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Author Topic: Nashville Vocals  (Read 29114 times)

compasspnt

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Re: Nashville Vocals
« Reply #45 on: March 28, 2005, 11:26:49 pm »

I equate the Autotune phenomenon to another type of situation:

Here at Compass Point, we have had a lot of models around for video or still photo shoots, everything from Cindy Crawford to Naomi Campbell to Playboy centerfolds.  We've also had lots of beautiful female singers around, such as Faith Hill, Shakira, Mariah, and many more.  I am sometimes surprised when I see some (not all, and not singling out any of the above in particular, just generalising!) of these beautiful people, that up close, in person, without the makeup, wardrobe, etc., some of them sometimes really don't look that stunningly great.  But what they ALL have is what I call "the canvas" on which the beautiful pictures can be well-painted.  NOT ALL WOMEN HAVE THIS "CANVAS."  In fact, not very many do.  In other words, in these people, the raw materials are there which can be enhanced to make the gorgeous.  If anyone saw the silly TV reality show The Swan, you can see what I mean.  Even with tens of thousands of dollars worth of every kind of health, beauty, and wardrobe treatment provided, these plain-jane girls they choose just don't look very good.

The same goes for using Autotune.  If the basic raw materials are there (the "special quality" of the voice, the feel for timing, the knowledge of melodic rise and fall, the understanding of dynamics) a little Autotuning here and there may not be noticed, and in fact may slightly enhance the performance, just as comping might.  But used on a poor quality singer to excess just makes a bad sounding mess, and is indeed an example of someone using up our oxygen.
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Tim Halligan

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Re: Nashville Vocals
« Reply #46 on: March 29, 2005, 04:55:01 am »

I'm kinda hoping that Otto will go the way of the Exciter...remember when albums (yes, the big black 12" things that warped as soon as you looked at them sideways...) appeared with liner notes to the effect of "not mixed through the Exciter"

If memory serves, The Eagles "The Long Run" was one of these...

It is sadly fashionable at the moment, but all moments pass.

I see your point Terry, but it seems that there is far too much use/abuse right now. A liitle dab'll do ya.

Too much turd polishing...not enough talent searching IMHO.

But what the hell do I know...I just do post. Very Happy

Cheers,
Tim
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John Ivan

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Re: Nashville Vocals
« Reply #47 on: March 29, 2005, 07:27:22 am »

Tim Halligan wrote on Tue, 29 March 2005 04:55

I'm kinda hoping that Otto will go the way of the Exciter...remember when albums (yes, the big black 12" things that warped as soon as you looked at them sideways...) appeared with liner notes to the effect of "not mixed through the Exciter"

If memory serves, The Eagles "The Long Run" was one of these...

It is sadly fashionable at the moment, but all moments pass.

I see your point Terry, but it seems that there is far too much use/abuse right now. A liitle dab'll do ya.

Too much turd polishing...not enough talent searching IMHO.

But what the hell do I know...I just do post. Very Happy

Cheers,
Tim


Good point, Remember,,? it seems like half the records made at one point had the Linn Drm machine on it. That passed, sort of. I shouldn't bitch, there are still great records being made with great players, we just need to dig for them a little.The record we're working on is what it is. It will be honest straight ahead palyin' and singin'. It's the only way I know how to do things as a writer. It will be fun and maybe we'll sell a couple too.

I need to be careful about how down I let this stuff get me. It all comes out in the wash....
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compasspnt

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Re: Nashville Vocals
« Reply #48 on: March 29, 2005, 07:52:09 am »

One thing that I don't think has been mentioned here yet regarding "Nashville" vocals, and the reasons for their possibly being consistently better in the technical sense, is the actual type of singing involved.  Rock (and "Pop") music, which many of us use as the comparison, has taken on much more of singing in head voice, forcing the vocals to come farther up and back in the throat, often with forced "grain," and very often in the highest part of the range possible.  This makes it sometimes difficult to achieve a consistent, solid tone, and often harder to maintain pitch.

Country vocalists almost always sing in a more accesible part of their range, and in a chest voice.  This type of singing is closer to what many think of as "true" singing in the time honoured sense.

Every rock singer is not Robert Plant, but many, many have tried to be since he came on the scene.  Neither are there very many with the "forced" vocal talents of a Rod Stewart or a Bryan Adams, but again, many try.  Artists have also tried to emulate Bob Dylan, who would not be considered a "true" singer, but who emotes amazingly, and has his own distinctive style.

But in Nashville, more often than not, singers are breathing, singing from the chest, and generally following classic technique.  Couple this with good engineering, good mic chain, and Autotune, and there is a big part of your "perfect" vocal.  Of course, there is the occasional distinctive interpreter such as Willie Nelson or Kristoferson, but this is the exception in country music, not the norm.

In Hip Hop/Rap, fortunately they have eliminated the need for singing.
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wireline

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Re: Nashville Vocals
« Reply #49 on: March 29, 2005, 08:05:36 am »

Quote:

In Hip Hop/Rap, fortunately they have eliminated the need for singing


Another nominee for someone' tag line...

I am, however interested in the vocal process (chain, compression, etc) of some of less than brutal (real) singers of past times: Examples include Sinatra, Burton Cummings of the Guess Who, and of course, Merle Haggard.

BTW, if someone could detail the typical chain used by EmmyLou Harris, I'd be grateful...and if you could also (a) take out Buddy Miller, (b) arrange for me to be her road player, I'd appreciate that as well...

(BTW- this is a great thread...very educational, and I think half of education is thinking of how you're gonna USE the information you get....)
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New Orleans Steve

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Re: Nashville Vocals
« Reply #50 on: March 29, 2005, 09:50:14 am »

Terry wrote:
   One thing that I don't think has been mentioned here yet regarding "Nashville" vocals, and the reasons for their possibly being consistently better in the technical sense, is the actual type of singing involved.  Rock (and "Pop") music, which many of us use as the comparison, has taken on much more of singing in head voice, forcing the vocals to come farther up and back in the throat, often with forced "grain," and very often in the highest part of the range possible.  This makes it sometimes difficult to achieve a consistent, solid tone, and often harder to maintain pitch.

Country vocalists almost always sing in a more accesible part of their range, and in a chest voice.  This type of singing is closer to what many think of as "true" singing in the time honoured sense.

Every rock singer is not Robert Plant, but many, many have tried to be since he came on the scene.  Neither are there very many with the "forced" vocal talents of a Rod Stewart or a Bryan Adams, but again, many try.  Artists have also tried to emulate Bob Dylan, who would not be considered a "true" singer, but who emotes amazingly, and has his own distinctive style.

But in Nashville, more often than not, singers are breathing, singing from the chest, and generally following classic technique.  Couple this with good engineering, good mic chain, and Autotune, and there is a big part of your "perfect" vocal.  Of course, there is the occasional distinctive interpreter such as Willie Nelson or Kristoferson, but this is the exception in country music, not the norm.

In Hip Hop/Rap, fortunately they have eliminated the need for singing.[/quote]


O.K. Terry,
 That's great that is part of what I'm looking for here. I kinda knew that, but I really love the way you have articulated it!

The other thing I am really noticing about the way this thread is unfolding is how everyone is bashing auto tune. Again I can see why; it's fairly obvious. The Objectionable artifacts are, well objectionable. But what I asked was not, "What's that horrible thing I hear?". Rather, What's that 'ear candy' I can't get? In other words, I actually LIKE some of that sound. Again, I can hear the down side of auto tune, but there is something good going on with auto tune or some other technique employed when mixing in the box.
  I have not been able to get even close with my more traditional vocal techniques. I use some pretty classy gear. And It took me a long time to get where I'm at now. Then this new sound has arrived. I may have noticed it before, but it was not until I was forced to listen to CMT for literally 10 or 12 hours that it really sunk in -WOW while I spent Years getting the traditional Nashville sound, and Nashville (CMT format at least) has moved on and got a new sound.
  I think I have found the answer to me original question, it's one or more in the box plugs. There really is an upside to this, as well as the down side. I mean in tune vocals are good. It's just that some of the artifacts are audible and not so good.

THANKS, so much,
Steve

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Sender

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Re: Nashville Vocals
« Reply #51 on: March 29, 2005, 12:56:55 pm »

I really don't understand all this AutoTune bashing. Granted I'm young and new to the profession, but I still feel like AutoTune is more of an asset then a set back. We live in a world now that is more about selling CDs then producing 'art', which in some cases I feel is a sham. Granted I support the arguement that it does cheapens the experience of listening to a good singer but I think it's best to relate this to baseball. Baseball, like country, was suffering in the 80's. Low fan turn out, low TV ratings, etc.. Then steroids came onto the market, and baseball was hot again. The McGuire/Sossa homerun race, big time sluggers like Cansaco (sp?), which in turn, brought legitimate achievements, Cal Ripken JR's most consecutive starts record, into the spot light. If you think baseball is going to be hurt by steroids, you're dead wrong! Barry Bonds will surpass Babe Ruth's homerun record early this season, and then in a year or so he will break Hank Aron's record, and be remembered as having the most homeruns ever, with steroids only being a minor foot note, if at all.

It is a shame that a great game had to be cheapened by drugs and hormones in order to increase revenue, but was have to remember something, IT'S ENTERTAINMENT!!! Nascar Dad, Soccer Mom, and Tenny Bopper Son/Daughter could give a rats behind if a Berhingher pre-amp was used, or if was mixed in the box. All they care about is that it sounds poppy and that they like the song. And AutoTune is the dirty  anabolic steroids of our industry, but it sells CDs, it puts butts in the seats at concert, and it gets people to watch CMT, which puts food on our tables. So is it really that bad then? Does steroids help put a bat to a ball? Does AutoTune make a terrible singer sound natural? I don't have problems sleeping at night when I 'cheat' by using AutoTune. I'm actually happy, I'm making the client happy and I'm making a product that will make their perspective fan base happy as well. These 'enhancements' are just that, enhancements. They can't take someone who is talentless and make them into a monster talent. There still has to be that raw talent to work with, they need to be able to put the bat on the ball, AutoTune just makes it easier for the ball to go further....  

/end rant...

Sorry about that. More on the Nashville sound though! Someone said this before and it's true is the level of comping that takes place. I've seen engineers take all day on a chorus, going through the many different takes, getting as deep into it as picking the right breaths. I know with Miranda Lambert and some Tanya Tucker stuff they were using U87s and U47s. Alot of Neve and GML pre's as well. I hope this sheds some light onto the subject for you!!
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Mike Kivett

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Re: Nashville Vocals
« Reply #52 on: March 29, 2005, 01:51:53 pm »

I personally agree with much of what's been said.  Talent is the best way to get a solid performance, and I love it when someone goes thru a whole project and I don't have to click on that little "helper".

However, as far as the Autotune bashing from the standpoint that real artists don't need it...I have a problem with that.

It's been touched on before, but how is Autotune any different than Beat Detective?  Or using a sampled string patch instead of scheduling a group of real players for a tracking date?

Or heck...even double or triple tracking guitars when there's only one Marshall Mozart in the band.  That's not a real representation of what the artist is all about, either.

I think that there's a lot of honesty in everyone's answers here, but to pick on Autotune and ignore the general state of recording today (too many bands, mcuh more diluted talent pool) seems somewhat unfair.  
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maxim

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Re: Nashville Vocals
« Reply #53 on: March 29, 2005, 03:30:13 pm »

i suspect that AT-bashing is a symptom of musician-phobia (check out any of the gag threads)

while there are some dumbass musos around, it, probably, is rooted in the subconscious insecurity that a lot of engineers really wanted to be rock stars

they are also pissed off that their essential contributions aren't being acknowledged by the public

instead, the "useless divas" get all the chicks and glory

you get a similar experience among the tech crews on films and in theatre

notice that the more experienced and secure AE's don't indulge in AT-bashing, but use it strictly as a tool

keep in mind, that tuning vocals has been around as long as u47's

just my psychoanalytic $0.02 (@$150/hour)
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mr. moon

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Re: Nashville Vocals
« Reply #54 on: March 29, 2005, 03:32:11 pm »

Mike K wrote on Tue, 29 March 2005 12:51



However, as far as the Autotune bashing from the standpoint that real artists don't need it...I have a problem with that.

It's been touched on before, but how is Autotune any different than Beat Detective?  Or using a sampled string patch instead of scheduling a group of real players for a tracking date?

Or heck...even double or triple tracking guitars when there's only one Marshall Mozart in the band.  That's not a real representation of what the artist is all about, either.

I think that there's a lot of honesty in everyone's answers here, but to pick on Autotune and ignore the general state of recording today (too many bands, mcuh more diluted talent pool) seems somewhat unfair.  


Mike K,

IMHO, a real artist does not "need" Autotune; if they choose to use it as an effect, that is one thing, but to rely upon it to capture an acceptable performance is what I personally have issue with. When using a sampled symphony or beats in a recording, you give credit (or you're supposed to, anyway) to the source that you procured the audio sample from. I have yet to see a vocalist thanking Autotune for providing them the ability to hit a fricken' note correctly. Double tracking guitars, bass, vocals, etc., I have no problem with, as long as they are all played "for real" by the artist.

For example, Jimmy Page; Great guitarist and great producer as well, to my knowledge (Terry, please let me know if I'm wrong here) he played all his guitar parts and orchestrated them beautifully in the studio. Live, he could not reproduce the same sound, as he didn't, for the most part, rely on cool toys to fill out his sound. However, once you come to terms with the fact that the studio representation is a "full realization" of what he heard in his head and the live version is the "live interpretation" of that full vision, you can see how great he was during his prime ...even when he was having "priority issues" revolving around various substances, which appeared to have really affected his playing abilities.

IMHO, I would much rather listen to a sh1tty recording of a great song than listen to a great recording of a sh1tty song...

Sender wrote on Tue, 29 March 2005 11:56

We live in a world now that is more about selling CDs then producing 'art'...


Therein lies the root of the problem, IMHO.

-mr moon

EDIT: Spelling


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John Ivan

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Re: Nashville Vocals
« Reply #55 on: March 29, 2005, 03:52:05 pm »

All Great comments here. Very interesting.

Terry makes a great point about the difference between Forced Rock singing and old school "Proper" singing. My singing chops come from old soul and R&B records, {Stevie Wonder is my hero!!} and in the rock world, I always loved Steve Walsh from Kansas and Ann Wilson from heart. Folks who had a more  singer's singer approach to singing. There really is a big difference in part because, In your face rock singing can kinda move by us with attitude and as the listener, we might not be as focused on pitch. When Martina McBride opens her mouth, We expect really pretty singing to come out,and it dose. I think she's an example of real Talent,or,What I like ,at least.

When it comes to Bashing Auto Tune, I don't really Bash IT as much as I Bash the idea that music has been watered down to the point that you don't have to have what has been known as singing talent to sing on a record anymore. Comparing it to doubling guitars is an argument I don't understand at all. The example of using a sampler instead of calling in real string players however,is more to the point and while I have called real folks in, I hardly ever have the budget, so, I'm guilty.

Sender,,

I am not interested in wether the soccer Mom Knows what I might or might not be using. This might come as news to you but, People will buy what they are told to buy, period, end of story. If you are making the argument that people buy records because someone tuned the vocals, it just isn't true. There is a standard set in these huge music company towns to shape talent and the record making process to make it fast and to feed people things they don't have to think about to enjoy. I personally don't make records for other peoples entertainment. I make them for my entertainment and if other people like them,great.

The Steroids argument is just horrid!! Hey man, If what we want and ALL we want is to put people in the seats, We should open Huge ,live porn theaters and sell crack. To me personally, I wont watch Base ball anymore because the game has died. It isn't a sport anymore for me.

I am fully aware of the fact that engineers in general today edit the crap out of every little detail on every track. I just don't buy that they are making "better" records as a result. I know they use really great sounding mics and pre's and for this, they should be commended. If I could afford to do this more often, I would. It can make a Huge difference.

The general point I'm making is, It's not entertainment. It's art that people are sometimes entertained by..
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Mike Kivett

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Re: Nashville Vocals
« Reply #56 on: March 29, 2005, 04:28:00 pm »

Well, I admit the double/triple tracking guitar example was a stretch.  I did preface it with a "heck", at least!  Smile

I agree that in a perfect world, we would all just have the option to use Autotune as a tool to create a mood or effect that translates to some artistic vision.  

I just getting the feeling that those who simply and bluntly say "I refuse to use AutoTune because it sucks and singers should sing" are limiting their options.  The same point/argument could be used about any effect, as in "I refuse to use echo because it's fake sounding and we SHOULD be recording in a bigger room", etc.  Why should anyone ever need a ProTools jockey to do hitpoint editing on every single track of a modern rock record?  Because a lot of drummers suck, or can't play in time.  What's the difference?

And please don't bust my balls about the example; I think you know what I'm going for here.  (I'm very tired!)
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RMoore

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Re: Nashville Vocals
« Reply #57 on: March 29, 2005, 05:17:58 pm »

ivan40 wrote on Tue, 29 March 2005 22:52

  If what we want and ALL we want is to put people in the seats, We should open Huge ,live porn theaters and sell crack.  .


Great business plan!
I am headed to the local bank tomorrow to get funding for this; it is Holland and all...the music biz just isn't what it once was..time for new ventures!
Smile
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John Ivan

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Re: Nashville Vocals
« Reply #58 on: March 29, 2005, 05:28:47 pm »

Hi Mike;

I do see what you're saying. It's just that I can only look at this from the point of view that, when I'm doing my thing,I do it one way. When I'm doing work for someone else,I do what ever they need or want. I do this with a smile on my face and a good attitude too { I know that may be hard to believe after reading my posts but it's true.} I just don't think we need protools jockeys to edit every little thing. I wish more music being made today in the pop rock soul hip hop country end of things was more real. I like hearing the drum kit ring a bit and I like hearing the guitar player almost screw it up but not quite. I like hearing the singer just barely make that last pitch at the end of a huge phrase. This is what I think is missing from a lot of todays music. The human experience. It's just not convincing enough anymore.

Maybe it's the steady diet of old jazz I got when I was a kid or something.

I am happy to be working though and if someone wants me to tune their vocal and line up every drum hit, I'll do it.

There is a whole new kind of Music out there now. They call it "Smooth Jazz". I like some of this music just fine and I'm glad these cats are workin' but, Why call it that? This is an example of how things have changes a lot.
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Mike Kivett

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Re: Nashville Vocals
« Reply #59 on: March 29, 2005, 10:41:06 pm »

Thanks for understanding what I was getting at.

Don't get me wrong, I feel much like most of you do.  However, it's easy for me to get frustrated with the type of work I sometimes find myself facing, especially most of the work I've been doing lately.  

Nothing gives me as much satisfaction as just "capturing a performance", where the talent makes you look good.  It's just that (at the level I'm at) I rarely get the luxury to pick and choose whom I get to "serve".  I'm competing with the guy down the street who has a Roland box, or a hacked copy of Cubase, etc. etc. who wants to give it away for $15 an hour.

Soooo, I have to attempt to give the client what he or she wants, and this includes trying to make them sound like something they're not.  If they're not the talent they think they are, I use every trick at my disposal to attempt to "polish the turd" as best I can.  If that means making them sing in tune, so be it.  I personally feel that it's much harder to make them sound great than simply recording someone who IS great.

You know what?  I was venting my frustration.  Thanks for the opportunity, and I'll try not to let it happen again.  I'd hate to be known as the "thread killer"...  Smile
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