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R/E/P => R/E/P Archives => Terry Manning => Topic started by: New Orleans Steve on March 20, 2005, 02:16:30 pm

Title: Nashville Vocals
Post by: New Orleans Steve on March 20, 2005, 02:16:30 pm


O.K. It has been a while since I listened to some modern Nashville stuff. Don't get me wrong; I love old style country and roots stuff. But current CMT format, I don't really keep current on that.
  Now, I have always felt that Nashville has given vocals and 'the song' more respect than any other format. And indeed it's always in front, present and every nuance audible. These are values I always strive for in almost all pop I record.

Well, I went to a family gathering in a cabin in the woods. I went up a day earlier with my sister and brother in law. He's a NASCAR kind of guy. He warned me, "They have satellite TV, but it only gets about 8 channels." Of course he put it on CMT (where it stayed all weekend). Within minutes, I noticed the Vocals. Dead On - This is the sound I often want and can never quite nail.

It wasn't just the first cut - It was EVERY cut. I am sure they were all different labels, recording formats, production teams, etc. Not only did they all sound 'Right', but they all sounded the SAME.

I tried to discern what was going on, like sonic signature, etc. They didn't sound like ANY mic pre, compressor or anything. They all sounded like the singer was just right there - Singing.

I don't feel this way with regards to other radio formats. With other music, I often (right or wrong) can speculate as to what gear and techinique was used. But this modern 'country', more properly CMT format leaves me scratching my head and blown away by the presence and 'quality'.

Again, I would not call the sound, full, present, open or anything just there and great.

Is there some secret weapon currently in vogue with this format?

Thanks for any input you may have,
Steve
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: vernier on March 20, 2005, 08:40:02 pm
Yeah ..they're using Autotune (and it sounds weird). To get a perspective of good sounding vocals ..play some Patsy Cline, George Jones, Tammy Wynette (and a hundred others from the 60's).
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: Hallams on March 20, 2005, 09:05:25 pm
I think it is the sound of what can be achieved in the box. I  find it very difficult to get that sound when mixing in analogue especially with busy material, but when i started pulling a vocal sound in the box with look ahead compression and good (?)  digital eq etc, i was able to get "that" sound. Personally i think it is  overdone. A bit like the digital photos of  those perfect in every way models that leaves you with the feeling that you are no longer looking at the real thing . One of my favorite vocal sounds is from a Stan Getz recording . You can hear her lips when she opens her mouth, and it is real.
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: compasspnt on March 20, 2005, 10:03:00 pm
Some (not all) of the Nashville guys just draw straight lines on EVERYTHING with Autotune.  And I know of one producer there who actually has artists sing THROUGH Autotune live, on automatic, during initial vocal tracking.  It is all definitely the box sound to the max.
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: Tim Halligan on March 21, 2005, 08:00:19 am
...and add the brutal brickwall limiting before the uplink, and voila!


Laughing

Cheers,
Tim
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: New Orleans Steve on March 21, 2005, 09:04:00 am
Auto Tune


O.K. Thanks for the response everybody!

This would certainly explain why I can't get this sound. I still go 'analogue style' with ADATS.

Still. Always, Nashville vocals rule. Even pre auto-tune. I have mastered several classic vocal styles, but that particular one has eluded me.

I know conventional wisdom says, 'listen to every voice' when picking the vocal chain. But for me it has been more about the song. That is, picking the vocal chain that will work best for the song or tracking situation at hand. Again, for me this is the case 90% of the time. The other 10% is for what I would call problem cases - Usually sibilance. And there a ribbon is usually the answer.

When in OD mode I rarely can best my Manley Gold ref. into a Demeter. The exception is when I chouse to use a dynamic or singers that have there own natural Sssss, rather than sibilance induced or very much excited by electronics.

More techniques are always welcome....Anyone.

Steve
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: Bob Olhsson on March 21, 2005, 10:24:23 am
Not just a little of it is the singers themselves. Remember that they are getting signed for their convincing voices and good looks rather than for their songwriting ability which is more the case today in other genres. I just about keeled over when I heard Lynn Anderson singing through an SM58 in a bar last year!
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: thedoc on March 21, 2005, 10:44:35 am
I have often wondered if a lot of volume graphing was being used to make the singer sound "Closer" without compression artifacts...?
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: Bob Olhsson on March 21, 2005, 11:26:29 am
So now we call gain riding "volume graphing!"

Smile

Older engineers rode gain a lot during the live recording. It was not uncommon for me to cover a 10dB range with some of the Motown artists.
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: Barry Hufker on March 21, 2005, 11:46:59 am
I am sure as Bob and others would admit, there's a big difference between riding a fader (or even volume graphing) and using a device to create a career.

In the past tho' as in the present, many careers were manufactured.  Think of some of the singers of the 50s, think of second-rate English and American groups in the 60s, think of Milli-vanilli (is that how you even spell that? -- and who cares??).  Think of... well you name who you want.

Some singers, and to my mind Roy Orbison is one of them -- who not only wasn't a good singer in voice quality, but very often had severe pitch problems -- have had lasting careers.  Rock and Roll (and probably many other types of music) has never required good singing, just a distinctive voice.  But technology now allows us to make a singer "better."

There was a recent segment on one of the gossip shows (like Access Hollywood). They took the person Simon Cowell (of American Idol) called "the worst singer in America" and brought her into a recording studio.  By the time the producer was finished with her catterwalling,she sounded as good as a lot of people who are selling a lot of discs.

I think the trend in our profession is no different than it is in many professions -- we do something because we can whether we ought to or not.

Barry
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: Bob Olhsson on March 21, 2005, 11:51:53 am
In the past many careers were EXPANDED from success as an actor or broadcast personality but that's quite different from being manufactured.
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: thedoc on March 21, 2005, 01:08:22 pm
criminy...so what did I start with that?

for me Volume graphing is the same as riding a fader...just an off line way to do it.  I do both.  I promise not to turn chicken shiit into chicken salad...!
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: drumsound on March 21, 2005, 01:16:11 pm
Bob Olhsson wrote on Mon, 21 March 2005 10:26

So now we call gain riding "volume graphing!"

Smile

Older engineers rode gain a lot during the live recording. It was not uncommon for me to cover a 10dB range with some of the Motown artists.


Bob,

Were those singers that consistent that you could learn how they were going to sing after a pass or two?  The few times I've been brave enough the singer "goes for it" and I end either getting too hot because they belted, or too low because they decided to bring it down.  Of course if that was "the take" I left it and dealt later...
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: New Orleans Steve on March 21, 2005, 02:09:42 pm
???
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: New Orleans Steve on March 21, 2005, 02:15:54 pm
   I can get a big, bright open sound. It took me forever but it was just upping the annie on my vocal chain. But it always has a trace of ESssss (not always bad) and an intimacy that these cuts Do Not have. Once again what I am getting has a close sound. It took me forever to get there. These videos lack that - It just sounds like there are right there in the room without that 'Cozy with the mic' thing.

Thanks All
Steve
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: compasspnt on March 21, 2005, 02:38:11 pm
Another thing to remember about the Nashville stuff (indeed, it holds true for all music as well) is that it is so important what is around the vocal, that is, the instrumentation.  Of course the denseness or openness of the music track will affect the perception of the vocal itself.  In most Nashville releases, the music is being performed by VERY competent, professional session musicians who have a good sense of what to play and where, and what and when NOT to play.  (This is of course bolstered by the Producer's knowledge).
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: Bob Olhsson on March 21, 2005, 03:11:16 pm
There's a bit of practice involved in riding. I wish I could do it as well as I could when I was doing it every day.

What I did was sing along under my breath and never take my eyes off the singer. I could tune into where they were about to go because I was breathing with them. I used my left thumb and forefinger to keep track of where I'd been moving the fader with my right hand.

Sibilance and popping are the usual problems with off-brand condenser mikes.

And Terry's absolutely right that many arrangers and session musicians, especially drummers and pianists, have won people lots of engineering Grammys.
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: jwhynot on March 21, 2005, 09:24:23 pm
3 words to consider.  High.  Pass.  Filter.

Careful fiddling with HPF can get a close-to-microphone vocal to perk up and enjoy a comfort level in the mix.

Along with everything else of course!  For example I've been into a trick lately where I have a 20:1 limiter followed by something softer like an LA2A or LA4 depending on the victim - setting the limiter so that it does nothing at all except on big peaks - grabbing and letting go as quick as possible - which allows the compressor to remain active without getting swamped by the peaks.

Done right, on the right vocalist, it's like finding a larger parking space for your suburban-sized vocal track.

JW
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: Bill Mueller on March 21, 2005, 09:26:42 pm
OK Barry,

I was witch ya all the way, till ya bustid on Roy. You 'n me buddy....OUTSIDE!

Best Regards,

Bill
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: Bill Mueller on March 21, 2005, 09:34:11 pm
Terry,

I've been wanting to ask you about this and now is a good time. I have a Shania Twain CD with a track of yours on it. I would love to hear what Mutt's like in the studio and how you go from your more "organic" sound to Mutt's synthetic country sound. BTW, I'm a car fan of Shania. By that I mean that I love her sound in the car, not so much in the control room.

Best Regards,

Bill
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: Barry Hufker on March 21, 2005, 11:00:40 pm
But-but-but Bill, I was only jokin' see and ah, well ah, I ah, well you know....


Cheers!

Barry
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: maxdimario on March 22, 2005, 06:54:46 am
I think country singers have always been the best at producing a full natural voice, compared to pop or rock.

They seem to have the best breathing technique, and the confidential style of delivery makes it so that they are using their voices properly without strain, and they improve with experience (unlike some rock singers).

that really translates to a great vocal recording.

the way the studio musicians can follow the singer's phrasing rhythmically and make him or her comfortable so that the voice is relaxed, also has a lot to do with country vocals.

Although I wonder why anyone would really like to copy a style of recording based on autotune and digital limiting.
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: russrags on March 22, 2005, 09:23:49 am
I'm a little late coming to this thread, but as a Nashville Producer I can tell you this....

Mostly getting a GREAT Vocal sound is a combination of a GREAT Sound Source ... along with a GREAT Signal Chain (Upwards of $20,000) .. and Putting in the Time, Recording, Comping, Re-recording and yes even auto tuning.

Although you can hear auto-tuning working on many current country hits, you will NEVER hear it working on anything I do... I'm not saying I don't use auto-tune, because I do.  When done right, you won't hear it working. There's just not a straight across the board single setting to do it.  

I'll share a recient vocal session with you ... day 1:  5 hour vocal session,
day 2: 4 hour session, day 3: 4 hour session ... "OK .. Now you know the song, go home and learn it, come back in a few days"  Now mind you this singer can SING.  Of course lines were kept and used from each session the final 4 hour session on the 4th day produced many great lines that really flowed naturally that were the iceing on the cake.  Now all of this work was for just "one song," not including the BG Voc's.

OK, I may add more to this later, but I've got to get to the Studio.

Russ
http://home.bellsouth.net/p/PWP-russragsdale



Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: vernier on March 22, 2005, 10:41:11 am
Well its good to hear someone isn't using autotune.
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: rush909 on March 22, 2005, 10:44:35 am
it's great hearing from all of you re: vocal production...  It's refreshing to know that getting a great vocal sound is a combination of gear, experience, vocalist, editing, and above all HARD WORK.   Sometimes I question all the work I go through to get a good vocal down/comp it/fix it etc... (doing it right now actually...)... it's so refreshing to hear that Top engineers spend time to get things to sound the way they do and that there is no "easy button" solution...

r.
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: Hallams on March 22, 2005, 02:44:11 pm
[quote title=russrags wrote on Tue, 22 March 2005 14:23 a GREAT Signal Chain (Upwards of $20,000) ..
[/quote]

It's not "just" the gear but at $20,000 it would be interesting to know what  sort of gear you choose.
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: vernier on March 23, 2005, 08:33:59 pm
$20,000 could be for the mic alone (Elam 251, a good one).
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: John Ivan on March 24, 2005, 08:32:15 am
Nashville certainly has a sound. I like some of the tunes a lot and there is no doubt there are great players there. The Engineers are also great,the gear is great the producers are great the writers in some cases are great also. That is why I don't understand why they have to take every good idea they have down there and beat it to death. I hear auto tune on ALL the stuff coming out of Nashville. The drums sounds tend to be small and everything is very very conservative sounding.

I like things to sound finished but, when I listen to country Radio, I go to sleep pretty quick because I start to be able to predict what's coming around the corner. .....'OK, here come the auto tuned back up vocals that might as well be a synth patch'......... ..


I sing for over half my living and I must say. I don't know anyone who sings every single pitch in tune. It is a shame that tuning this stuff has become an excepted practice. Take Toby Keath {spelling?} for example. He really can't sing. At least, it's not what I call singing. Tim Mcgraw can sing, but, It was a real drag when I heard him on TV and he sang a whole song,out of tune.Is he used to having auto tune do it for him? or was  his in ear mix screwed up so he sang flat? Gretchen Willson sings great but they use auto tune on here too. You can tell it a mile away. I don't like using technology the moves away from human resources, like drum machines and auto tune.


Having said all that, the stuff does "sound good" but it's just over done for my taste.

Hey, who is the lady who sang "Break Down Here"? that tune is really great. the band just nails it. It really sounds like a band playing right there in the room. Who engineered that. I like it.


I don't want anyone to get the idea that I don't respect what's going on in Nashville. I DO! I listen to country radio sometimes because it seems like all the players and writers in pop music and jazz, all the killer players {or most of them} ended up there. What they are ,for some reason, calling R&B these days is un- listenable drum machine demo stuff for me. R&R radio in compressed to death and very whiny.

I love some of the tunes you folks are cranking out down there and you have real talent. Can't ya just do a couple takes and call it good? mix it in a day and shut all that auto this and auto that OFF. You don't need it. You have real talent.
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: stevieeastend on March 24, 2005, 12:06:51 pm
Besides Nashville,

I got the same feeling for that kind of perfect vocal, level-, tune-, and "anything else you can think of "-wise when listening to the Kanye West record. It is an awesome vocals performance, also the way it is mixed is absolutely outstanding. I had the same feeling as New Orleans Steve mentioned: natural and perfect. Curious if and how much autotune was used on this...

cheers
steveeastend
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: Level on March 24, 2005, 12:26:12 pm
...All along, I thought it was just a Neumann and a lot of verb...

Good thread!

The Nashville "sound" seems to have a shiny sheen on it...synonymous with a U87.
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: Meriphew on March 25, 2005, 02:20:34 pm
If you want some new "old school" flavored country vox, get Neko Case's "Blacklisted". IMO she's the best out there right now. Recorded in Tucson by Craig Schumacher (I believe). I don't think there's any autotune on that.
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: vernier on March 25, 2005, 05:57:34 pm
Nashville vocal-wise, you can't beat Mandy Barnett.

http://www.mandymusic.com/
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: compasspnt on March 25, 2005, 09:36:03 pm
Bill Mueller wrote on Mon, 21 March 2005 21:34

Terry,

I've been wanting to ask you about this and now is a good time. I have a Shania Twain CD with a track of yours on it. I would love to hear what Mutt's like in the studio and how you go from your more "organic" sound to Mutt's synthetic country sound. BTW, I'm a car fan of Shania. By that I mean that I love her sound in the car, not so much in the control room.

Best Regards,

Bill


Well, I have "accidentally" ignored a couple of Mutt/Shania questions, but I guess that's not really fair to the Forum...

Mutt is a good friend, and I am a big fan of him and his talent.  He has very kindly asked me on occasion to work with him, and I am always happy to oblige.  In the case of the recent Shania album, I was asked to help oversee various overdubs when he was so busy with other tasks on the album that he couldn't actually come to the Nassau sessions.  So we would coordinate over the phone exactly what he wanted, and exchange files via ftp.  On many other occasions of course, he has done sessions here live and in person.

I think Mutt is a totally incredible producer, and he is the hardest worker I have ever seen in the studio.  He is able to maintain absolute concentration over a longer period than I ever thought possible.  You don't notice him eating or taking breaks; he will always be the first one there and the last one to leave.  And the resultant success is undeniable, whether you are a fan of his music or not.

However, Mutt is a very private person, and shuns public display, so I should probably not comment much more than this.

Thanks for the interest!
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: Mark Gifford on March 25, 2005, 09:58:47 pm
For some fabulous Nashville-style vocals, without the autotuning, check out "Miss Fortune" by Allison Moorer.

It came with a sticker on it that said "No Autotuning Was Used On This CD."

Amazing singer, songs, production, etc. Produced by R.S. Field, mixed by George Massenburg. She's got 4-5 records out, all of them great, but unfortunatley she doesn't seem to sell many...

MG
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: Eric Rudd on March 26, 2005, 08:38:32 am
Murray Cullen wrote on Fri, 25 March 2005 22:57

Nashville vocal-wise, you can't beat Mandy Barnett.

http://www.mandymusic.com/



Or Alison Moorer.

Eric
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: New Orleans Steve on March 26, 2005, 09:43:10 am
O.K.
  This thread has really shed some light on this whole thing for me. THANKS everyone.

 I would have never suspected the 'in the box thing', I just don't work that way....Yet. I'm about to make a small plunge into a DAW system. When I really get ready I will seek advice on another forum here at REP.

So, the next question, With all of these auto tune ing that we are talking about.

 Is this Antaries brand plugs, OR are there other products that do similar things? What's everyone using?

And an additional comment. Now that you guys have hipped me to it, I was watching a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction thing on VH1. AMAZING production. Everything, the lights, the editing, just great.
Percy Sledge was inducted. Now, I was on a sound crew that did him, and with all respect, he could have used some help. So, on this show, now that I knew what to look for I could so easily hear it. Again, that perfection with regards to the Just being their thing that started this conversation for me. But, the pitch correction ruined the glissando of "When a Man Loves a Woman". It just seemed like Aaaa Eeee Oooo Uuuu.<I don't really know how to spell it!

Steve
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: rankus on March 26, 2005, 11:59:00 am
New Orleans Steve wrote on Sat, 26 March 2005 06:43

O.K.
    Is this Antaries brand plugs, OR are there other products that do similar things? What's everyone using?

Steve





Have a look at "Melodyne" by a company called Celemony .... very robust and can do way more than AT.
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: bushwick on March 26, 2005, 09:55:53 pm
This vocal discussion has gotten me interested to post something that might be contrary to many folks opinion. I was told years ago that many tube mics can get too tubey with other tube components in their path. These days, my main vocal path  for tracking is either a M7 or K47 capsuled u47, or an Elam into a v72, into an BA6A (!!!) comp and I am getting the most ridiculous vocal sounds that I have ever heard in my life. This is my first set up and other than changing out the mics or putting in a highpass, I have not had this fail yet.

The v72 was modded for gain and with pad, and the pad is important for high output mics, but my god friends - absolutely the most insane path I've ever heard. (sometimes an 8900 between the v72 and the ba6a for super dynamicy stuff)

In heaven...
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: mr. moon on March 27, 2005, 07:33:55 am
Mark Gifford wrote on Fri, 25 March 2005 20:58

For some fabulous Nashville-style vocals, without the autotuning, check out "Miss Fortune" by Allison Moorer.

It came with a sticker on it that said "No Autotuning Was Used On This CD."

Amazing singer, songs, production, etc. Produced by R.S. Field, mixed by George Massenburg. She's got 4-5 records out, all of them great, but unfortunatley she doesn't seem to sell many...

MG


I need to get some of those "No Autotuning..." stickers. AutoTune sucks! Mad ...Don't get me started on that abomination.

However, it is great to hear that there are other artists and producers out there who aren't using it! Cool

-mr moon
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: rush909 on March 27, 2005, 04:45:31 pm
mr. moon wrote on Sun, 27 March 2005 13:33

Mark Gifford wrote on Fri, 25 March 2005 20:58

For some fabulous Nashville-style vocals, without the autotuning, check out "Miss Fortune" by Allison Moorer.

It came with a sticker on it that said "No Autotuning Was Used On This CD."

Amazing singer, songs, production, etc. Produced by R.S. Field, mixed by George Massenburg. She's got 4-5 records out, all of them great, but unfortunatley she doesn't seem to sell many...

MG


I need to get some of those "No Autotuning..." stickers. AutoTune sucks! Mad ...Don't get me started on that abomination.

However, it is great to hear that there are other artists and producers out there who aren't using it! Cool

-mr moon


with all due respect, saying auto-tune sucks is like saying electricity sucks...  

Like electricity it's got it’s time and place...   there is nothing stopping you from turning off the lights and having a romantic candle lit dinner, but when you are looking for that misplaced pack of condoms, you sure are happy you can turn those lights back on Twisted Evil !

r.
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: mr. moon on March 27, 2005, 07:44:49 pm
rush909 wrote on Sun, 27 March 2005 15:45



with all due respect, saying auto-tune sucks is like saying electricity sucks...  

Like electricity it's got it’s time and place...   there is nothing stopping you from turning off the lights and having a romantic candle lit dinner, but when you are looking for that misplaced pack of condoms, you sure are happy you can turn those lights back on Twisted Evil !

r.



I would respectfully disagree with you about Autotune. Our western society is now centered around electricity for our day-to-day existence (directly and indirectly) and for most of us, we cannot live without it without experiencing a major impact in our lives. Autotune, however, has "revolutionized" the recording industry in such a way that those who cannot record a vocal take properly (in key, etc.) are able to be "fixed" enough to produce albums which sell millions of copies. I guess it doesn't matter that they cannot reproduce their performances live as they can just sing to a vocal track or use the hardware Autotune units.

IMHO, Autotune is a cop out, plain and simple. If you can't sing, don't sing.

Disclaimer: HOWEVER... I have the luxury of NOT relying on music to pay my bills, so I don't have to worry about recording an album that will sell a million copies (or even one copy) to put food on my table, so I don't have to be concerned with the marketability of any product to support me. I also have the luxury of working with 2 vocalists who can sing well and put in the time and effort to re-record vocal takes until they are exactly as we want them to be. I have worked with a few "artists" in the past who would much rather be lazy and "fix it with Autotune" than put in the time and energy into recording a perfect take, I found them frustrating to work with especially because they had no "ear" to hear that they weren't hitting the notes correctly.  MY POSITION REGARDING AUTOTUNE MIGHT BE QUITE DIFFERENT IF I HAD TO PRODUCE A PRODUCT FOR SALE TO ENSURE MY LIVELIHOOD.  Rolling Eyes

-mr moon
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: horowizard on March 28, 2005, 12:21:48 am
A few years ago, a buddy of mine returned from Nashville.  While working down there, he noticed the engineers were printing their vocal takes using two adjacent tracks.  That's 1 pair of tracks for each take.  They were still recording using 2" analogue at the time and he told me the vocal sounds they got were huge.  

This makes some sense to me, as I have used a pair of adjacent tracks for printing bass to tape.  It's not exactly the same as a wider track, but is similar in principle.  You are going for more bandwidth.  I don't know if it is merely psychological, but the bass does seem to pack more power than when I only used one track, at least for recording rock music.

So, after the buddy comes back with this info, I notice that everybody at our place is now suddenly cutting all the vocals using two tracks, only using ADATs!  Now here is where I am not convinced that using two digital tracks will actually be an improvement over one.  When I questioned this practice, they really couldn't say for sure if the vocals did indeed sound fuller.  In fact the best reason they could come up with for doing this was having the ability to EQ and process the tracks differently.  In that case you might as well just mult the track to a second channel and not waste the real estate.

After about a week, things returned to normal.  And then we got our Pro Tools rig (yes, we had to do it..) things haven
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: John Ivan on March 28, 2005, 09:43:38 am
rush909 wrote on Sun, 27 March 2005 16:45

mr. moon wrote on Sun, 27 March 2005 13:33

Mark Gifford wrote on Fri, 25 March 2005 20:58

For some fabulous Nashville-style vocals, without the autotuning, check out "Miss Fortune" by Allison Moorer.

It came with a sticker on it that said "No Autotuning Was Used On This CD."

Amazing singer, songs, production, etc. Produced by R.S. Field, mixed by George Massenburg. She's got 4-5 records out, all of them great, but unfortunatley she doesn't seem to sell many...

MG


I need to get some of those "No Autotuning..." stickers. AutoTune sucks! Mad ...Don't get me started on that abomination.

However, it is great to hear that there are other artists and producers out there who aren't using it! Cool

-mr moon


with all due respect, saying auto-tune sucks is like saying electricity sucks...  

Like electricity it's got it's time and place...   there is nothing stopping you from turning off the lights and having a romantic candle lit dinner, but when you are looking for that misplaced pack of condoms, you sure are happy you can turn those lights back on Twisted Evil !

r.




The difference is that reaching for condoms isn't Art. Electricity provides any number of utility oriented uses that can make life in the dark,more manageable. Auto tune,is an audio "enhancement" device that fools people into thinking people can sing when they can't. Some might feel this is legit part of the "process" of giving the listener a good experience. I disagree with this point of view.

We all have to draw the line somewhere. Old recordist of days gone bye {and still to this day!} think that fake reverb and overdubing is NOT legit. From their point of reference, it's true. I don't like the fact that singing USED TO BE a skill that only a few of us had. Now, almost everyone can be presented as a singer. This just can't be good for the art. IMNTLBHO....
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: wireline on March 28, 2005, 11:48:28 am
Then I think this goes back to the most basic of arguements:  exactly what[/] is our job description?

If we are there to capture the truest representation of a performance, then AT, reverb, even EQ should be strictly forbidden...

But if our job is to make the very best product based on the raw materials, then its OK...

I don't remember who, but I asked a question here some time back about how much treatment should we put on tracks and mixes, due to the catchall of "reality."  The answer (again, I apologize to whoever replied with this" was that we are not in the business of reproducing reality, we are in the business of creating a "hyper-reality," or a new definiton of that reality.

All that stuff aside, I don't use AT anymore, but can correct very short passages using Samplitude's time/pitch correction...the last few projects, if the singer needed more than that, I had them just sing it over.

More information on just how much stock should be put into my opinion here:
- I don't cost $250 an hour
- I don't have any major (and very few minor) label things (hopefully this will be changing this year) that have bean counters breathing down my throat.
- I don't particularly care for anything that has been commercial radio country anymore (I call it bubblegum country...) so my opinion really doesn't matter (I just wanted to say it all anyway)
- Some of the BEST things ever to come out of Nashville (or anywhere else) had something called vocalist style...George Jones, Vern Gosdin, Moe Bandy all had it - they didn't hit every note right on target, but the getting there is what made the song...I think its called a part of the emotional aspect of the melody (John Lennon was THE master of that 'blue note') I think...)

But there again, what the hell do I know?
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: John Ivan on March 28, 2005, 01:44:48 pm
wireline wrote on Mon, 28 March 2005 11:48

Then I think this goes back to the most basic of arguements:  exactly what[/] is our job description?

If we are there to capture the truest representation of a performance, then AT, reverb, even EQ should be strictly forbidden...

But if our job is to make the very best product based on the raw materials, then its OK...

I don't remember who, but I asked a question here some time back about how much treatment should we put on tracks and mixes, due to the catchall of "reality."  The answer (again, I apologize to whoever replied with this" was that we are not in the business of reproducing reality, we are in the business of creating a "hyper-reality," or a new definiton of that reality.

All that stuff aside, I don't use AT anymore, but can correct very short passages using Samplitude's time/pitch correction...the last few projects, if the singer needed more than that, I had them just sing it over.

More information on just how much stock should be put into my opinion here:
- I don't cost $250 an hour
- I don't have any major (and very few minor) label things (hopefully this will be changing this year) that have bean counters breathing down my throat.
- I don't particularly care for anything that has been commercial radio country anymore (I call it bubblegum country...) so my opinion really doesn't matter (I just wanted to say it all anyway)
- Some of the BEST things ever to come out of Nashville (or anywhere else) had something called vocalist style...George Jones, Vern Gosdin, Moe Bandy all had it - they didn't hit every note right on target, but the getting there is what made the song...I think its called a part of the emotional aspect of the melody (John Lennon was THE master of that 'blue note') I think...)

But there again, what the hell do I know?


I think your opinion is as valid as anyone else's.

As for the question about what our job is,I think it's both. It changes all the time. Sometimes I feel like I don't need to do much and other times, I create the tune from edits. I still have to use Auto tune when I mix sometimes. I don't have it here but when I work at other studios and I'm mixing a song ,if the singer is out of tune,I tune it. I also have to mix stuff that has drum machine parts sometimes. I don't like it but, I do it.

My room is now for me and stuff I'm a musician on,only. I take everything else to purpose built studios.

The problem I have with this auto tune crap is fairly obvious. The people being tuned,would not otherwise be making records in some cases. All this stuff that is doing away with human recourses is stuff I don't like. I keep coming back to the drum machine example. I have not heard a machine pattern that would not be better served by a drummer and a percussionist. The truth is, it's easier to turn the machine on than to deal with a person. This is not a good enough reason to use machines. To the extent that folks have used loops and machines to play stuff that a drummer would not or could not play, I have been unimpressed. Same with auto tuned vocals.It's not worth what it dose to the art as a whole to have "JOE BLOWS" vocal in tune. I would rather hear it the way he printed,or, not hear it at all.

It's interesting to note that big studios didn't like the huge explosion of home studios popping up all over the place because all of a sudden, everyone thought they were an engineer and could do it them selves. For the most part, people can't do it themselves and the records ether end up sounding pretty bad or a real engineer has to rescue it.

As a person who spent my whole life this far, trying to get really good at drumming, guitar playing and singing, I feel their Pain
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: compasspnt 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.
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: Tim Halligan 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
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: John Ivan 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....
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: compasspnt 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.
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: wireline 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....)
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: New Orleans Steve 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

Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: Sender 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!!
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: Mike Kivett 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.  
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: maxim 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)
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: mr. moon 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


Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: John Ivan 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..
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: Mike Kivett 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!)
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: RMoore 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
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: John Ivan 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.
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: Mike Kivett 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
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: New Orleans Steve on March 30, 2005, 08:17:33 am
O.K.'
 I think on one hand the anti auto tune thing is on an artistic level. I mean it's just like cheating.  I really like the steroids analogy.
 

 Further, it can De humanize the whole thing. As in, the 'chipmunk' effect I sighted in the Rock + Roll hall of fame performance of Percy Sledge (sorry to say so). Now, would it have been better to have him get up there and give the poor performance I witnessed a few months earlier? Or perhaps have him at table sitting silently.

 Again, my original post asks, why do ALL of these sound "The Same". Different producers, Labels and studios and all the same. And I can't get it. So, part of what I take from this is that some of this auto tune (and other in the box technique) strip the performance to the point where you can't hear the Nuance of the performance. I really can't tell anything about the technicalities of the production. Usually, with conventional technique, I get some clue. It might be erroneous. But I can guess. The effects of auto tune negate this. How much difference can classy mics or performances really mean, If these techniques negate so much of it?

Steve
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: wireline on March 30, 2005, 09:58:54 am
Quote:

Again, my original post asks, why do ALL of these sound "The Same". Different producers, Labels and studios and all the same


Its the "A List" mentality I think...

One example is Brent Mason on guitar...superlative player, possible the most versatile player I've ever heard, but no matter what he's playing he still sounds like Brent...now a few months back I read an article that showed the top 10 hits (all different artists with vastly different songs and styles)...and Brent played on 7 of them.  There are many other players who seem to work on 90% of Nashville projects...

It just seems to me that regardless of the musicianship, chameleon like changes from genre to genre, a player is going to sound like him/her self...so when 10 people are playing 90% of what you are hearing, of course its gonna have some similarities...same thing with early MoTown I believe - different songs, different styles, different production techniques, but just from the players you KNEW it was MoTown.

Combine this notion with the previously mentioned AT discussions and AR reluctance to release anything that actually sounds a bit different, and the end results will by default have to resemble each other I think...and I think it helps explain why the best stuff coming out of Nashville (or anywhere else) are using different players...just because it sounds different.

Again, just an observation....no offense (more praises than anything else...) meant to anyone involved, and if I'm all wrong, please correct me.
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: Bob Olhsson on March 30, 2005, 11:23:25 am
wireline wrote on Wed, 30 March 2005 08:58

...Combine this notion with the previously mentioned AT discussions and AR reluctance to release anything that actually sounds a bit different,...
I think people are projecting a lot into what is in its essence a very simple, if hard to solve, problem. Advertisers are controlling most of the music that reaches the public today. They are determining this using focus groups and other forms of market research aimed at fine-tuning who will be seeing or hearing their advertisements. This process has led to a signature "sound" for each demographic group they are trying to focus. The result is that only music that "sounds the same" can get on the air or even booked in concerts.

Now advertising has always been a factor however what has changed is that today they want radio to sort their audiences rather than to attract a broad listenership.
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: John Ivan on March 30, 2005, 02:50:04 pm
Bob Olhsson wrote on Wed, 30 March 2005 11:23

wireline wrote on Wed, 30 March 2005 08:58

...Combine this notion with the previously mentioned AT discussions and AR reluctance to release anything that actually sounds a bit different,...
I think people are projecting a lot into what is in its essence a very simple, if hard to solve, problem. Advertisers are controlling most of the music that reaches the public today. They are determining this using focus groups and other forms of market research aimed at fine-tuning who will be seeing or hearing their advertisements. This process has led to a signature "sound" for each demographic group they are trying to focus. The result is that only music that "sounds the same" can get on the air or even booked in concerts.

Now advertising has always been a factor however what has changed is that today they want radio to sort their audiences rather than to attract a broad listenership.


Very well stated by someone who would know. Thanks Bob.

Steve, A large part of what you are hearing might be singing style,as discussed earlier and the fact that in almost every case, there is ONLY top of the line mic's,pre's, room,comp's being used to print. Then, there is the sound of editing. which breath to leave in, which one to take out,de-essing and so on. They even move things around sometimes to make a "feel". as in, forward or back. they can take a train beat from a kit and make it feel totally different then how the drummer made it feel.
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: floodstage on March 30, 2005, 08:11:19 pm
Just a side comment:

I noticed a mention of Bob Dylan above.

Remember the song "Lay Lady Lay" on the album Nashville Skyline?

That was done in Nash-Vegas wasn't it?

To me that song seems to be a textbook example of a Nashville vocal approach.

(and that record was many many years before AT)

Wonder how many takes that song took!?
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: Bob Olhsson on March 30, 2005, 08:54:42 pm
floodstage wrote on Wed, 30 March 2005 19:11

Just a side comment:...To me that song seems to be a textbook example of a Nashville vocal approach...Wonder how many takes that song took!?
Johnston and Dylan would probably split a gut over that comment! Bob Johnston is notorious for telling singers to mispronounce every word. Dylan already had THAT technique down so it's pretty clear they took the opposite approach.

Everybody I know who has recorded with Dylan has said it was always live one take.
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: vernier on March 30, 2005, 09:33:47 pm
Dylan is a folksinger ..and they like recording natural.
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: natpub on March 30, 2005, 10:11:41 pm
Commenting on the original post, while the top 20 on CMT may all sound very present and accurate, I certainly see no comparrison between the sound of say, Shania Twain/Mutt Lang, and say, Martina McBridge and John McBride's shop. The PT sound of Shania's vox sounds nothing like the tracks Martina has coming out of Blackbird, to me. At least on the disc itself. Watching it on TV makes a difference, and certainly shoves the vox forward.

Also, most the top 20 CMT videos are "Vocal forward" mixes, which are fairly common practice I think. You can definately hear the differenc between the video mix and the disc version on things like Keith Urban, etc.
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: Curve Dominant on March 30, 2005, 10:29:13 pm
maxim wrote on Tue, 29 March 2005 21:30

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)


OOOHHH!!! SOMEBODY finally went there. I love it!

That is all SO true.
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: vernier on March 31, 2005, 01:59:35 am
I don't mind autotune on Kelly Clarkson's new cute pop tune, but can't stand it on country ..(Le-ann-Womack's new CD comes to mind) ..would be nice to have a special edition of that (recorded like Patsy did).
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: floodstage on March 31, 2005, 10:44:52 am
 
Bob Olhsson wrote on Wed, 30 March 2005 20:54

floodstage wrote on Wed, 30 March 2005 19:11

Just a side comment:...To me that song seems to be a textbook example of a Nashville vocal approach...Wonder how many takes that song took!?
Johnston and Dylan would probably split a gut over that comment! Bob Johnston is notorious for telling singers to mispronounce every word. Dylan already had THAT technique down so it's pretty clear they took the opposite approach.

Everybody I know who has recorded with Dylan has said it was always live one take.



Glad to say something that would make someone laugh, even if they are laughing at me for my lack of knowledge.   Smile

To try and re-state my point in a simpler way:  Dylan recorded that album and the vocals were so smooth, so different, from all his previous work, that many people didn't even know it was Dylan when they heard it on the radio.

Not trying to say he's Patsy Cline or something! Laughing
Title: Re: Nashville Vocals
Post by: New Orleans Steve on April 01, 2005, 07:03:58 pm
Ivan 40 wrote...
Steve, A large part of what you are hearing might be singing style,as discussed earlier and the fact that in almost every case, there is ONLY top of the line mic's,pre's, room,comp's being used to print. Then, there is the sound of editing. which breath to leave in, which one to take out,de-essing and so on. They even move things around sometimes to make a "feel". as in, forward or back. they can take a train beat from a kit and make it feel totally different then how the drummer made it feel.
 
 Thanks for the reply Ivan. I was spifically refering to the 'New' country sound a la CMT. Thanks for the input!

Natpup wrote...
   ]Commenting on the original post, while the top 20 on CMT may all sound very present and accurate, I certainly see no comparrison between the sound of say, Shania Twain/Mutt Lang, and say, Martina McBridge and John McBride's shop. The PT sound of Shania's vox sounds nothing like the tracks Martina has coming out of Blackbird, to me. At least on the disc itself. Watching it on TV makes a difference, and certainly shoves the vox forward.

Also, most the top 20 CMT videos are "Vocal forward" mixes, which are fairly common practice I think. You can definately hear the differenc between the video mix and the disc version on things like Keith Urban, etc.

  Ahhh... The Vocal forward mix. I guess with automation it's just a key stroke away. Thanks for that opeservation. That's the kind of info I'm looking for. This really advances the conversation. THANk You for that input.
 I always think Nashville has been "Vocal Forward"...That's why I like it! I really find the Vox lacking in many other production styles.

Streve