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  #21  
Old November 15th, 2011, 12:37 AM
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Default Re: Is giving an artist crutches really doing them a favor?

I should offer a bit of the history of crutches.

Since the 1930s crutches have been brought in for artists who already had a massive following such as movie stars who were simply not capable of great recorded performances. Prior to the introduction of tape in the late 1940s this usually took the form of a session singer being substituted. After the introduction of tape the artist did at least most of their own singing with multiple takes being edited together with a razor blade. It was a time consuming process that was only considered worth the time and expense for the biggest of stars.

This was followed by the ability to punch parts into tracks during the early to mid 1960s. It was still a sudden death process since one needed to erase each earlier version prior to the latter daze of 8-track and early 16 track in the late '60s which finally had good enough sync response to bounce tracks together.

Over the past 40 years the main technological focus has been on reducing the cost of crutches in time and money. We hear talk of "democratization" yet the only thing that was never available to the masses were the crutches.
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  #22  
Old November 15th, 2011, 01:30 AM
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Default Re: Is giving an artist crutches really doing them a favor?

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Originally Posted by nobby View Post
It might be that a lot of people today are more familiar/comfortable with manipulating data than learning to play an instrument.
The whole concept of taking it onto a stage is kinda precluded as well, which may be why it's so popular. The element of risk/vulnerability is tweaked away in isolation.

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When I was a kid I had to keep practicing because there was only so much data manipulation you could do with an abacus
Yeah, and remember how terrifying the thought of going into a studio was? Those big tape machines sucking up every last morsel of inadequacy and coldly spewing them back outta giant speakers specifically designed to extirpate self confidence, while stone faced illuminati sat in quiet judgement....

I don't understand how that wouldn't make someone practice their ass off, besides the spectre of looking like a fucking idiot on stage. No crutches up there.
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  #23  
Old November 15th, 2011, 02:06 AM
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Default Re: Is giving an artist crutches really doing them a favor?

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The whole concept of taking it onto a stage is kinda precluded as well, which may be why it's so popular. The element of risk/vulnerability is tweaked away in isolation.



Yeah, and remember how terrifying the thought of going into a studio was? Those big tape machines sucking up every last morsel of inadequacy and coldly spewing them back outta giant speakers specifically designed to extirpate self confidence, while stone faced illuminati sat in quiet judgement....
My experience was a bit different. The first time I went to a studio it was exciting. In a High School of about 2000 students there were only a few of us that ever went to a studio, so it was kind of a big deal.

My band used to rehearse in the singer's father's home rehearsal studio, and the singer's father had written a song that he wanted us to help him record, so we rehearsed the song until we were "tight" and went to the studio.

The studio was a little bit of a let down, a little storefront hole-in-the-wall in Brooklyn, NY. I think the whole thing was mixed down to 2 tracks live. I didn't know anything about recording, I was just there to play the piano.

I think it was only a couple or 3 takes and no splicing on that budget
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  #24  
Old November 15th, 2011, 01:38 PM
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Default Re: Is giving an artist crutches really doing them a favor?

As usual, Bob speaks the truth in spades, and he's timely too! I am presently in the thick of a project that is dealing with this very issue.

It is amazing how widespread the notion that you will "fix" poor performances actually is among many musicians. I am working on a record now with some fairly nice people that I had not worked with prior to starting this project.

After we tracked the very first take of the very first song's drum part, I commented that we should make another take as there was some obvious tempo problems. "Can't you just fix that?" was the response.

First take of the first fucking song of the record.

"The last guy we recorded with just fixed everything for us in post."

I started to say "Well, EZDrums usually plays on the beat, perhaps we can try that if you are all tuckered out after one take", but instead I held my tongue and went with "Humor me."

Take four was a keeper. By the time we had 10 songs with multiple takes of each in the can, the drummer was routinely saying "Let's do just one more, I know I can do a little better than the last one!"

And he did do better. And I felt much better about what was happening artistically. By encouraging the best performance I could get from him before considering any "fixes", the final work will be better. And no, I'm not just trying to take as much studio time as I can, this project was taken on spec. Just trying to capture the best performances I can get. When it's time to mix, I don't want to deal with any more broken parts than I have to...

The drummer is owning the tracks he is playing now, which is a very good thing for both of us. And I'll be doing only a little clean up on some basically very good tracks, instead of trying to make a shit sandwich taste edible!

Mixerman mentioned in his book that you have to gain the trust of the people you are working with early on so that later you will have some credibility when you introduce new ideas at the mix stage. He's on the mark too, of course.

The drummer and I are now totally on the same page. He's backing up my suggestions and I am sure he feels that I am supporting his efforts to make a great record. And I am.
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  #25  
Old November 15th, 2011, 07:53 PM
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Default Re: Is giving an artist crutches really doing them a favor?

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Originally Posted by CloseToTheEdge View Post
After we tracked the very first take of the very first song's drum part, I commented that we should make another take as there was some obvious tempo problems. "Can't you just fix that?" was the response.

First take of the first fucking song of the record.

"The last guy we recorded with just fixed everything for us in post."

I started to say "Well, EZDrums usually plays on the beat, perhaps we can try that if you are all tuckered out after one take", but instead I held my tongue and went with "Humor me."

Take four was a keeper. By the time we had 10 songs with multiple takes of each in the can, the drummer was routinely saying "Let's do just one more, I know I can do a little better than the last one!"

And he did do better. And I felt much better about what was happening artistically. By encouraging the best performance I could get from him before considering any "fixes", the final work will be better. And no, I'm not just trying to take as much studio time as I can, this project was taken on spec.
That's a hopeful sign. On the one hand, the amount of time they're willing to spend on an 'on spec' project doesn't necessarily mean they would do the same if they were paying out of pocket.

OTOH it seems like they are a lot happier doing it your way than "The last guy we recorded with" who "just fixed everything for us in post." So you have a satisfied client and something for your reel. Let the word-of-mouth begin.

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  #26  
Old November 15th, 2011, 07:57 PM
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Default Re: Is giving an artist crutches really doing them a favor?

The bottom-line is that no recording ever "makes" an artist. Artists need to be able to go on stage and take over the audience. If they can't actually do that, recording is a waste of time and money.
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  #27  
Old November 16th, 2011, 11:11 PM
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Default Re: Is giving an artist crutches really doing them a favor?

Is the crutch doing a disservice to the music as much as it is to the performer?
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  #28  
Old November 17th, 2011, 04:28 AM
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Default Re: Is giving an artist crutches really doing them a favor?

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Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
go on stage and take over the audience. If they can't actually do that, recording is a waste of time and money.
Some artists have asked me about my impression of their songs when recording/reviewing demo tracks.

The honest (and sometimes appreciated) answer is "I feel it needs more Choruses" or "Do you really want to make the listener wait 2m30s for the chorus to drop?", and sometimes "Where is the bridge?"

So many times I remind them "When you're playing a show, what do you want the audience to take away from it? Whatever it is, you need to drill it into their skull over and over and over"

Song craft is often such a personal/emotional experience that it's hard to get an artist to adapt to a "you have 40 seconds to hit me with a chorus that I will NEVER forget" mentality.
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  #29  
Old November 17th, 2011, 05:25 AM
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Default Re: Is giving an artist crutches really doing them a favor?

The challenge is that the audience needs to be able to immediately learn the song yet the simplicity and repetition required can easily turn into a yawn unless the ideas and performance are truly exceptional.
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  #30  
Old November 17th, 2011, 04:56 PM
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Default Re: Is giving an artist crutches really doing them a favor?

As AE's, should we refuse to correct shittyness, or thrill the 'musicaly-disabled' with our shit-hot Autotune, BeatDetective and Elastic audio chops.

I love the look on a shit drummers face when she sounds sick..... and knows she isnt
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  #31  
Old November 17th, 2011, 05:17 PM
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Default Re: Is giving an artist crutches really doing them a favor?

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...Yeah, and remember how terrifying the thought of going into a studio was? Those big tape machines sucking up every last morsel of inadequacy and coldly spewing them back outta giant speakers specifically designed to extirpate self confidence, while stone faced illuminati sat in quiet judgement...
20-20 hindsight tells me that the stress and final sense of accomplishment had a great deal to do with the energy and feeling one gets from older records.

We all hated the stress and I certainly got sucked into home studios as badly as anybody. It was a very appealing side-trip. If there was some reason an album needed to be made in a day or two it didn't matter much but having all the time in the world tended to kill the music.
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  #32  
Old November 23rd, 2011, 11:12 PM
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Default Re: Is giving an artist crutches really doing them a favor?

I recorded a guy once, who told me that the last guy he recorded with just fixed everything about his vocals in post. All autotune. He said he felt like THAT recording was not "him", and he came out of the studio feeling slightly cheated. He actually expected it to be harder, but didn't have the confidence to tell the engineer that.

Once he told me this I knew I could fuck with him during the session, which helped him relax, and after a couple of hours we were getting significantly better takes and performances with no pitch correction. He thanked me at the end of the project for taking the time to work with him, to talk with him, and to help him achieve the result he wanted, all before going to tricks to "fix" him.

I'm willing to bet there are a LOT of artists like this, who are just too afraid or think they don't know enough to tell the engineer how they feel. Empower the artist and you empower yourself, unless you're a crook with toys and you can't actually work with people.
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  #33  
Old November 24th, 2011, 09:16 AM
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Default Re: Is giving an artist crutches really doing them a favor?

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Originally Posted by dr. casino View Post
I recorded a guy once, who told me that the last guy he recorded with just fixed everything about his vocals in post. All autotune. He said he felt like THAT recording was not "him", and he came out of the studio feeling slightly cheated. He actually expected it to be harder, but didn't have the confidence to tell the engineer that.

Once he told me this I knew I could fuck with him during the session, which helped him relax, and after a couple of hours we were getting significantly better takes and performances with no pitch correction. He thanked me at the end of the project for taking the time to work with him, to talk with him, and to help him achieve the result he wanted, all before going to tricks to "fix" him.

I'm willing to bet there are a LOT of artists like this, who are just too afraid or think they don't know enough to tell the engineer how they feel. Empower the artist and you empower yourself, unless you're a crook with toys and you can't actually work with people.
This is why I firmly believe that at least 50% of our job as AE's isn't about pushing the buttons - it's about psychology.

I have a similar story with a female vocalist...every time she made a mistake, she said "sorry...but you can fix it, right?"

When I said that we were going to go for a real performance, she perked right up...made fewer mistakes...and became much more confident in herself.

Cheers,
Tim
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  #34  
Old November 24th, 2011, 10:18 AM
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Default Re: Is giving an artist crutches really doing them a favor?

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This is why I firmly believe that at least 50% of our job as AE's isn't about pushing the buttons - it's about psychology.
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