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Author Topic: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.  (Read 19451 times)

RMoore

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Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
« Reply #15 on: December 18, 2005, 01:31:20 pm »

the DX7 is a misunderstood beast,
I too associate it with its horrendous bag of nails preset piano sound that took over music in the early 80's,
I played in a band at that time where the keyboard man traded in his whole 6 pc  'Emerson' rig and van for a DX7 and a hatchback,
I was amazed to learn years later that there were a few DX7 freaks that got into making thier own patches, seeing one experimental band live where the guy had bizarre avant garde blasts and blurps emanating from the DX7,
so its possible to actually make cool sounds with the thing if you want to dive into its programming architecture
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electrical

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Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
« Reply #16 on: December 18, 2005, 02:41:32 pm »

Ron Steele wrote on Fri, 16 December 2005 01:10

It was an interesting look, but i would like to clarify a few things,

First, yes.... most music in the 80's was embarrassing.

Not the music I listened to, it wasn't. Boy, what a terriffic era of music! Naked Raygun, Killdozer, Sonic Youth, Die Kreuzen, the Effigies, the Appliances, Head of David, Trouble Funk, the Big Boys, the Dicks, Glenn Branca, the Birthday Party, Whitehouse, the Wipers, the Minutemen, the Ex, the Embarrassment, the Blackouts, the Membranes, Your Food, D.A.F, Pere Ubu, PiL, Squirrelbait, Slint... I can't really think of a more un-categorizable, more productive period. The Eighties (not that you'd know it from the hot 100) were an incredible era.

Quote:

As for the linn and the dx7, it served a purpose and it was quite ground breaking at the time. This new technology allowed wang chung to become wang chung. You didn't have to like it, but there was a sound that it helped to define and create.

My point in the lecture was that it was a sound which dictated a method, both of which were imposed on a band by an engineer acting as an overlord. That's the bad part, not the sound. The sound, who cares. It's a string of tragic cliches, but that's not the point. They're cliches that bands would have avoided if left to their own devices, and now they wouldn't be ashamed of their own records.

No drummer spends his waking hours practicing, in the hopes of someday going to the studio and not playing on his album. Pretending that this is a "neutral" or "equivalent" choice is to ignore the social fabric of the band, and I think tha'ts the most important part. The record is merely an artefact of the band's existence, and I think the band's existence is much, much more important.

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I really don't believe for a second the linn or dx7 did any harm in the 80's, and the linn triggered like shit anyways.

I know for a fact that they did. I had friends who were in bands at the time, and when they went into the studio, their records came out sounding like other records of the era, not like the bands themselves, who were unique. That's harm. Their legacy has been muted. Shame on the engineering culture of the day. Shame.

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For many years, studio's had set working patterns and parameters because of the nature of the business they were doing(...)If an AE ever seemed like he dictating that recoding process, it was because of how he was trained at that studio.

You are describing the problem accurately. Engineers and studios should not have applied jingle-session logic and methods to self-contained bands. That it was common is no excuse.
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electrical

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Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
« Reply #17 on: December 18, 2005, 02:57:36 pm »

pipelineaudio wrote on Fri, 16 December 2005 18:29

Man what a great video!

Highest respects accorded

Thanks.

Quote:

But I have a quibble. I would love to see Steve apply this type of logic to many of the bands I work with. They want EVERYTHING to sound 100% perfect in time and in tune, and cant play their part right once in a row.

I'm pretty sure this isn't literally the case, but I'll assume you're not exaggerating much.

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If they dont sound like they could, I dont get paid.

You should consider billing by the hour or the day, not by the perceived-degree-of-in-time-and-in-tunedness.

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They also expect many of their parts to be worked out or written by me. I am an engineer and not a producer, I am not a songwriter or any of these things, yet I do them or I dont get paid

Seriously, consider charging by the hour.

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I think Steve's philosophy is perfect, in a perfect world, but to diss those of us who have to deal with an altogether different reality is kind of lame

I think we live in exactly the same reality, we just use different means to try to live up to the expectations of our clients. I've never had a client tell me I had to write a part or play guitar for him or he wouldn't pay me. I don't understand how such an arrangement can come to be, unless you encourage it.

Seriously, you should be charging by the hour.
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pipelineaudio

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Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
« Reply #18 on: December 18, 2005, 03:05:37 pm »

[quote title=electrical wrote on Sun, 18 December 2005 19:57I think we live in exactly the same reality, we just use different means to try to live up to the expectations of our clients. I've never had a client tell me I had to write a part or play guitar for him or he wouldn't pay me. I don't understand how such an arrangement can come to be, unless you encourage it.

Seriously, you should be charging by the hour.[/quote]

I do charge by the hour, and this arrangement is nothing odd. Its how a lot of "bands" are now.

This arrangement is not encouraged by me IN ANY WAY. It is the way it is. I do not have the brain power or music power to write parts for bands. I can make up harmonies easily, thats all, and even that is something Im not interested in. Yet I can end up playing for the band, writing parts, singing, the whole deal. Im not at all a good musician or singer. Yet this happens over and over again.

I swear we got two different realities going here.

Ron Steele

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Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
« Reply #19 on: December 18, 2005, 04:27:45 pm »

electrical wrote:

Quote:

You are describing the problem accurately. Engineers and studios should not have applied jingle-session logic and methods to self-contained bands. That it was common is no excuse.


How could this be the problem when it was the exception?

It is hardly " jingle-session logic and methods" related.

These were the same "logic and methods" applied, for many years, to a vast amount of recordings made all over the country. Big bands, frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Elvis, Phil Spector, Beatles, Beach Boys and 60's pop bands etc...etc.. They all used the same "logic and methods" you are calling the "problem". If there were no producers or arrangers back in the day, we would have heard nothing from these artists.

You say the "dx7" and "linn" drun machine were imposed on artists by producers and engineers, so what is the difference between the producers and arrangers guiding the recordings of the above mentioned artist?

Were their methods flawed and unfair to these artists?

No, the two went hand and hand. IT was a collaboration.

Besides, I don't know of many earth shattering self-produced bands or artists that took the world by storm, and there is probably a reason for that.

Who do you think sought out Bob Ezrin for the Wall? I'm sure it wasn't Ezrin calling Pink Floyd, and I'm sure Pink Floyd was not under the gun by the label to have Ezrin produce the record because they were concerned about sales.

Just a thought.

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electrical

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Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
« Reply #20 on: December 18, 2005, 04:59:17 pm »

Ron Steele wrote on Sun, 18 December 2005 16:27

electrical wrote:

Quote:

You are describing the problem accurately. Engineers and studios should not have applied jingle-session logic and methods to self-contained bands. That it was common is no excuse.


How could this be the problem when it was the exception?

Because a self-contained band was the exception, engineers didn't accommodate it. They did things the "standard" way, which was inappropriate for special circumstances.

Quote:

It is hardly " jingle-session logic and methods" related.

These were the same "logic and methods" applied, for many years, to a vast amount of recordings made all over the country. Big bands, frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Elvis, Phil Spector, Beatles, Beach Boys and 60's pop bands etc...etc.. They all used the same "logic and methods" you are calling the "problem". If there were no producers or arrangers back in the day, we would have heard nothing from these artists.

These session dates assembled by producers and arrangers had much more in common with jingles than they did with self-contained bands who wrote, arranged, performed and defined the requirements of their own music.

Quote:

You say the "dx7" and "linn" drun machine were imposed on artists by producers and engineers, so what is the difference between the producers and arrangers guiding the recordings of the above mentioned artist?

Were their methods flawed and unfair to these artists?

Given the existing showbiz paradigm (and the fact that self-contained bands with all-original music were rare until the 1960s), they acted the way all their peers did, and I can't blame them. I think it is not as honorable as a more hands-off approach, but like a lot of things that made sense, the idea took a while to develop.

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Besides, I don't know of many earth shattering self-produced bands or artists that took the world by storm,

You haven't been paying attention.
Quote:

and there is probably a reason for that.

I'm sure there is.

Quote:

Who do you think sought out Bob Ezrin for the Wall? I'm sure it wasn't Ezrin calling Pink Floyd, and I'm sure Pink Floyd was not under the gun by the label to have Ezrin produce the record because they were concerned about sales.

If you think Bob Ezrin is what made a record good, rather than the band's music and ideas, which he wrapped his production niceties around, then there's very little I can do to make you understand the music scene from a band-member's perspective.
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Ron Steele

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Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
« Reply #21 on: December 18, 2005, 11:02:46 pm »

Quote:

Because a self-contained band was the exception, engineers didn't accommodate it. They did things the "standard" way, which was inappropriate for special circumstances.


Can you share with us what popular bands you feel were compromised by this "inappropriate standard".

Quote:

Given the existing showbiz paradigm (and the fact that self-contained bands with all-original music were rare until the 1960s), they acted the way all their peers did, and I can't blame them. I think it is not as honorable as a more hands-off approach, but like a lot of things that made sense, the idea took a while to develop.



So what do you think of George Martian? Was he conducting himself in a honorable fashion? Did he not contribute to the Beatles, or did he simply muck up what we will never know?

Quote:

If you think Bob Ezrin is what made a record good, rather than the band's music and ideas, which he wrapped his production niceties around, then there's very little I can do to make you understand the music scene from a band-member's perspective.


I've seen and lived thru plenty of "band-member's perspective", including my very own band member ignorance and arrogance.

Many years ago, while I was stepping into a few major label landmines because of the whole "DX7" era, the band was thrusted into the folds of a major producer from the 70's and 80's. I was pissed because I thought I was the "producer".

I thought for sure this dude was going to muck up the whole thing.

After many years of our band being totally left to our own devices in the studio, we were sitting there after weeks of rehearsal trying to convince him we were "ready" to record. This dude compromised the band before we could even load into the studio.

What a learning experience for me. I found out that, not only was a dumb ass with out a clue, but that there was plenty of room for ideas to form and grow because of an outside and organized perspective. This guy was like a football coach and producer rolled into one. He had the band creating and playing stuff that was way out of our grasp. He created inspiration and creative opportunities you just won't come to find so easily when the band members our fighting over direction or something as dumb as a bass note in the bridge for 3 hrs.

Steve, if your promoting your method that is fine, but to say a producer or AE is imposing himself on a band is kind of shortsighted, especially when you consider all the groups and artists that had multiple success's with the same producer or AE.

It's called a working relationship, and those exist for a simple reason.

You offer a wire to tape, and others offer something more.

I could see alot of your points clearer, if all bands and acts felt the way you say they do, but it is just not true.

Many seek out the producer and the AE because they know the benefits that can be gained.Steve, you make it sound like there is some sort of epidemic going on when in reality, it is  probably due to simple personality conflicts between a band and a producer/AE.

We all have to give and take sometimes. We all have to live and....... learn.

Some just ignore the latter.

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malice

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Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
« Reply #22 on: December 18, 2005, 11:09:45 pm »

Ryan Moore wrote on Sun, 18 December 2005 19:31

I was amazed to learn years later that there were a few DX7 freaks that got into making thier own patches



Starting with Brian Eno


malice

Ron Steele

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Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
« Reply #23 on: December 18, 2005, 11:18:40 pm »

Quote:

Starting with Brian Eno




Yo Malice,

So was U2 brainwashed and imposed upon by Eno and his evil DX7?
Laughing  Laughing  Laughing  Laughing

Or, did Eno's DX7 niceties take them to a higher level of inspiration?
Very Happy  Very Happy  Very Happy  Very Happy
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Curve Dominant

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Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
« Reply #24 on: December 19, 2005, 02:59:39 am »

Ron Steele wrote on Mon, 19 December 2005 04:02

Many seek out the producer and the AE because they know the benefits that can be gained. Steve, you make it sound like there is some sort of epidemic going on when in reality, it is  probably due to simple personality conflicts between a band and a producer/AE.


Many artists seek out the producer to protect them from:
1) the audio engineers
2) the band
3) management/A+R
4) themselves

Really good performing artists are just that: Performing artists. The smart ones know instinctively that the recording environment is inherently unnatural to what they know and are comfortable with, and so will enlist a producer to guide that process to a result which will (hopefully) yield a recording that represents the artist's core essence.

The 4 entities on that list tend to be (not always but mostly or inherently) not prime candidates for that role. Why? Well, let's take another look at that list...

1) Audio Engineers - they generally get paid by the hour, and do what they're used to doing: Running a recording facility. Linear thinkers by trade (and they should be - they are "engineers" after all) - AE's tend to be a "get 'em in and get 'em out and let's collect the $100/hr for as many hours as we can rack up" sort of folk. Not optimal for artistic endeavor which has any sort of ambition. Already, the producer makes his fee worthwhile by shielding the talent from these guys.

2) The Band - musicians. Need I say more. It's bad enough the artist has to gig with musicians, and vice-versa. In a recording session, however, there is a set goal (hopefully) which is desired, within a budget and a deadline, so some adult supervision is required. And we know not to expect that from the AE because he already has his work cut out for him (and see point #1). The producer's challenge: Get all these folks on the same page, with the quickness.

3) Management/A+R - they have their own jobs to do which are fairly time-intensive, and so they don't want to be bothered with hanging around studios all day waiting for everyone to get their sh*t together. That's the producer's job.

4) Themselves (The Artist) - yeah, dejavu, but...
Really good performing artists are just that: Performing artists. The smart ones know instinctively that the recording environment is inherently unnatural to what they know and are comfortable with, and so will enlist a producer to guide that process to a result which will (hopefully) yield a recording that represents the artist's core essence.

Telling the artist or the band "You're the producer" is putting them in a position they may be unwilling and/or unable to handle on top of everything else they have to deal with in their daily lives and careers. Any audio engineer who does this in his studio, is unfairly putting the artist on the spot in a pressure situation, and that audio engineer makes himself the default "producer" in that situation, because he inherently controls the gear and the house and the recording methods. The artist has no choice in that situation, only the illusion of choice.

Ideally, the artist chooses a producer as a coach and a navigator, and the producer works as a champion of the artist's goals, guiding the process toward completion of those goals.

The audio engineer may not like that, because HE wants to do things HIS way, and make the sounds HE likes.

The band may not like that because the individual musicians may want themselves heard over everything else.

The management/A+R may fight with the producer because they have commissions to collect on and so they are paranoid about marketability.

The artist is stuck between all these competing folks fighting over their own agendas...and THAT is why the artist seeks out a "producer." Because a recording is not art. The artist's intent is the art, and there are technological walls between the artist's intent and the actuality of of the art itself. It is not the true artist's field of expertise to master that barrier-busting level of sophistication in recording production, so the smart ones will contract that out to a producer.

oshcas

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Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
« Reply #25 on: December 19, 2005, 06:38:23 am »

Are we not just talking about collaboration?

This discussion seems to be only about some kind of adversarial relationship between 'band' and 'producer' - why?  I understand Steve's argument, and I agree that some collaborations are negative ... but there are many that are very positive.

Why can't a band collaborate artistically with someone in a really respectful, positive, mutually beneficial way?

orchestras have conductors
writers have editors
actors have directors
sportspeople have coaches

even executives have mentors

What is so bad about this?  Steve, you seem to be saying that the collaboration degrades the art in some way.  Why is that?

You seem to be really opposed to the band collaborating with anyone in the studio ... that seems bizarre to me.

I can't watch the lecture as my internet connection is too slow, so perhaps I am missing something...

... to just dismiss the idea of a band collaborating with someone in the studio out of hand seems way too simplistic.

It sounds like you are talking in absolutes, perhaps I am mistaken.

I am enjoying the discussion though!

Regards,

Matthew
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lord

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Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
« Reply #26 on: December 19, 2005, 10:37:05 am »

RS -- let's make a deal. You stop typing "George Martian" and stuff stops flying out of my nose. Cool?
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Ron Steele

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Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
« Reply #27 on: December 19, 2005, 11:08:58 am »

Lord said:

"RS -- let's make a deal. You stop typing "George Martian" and stuff stops flying out of my nose. Cool?"

Yes it's cool, and sorry for the spelling error.

Anything else bothering you Lord?
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cerberus

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Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
« Reply #28 on: December 19, 2005, 11:48:02 am »

oshcas wrote on Mon, 19 December 2005 06:38

This discussion seems to be only about some kind of adversarial relationship between 'band' and 'producer'


Steve gets hired by the band, he works for the band, he gets paid by the band.

I know a band who hired Dave Fridmann to make a recording. I can't think of too many engineers of note who are likely to work with them...like I'd recommend say Puig, or Lanois or John Leckie..yeah right, fat chance..   How did they get Fridmann?  In terms of this discussion, I don't find a difference between Steve and Fridmann.

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electrical

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Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
« Reply #29 on: December 19, 2005, 12:28:44 pm »

Ron Steele wrote on Sun, 18 December 2005 23:02


Can you share with us what popular bands you feel were compromised by this "inappropriate standard".

While I was referring mainly to my friends' bands, and my own observations of the studio culture, It isn't hard to find examples ot terriffic (or at least competent) bands who made horrible records in the 1980s, scarred by the production-of-the-day brought to bear on them:ZZ Topp, Def Leppard, AC/DC, Cheap Trick... The list is a long one.

Quote:


So what do you think of George Martian? Was he conducting himself in a honorable fashion? Did he not contribute to the Beatles, or did he simply muck up what we will never know?

Well, the Beatles (aside: why does everyone use this utterly unique band as an example in every situation, as thought the Beatles were the sole decider of how bands' careers ought to progress?) anyway, the Beatles were essentially producing their own records, except in name, from Revolver on. I think everyone involved has said as much. If you prefer their earlier, more standard material, then you have a pretty good case for letting producers tell bands what to do and how to do it. If you prefer their later material, then you're making my case for me.

Quote:

I found out that, not only was a dumb ass with out a clue, but that there was plenty of room for ideas to form and grow because of an outside and organized perspective.

I'm sorry for you that you were a dumb-ass without a clue. If you had been brilliant and self-aware and comfortable with your own ideas, would you have known it at the time? You didn't know you were a dumb-ass, so it's hard to believe you would have known you were a genius. I've worked with enough geniuses to know that I'm just as likely to be the dumb-ass in any relationship, and I don't want to foist that on a genius. I'd prefer to allow for the possibility of genius, rather than defaulting to a mode where I assume everyone is a dumb-ass.

Quote:

Steve, if your promoting your method that is fine, but to say a producer or AE is imposing himself on a band is kind of shortsighted, especially when you consider all the groups and artists that had multiple success's with the same producer or AE.

I have seen producery behavior be destructive. I have never listened to a record and thought, "that could use a little more producing."  I have witnessed greatness that required no external input. I have an innate suspicion of someone telling an artist what his art ought to be like. I have an in-built respect for the art of my clients and the clients themselves.

I don't think it is possible for me to assume that I am mistaken on all of the above, and a few hit records being made by bands with producers won't change my mind. How many flops have these producers produced-up anyway? Don't those flops prove me right? No, they don't, but they indicate that producing is not the answer. Don't play the results. Play the process.

I have no quibble with a band inviting someone into their fold as a co-operating partner. I think such instances of true collaboration are probably pretty rare, and recording folks who pretend their "How about some tambourine?" constitutes "collaboration" are mistaken.

I know many of my peers do more than that, going so far as to re-structure songs, write parts, sing and play guitar, etc. for bands that hire them. Two things strike me as ridiculous about this:

1) If he's so good at all this stuff, why doesn't he just make a record and be famous?

2) If a band is so dissatisfied with their music that they need all this stuff on it to be content, what the hell did they start with, and why did anyone think it was worth recording? "Boy, this  material sure is clumsy and weak. Fantastic! Let's get into the studio right away so we can get rid of it and record something else!"

Quote:

You offer a wire to tape, and others offer something more.

That's what I offer? Now I know why the phone keeps ringing. Wire fetishists.

Quote:

I could see alot of your points clearer, if all bands and acts felt the way you say they do, but it is just not true.

Many seek out the producer and the AE because they know the benefits that can be gained.Steve, you make it sound like there is some sort of epidemic going on when in reality, it is  probably due to simple personality conflicts between a band and a producer/AE.

My complaint is with the underlying culture of the recording environment, and that comes from engineers and producers: Producers and engineers assuming control of the creative aspects (rather than just the technical aspects) and then trumpeting their achievements. They claim a kind of authorship over the records they work on, and expect to do so always.

These people are riding on the backs of the truly creative people, the bands. I find this attitude insulting to the bands, and I cannot understand how it can be justified.
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