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Author Topic: the role of an engineer in relation to art  (Read 9299 times)

maxim

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Re: the roll of an engineer in relation to art
« Reply #15 on: December 28, 2005, 08:29:40 pm »

i agree with above

if i'm going to let anyone near my songs, they damn well better be creative

if an engineer says : "i don't have any aesthetic input into this work", then , imo, all they're good for is gaffa control and mic lead rollouts, should be well kept away from such aesthetic choices as mic choice and placement and gain staging etc

just what i reckon
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Bob Olhsson

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Re: the roll of an engineer in relation to art
« Reply #16 on: December 29, 2005, 12:20:23 am »

maxim wrote on Wed, 28 December 2005 19:29

if i'm going to let anyone near my songs, they damn well better be creative
I think the words I would choose are "they damn well better be sensitive enough to what I'm doing to not screw it up!"

I think a recording engineer's first duty is facilitating a great musical performance. A setup that allows a great performance is often not a setup that makes getting great sound easy. Likewise it's really important to start rolling tape long before the performers start getting bored. The pacing of a session can also make or break a performance. It does take creativity to not screw up a session.

electrical

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Re: the roll of an engineer in relation to art
« Reply #17 on: December 29, 2005, 12:58:33 am »

I think it's worthwhile to make a distinction between ingenuity (or resourcefulness) and creativity. Creativity (as I see it) is making something utterly new. I don't think engineers do this (or should do this) very often. Engineers must be resourceful and ingenious, otherwise problems (sometimes unique problems) un-dealt-with will derail a session. Creative, no. I think that leads to many wasted hours and ugly impositions.
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steve albini
Electrical Audio
sa at electrical dot com
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John Ivan

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Re: the roll of an engineer in relation to art
« Reply #18 on: December 29, 2005, 02:18:16 am »

See, I think the fact that someone decides to use one tool over another is a creative decision.

Ivan.............
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"Transformation is no easy trick: It's what art promises and usually doesn't deliver." Garrison Keillor

 

electrical

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Re: the roll of an engineer in relation to art
« Reply #19 on: December 29, 2005, 02:31:18 am »

ivan40 wrote on Thu, 29 December 2005 02:18

See, I think the fact that someone decides to use one tool over another is a creative decision.

I think it's a choice relating to technique. Choosing whether to paint a duck or a typewriter is a creative choice, but having decided to (rather, having been assigned the task of-) painting a duck, doing it with a brush or a hot dog dipped in paint is a choice of technique. The difference is not subtle in my mind.
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steve albini
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electrical

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Re: the roll of an engineer in relation to art
« Reply #20 on: December 29, 2005, 02:32:43 am »

Oh, and I'm going to change the spelling of the word "role" in the title of this thread. I'm moderating this forum, and I don't want people thinking we're a bunch of illiterates.

If you're actually illiterate, and someone is reading this to you, please excuse my bluntness.
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steve albini
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electrical

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Re: the role of an engineer in relation to art
« Reply #21 on: December 29, 2005, 02:34:38 am »

I tried to change the spelling of "role" in this thread, but my all-powerful moderator status won't let me. I thought I had something here...
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steve albini
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John Ivan

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Re: the role of an engineer in relation to art
« Reply #22 on: December 29, 2005, 04:00:52 am »

Damn computers anyhow!!.

Ivan...........
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"Transformation is no easy trick: It's what art promises and usually doesn't deliver." Garrison Keillor

 

Colin Frangos

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Re: the role of an engineer in relation to art
« Reply #23 on: December 29, 2005, 04:06:53 am »

electrical wrote on Wed, 28 December 2005 23:34

I tried to change the spelling of "role" in this thread, but my all-powerful moderator status won't let me. I thought I had something here...


Heh. Just expressing my creativity.
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Ronny

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Re: the roll of an engineer in relation to art
« Reply #24 on: December 29, 2005, 04:27:52 am »

electrical wrote on Thu, 29 December 2005 02:32

Oh, and I'm going to change the spelling of the word "role" in the title of this thread. I'm moderating this forum, and I don't want people thinking we're a bunch of illiterates.

If you're actually illiterate, please excuse my bluntness.




You need to get on a roll.  Smile



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bobkatz

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Re: the roll of an engineer in relation to art
« Reply #25 on: December 29, 2005, 07:16:54 am »

Colin Frangos wrote on Wed, 28 December 2005 19:20



What the band does is art. What you do is engineering.




Music is ART. But an unmusical recording engineer can ruin a recording. Who determines the balance? Does the producer say, "raise the clarinet mike 0.25 dB, ok, now lower the bassoon by 0.5?" Any engineer who does not already know what the musical balance should be would be fired. As far as I'm concerned, the line between "art" and "engineering" is entirely nebulous.

BK
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rnicklaus

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Re: the roll of an engineer in relation to art
« Reply #26 on: December 29, 2005, 12:11:59 pm »

electrical wrote on Wed, 28 December 2005 23:32

Oh, and I'm going to change the spelling of the word "role" in the title of this thread. I'm moderating this forum, and I don't want people thinking we're a bunch of illiterates.

If you're actually illiterate, please excuse my bluntness.


You wouldn't want a cousin named Art to steal your dinner roll when you were engineering his band.

Or to bring up the holiday spare tire in front of clients.
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Dave Martin

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Re: the roll of an engineer in relation to art
« Reply #27 on: December 29, 2005, 02:45:26 pm »

ivan40 wrote on Thu, 29 December 2005 01:18

See, I think the fact that someone decides to use one tool over another is a creative decision.

Ivan.............


I wouldn't think so - the carpenter who built my room would occasionally choose to use one saw instead of another, or one hammer over another. Does that mean that he was the 'creator' of the room design? It's all a part of craftsmanship; knowing which tools are appropriate to a given task. Which brings me back to my original feeling - that engineers are (or should be) craftsmen, not 'artists'.
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John Ivan

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Re: the roll of an engineer in relation to art
« Reply #28 on: December 29, 2005, 03:10:06 pm »

Dave Martin wrote on Thu, 29 December 2005 14:45

ivan40 wrote on Thu, 29 December 2005 01:18

See, I think the fact that someone decides to use one tool over another is a creative decision.

Ivan.............


I wouldn't think so - the carpenter who built my room would occasionally choose to use one saw instead of another, or one hammer over another. Does that mean that he was the 'creator' of the room design? It's all a part of craftsmanship; knowing which tools are appropriate to a given task. Which brings me back to my original feeling - that engineers are (or should be) craftsmen, not 'artists'.



Hi Dave,,

The difference that I see is, the carpenter choosing a different Saw to cut a stud wont change the shape or functionality of your room.. As you know very very well { you have a wonderful room!! Great site!}, choosing a different pair for the kit or moving an re-20 on a guitar amp can mean a lot.

I think both things are at work. It is a craft for sure but I think because every choice we make changes how the music will present it's self and potentially change how people will react emotionally to it, it turns into an art form...

Hey, I come from the music/writer/player end and there are a bunch of engineers around here that know a hell of a lot more than me.. this is all just the impression I get when I work. It's how I think when I work. The tech stuff comes first. Then I need to like how it's making me feel or something is wrong..

my 2 cents.

Ivan.............................
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"Transformation is no easy trick: It's what art promises and usually doesn't deliver." Garrison Keillor

 

Colin Frangos

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Re: the role of an engineer in relation to art
« Reply #29 on: December 29, 2005, 04:13:24 pm »

ivan40 wrote on Wed, 28 December 2005 17:18


Mic placement is in fact an art form IMO... If it were not, there would be one way to mic everything. There is literally no end to the ways to mic everything.



There is not just one way to build a car. There is not just one way to build a jet engine. There is not just one way to build a bridge. The fact that all of these things benefit from being handled differently in different situations doesn't take away from the fact that they are engineering feats. I think Steve's distinction between creativity and ingenuity is an important one, and applies here.

And ultimately, it's the band's decision if the rack tom is too muddy.

Bob Olhsson wrote on Wed, 28 December 2005 21:20

I think the words I would choose are "they damn well better be sensitive enough to what I'm doing to not screw it up!"


I don't think that an engineer not liking what I'm doing musically affects the outcome much if at all, and am certain that it shouldn't.

bobkatz wrote on Thu, 29 December 2005 04:16


Music is ART. But an unmusical recording engineer can ruin a recording.

Agreed.

Quote:

Who determines the balance? Does the producer say, "raise the clarinet mike 0.25 dB, ok, now lower the bassoon by 0.5?" Any engineer who does not already know what the musical balance should be would be fired.

Agreed again.
Quote:

As far as I'm concerned, the line between "art" and "engineering" is entirely nebulous.

Here's where you lose me, but I think I might see where we're looking at this differently.

I think the recording is an artifact of what the band does, but it isn't what the band does. An unmusical recording doesn't ruin what's important (the songs the band plays and how they play them). Songs can be recorded again.

It seems like you consider the recording the end result, and without that being well executed there is no art. That's probably a good view for an AE to take, because it means you're taking what you do seriously. However, I don't think that an AE being creative is necessary to have the final album be good, and can easily become detrimental.

The balance of the mix seems like something that can be put together by an engineer based on experience (not creativity), and is an element of craft. But anything beyond creating a solid, balanced mix should be the realm of the band. What mics are used, where they're placed - these are generally analytical decisions. If there's creativity involved, it's pretty minimal.

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