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Author Topic: Do you keep a moral standard?  (Read 12213 times)

Viitalahde

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Do you keep a moral standard?
« on: May 10, 2011, 01:32:26 pm »

I've been thinking about this for a few days.

The music I work on varies wildly, as do the ideologies behind it. I have no problems with it, and I can go from black metal to church choirs without blinking. Every kind of religious or philosophical aspect gets treated with respect here. Hip hop has the usual drug theme, various metal genres are all about violence. Not a problem to me at all.

But do you draw a line somewhere?

For me, it would probably be anything to do with neo-nazis or other similar boneheads. So far I haven't been even close getting their stuff in.
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Jaakko Viitalähde
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Greg Reierson

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Re: Do you keep a moral standard?
« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2011, 01:34:34 pm »

There's a large white supremacy label across town. I've always wondered who does their work. I guess I'd have to draw the line there, but it hasn't been an issue yet.


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Greg Reierson
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Laarsø

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Re: Do you keep a moral standard?
« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2011, 02:47:27 pm »

I don't mind violins... on tv.   

For Rap, it's not the drug allusions that offend us; it's the misogyny and homonoia that are deal-breakers.  We have an anti-hater policy...  No b's and h's and no F_gs or P___sies.  Otherwise, complain all you want.   Seriously, I won't cut smut.   Not because I'm holier, but because I got into music to escape the idiots - not to play with them...

(;


Laarsø
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Laars Oglethorpe, V
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jdg

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Re: Do you keep a moral standard?
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2011, 02:59:45 pm »

i think i'm more offended by poorly played and recorded songs then lyrical content ...

that said, i rarely listen to what is being sung.
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Re: Do you keep a moral standard?
« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2011, 03:37:42 pm »

I try not to really focus lyrical content, partly because it has absolutely nothing to do with my job, but also because I don't always have the benefit of context when hearing something for the first time.  Plus there's the matter of perspective; when Straight Outta Compton came it out it was deemed unforgivably profane by alot of people.  Same kind of thing with Patti Smith's Easter.  It's happening again now with Odd Future, and probably tons of other band, both mainstream and independent. 

There was that hullabaloo with Nachtmystium a few years ago.  They were even thrown off bill of the Scion Rock Festival.  Then they were totally and completely vindicated, and everyone that overreacted at the phantom controversy looked pretty silly.  Their record was mastered by Collin Jordan at The Boiler Room; what would have happened if he focused on all that and passed on the job?  He would have missed out on mastering what many people consider to be a new heavy metal classic. 

My point is without the benefit of context and perspective some things that are challenging, or just misunderstood, can appear morally wrong. 

I probably do have a line...I guess it would be something that just seemed irredeemably evil to me.  That has never come up though.  Pretty low likelihood that a nazi record label will seek me out, so that's one less thing to worry about  :D 
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Adam Gonsalves
Telegraph Mastering

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Re: Do you keep a moral standard?
« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2011, 05:23:30 pm »

I've been thinking about this for a few days.

The music I work on varies wildly, as do the ideologies behind it. I have no problems with it, and I can go from black metal to church choirs without blinking. Every kind of religious or philosophical aspect gets treated with respect here. Hip hop has the usual drug theme, various metal genres are all about violence. Not a problem to me at all.

But do you draw a line somewhere?

For me, it would probably be anything to do with neo-nazis or other similar boneheads. So far I haven't been even close getting their stuff in.

I did a re-mastering of a live performance Parsifal a couple of years ago: absolutely sublime music, quite stunning, with dreadful F***-off humanity included via the libretto. I took the money with a clear (Catholic) conscience because we are, after all, nothing if not complex beings.

Cheers,

Eric
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Laarsø

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Re: Do you keep a moral standard?
« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2011, 07:28:55 pm »

I did a re-mastering of a live performance Parsifal a couple of years ago: absolutely sublime music, quite stunning, with dreadful F***-off humanity included via the libretto. I took the money with a clear (Catholic) conscience because we are, after all, nothing if not complex beings.

Cheers,

Eric

Sid's swastica t-shirt notwithstanding, I can get down with most of the harsh lyrics of the Sex Pistols, and I could get down with someone singing, "F. Off,"  if directed at humanity, or evil, or something Catholic (as in, Universally applicable);   (No offense to the Roman Catholic Church, btw...   Protestants recite the Apostle's Creed giving obeisance to the Holy Catholic Church, which is more inclusive...).   

What I don't want to hear on my Lipinskisounds or going in my Neumann is someone yelling that someone was a B___h, since I love female dogs and can't see the beauty in singling out hatred against a cosy canine - or the scary vitriol against wymyn that it typically implies.   I also don't want to hear someone other than a Queen using the word F__g.   It's grade-school.   But wanting the whole universe to implode due to a Rabbinical sort of grief, on the other hand, I find nearly a blameless emotion. (:


Laarsø
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Laars Oglethorpe, V
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Gold

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Re: Do you keep a moral standard?
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2011, 08:13:50 pm »

I can't think of very much I would refuse on moral grounds with the possible exception of Barbara Streisand. I don't need the moral high ground to refuse work. Since I am cranky and capricious it is self regulating. I support the ACLU.
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Paul Gold
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lowland

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Re: Do you keep a moral standard?
« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2011, 03:31:58 am »

In the 80s I worked at a studio which also did rehearsals. After one band practice the owner found a lyric sheet with, among other things

If they're red, kick 'em in the head,
If they're black, send 'em back.

whereupon that particular combo were not allowed to return.

In mastering the question hasn't so far arisen here. The sorts of things I would struggle with have already been mentioned, but as has also been said caution is needed: my experience is that often those who do the most extreme music and look the most unusual are some of the easiest to get along with. With some obvious and limited exceptions, I don't have a problem with them getting their devils out in that way.
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Viitalahde

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Re: Do you keep a moral standard?
« Reply #9 on: May 11, 2011, 05:16:37 am »

my experience is that often those who do the most extreme music and look the most unusual are some of the easiest to get along with

Absolutely agreed. The most difficult people I've encountered have always appeared as normal looking middle-aged men.
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Jaakko Viitalähde
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24-96 Mastering

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Re: Do you keep a moral standard?
« Reply #10 on: May 11, 2011, 06:40:47 am »

Very interesting topic!

I have pondered this a few times before and have decided for myself that where possible, I want to favour free expression, even if public (and my own) opinion doesn't agree with the content.

I say "where possible" because
A. In Germany, there are actually laws directly banning saying certain things.
B. I'm sure there are limits to what I could manage to sit through, even if content isn't directly illegal. Following sctrict rules on what to accept will hardly be possible.


I have in the past worked on recordings of groups both on the far left and far right of the ideological spectrum. In my limited experience, they have all been nice and nice to work with (indeed I've had more trouble with well repected religious companies in the past). In tendency, those on the far right in Germany are more careful with their lyrics, knowing that they are being under close watch. So their lyrics on CD tend to be remarkably harmless. There's actually some humour in that contrast: tough guys singing about rainbows and puppy dogs ;)

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SafeandSoundMastering

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Re: Do you keep a moral standard?
« Reply #11 on: May 11, 2011, 07:47:52 am »

No racism, extreme/fanatic religious lyrics or homophobic, this is the opposite vibe of my outlooks and hopes for the future of human life and so it makes sense to me to not deal with such stuff.
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Barry Gardner
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lowland

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Re: Do you keep a moral standard?
« Reply #12 on: May 11, 2011, 07:49:11 am »

OT: Robin, congrats on Iceland getting through the the Eurovision final, here's to Cyprus achieving the same thing in the 2nd semi :-)
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Jerry Tubb

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Re: Do you keep a moral standard?
« Reply #13 on: May 11, 2011, 08:02:05 am »

No.

Most of the time songs with "challenging" lyrics are viewed as fiction, not actual reality.

Much like a horror movie, and not taken too seriously.

Don't remember turning any job down due to lyric content.

Although I've had a few, that were pretty weird over the years!

JT

p.s. Fortunately they don't pop up too often.
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24-96 Mastering

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Re: Do you keep a moral standard?
« Reply #14 on: May 11, 2011, 08:43:13 am »

OT: Robin, congrats on Iceland getting through the the Eurovision final, here's to Cyprus achieving the same thing in the 2nd semi :-)

OT: Thanks! Of course they had to make them the last winner to be anounced ;) I had already abandoned hope...
Good luck to your entry, I'll be watching the show with interest and hope Cyprus progresses to the final!
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Cass Anawaty

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Re: Do you keep a moral standard?
« Reply #15 on: May 11, 2011, 07:18:18 pm »

Art is art.  I've worked on things that I wouldn't want my kid to hear, but I'm a professional, and I do my job.

A few months after my return from an Operation Enduring Freedom tour I did an anti-war record full of mischaracterizations, complete fabrications, and various other bits of full-blown bs regarding all of it.

They loved my work.   ;)
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John Scrip - MASSIVE Mastering

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Re: Do you keep a moral standard?
« Reply #16 on: May 11, 2011, 08:33:44 pm »

I'm probably on some sort of watch list with some of the stuff from some of the countries I've worked on...  I have no idea what some of it is (don't understand the various languages). 

I know one of them was rather heartily anti-American (found out on a site with an English review of the recording (from Pakistan...?  I don't even remember). 

One wonders why they sent it to the USA for mastering...
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SafeandSoundMastering

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Re: Do you keep a moral standard?
« Reply #17 on: May 12, 2011, 07:39:54 am »

I recently mastered some European grime and the only words I understood was "p*ss and sh*t"
I do not think this was the core subject, lol.
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Ed Littman

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Re: Do you keep a moral standard?
« Reply #18 on: May 12, 2011, 08:01:00 am »


Me too. However their was one single once that really caught my attention. the sonics were the worst i heard along to the lyrics about raping woman....not fun.
Ed

i think i'm more offended by poorly played and recorded songs then lyrical content ...

that said, i rarely listen to what is being sung.

24-96 Mastering

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Re: Do you keep a moral standard?
« Reply #19 on: May 12, 2011, 09:35:07 am »

I recently mastered some European grime and the only words I understood was "p*ss and sh*t"
I do not think this was the core subject, lol.

Oh, I recently mastered an album where the former was indeed the core subject. I don't really find that particularly bothersome though. To each their own :)
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turtlerock

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Re: Do you keep a moral standard?
« Reply #20 on: May 17, 2011, 07:38:22 am »

i wont cut seriously woman trashing smut , i have refused maybe ten sessions  in 25 years
maybe half of them just dropped the  shitty track   and the session went on

its hardly something that would effect my cashflow  but it is a limit
simple rule  - if i couldnt play it to my wife  i wouldnt work on it

i am sure we all have had a run of scary dark metal with all wierdshit lyrics
it just makes me laugh
why is the scariest  heaviest stuff always done by the nicest guys that wouldn't hurt a fly  and pay their bills no questions asked ?


 
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Thomas W. Bethel

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Re: Do you keep a moral standard?
« Reply #21 on: May 18, 2011, 03:03:51 pm »

Had a group in for mastering. I don't want to give their name but they are a punk group. The lead singer spend 34 minutes of a 43 minute CD talking about putting things into and taking things out of his butt (he used other words). When they left I had to take a shower I really felt very dirty.

FWIW
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Thomas W. Bethel
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jdg

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Re: Do you keep a moral standard?
« Reply #22 on: May 18, 2011, 05:42:00 pm »

maybe he was a proctologist, you have to write about what you know

and thats why most of my lyrics are about beer

Had a group in for mastering. I don't want to give their name but they are a punk group. The lead singer spend 34 minutes of a 43 minute CD talking about putting things into and taking things out of his butt (he used other words). When they left I had to take a shower I really felt very dirty.

FWIW
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JimK

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Re: Do you keep a moral standard?
« Reply #23 on: May 18, 2011, 07:19:16 pm »

I'd like to know what he talked about for the other 9 minutes.
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Thomas W. Bethel

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Re: Do you keep a moral standard?
« Reply #24 on: May 19, 2011, 06:44:32 am »

I'd like to know what he talked about for the other 9 minutes.

His girlfriend and how the world was all $%^*ed up...
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Thomas W. Bethel
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Dave-G

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Re: Do you keep a moral standard?
« Reply #25 on: May 19, 2011, 06:56:35 am »

maybe he was a proctologist, you have to write about what you know

and thats why most of my lyrics are about beer
You put beer up your butt?  In my experience, there is another way.

And .. on-tangent, about 15 years ago, I got a gig doing some restoration on cockpit voice recordings from a plane that crashed, killing all aboard.  At the onset, I thought "wow, forensic audio! Interesting potential as a new revenue stream". All I knew was I had to sign affidavits, and didn't even know what the material was going to be ... Not long into the project, I felt certain that working on almost an kind of music with even the worst fictional lyrics would be preferable to hearing the 'truth' of people and death in work of that type.

I'd still politely refuse something genuinely offensive, but thankfully, I have not really been challenged to make that determination.  My word-of-mouth circulates pretty nicely among the less-than-offensive. . .. You know, like people who drink beer mouth-first.
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lowland

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Re: Do you keep a moral standard?
« Reply #26 on: May 19, 2011, 08:00:32 am »

And .. on-tangent, about 15 years ago, I got a gig doing some restoration on cockpit voice recordings from a plane that crashed, killing all aboard.  At the onset, I thought "wow, forensic audio! Interesting potential as a new revenue stream". All I knew was I had to sign affidavits, and didn't even know what the material was going to be ... Not long into the project, I felt certain that working on almost an kind of music with even the worst fictional lyrics would be preferable to hearing the 'truth' of people and death in work of that type.
From what I've heard this is a typical reaction from a music audio person faced with the reality of  forensic work, and it's why I've not been tempted to pay the bills that way in spite of the occasional request.
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Cass Anawaty

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Re: Do you keep a moral standard?
« Reply #27 on: May 19, 2011, 10:51:55 am »

You know, like people who drink beer mouth-first.
There was that rumor about it working faster the other way....some people just have to try things for themselves.
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Jerry Tubb

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Re: Do you keep a moral standard?
« Reply #28 on: May 19, 2011, 11:41:09 am »

Oh yeah, I won't do forensic work, very distasteful.

Often you don't know if you're working for the good or bad guys.

So I do have a moral standard of sorts..

JT
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Viitalahde

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Re: Do you keep a moral standard?
« Reply #29 on: May 19, 2011, 12:07:14 pm »

Yeah, forensics work sounds like it's for the heavy-headed only.

There has been a murder case in the public in Finland for perhaps a year now. A wife is suspected to have killed her husband, but she says the murderer was a big guy who came and went. IIRC, the Finnish police had the recorded emergency call analyzed & restored at FBI's forensics lab. The dying husband is moaning on the background, and they're trying to figure out what does all of that mean.

Anyhow, the wife's looking very guilty in the public eye for various good reasons, but her defend had the emergency call re-restored at a Finnish studio. That made me think if I would do that or no, having read a lot about the case in the news.
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Jaakko Viitalähde
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Ruairi O Flaherty

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Re: Do you keep a moral standard?
« Reply #30 on: May 19, 2011, 02:01:55 pm »

Yeah, forensics work sounds like it's for the heavy-headed only.

There has been a murder case in the public in Finland for perhaps a year now. A wife is suspected to have killed her husband, but she says the murderer was a big guy who came and went. IIRC, the Finnish police had the recorded emergency call analyzed & restored at FBI's forensics lab. The dying husband is moaning on the background, and they're trying to figure out what does all of that mean.

Anyhow, the wife's looking very guilty in the public eye for various good reasons, but her defend had the emergency call re-restored at a Finnish studio. That made me think if I would do that or no, having read a lot about the case in the news.

Being that I now work in Hollywood I just had a terrible mental image of some defense lawyer "producing" a restoration job - "Oh yeah, I'm loving that - can we get a little less dying moans and a little more of her distressed panic?". 

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24-96 Mastering

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Re: Do you keep a moral standard?
« Reply #31 on: May 20, 2011, 05:35:39 am »

I've had forensic restoration & consultancy listed as an offered service on my web site forever, though I never got any requests for it.

Then, after years, the first one came in form of a somewhat cryptic phone call, asking to meet me. It was an old lady, self described gypsy clan mama, dressed in an enormously thick fur coat, lots of make up& perfume, spooky fortune teller accent for good measure.
She then told the story that her son had been accused of being unfaithful, and that the whole extended family clan had a severe crisis because of it. The only supposed evidence for this was an audio recording. So she asked me whether I am qualified to verify the validity of the recording, and could tell if it was manufactured evidence.
I said yes, if there were signs of doctoring, I could quite possibly identify them and testify that. She pulled me close and said: "I need you to find some evidence that the recording isn't real. You will be paid very well. You must find that the recording is fake. Do you understand what I'm saying?"

So... I was offered a very generous amount of money in order to give a predetermined opinion. It seemed like a reasonably innocent request by an old lady to avert a family crisis, until I considered that A. I'm being bribed and B. whoever made and held that compromising recording obviously had an interest not to 'kiss & make up'. And that said person might be 6 foot tall and have 10 brothers that don't mind getting their hands dirty... Since the lady went on to tell me that "gypsy clans sort out these things between them with family justice codex, no courts, no lawyers, no authorities" I very quickly abandoned the idea of being any part in this...


Often you don't know if you're working for the good or bad guys.

Good point.

I think, to be doing good work in that sector, morally justifiable, it takes absolute impartiality. And I think that's hard to achieve, takes a company with a reputation on the line in the field, with strict rules & standards, maybe even control mechanisms in place. Otherwise, it's so easy to for other interests to sneak in; and I don't just mean outright corruption, but even something as innocent as erring on the side of the client when in doubt.

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Thomas W. Bethel

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Re: Do you keep a moral standard?
« Reply #32 on: May 20, 2011, 08:19:10 am »

I have done some forensic work in the past and agree that it can be very distasteful.

My first forensic job was to remove the noise from a trans Atlantic phone call (before the days of cell phones and satellites) where a person in Europe  had threatened his wife here in the states. I was able to clean it up enough so you could hear him threaten to "kill you when I return". He was met at the airport by the FBI and the local police. That felt really good...

My second was a person who was selling cars on his lawn and the city was trying to bust him for running a car dealership without a license but he had a city official on tape saying that for a few hundred dollars he would "look the other way". The recording was made with a micro-cassette recorder in his pocket. The same pocket as he had all his change, his lighter and some cellophane from some candy he was sucking on. I was able to get it to the point that you could clearly hear the official offer to take a bribe.

This felt really good and I thought I had a new revenue stream.

Then came all the, what I call, crap forensics where it is recordings that are distasteful or down right disgusting. I have done some for spouses getting the "goods" on their significant other by recording their phone calls and clandestine meetings, I have cleaned up bedroom sex tapes, I have done work for the police and for individuals. Most of what I hear is not something I would want to hear as part of my daily life. I have had deputy sheriffs sitting in my mastering room while I cleaned up evidence so their was no break in the chain of evidence. It is NOT fun work and you get to hear things you should only hear on TV cop shows. It is not something for the faint of heart nor for people who are the least bit squeamish.

My last forensic job was from a women who was hearing voices threatening her and saying racist things about her and wanted me to clean the recording up so she could go to the police. There was nothing even remotely like a voice on the recording but she said she heard them plainly as someone speaking in the room. I tried and tried and finally told her that there was nothing on the recordings so I could not clean it up. The recordings were done on a digital voice recorder running at the lowest speed possible and there were so many digital artifacts that it was impossible to get anything off the device except noise. She would listen to the playback and recite what the people were saying. I played the recordings back in random order while watching the time counter and she would be saying the same words at the same point EVERY time. She must have heard something but I could never recover it.

I really think that people who do forensics full time must have very thick skins and can distance themselves from what they are doing. My hat is off to them. It is really not for me.
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Thomas W. Bethel
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Re: Do you keep a moral standard?
« Reply #33 on: May 20, 2011, 08:50:29 am »

I've done quite a bit of forensic work, and always explain that my services include a statement of process attesting to what I did, why I did it, what sonic tools were used, a brief bio of my background, with an affirmation that nothing was done to alter the original content by removal or enhancement, just that the contents were cleaned up for intelligibility and clarity, without recourse (all charged to whoever brought me the work)...said documentation is then notarized.

The cases I will NOT do are local/regional drug cases...figuring out why should be fairly simple.
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Ken Morgan
Wireline Studio
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Thomas W. Bethel

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Re: Do you keep a moral standard?
« Reply #34 on: May 20, 2011, 09:34:12 am »



The cases I will NOT do are local/regional drug cases...figuring out why should be fairly simple.

Good point...!!!
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Thomas W. Bethel
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Acoustik Musik, Ltd.
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Joe_caithness

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Re: Do you keep a moral standard?
« Reply #35 on: June 01, 2011, 08:00:39 am »

Context.

Someone mentioned Odd Future, a group who could have benefited from good mastering on their early records, seeing as they all sound horrible on my headphones! You have to understand some of this is for shock value and is part of the "art". If anything my only problem with Odd Future is that they have enough talent to not go on about raping girls, calling everyone a faggot and saying nigga constantly so that white suburban middles class dudes find them edgy without thinking their listening to, you know, those "scary black folk who make all that silly rap music" (please, please, please note the irony in this)

Where to draw the line? When the music is propaganda for a cause, for example you can't really say all these Ian Stuart-alike WP bands are using their words for artistic purposes, it's essentially for boneheads to singalong to their CDs at home and practice the words to go and sing on their disgusting marches.
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Re: Do you keep a moral standard?
« Reply #36 on: June 01, 2011, 05:42:31 pm »

Ha it was Scandinavian and I asked my partner who is Swedish, she had no idea what it said either. Done a few court/legal jobs. One of the oddest jobs has been being transfers of a number of seance tapes. I had to fire up the interdimensional eq for that. The special "cobwebbed" box I have that makes things 4D.
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Barry Gardner
SafeandSound Mastering UK based online mastering studio.

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Re: Do you keep a moral standard?
« Reply #37 on: June 02, 2011, 10:23:22 pm »

I don't work on "mafia" projects anymore. Not only do they try to pay you in "stuff", when you do get cash it's usually in small bills.
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Michael Fossenkemper
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Re: Do you keep a moral standard?
« Reply #38 on: June 08, 2011, 10:55:03 am »

Context.
Thanks Joe, much more succinct than my version. 

Good read from The Onion on this topic:
One man's "Tyler, The Creator" is another man's "Larry, the Cable Guy".

also, linked within that article:
In Defense of Offensive Art
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Adam Gonsalves
Telegraph Mastering

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Re: Do you keep a moral standard?
« Reply #39 on: July 21, 2011, 08:24:09 pm »

Thread/confessional-revival inspired by re-cutting parts on the one that shoulda got away.

I would offer my usual saying, that by aiding and abetting the release of this album, my couch in hell just got another throw-pillow... However, the high likelihood that this may be the only music available there has made me grin much less when I use that expression.

-Dave
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Dave Greenberg
Sonopod Mastering

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Re: Do you keep a moral standard?
« Reply #40 on: July 29, 2011, 11:10:38 pm »

To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.
“Douglas Adams”

We have in fact, two kinds of morality, side by side: one that we preach, but do not practice, and another that we practice, but seldom preach.
“Bertrand Russell”

The purpose of morality is to teach you, not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and live.
“Ayn Rand”

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Life’s all about making choices people, make them and wear them bravely.

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