Most people didn't have a clue how to get the best out of their recording system and we muddled through. Remember having to become a soldering expert, tape splicer, loom-constructor, fader-rider, multi-meter user, de-magger, head-cleaner...?

Hiring an engineer/producer/studio is still an option, as much now as it was then. Nothing has really changed.

I think the aspect that we *have* lost is our blissful ignorance! And the big difference is that the technology has reached a point where the tools we used to dream of are now ours for the asking - at which point learning their use, and using them, is still optional. Nothing is 'expected' - you make music people want to hear, regardless of how many tools you use/don't use to achieve that, or you don't.

Re: Common tools that never get used?

PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 10:55 am
by Ariosto
In professional studios and also in smaller outfits the engineer had to become a producer. In other cases the producer had to take on the role of engineer as well as producer, as economics dictated this had to happen.

I've heard of cases where an outstanding and well known engineer has also produced - and not been so successful at the producing part. At one time the producer was set apart and had a completely different role to play but now the jobs are more blurred. The danger is that we end up with less competent engineers and less able producers. It's a bit like actors taking on singing roles - often a disaster!

Re: Common tools that never get used?

PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 11:20 am
by CS70
Arpangel wrote:These days we are expected to multitask in our home studios. Musician, engineer, producer, IT expert. I find it all a bit much TBQH.
When I started I had to hire a studio, there was no alternative, with an engineer and/or a producer, but it allowed me to just concentrate on my music, which was a good thing.
Now we have to know about all sorts of things, that frankly, I'd rather not have to deal with.
I'm saying this because it's relevant to the main concern of this thread, what don't we have to use, simply because the less we have to use, and think about, the better for me personally.

Going to a studio is all possible but now you can get the same or better quality if you like to learn.

And in the end the "comforts" are always been higher when your art is a business rather than a pleasure... most guitarists rig and derig their amps, tune their guitars, set up cables and switch their effects themselves.. until you hit it big and you start having roadies, guitar techs, stage techs and so forth.

Something I find helps is to really keep things separate.. when I make new music, I'm focusing on just the music and my set up doesn't get it in the way - most often it's sketches on the phone or quick demo on the 11 rack, which is a rack unit which turns on at the filck of a switch and it's ready to go, and the DAW has a template with EZDrummer loaded up, tracks and input channels set up so it's just to groove away.

When I record actual "final product" overdubs by myself, I like to have very good time and distinct setup and performance phases. I set up the kit - make sure water and headphones are at the ready, the lyrics are on the stand if needed, cables are set and long enough, get the guitar sound just so on the amp, work on mic positions etc.. then have a good break where I don't really look at technical stuff, but go somewhere else (typically the sofa). I grab a guitar and just play and sing random stuff - to get in the "music" mood. It can last long! Then when I get the "urge" to record, it's just to put on headphones and push "R".. actually I'm thinking of getting a remote to start recording, so I don't even have to look at the keyboard.

I also don't try to produce or arrange when I'm recording.. all the material is ready in advance (typically drums and bass line) and the basic structure of the song is set (sure, I can chop, mute or add parts later but the base I have must be enough for playing/singing over).

That way, with the only exception of pushing "record" myself, the experience is not so different than when I went in the studio - and to me more pleasant, as it's easier to be creative and let go without anyone looking from the control room... :D

Re: Common tools that never get used?

PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 11:52 am
by Arpangel
I guess some of us like to get involved in the technical side more than others, it becomes an interest in itself....that's why we are here!
I think my attitude now has a lot to do with my age, it may seem crazy, but any time wasted soldering, or rearranging a studio is definitely seen as "wasted time" now I'd rather buy leads, and live in a mess.
I want to spend as much time playing as possible, and I do this by not programming anymore, at all, effects, synths, it's done, I just flick through my personal sounds and that's that. I may fiddle with a synth, but as for making/saving new stuff, forget it.
I have templates, presets, and it all saves time.
It's not affecting my output, it's strange, and amazing how much you can get rid of and not affect your music. I thought I was actually giving up altogether, it was totally dying, but I seem, somehow, to have got together enough tracks for another CD, god knows how!
My studio is a mess, I'm surrounded by people who talk too much and are always distracting me, the house is falling apart, so this selection will make interesting listening if they reflect the way I feel right now!

Re: Common tools that never get used?

PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 12:10 pm
by The Elf
I wouldn't knock it, mate. Some of the most creative people I've met in my life live in utter chaos!

If you have something that works for you then who's counting?! :thumbup:

Re: Common tools that never get used?

PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 12:56 pm
by ManFromGlass
I’ve tried CS70s approach but haven’t found my way with it yet. I’m close sometimes. When feeling the urge I just want to be able to hit record and go. But there is usually the surfacing of left brained logical stuff that sucks the life out of the creative impulse. I really enjoy learning all the tech stuff but don’t have enough discipline to be able to tell myself not to go down that tech rabbit hole when trying to get the latest masterpiece into the computer.

Chaos works for me although I still know where almost everything is in that chaos. Nobody is ever allowed to clean up or move anything in my small studio. Although dust bunnies aren’t allowed, so clean chaos works for me.

Re: Common tools that never get used?

PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 12:57 pm
by Arpangel
The Elf wrote:I wouldn't knock it, mate. Some of the most creative people I've met in my life live in utter chaos!

If you have something that works for you then who's counting?! :thumbup:

Ha Ha! Yes, my partner is always throwing things into the conversation that have no relevance to what's just been said, something from a few days back that she expects me to imediatly pick up on "did you get that Polyfiller?" What f*****g Polyfiller?!
She also lived in a major mess, and still does, but she's a bit better now I'm around.
This ability to slip and slide in conversation, and be extremely messy is apparently a sign of great creativity, and she is very creative, but in comparison to her I'm obsessively tidy!
A friend said that my partners creativity is in keeping with general thought on the subject, and in theory I'm not supposed to be creative at all.
Not sure what to make of all this, but I do know that since I've let things slide and become messy I'm making music that doesn't sound like anything I've ever done, that's not a quality judgement, I'm genuinely mystified by it all, I'll only know if it's been worthwhile after I've distanced myself from it for a time. But maybe it's because I don't care anymore, in all things in my life, and I'm just recording anything.

:shock:

Re: Common tools that never get used?

PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 1:06 pm
by MOF
To balance things up a bit, though, there are also a great many who are very switched on, very technically aware and extremely capable, of course!
That reminds me of this sketch https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=G2Rhh_4GZmU the hard working engineer at the top of his game bringing the producer’s vision to fruition. Obviously it’s not really like this, you just plug in autotune, other pitch changing plugins are available. :lol:

Re: Common tools that never get used?

PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 1:15 pm
by CS70
Arpangel wrote:This ability to slip and slide in conversation ... is apparently a sign of great creativity

Indeed.. in Toscana, in Italy, there's this funny story about the Greatest Man Ever Lived, who is of course Dante Alighieri from Firenze, of Divine Comedy fame.

One day Dante is traveling his way between Firenze and Pisa. It's a long trip, so comes late afternoon, he spots a inn on the road and decides to stop. After settling down, he sits at a table in the inn.

A peasant, a habitual customer, recognizes him from paintings he's seen and wants to see for himself if the Great Man is truly as great as they say. So he walks to Dante, and (imagine thick Tuscan accent if you can) abruptly asks: - Ye, are you the Alighiero from Florence, the famed poet?

Dante is a very serious man, and brief of words. He looks up slowly and replies: - Yes.
The peasant follows up: - And what is, if you please, your favorite food?
Dante doesn't even hesitate a second, and says: - Eggs.
The peasant thanks Dante, and goes away.

A year passes.

Dante is again traveling the same road, and he stops at the same inn and sits at a table.
Once again the peasant spots him and thinks: - Ah! Now we shall see!
Quickly, he goes up to Dante, and, without any word of introduction, asks: - With what?

Dante looks up slowly, doesn't even blink, and replies: - With salt.

:D

Re: Common tools that never get used?

PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 3:21 pm
by Dave B
Going back to the mixing article in this months mag, I read it with interest, but didn’t take it as gospel. For one thing, it’s a write up of an academic exercise - a lot of mixing is context based and I’m not convinced there’s any “one size fits all solutions” to this.

The thing about gentler slopes is something that I hadn’t considered - in fact, I’d gone the other way and use very aggressive slopes for high and low pass. I’m open to looking at soft slopes and may well try this on the next mixing I do.

I do like his idea of not using lots of small, close changes, but going for a gentler all round single tweak. I like that as it forces me to actually listen and understand what those changes are doing.

I’m not sure about the reduction of plugins being a general rule - by all means question constantly and don’t fall into ruts, but if two different eqs give slightly different results in specific frequencies, then it makes sense to use two rather than compromise the sound surely?

Erm ... not sure what this has to do with not using things .. ;)

Re: Common tools that never get used?

PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 9:31 pm
by blinddrew
Arpangel wrote:I guess some of us like to get involved in the technical side more than others, it becomes an interest in itself....that's why we are here!
This is the case for me. I enjoy the technical side of things as much as the creative side. I love the fact that I can do everything myself if I just take the time to learn.
What it has emphasised though is the weakness of my musical ability and my critical listening. And that's much harder to fix than learning how to use parallel compression! :)

Re: Common tools that never get used?

PostPosted: Thu Oct 10, 2019 9:37 am
by Arpangel
When I was hiring studios back in the 70's I had a lot of help from engineers, I'd say going as far as taking on the role of producer. I'd compose a track, but they'd diplomatically show me, or suggest things that I may like to use to enhance things.
I used to leave tracks with one engineer for a few days, and I always looked forward to hearing what he'd done with them. The studio where I used to record was very primitive, a four track place, with home made mixer and effects, but the results they used to get there were very good indeed, an example of great technical knowledge combined with a very musical approach to things, and experimentation was the order of the day. So often I'd go into a studio and it was "you can't do that" and these were London places, nothing like my regular and friendly studio back home.

Re: Common tools that never get used?

PostPosted: Thu Oct 10, 2019 12:52 pm
by CS70
Arpangel wrote:I guess some of us like to get involved in the technical side more than others, it becomes an interest in itself....that's why we are here!

A good point. It's easy to forget that many musicians don't.

It just occurred to me that tools that never gets used by many (perhaps most) of younger producers and musicians are actual instruments! Lots of music made nowadays doesn't require much in the way of instrumental skills.

Re: Common tools that never get used?

PostPosted: Thu Oct 10, 2019 12:55 pm
by Dr Huge Longjohns
Er, such as?

Re: Common tools that never get used?

PostPosted: Thu Oct 10, 2019 12:59 pm
by CS70
Lots of electronic music?

I might be totally wrong, but I see younger friends and acquaintances making entire tracks without even a keyboard controller. Beats, loops and software synths programmed with mouse point and clicks.

Of course, it can be argued that the entire computer is the instrument..

Re: Common tools that never get used?

PostPosted: Thu Oct 10, 2019 1:02 pm
by desmond
Dr Huge Longjohns wrote:Er, such as?

There's a wealth of electronic music being made by people without conventional performance/instrument technique. This includes people who are making music without the use of keyboards or other "played" instruments, and instead doing lots of modular sequences, sequencers and arps, people painting in notes in Ableton Live with the mouse etc etc.

Even back in the 2000's there was an increasing number of people making really good, beats-based music - I always found it slightly disconcerting, as a fairly average keyboard player (play to your weaknesses, as Eno said), that when I'd pick up a discarded keyboard and play a chord or two, these guys would say "Oh, you're a *player*..!" with some sense of hushed tones and mild wonder.

There's more than one way to make music, and it's never been more accessible to all than it is now... :thumbup: