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ben_allison
February 23rd, 2011, 05:54 PM
So, MMRS 8's discussion of the grid got me thinking a bit more. While I thoroughly enjoy when Slippy goes on a rampage, I'm not sure I'm fully on board (though I'm partly on board).

Earlier in the show, people were talking about "listener expectations" and how, by and large, the phenomenon is false; people may, without knowing it, prefer music that is less loud or bright or autotuned, but their perception of likes and dislikes, as they relate to sonic content, is virtually nil. In fact, musicians and engineers often "mishear". We've all done the trick where someone asks for more vocals or guitars, we PRETEND to turn a knob, and they remark, "Yeah! Way better," even though nothing has changed.

So, there's point one: we often don't really hear, often don't really know what we hear, often don't know why we like or dislike what we hear.

Now, Slippy made an interesting comment; that because of things like drum machines, beat correction, etc, even aficionados' opinions and expectations are changing, which begs the question: so? According to what higher principle or philosophically superior maxim are ideas about musical timing held to be universal and immutable?

People run to the argument, "Well people have their own grid which is not perfectly on the grid," but this is a false argument. It is only by mere coincidence that this is the case; it is not physically possible for humans to be perfectly on a grid. We didn't even have the option until like 30 years ago. I don't feel we can, with intellectual integrity, use that as a argument that things could not (or should not) be on a grid if the artistic vision allows for or requires it.

Humans cannot hold a camera still enough to take photos with exposures longer than 1/60th of a second without getting some degree of motion blur... according to the same reasoning we should curse tripods.

So this the second point: a human's physical limitations related to timing should not be mistaken for an intentional and artistic deviation from perfect timing.

Going back to the idea that even aficionados' opinions and expectations are changing... we give primacy to the world as we've experienced it. We like what we like because we spent the better part of our life liking a certain something, and because we were reared on that certain something. We mistake our affinities for truths. Humans tend to hit a point in their lives where they hate what's new in varying degrees, because, "It was better back then." This happens in every generation, and is inevitable. Jackson Pollock or Marcel Duchamp would not have had a place in the 1500's... Kraftwerk would not have had a place in the 40's, nor Hendrix in the 20's.

The expression of like and dislike is seldom a commentary on the art itself, but on the ageing of the audience. So this brings us to the third point; we like as we are taught to like.

So, we have three points:


we often don't really hear, often don't really know what we hear, often don't know why we like or dislike what we hear
a human's physical limitations related to timing should not be mistaken for an intentional and artistic deviation from perfect timing
we like as we are taught to like


So then the question is, if the audience is indifferent and unaware, if we readily welcome technology's bracing in so many other areas of artistic expression, and if likes and dislikes are learned (that is, there is no inherent "spirit" or "mojo" in art, and it is rather, what we make of it), then how can anyone say with objective superiority that "music on a grid" is always wrong? No doubt "the grid" could very well destroy a particular piece, and (where I agree with Slip) in the current musical climate, often does. But the argument as it was presented sounds like hyperbole-to-protest-a-trend at best, and simple curmudgeonism at worst.

johnnywellas
February 23rd, 2011, 08:39 PM
To me, music is one form of direct connection with a higher spiritual plane.

I could dissert for hours about how I also think that art is a result of the unique way each individual "tunes in" to those spiritual plane radio stations, and regurgitates his/her own soul's interpretation of it. But it's really not relevant.

There ought to be very elaborate theories to back up what you just said, but still, I tend to see things this way:

Either people connect with the music/artform, or they don't. That's it.

Then there's the chronological aspect. Well, I think most people value art from all eras, as long as it clicks. From the prehistoric graffiti up to whatever the latest thing may be.

I suppose that a lot of people don't really put much effort into actually searching for things, they just feed off whatever's currently fashionable and they'll be happy to be trendy. Groupthink.

Still, come the day they'll have some unexpected close encounter with some of that glowing "premium" art (whatever that may be... :Roll eyes:) and they'll probably recognize that there's a lot more mojo there. Or maybe just a different flavour of it.

TubaSolo
February 24th, 2011, 06:09 AM
we often don't really hear, often don't really know what we hear, often don't know why we like or dislike what we hear
a human's physical limitations related to timing should not be mistaken for an intentional and artistic deviation from perfect timing
we like as we are taught to like




Agreed on most points. Nevertheless...

Go listen to "Superstition" by stevie Wonder (it's 4 am & I'm too lazy to put the YT link here). Especially the famous clav part.

How many clavinet tracks were mixed together to get that huge groove (Bob?)... let's just say "several".

Now align the drums & clavinet parts to grid on your favorite DAW (get the midi file if you must, but this is better achieved with the original multitrack which many recordists grabbed in a state of I-don't-care-what-anybody-says fetishist frenzy, for educational purposes and utter wonderment only, as soon as it was available on line. 'sorry bout that :Roll eyes:).

Compare the two. Which one do you think grooves better? Plain and simple? Mojo or not mojo, specious comparisons with photography notwithstanding?

Now how many generations of aural degradation do you think it will take, for mankind or its hypothetical androidifed future incarnation to like that snapped to grid version better?

I'm not talking about electronic music, which I'm fond of, where quantization is part of the aesthetics of the genre. This is different.

The shame resides in the fact that the kind of groove that made Superstition what it is would be at great risk to be quantized, as part of many of todays producers' blanket SOP routine right now, just like tuning the vocals.

Can you say with a straight face that song wouldn't lose anything in the process?

I hope we stick with the "imperfect" model (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CFuCYNx-1g) for as long as there's time.

Fulcrum
February 24th, 2011, 06:54 AM
Agreed on most points. Nevertheless...

Go listen to "Superstition" by stevie Wonder (it's 4 am & I'm too lazy to put the YT link here).

I'm not.

_ul7X5js1vE

ben_allison
February 24th, 2011, 04:49 PM
I agree. Putting Superstition on the grid would destroy it.

But I think that's a bit of a red herring?

My thesis isn't "all music sounds best on a strict mathematical grid." I've left in the stipulation, "if it suits the song." This is in response to Slippy's seemingly universal statement that "uniformity is not perfection."

The answer is always, it depends. It always depends.

The "belief" that the grid is "wrong" is false, as suggested by the three points I outlined in my initial post. Many of us are not "used to" the grid, and cannot physically adhere to one... these are not arguments that the grid is in and of itself wrong or or fundamentally "unhuman." Typography, blueprints, even math itself, are human inventions. We have made these structures... the grid is of our own creation. Don't tell me it's not human, or clashes with our "spirit" in someway. This makes little to no sense. The grid did not fall from the sky, and was not foisted upon us by demons or aliens. We built it. It is as human as can be.

That Superstition needs to be "off the grid" does not mean that many other songs would not "hit" properly if they were closer to the grid... or completely on it.

I'm finding this with my own work. Case in point. I laid down some tracks with VDrums, which is neat because you can see the precise "event," which makes analyzing timing a bit easier. Some songs, I'm WAY ahead of the "beat" but it sounds right. It sounds bang on. The drums are kinda pushing the song forward, in a tense sort of way.

However, with another song, I had accidentally turned on the track quantize (in Logic) and as I'm listening to the drum part, looking for the odd mis-hit to fix, I'm thinking to myself, "Holy shit... I had no idea I could play the drums so well! Things SOUND awesome!!!" I then noticed that the track was being quantized...

The point here is that, I was not hearing with my eyes, nor hearing "through an ideal." I was completely unaware that any quantization was taking place. It SOUNDED better, on the grid, without me knowing what was going on.

Now, I didn't grow up on electronic or beat corrected music. The first 12-13 years of my life, all I was exposed to was Sam Cooke, Stevie Wonder, Beatles, Mommas and the Pappas, Led Zeppelin... my reference points are very much off-grid; but I'm still open to various approaches and treatments – the bracing of technology – in art. We do it with photography, we do it with illustration and painting... but as usual, it seems the most reluctant and set-in-their-ways kinds of folks, are "Secondary Sound Transduction Artists." I've never come across a more defensive, stubborn bunch! Which is astounding considering we're... not even 100 years into "recording" as an artform! Audio recording barely exists on the historical timeline, and so many people are already so entrenched.

imagin
February 24th, 2011, 08:06 PM
The answer is always, it depends. It always depends.


There are no straight lines in nature.



NONE!



EVER!!!






Iain

Bob Olhsson
February 24th, 2011, 08:12 PM
Grids can't work because the beginning of a sample is never the beginning of a note. Same for transient peaks.

Steady time is very real but it's something in the musician's head that they lay their notes against in order to invoke a particular emotional and physiological response from the listener.

Cosmic Pig
February 24th, 2011, 08:26 PM
The grid has nothing to do with timing.

TubaSolo
February 24th, 2011, 08:40 PM
Typography, blueprints, even math itself, are human inventions. We have made these structures... the grid is of our own creation. Don't tell me it's not human, or clashes with our "spirit" in someway.

I've heard mathematicians say math is not an invention, a fantasy, but a scientific discovery. It exists, as an understandable (for some at least) part of reality's language in nature; just like you can hurt your shin against the corner of the coffee table, math is hard in the same way, you can't do whatever you want with it... it wont bend.

So it isn't "human" or "un-human" in itself... but the level of math involved in music quantization is really simple and primitive. And one can hear that sometimes.

Hence the "humanize" feature, to bring back a bit of controlled chaos & randomness, and mimic real life's complexity and constant change a bit better. That one, the swing, offset, percentage, goove learn etc., functions are good friends that are not always invited, because it's a pita, and humans are lazy.

So if only for the sake of laziness, recording kickass musos in the first place is still the best option. Nobody says you shouldn't tune/ quantize a little problematic spot here and there, it's just the systematic blanket brainless solution that I think tends to get on Slippy's nerves.

I use a fair bit of quantizing everyday myself, tuning on occasion... the proof is in the pudding, whatever works etc., but I think right now, one cannot stress enough that a certain tendency towards confusion between uniformity and perfection does exist, and is really tempting in the context of everyday operation and the wonderful tools we have.

IMO it does destroy a definite quality in music (at least of the manually generated kind, i.e with traditional instruments), a certain subtle suppleness or liveliness, more often than it perfects it... when you're dealing with very good musicians, of course. Otherwise, knock yerself out! :Wink:

ben_allison
February 24th, 2011, 08:41 PM
There are no straight lines in nature.

In nature? We are of nature, and we create straight lines; nature is, therefor, replete with them. You're creating a false distinction.

The grid has nothing to do with timing.

Care to expand?

ben_allison
February 24th, 2011, 08:43 PM
I've heard mathematicians say math is not an invention, a fantasy, but as a scientific discovery. It exists, as an understandable (for some at least) part of reality's language in nature: just like you can hurt your shin against the corner of the coffee table, math is hard in the same way, you can't do whatever you want with it... it wont bend.

Math is a very real observation of things, but not of things in themselves. We're describing something that has "reality" but it's a picture of a picture, and one that we are responsible for.

ben_allison
February 24th, 2011, 08:53 PM
Grids can't work because the beginning of a sample is never the beginning of a note. Same for transient peaks.

Steady time is very real but it's something in the musician's head that they lay their notes against in order to invoke a particular emotional and physiological response from the listener.

But where is the "start of the note?" If the start of the note for, say, piano samples is roughly 2ms in from the start of the sample, and all the notes are on a grid, then all the notes will roughly (within any perceptible measure of time) be "on the grid." I mean, any given sample will vary by fractions of a ms? Hardly an amount of time, it would seem, that could have any rhythmic significance.

Bob Olhsson
February 24th, 2011, 09:28 PM
The start of a note is where it feels right to the performer.

"Quantization," "humanizing" and "swing" are all gross oversimplifications. They may sound better than utter musical slop but they miss the whole point which is how music affects the body, breath and heartbeat.

johnnywellas
February 24th, 2011, 09:44 PM
The Grid

http://i113.photobucket.com/albums/n233/caddolake/CagedGirl.png

ben_allison
February 24th, 2011, 09:49 PM
The start of a note is where it feels right to the performer.

"Quantization," "humanizing" and "swing" are all gross oversimplifications. They may sound better than utter musical slop but they miss the whole point which is how music affects the body, breath and heartbeat.

Fair enough, though I don't believe the average musician "thinks" along these lines; they just do. And the better musicians just "do," better.

So the point then is that it is indeed possible for music which appears "on the grid" (in whatever manner one means it to mean) to be successful in eliciting a desired response from the intended audience.

For example, one can paint notes in a piano roll, placing the MIDI message strictly on "the grid," and when applied to a particular set of samples, could achieve great success in impacting the listener positively.

Whether or not this is the case, though, is up to the ear of the arranger. Which again, I provided for: everything is permisible, but not everything is beneficial.

ben_allison
February 24th, 2011, 09:50 PM
The Grid

http://i113.photobucket.com/albums/n233/caddolake/CagedGirl.png

All art has ben created inside a cage my friend. The cage is all we have.

imagin
February 24th, 2011, 11:15 PM
In nature? We are of nature, and we create straight lines; nature is, therefor, replete with them. You're creating a false distinction.

I make no distinction, to the contrary I am stating that all things are not linear that there is no distinction in making them so.

It is solely your perception that leads you to believe in the existence of linearity, a change in scale or of perspective via any one of a multitude of dimensions will always reveal non linearity.

A straight steel bar on the event horizon of a small black hole will appear much longer and a very odd shape.
Just as it is albeit on a much smaller scale in relation to the gravity of the earth.

eg. Perceived pitch changes with temperature which changes with barometric pressure.
Barometric pressure being of course caused by gravity, which itself is related to time, precisely the perceived speed of its passage.

It has recently been shown that time flows at a different rate depending on our altitude that gravity may not be constant as measured from our perspective here on earth.


The playing field it would appear is not level.






Euclidean geometry is soooo ancient Greece.

ben_allison
February 24th, 2011, 11:26 PM
It has recently been shown that time flows at a different rate depending on our altitude that gravity may not be constant as measured from our perspective here on earth.

We could go on all day about the theoretical extremes of nature, but it misses the point, and takes the discussion away from the real issue.

That things distort on the event horizon of a black hole has nothing really to do with notes, on a grid, and how the average person actually responds, emotionally, to those notes placed as they are.

We're not talking about the entire realm of possibility in ever facet of reality; we're taling about something specific and relatable. Let's try not to get lost in abstraction.

Keks
February 24th, 2011, 11:54 PM
Math is a very real observation of things, but not of things in themselves. We're describing something that has "reality" but it's a picture of a picture, and one that we are responsible for.

Uhm, sorry to spoil your illusions,
but this ain't the case.
Mathematics aren't real in any way.
It is a language game, which happens to be useful sometimes.
Try reading stuff about the Foundational Crisis and Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem.

So, get over the idea of life with reliable truths.
:Wink:


All the best,
the keks

Bob Olhsson
February 25th, 2011, 12:00 AM
I don't believe the average musician "thinks" along these lines; they just do. And the better musicians just "do," better...No they don't think. With great musicians the grid is virtual. What they play defines it. Not the other way around.

Nutmeg
February 25th, 2011, 02:12 AM
A little side note:
There is a multitrack of Superstitious floating around the web, it is amazing to listen to.

ben_allison
February 25th, 2011, 02:38 AM
Uhm, sorry to spoil your illusions,
but this ain't the case.
Mathematics aren't real in any way.
It is a language game, which happens to be useful sometimes.
Try reading stuff about the Foundational Crisis and Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem.

So, get over the idea of life with reliable truths.
:Wink

You just said what I said in different way! By "very real" I meant "reality as we perceive it."

Like I said, it's a picture of a picture, and not the thing in itself.

ben_allison
February 25th, 2011, 02:50 AM
No they don't think. With great musicians the grid is virtual. What they play defines it. Not the other way around.

But what about an imposed grid? We work with biological limitations like band-limited hearing and dynamic range limitations... conceptually we are bound by the creative fodder offered us but the world we've come from... we create exclusively within a state of limitation. So why should an imposed grid be any different? Limitation leads to new expression.

In other creative areas, the grid is much loved. Muller-Brockmann, Tschichold, Kandinsky, and others completely revolutionized graphic design, and in fact brought it to its maximal realization via the grid. How is the organization of colour on paper, in the expression of a concept, different than the organization of sounds over time? The purpose is not to overwhelm "the art," rather to help its realization.

So, you say the musician creates the grid, virtually, and intuitively. Granted; no argument there. But why is not the reverse a valid option? What forbids it from being artistically viable?

Bob Olhsson
February 25th, 2011, 03:26 AM
The reverse requires way too much thinking. That's not to say it isn't done all the time but...

plughead
February 25th, 2011, 05:02 AM
No they don't think. With great musicians the grid is virtual. What they play defines it. Not the other way around.

Wise words, Bob.

I also think the 'producer' has a different take on what's 'right' within the timing/groove than the musicians will. They just perform.

I simply try not to get in the way of that...

WRT timing and the grid: you can like it or not like it. Ultimately it's your choice.

If it's a band that kicks ass as a performing/tracking unit, I will never look to a grid for affirmation of that. I simply feel whether it cuts it or not. It's only when there are definite problems that I will think otherwise.

Competent musicians should be able to play to a click/backing track without thinking about it - should they want or need to. It's a personal and context driven thing.

Unless doing a 'time-clocked' gig, or scoring for film/video, I rarely use any click. Then again, I don't use VI's or samples, just real players...

sidechain
February 25th, 2011, 06:54 AM
It's all about dynamics just because a song may be edited to a grid does not make it sound robotic. Dynamics and Technique are were it's at which makes me a good music producer/engineer and a terrible golfer~:vuvu:

Slipperman
February 25th, 2011, 06:57 AM
It's all about dynamics just because a song may be edited to a grid does not make it sound robotic. Dynamics and Technique are were it's at which makes me a good music producer/engineer and a terrible golfer~:vuvu:

Anybody remember the old horror movie ad campaign: "To avoid fainting during the viewing of this film... keep repeating... it's only a movie, it's only a movie..."?

Anyhoo.

From the advent of recorded human history, machines are germane to music making.

Everything, with the(arguable) exception of the human voice, we make music on, is a "machine".

The computer is the first musical machine which is potentially powerful enough to COMPLETELY allow man his penchant for taking the path of least resistance in life.

Historical precedent says man is almost never able to resist these intersections of convenience and sloth.

Art may be ENJOYED by the masses(theoretically), but it's heritage and traditions are established and PERPETUATED by HUMAN ARTISTS.

The computer is on a seeming inexorable path to BECOMING the artist.

We are MAKING it so.

Once we are finished seeding every last musical effort and endeavor over to the MACHINE...

The human component of music will have about the same practical and creative intersection with what is propagated and consumed as art/entertainment as HVAC.

A pleasant and relatively unnoticed background process that demands little or, better yet, NOTHING of the listener.

If ya wanna put yer head in the sand and pretend we aren't WAY down this road already... God bless.

Art is supposed to be a reflection on the human experience in my estimation.

Left to his own devices, and subject to the clearly demonstrated frailties of the Great Apes... man will eventually choose to sit on the couch and spank the monkey(pun intended) with machinery, rather than seek and enjoy the company of a real mate. This will occur once the virtual sexual experience has been crafted to the point where it is initially indistinguishable, and later accepted as SUPERIOR to the human one.

Charlie Sheen and Pee Wee Herman will be viewed as visionaries/prophets.

Mark my words, machines will be the destruction of mankind.

Personally, should I live long enough to be around for that sorry moment... I'd like to be one the few remaining nutbars still clinging to the "humanity in art" thing, and rejoicing in how it separated us briefly from our mechanical creations/masters/destroyers.

Ben Allison may join us there if we can talk some sense into him sometime soon.

HOHOHO, but not really.

SM.

Cosmic Pig
February 25th, 2011, 09:37 AM
This will occur once the virtual sexual experience has been crafted to the point where it is initially indistinguishable, and later accepted as SUPERIOR to the human one.

SM.

There it be right there. The grid is porn. Timing is love.

Cos.

Keks
February 25th, 2011, 09:41 AM
You just said what I said in different way! By "very real" I meant "reality as we perceive it."

Like I said, it's a picture of a picture, and not the thing in itself.

Nope.
It is a completely different animal.


All the best,
the keks

TubaSolo
February 25th, 2011, 11:09 AM
In other creative areas, the grid is much loved. Muller-Brockmann, Tschichold, Kandinsky, and others completely revolutionized graphic design, and in fact brought it to its maximal realization via the grid. How is the organization of colour on paper, in the expression of a concept, different than the organization of sounds over time? The purpose is not to overwhelm "the art," rather to help its realization.

So, you say the musician creates the grid, virtually, and intuitively. Granted; no argument there. But why is not the reverse a valid option? What forbids it from being artistically viable?

Nothing... you can toy with any sophism you like and make it work for you, and if you're lucky you can even make money with that.

In graphic arts it started with a little side joke by Duchamp and led us to Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons ruling the world. That's like Lady Gaga times 100.

Music (at least of the kind most people are dealing with around here) can still be a haven for such naive notions as "feelings" and "authenticity", which have been deemed absolutely obsolete and ridiculous in graphic Arts for at least half a century.

But who really ever wants to go to a concert and get that "contemporary art show" feeling out of it? That is, the impression of a giant farce, however thoretically validated-in-light-of-art-history it may be? Who fucking cares if one's heart says "the joke is on me"?

In the past I've been defending the very same views here as you do now, I completely understand them. It's a matter of choice: I can groove with the techno guys who apply conceptual art theories in music, but I just think people who are still looking to nurture the equivalent of Michelangelos and DaVincis... are more important.

Music is the ultimate refuge, for the "human element", from a completely dehumanized society of which, like it or not, what's left of what was once called "the Fine Arts" has become the herald.

Oberlehrer
February 25th, 2011, 11:37 AM
A few thoughts:

"The Grid" may have some roots in contemporary classic music as well. As an example: If you look at serial music you often have stuff that is very difficult to perform. Reliably performing the difference between a 32nd note in ff and a dotted 64th note in fff is quite a challenge (and those of you questioning the reason behind this: Those differences are at the core of the composition.).
Or as a different example: Conlon Nancarrow and his works for player piano.

Zappa was also quite fond of the Synclavier for the reason that it could easily play things that real musician could not.

If a composer writes a composite rhythm with "5 over 7" or something similar he probably wants to hear this and not just an approximation.

All those are examples where IMO a grid is useful.

Bob wrote:

With great musicians the grid is virtual. What they play defines it. Not the other way around.

And apart from the examples I mentioned that's basically the truth. Which leads to another grid problem:

In non-grid music every point of the grid has a certain duration. I don't just mean that a quarter note is a quarter note long; I'm talking about the very small timeframe in which we perceive something as "simultaneous" (like a bass note and the bass drum appearing exactly together). There is a certain leeway before we perceive something ahead or behind the beat.
I've written about this over at the clicktrack thread that I've witnessed recordings where the basic tracks sounded a bit questionable but after everything else was recorded the timing differencies were negligable.
I've found that at least some of those grid productions seem to assume that this "simultaneous" area is much smaller. Hence everything is much more "together" but strangely I often perceive this as a loss of energy.

Bob Olhsson
February 25th, 2011, 05:39 PM
One of the biggest lessons I ever had was watching great session players "read" music. It turned out that what they were great at is reading, memorizing and then playing the music by simply responding to what they hear without thinking. It is no more of an intellectual process than sex.

Mixerman
February 25th, 2011, 07:43 PM
So, we have three points:


we often don't really hear, often don't really know what we hear, often don't know why we like or dislike what we hear

Just because you can fool yourself into thinking you heard a change, doesn't mean you don't really know what you hear. It means you momentarily fooled yourself. I've done it. Everyone has done it. It doesn't mean we don't figure it out when the same problem is bothering us again five minutes later.

Expectation bias happens. It doesn't mean it wins in the end. Usually it doesn't, and expectation bias like that doesn't actually happen all that often given the breadth of time that goes by between incidents.

This argument that we don't know what we hear falls short of reality beyond hacks.




a human's physical limitations related to timing should not be mistaken for an intentional and artistic deviation from perfect timing

Grooves have feel. Grooves on grids don't. I've used the grid and do use a grid on occasion. It has a particular sound, and a particular feel, and any production that uses a grid, must rely more heavily on other parts and other functions of the arrangement. A great melody and lyric can overcome the negatives of a gridded production. Does that mean it's the best option? With a band that can't play even remotely in time, I suppose it's often the best option. With certain types of music, a grid isn't necessarily a bad option, and if you can get away with only gridding the drums, the other parts can certainly provide some feel. But it's rarely the BEST option, and it should rarely be the first option. Of course, it often is. I just don't understand how someone involved with music can listen to a gridded production, and believe that this is the best presentation the song could have. We all know that's not true. It's a production decision made out of time/cost ration necessities, laziness (to some degree although it's usually rationalized as a time/cost ratio), and a willingness to conform to what everyone else is doing. Hey, conforming is fine by me. I get it. But there's a very fine line between conforming and salability.

Let's not pretend that a grid makes a more salable or musical product. It doesn't and it doesn't. A grid allows us to more quickly make a product that's in perfect time, and we can get away with it because ultimately the melody and the lyric are what's important. That doesn't make it the best or most musical option, not by a long shot.




we like as we are taught to like

To some degree this is true, especially for fanboy, but for those of us in the business of actually making records, it merely becomes a basis of comparison. I can tell you that Muse sounds way better and way more inviting on vinyl than they do from a digital source. Is that because I was taught to like vinyl? I suppose that's your argument, but that wouldn't explain why I can do the same comparison for most teenagers with the same results.

Unscientific to be sure. Let's not get into a debate over the merits of anecdote v. scientific method. I stipulate.

While we do tend to prefer music from our youth (especially fanboy as he/she gets older), this is not a fair characterization of people who are in the business of making music. I make music for the current generation. Last I looked, it's all the same notes, all the same chords, all the same rhythmic structure as when I was a wee little lad. That only leaves the overall sound and production techniques as the difference between music from other eras.

Music is music.

Personally, I enjoy new music as much as old music. What I don't prefer is the hyped up high end and in-your-face-loudness, because no matter what volume you put that music at, it's irritating. Could it be that young kids are oblivious to it because they grew up with it that way? Perhaps. But boring music that's too loud gets turned down to background noise. Listening to records is no longer an interactive process for the preponderance of music buyers. This is a completely different way of LISTENING to music, and is the biggest difference between records from the 70s and 80s compared to records from the late 90s to present. How people listen to music is a valid consideration when it comes to a production. But that is PURELY a business decision, and should not be rationalized as a musical decision.

We must all make a certain number of business decisions and often at the sacrifice of good musical ones in the current record-making climate. Overall, it's clear that the business decisions get more weight today than the musical ones. I would say your argument that some of us long for the good old days is misapplied. This is more of a longing to abandon the current trend towards favoring musically detrimental business decisions and go back to a time when musical decisions had more weight in the process. Nothing more, nothing less.

That said, I'm not holding my breath.

Enjoy,

Mixerman

ben_allison
February 25th, 2011, 08:29 PM
Nope.
It is a completely different animal.

Not everyone would agree with you. There are two discrete objects; A and Not A. It is a very real, and very true statement that A is A, and Not A is Not A. You're clinging to a form of Idealism that's like, 400 years out of date.

It is no more of an intellectual process than sex.

I promise you that more women would be more sexually satisfied if more men THOUGHT about sex, and didn't flop around like half brain-dead fish out of water.

ben_allison
February 25th, 2011, 08:34 PM
I've done it. Everyone has done it. It doesn't mean we don't figure it out when the same problem is bothering us again five minutes later.

I agree.

Grooves have feel. Grooves on grids don't. I've used the grid and do use a grid on occasion. It has a particular sound, and a particular feel, and any production that uses a grid, must rely more heavily on other parts and other functions of the arrangement. A great melody and lyric can overcome the negatives of a gridded production. Does that mean it's the best option?

I'm on board with this... possibly. I'd be hard pressed to say that something on the grid can't have feel. If people move their bodies and connect emotionally... surely the theory goes up in smoke?

and if you can get away with only gridding the drums, the other parts can certainly provide some feel. But it's rarely the BEST option, and it should rarely be the first option.

Agreed.

It's a production decision made out of time/cost ration necessities, laziness (to some degree although it's usually rationalized as a time/cost ratio), and a willingness to conform to what everyone else is doing.

Is this always true? We don't view a trio of guitar, bass, and drums as being lazy or conformist, do we?

I can tell you that Muse sounds way better and way more inviting on vinyl than they do from a digital source. Is that because I was taught to like vinyl? I suppose that's your argument, but that wouldn't explain why I can do the same comparison for most teenagers with the same results.

Unscientific to be sure. Let's not get into a debate over the merits of anecdote v. scientific method. I stipulate.

In that particular instance... sure, better might just be better... and who knows why exactly.

But I think my point about Hendrix in the 20's stands... we can't deny that conditioning plays a massive part in likes and dislikes. We can seldom if ever draw a clear line about what is truly good, and what we happen to like. Most often, humans consider "good," that which they like.

Have you ever heard someone say, "This music is HORRIBLE and WORTHLESS, but I love it?" Seldom. It's no coincidence that the "truths" people cling to always align with what they like. You will never hear an Islamic fundamentalist go, "Everything I believe is BS, but I'm sticking with it!"

Opinions on truth always correlate to personal preferences. And where preferences shift, quelle surprise, beliefs shift too.

I make music for the current generation. Last I looked, it's all the same notes, all the same chords, all the same rhythmic structure as when I was a wee little lad. That only leaves the overall sound and production techniques as the difference between music from other eras.

Granted... I think true fans and participants often have a leg up on the average audience member when it comes to embracing "the new."

I would say your argument that some of us long for the good old days is misapplied. This is more of a longing to abandon the current trend towards favoring musically detrimental business decisions and go back to a time when musical decisions had more weight in the process. Nothing more, nothing less.

That said, I'm not holding my breath.

Oh sure. I don't think everyone is neck-deep in nostalgia-fuelled reluctance. But I do pick up on it, here and there, in the engineering crowd... I think we'd be hard pressed to say it's NOT there, in varying degrees, in all of us.

Cosmic Pig
February 25th, 2011, 09:37 PM
It both complicated and uncomplicated. You can sometimes get away with the drums on a grid because the rest of the players are not on it.

The uncomplicated version is, timing is feel. Push and pull on the beat to add feel. If only the drums are on it the rest of the players mask it.

But if you look at music as a fractal, where each detail turns into a whole world as you look closer, then the grid is a world lost. Similar to what Mixie said, it's chopping parts out of the fractal to save time and work.

I don't believe in conditioning. I think what has happened is the grid, 16 bit cd's, mp3's, video, subs, top 40, p2p file sharing, and a whole shitload of other factors have confused and destroyed the home audio enthusiast. I believe they used to have a voice in the industry.

Cos.

ben_allison
February 25th, 2011, 09:41 PM
It both complicated and uncomplicated. You can sometimes get away with the drums on a grid because the rest of the players are not on it.

Nice. I agree.

But if you look at music as a fractal, where each detail turns into a whole world as you look closer, then the grid is a world lost. Similar to what Mixie said, it's chopping parts out of the fractal to save time and work.

I guess it all comes back to whether the final result moves bodies and souls. If the desired result is achieved in the intended audience... how could any technique used to get there be wrong?

Keks
February 26th, 2011, 07:11 PM
Not everyone would agree with you. There are two discrete objects; A and Not A. It is a very real, and very true statement that A is A, and Not A is Not A. You're clinging to a form of Idealism that's like, 400 years out of date.


Nope, you do.
A and Not A could both be true at the same time.
Or one cold be true, and you will never know, which.

All the best,
the keks

ben_allison
February 26th, 2011, 11:51 PM
Nope, you do.
A and Not A could both be true at the same time.
Or one cold be true, and you will never know, which.

This is absurd. If something is entirely not something, it can not also be the thing it isn't. Conversely, if something is something, it is that something.

Can you point me to some work that argues this? You're disagreeing with the most widely accepted a priori in history. I mean you can claim anything you want, but unless you can give some examples, or at least a decent thought experiment, it doesn't mean anything.

I'm Napoleon.

weedywet
February 27th, 2011, 01:12 AM
I promise you that more women would be more sexually satisfied if more men THOUGHT about sex, and didn't flop around like half brain-dead fish out of water.

That's just completely wrong

Women (and mostly men as well) enjoy sex with people who are:
Into THEM (most of all)
Into sex
In the moment
And engaged - whether that means intense, joyful, verbal, sensual, or whatever


What women complain about and tend to dislike are the guys who read the manuals or think they just 'know how to do it

In this sense, it's very like making music or record

You want inspiration and emotion and dedication much more than study and precision


The last thing either sex or music making should be is an intellectual exercise

Also, neither one benefits from a robotic fixed tempo

ben_allison
February 27th, 2011, 05:32 AM
I think it's both/and. Be in the moment, be impulsive and spontaneous. Feel the rhythm...but take a sec and think about needs and impulses outside yourself. No one would argue that sex requires a great deal of instinct and impulse... surely it's better if Johny Hardwood takes a sec to consider pleasure-as-a-service, not just about crossing the goal line at break neck speed.

What comes most instinctively is just to deposit the genes (fast) and party on over to another cave. Men are "lovers," I think, because of social pressures and influence from women. Not bad at all, I'm just saying, most 15 dudes are not in it for the long game.

So Weedy, I don't disagree, except to say, it's both; it takes heart and brains.

Btw, I'd missed Slippy's post above. I 100% agree with it.

ben_allison
February 27th, 2011, 05:42 AM
To explain where I'm coming from in all of this: I'm primarilly a rock/indie... so I'm all about "the mojo."

But sometimes I hear things on the grid, and I like it. Sometimes, I legitimately LIKE it. The aesthetics of it, for its own sake, not because of conditioning, laziness, or conformity.

John Eppstein
February 27th, 2011, 08:11 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by imagin View Post
It has recently been shown that time flows at a different rate depending on our altitude that gravity may not be constant as measured from our perspective here on earth.We could go on all day about the theoretical extremes of nature, but it misses the point, and takes the discussion away from the real issue.

I don't think so.

First, what he's talking about isn't "theoretical extremes", it's observed fact.

And the issue is that natural reality generally is not linear. Linearity is pretty much an artificial construct.

Whether that's good or bad, desirable or undesirable, is up to the artist and, to some degree, his audience.

ModestMouseTrap
February 27th, 2011, 11:54 AM
I definitely have to say one of the worst offenders I hear these days in quantized drums is Heavy Metal production. I hear so many bands that the drums sound absolutely fake. Everything sample replaced, everything smacked dead on a grid. Its kind of upsetting. What happened to aspiring for exceptional playing and making the track have the right "feel". Most of the time in metal production I just hear what sounds like to me robots playing "drums". I will take my Danny Carey and Neil Peart types over any of the extremely fake sounding shit we are getting from a lot of what we hear.

Keks
February 27th, 2011, 04:02 PM
This is absurd. If something is entirely not something, it can not also be the thing it isn't. Conversely, if something is something, it is that something.

Can you point me to some work that argues this? You're disagreeing with the most widely accepted a priori in history. I mean you can claim anything you want, but unless you can give some examples, or at least a decent thought experiment, it doesn't mean anything.



Read this (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gödel's_incompleteness_theorems), for starters.
Keep in mind that stuff that is proven for basic languages and basic axiom systems is especially true for rich languages and systems like e.g. "English" and "Weltanschauung".
If you add stuff about the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncertainty_principle) and basic quantum theory you'll see that idealization is a pretty slippery slope.
So, mathematically seen there are perfectly straight lines.
In reality this concept is of very limited value.

So, let's assume there is a "perfect grid", mathematically speaking.
Does this tell us something relevant about music and groove?
Perhaps yes.
Probably not.

All the best,
the keks

ben_allison
February 27th, 2011, 11:57 PM
So, let's assume there is a "perfect grid", mathematically speaking.
Does this tell us something relevant about music and groove?
Perhaps yes.
Probably not.

Beautiful. I'm on board with this. It's like reading the specs for a mic.

So what? Those specs still don't give me the "experience" of that mic. Or, similarly, "qualia." You can describe red. Everything related to red; the nm's of its wavelength, psychological effects, historical associations... but NONE of that can impress upon the subject the experience of seeing red.

So yes, I agree. The grid doesn't tell us anything about groove or feel. Neither does something being "off" the grid (it's only with a reference, a grid, that we can know something is "off"). Coming to a place where you feel – where you can make a judgement – that the timing of notes is "right" is personal and intuited.

I'm fully on board with all of that.

So then, back to the question, is "putting notes on the grid" always wrong? Is it always lazy? Is it always conformity?

Sometimes, especially when it comes to kick-snare-kick-snare on the 1/2/3/4, there is absolutely no other place I would want to them them fall, then exactly right on the grid, and the only reason I want that to be so, is because it FEELS right.

So what I'm asking about is when primal and intuitive desires coincide with mathematical precision, and the validity of grand statements that the intentional choice to adhere to mathematical perfection is wrong/lazy/conformist ALL the time.

I think that's as (creatively) limiting a world view as the opposite which wantonly quantizes every note, just cause.

John Eppstein
February 28th, 2011, 03:27 AM
I guess it all comes back to whether the final result moves bodies and souls. If the desired result is achieved in the intended audience... how could any technique used to get there be wrong?

"Moves bodies and souls"...... HMmmmmmm.....

It seems to me that we have one of those situations where A>B but B is not > A here.

To wit, if you move the soul, the body will follow, but moving the body, especially in certain circumstances, does not necessarily mean that the soul is moved. Especially if the perceptions are affected by large amounts of alcohol or drugs like Ecstasy. IMO a lot of "music" these days is little more than accompaniment to an aerobics class. And that type of "music" is invariably heavily gridded. It affects the body while leaving the soul untouched.

John Eppstein
February 28th, 2011, 03:38 AM
Sometimes, especially when it comes to kick-snare-kick-snare on the 1/2/3/4, there is absolutely no other place I would want to them them fall, then exactly right on the grid, and the only reason I want that to be so, is because it FEELS right.


I play a lot of blues. I can tell you that for the vast majority of blues the one place I do NOT want the snare drum is directly on the gridded beat, because it sounds so utterly wrong and totally destroys the feel of what I'm trying to achieve.

Cosmic Pig
February 28th, 2011, 08:52 AM
I play a lot of blues. I can tell you that for the vast majority of blues the one place I do NOT want the snare drum is directly on the gridded beat, because it sounds so utterly wrong and totally destroys the feel of what I'm trying to achieve.

Agreed, but really, utterly wrong and totally destroyed?

The conversation seems to be about where the line might be, and if ever there was a genre that fries the grid it's blues. Lining em up to the grid doesn't kill it, just makes it sound like John Mayer. He's got the chops and has fun but not like Buddy Guy.

Something else too, the grid only hurts very good drummers. Most it helps or makes little difference.

Cos.

John Eppstein
February 28th, 2011, 11:14 AM
Agreed, but really, utterly wrong and totally destroyed?

The conversation seems to be about where the line might be, and if ever there was a genre that fries the grid it's blues. Lining em up to the grid doesn't kill it, just makes it sound like John Mayer. He's got the chops and has fun but not like Buddy Guy.

Something else too, the grid only hurts very good drummers. Most it helps or makes little difference.

Cos.

Like I said, kills it. Turns it into "rock music". Not even rock and roll. NTTAWWT, but that's not what I'm interested in when I'm doing BLUES. Rock is a different matter entirely (that still doesn't benefit from the grid, but in a different way.)

To clarify, the type of blues I favor tends toward the Jimmy Reed/Howlin' Wolf axis of things, where that bouncy swig is everything and legions and legions of young white guys have fucked that up miserably.

Cosmic Pig
February 28th, 2011, 07:58 PM
where that bouncy swig is everything and legions and legions of young white guys have fucked that up miserably.

Oh man ain't that the truth lol. Blues is where the hacks go to die loud miserable deaths. Same concept as bass has less strings so its easier than guitar. What fucking kills me is when they start dictating what authentic blues should sound like.

Cos.

HOOK
March 6th, 2011, 02:55 PM
That's just completely wrong

Women (and mostly men as well) enjoy sex with people who are:
Into THEM (most of all)
Into sex
In the moment
And engaged - whether that means intense, joyful, verbal, sensual, or whatever


What women complain about and tend to dislike are the guys who read the manuals or think they just 'know how to do it

In this sense, it's very like making music or record

You want inspiration and emotion and dedication much more than study and precision


The last thing either sex or music making should be is an intellectual exercise

Also, neither one benefits from a robotic fixed tempo

+1 ...however, not exactly....

That is why you have to do all that thinking, studying, practicing, theorizing, practicing,thinking and then some, prior to playing.

Of course there are some activities that you can´t practice alone; all those starting with "inter-"....:very happy:

If you think when you play you just can not interact fast enough to "keep up"

This is not saying music (or sex) is a "non intellectual" activity, it is not, you have to do a massive amount of brain exercise, only you should not do it during "take".

Ideally your skills, chops and theoretical knowledge should be so solid and "second nature" that your emotion and dedication doesn't make you loose the study and precision.

Grid is also something that is mostly beneficial if used during teh prior-phase.
Both time wise and pitch wise.

This is generally speaking of music in general.
If I have to choose one way or another then ban the Grid to Hell and fuck all ye GridHitlers!! :Twisted:



Have you ever heard someone say, "This music is HORRIBLE and WORTHLESS, but I love it?" Seldom. It's no coincidence that the "truths" people cling to always align with what they like.


Maybe you like what is true?? :Roll eyes:

I´d say that there is an X axis that is Good-Bad (as in quality, craftsmanship, musicality etc) and an Y axis that is Like-Dislike (as in personal taste, nostalgia etc) and as a player in the professional music field one should make a serious effort to define, at least for yourself, where you place the things you hear and evaluate, on this "grid".

Music or sound is not Good just because I Like it !!

Music or sound is not Bad just because I Dislike it !!



This music is HORRIBLE and WORTHLESS, but I love it (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68ugkg9RePc)!!!


...Punk on the other hand is Bad and I HATE it, no excuse there- KILL IT!!




HOOK