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Øyvind Skald

Rick Beato - Perfect is the ENEMY of GOOD (Photoshopping your music)

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I'll have to watch it later, but it's a well known thing that continuing until something is perfect never produces anything! 😉

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I'm kind of on the fence with this one. I generally agree with him, however RIck makes a few assumptions:

  • The song is already written & arranged
  • It's being performed by a full band
  • The band can actually physically play together (i.e. they're not spread around the world)

Assuming the above, then what he says makes sense.

What he doesn't account for though, is unfinished songs, one-man bands or remote collaborations. Not all bands perform - some just record.

Arranging unfinished songs is much more difficult if you're not quantised to a grid, and the results are usually less than satisfactory unless they are.

Personally I find natural variations in dynamics are far more important for feel than variations in timing. 

I do agree with him being against quantising audio tracks after the fact. Playing to a click is fine by me, but editing the timing of a performance afterwards (unless it clearly way out), isn't desirable.

I guess once you've finished a song, you could record your part again from start to finish by just playing each part along to the original, and not quantise anything. I've done this before with a band, and it works pretty well, but it's not quite the same as a band playing together.

If studio space is an issue, a better approach would be to record the band to play the song in full together in a rehearsal studio (even if it's recorded on an iPhone), transfer that track to the studio, and then record each part separately against that.

But for one-man-bands & remote collaborations, you're limited in your options, and click tracks/quantising is your friend in these scenarios.

 

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3 hours ago, msmcleod said:

 

But for one-man-bands & remote collaborations, you're limited in your options, and click tracks/quantising is your friend in these scenarios.

 

 No one told Stevie Wonder about that.

 

Or Prince.

 

Or Phil Collins. 

 

Or Paul McCartney.

 

Or John Fogerty.

 

Lenny Kravitz. 

 

Dave Grohl.....

 

 

 

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6 minutes ago, Byron Dickens said:

 No one told Stevie Wonder about that.

 

Or Prince.

 

Or Phil Collins. 

 

Or Paul McCartney.

 

Or John Fogerty.

 

Lenny Kravitz. 

 

Dave Grohl.....

 

 

 

Hmm... Stevie Wonder was one of the first to buy a Linn LM1, Phil Collins used a Roland CR78 - I'm sure most of them tracked along to a drum machine before laying down their drum tracks.

Of course they would do it all again from scratch in the studio, but that's kinda the point I was trying to make.

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I've played pro in rock bands since 1964 and have had the good luck to have played with some of the greats. I almost made it big, and got to be in the opening act for major stars, but the deal fell through due to money (the record company didn't want to pay). But it was a part of my life I wouldn't trade for anything.

I agree.

Tempos need to change, some songs need the B part faster, some songs need to constantly gradually speed up, some parts need to back off.

Quantizing is terrible. It destroys the groove. Sometimes beats need to be pushed, or laid back a bit. Quite often the 2 and 4 of a 4/4 measure is consistently either behind or ahead of the beat depending on the song. In addition some instruments need to be ahead or behind the others by a few milliseconds. This is something rock, jazz, country, pop and other liver musicians have had to feel for all of history. Usually it starts with the drummer, listen to records done with Hal Blaine, John Bonham, Buddy Rich, Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Carmine Appice, Dave Grohl, Steve Gadd, Al Jackson Jr., Ginger Baker, or Bernard Purdie and you hear the opposite of quantization, instead you hear groove.

Over compression destroys the dynamic response of a song. Try reciting prose or poetry keeping every syllable of every word at the exact same volume and see if it's expressive. Compression for guitar sustain, yes. Compressing vocals, no, unless the singer has poor mic control.

Auto-tune? If I hear a singer with noticeable auto-tune, I turn it off. I hate it. When I sing or play sax, wind synth, flute, or guitar, I play with the pitch. Slightly out of tune is expressive. A little sharp adds brightness to a note, a little flat, tension. Sometimes I like to hit a note slightly flat and slide it up to pitch, sometimes a quick pitch/sharp/pitch attack adds to an accented note, sometimes sliding down the tails of a held not at the end adds expression, the list goes on and on.

I had classical music in school. Even the classics teach things like rushing the start of a phrase and then dragging at the end of the phrase to end it in time, or dragging first then rushing, depending on the song. 2-beat triplets should almost always be dragged a bit. This list goes on and on too.

For rock, jazz, blues, pop, country and so many other forms of music to be forced into 'perfection' will suck the soul of the music.

Even when I sequence the backing tracks for my duo, I play the parts live so I can get the proper feel and dynamics. Drums first, bass next and layer after layer on that (I play drums, bass, guitar, sax, flute, wind synthesizer, keyboard synthesizer and vocals). I NEVER-EVER quantize or use auto-tune. I practice the parts until I get them right (there is no substitute for practice) and if I screw up, I'll record another track. I may combine the good parts of two or more different tracks, but that's all the fixing I do.

Purposeful imperfections are perfectly appropriate and deliberate, an occasional accidental imperfection stays in as long as it passes my judgement test.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Insights and incites by Notes

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2 hours ago, Notes_Norton said:

Blah, blah, blah.............

All well and good saying that my friend, but how else are people with no discernible talent supposed to get rich and famous?

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, msmcleod said:

Hmm... Stevie Wonder was one of the first to buy a Linn LM1, Phil Collins used a Roland CR78 - I'm sure most of them tracked along to a drum machine before laying down their drum tracks.

Of course they would do it all again from scratch in the studio, but that's kinda the point I was trying to make.

Stevie Wonder didn't have a Linn LM1 in 1972.

 

But no matter.  Tracking to a click (or a drum machine for that matter) is not quantizing to the grid.

Edited by Byron Dickens

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Perfection is far from what I record for. I seldomly spent more than 3 days total. Just listen to my songs lol.

It’s all for the fun of doing it. The down side of it is I don’t usually have the time to record a song. Something always comes up and a month goes by and can’t remember the song anymore. For me that’s enough. 

 

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Song aspects not-withstanding (meaning speeding up for the chorus, etc.), I recall a study being done where a drummer tends to always be something like 30-50ms ahead or behind the beat.  Not ahead on one hit and behind on the next like some people think.  Cakewalk used to have a couple of tools (which I still have somewhere) that could be used to "humanize" an entered drum track to make it sound more like it was done by a human.   This would obviously help the solo guitarist (for example) who doesn't play drums.

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22 minutes ago, craigb said:

I recall a study being done where a drummer tends to always be something like 30-50ms ahead or behind the beat

I remember reading something similar to that too. As I remember, it was a case of the drummer hitting slightly before the beat to increase a sense of urgency and drive; hitting slightly after the beat would give a more relaxed groove. I tried it in one of my more recent pieces, where I delayed the drums a little during the verse, and pushed it slightly before the beat in the chorus.

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Humanize is randomize, which is definitely not the same thing.

Drummers are precise in their variances to the rhythms, not random. If they are dragging beat 2 and 4 they will drag them by the same amount every measure. Humanize will rush or drag the beats by different increments.

Insights and incites by Notes

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I like his series What Makes This Song Great.. but you also have to remember he wants to sell you a book, and a mug.

 I know for a fact that Pete Townshend used a click track when he recorded songs at his home, and then went into the studio where Keith Moon used the same click to record the drums.. i play my own drums and i use a click track, but i wouldn't look down on someone using the session Drummer program. I still tend to speed up and slow down because i'm anticipating the next bit..

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1 hour ago, Notes_Norton said:

Humanize is randomize, which is definitely not the same thing.

That was my point, it's not!  Lots of people think it means to randomize the timing, but the software was smarter than that and could be used to add intelligent timing differences.  In other words, it could add 30 to 50 ms to a MIDI track (or less if desired) to make it sound more human but it was done consistently ahead or behind not both!  Randomizing definitely doesn't sound human and, IMO, sounds worse than fully quantizing.

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In classical music the term for playing "free" within the time signature is referred to as rubato...I use it a lot in my solo playing, not always effectively! ;)

Unless you are in a band recording situation choosing not to use a click is madness, doesn't mean you have to be robotic but you have a reference point to keep you "in the lines". I had a friend send me a recording he wanted me to "orchestrate"...they didn't use a click when recording so the timing is all over the place...a real mess to try and match, I told him my ESP isn't working like it used to...next time use a click!

I'm a one-man -writing, playing, recording, mixing and mastering- band and a click track is a must...but I'm naturally off-time anyways ;)

Bill

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I took bass lessons several years ago to learn how to play the bass like a bass player, not a guitarist.  I can't help but laugh now, however my first several lessons consisted solely of trying to get me to have better timing!

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The simplest things played in time sound a thousand times better than the most complex things played out of time!

Bill

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Beato isn't talking about playing to a click. What he's talking about is quantizing everything and locking it to the grid.

That & autotune. 

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19 hours ago, bayoubill said:

Perfection is far from what I record for. I seldomly spent more than 3 days total. Just listen to my songs lol.

It’s all for the fun of doing it. The down side of it is I don’t usually have the time to record a song. Something always comes up and a month goes by and can’t remember the song anymore. For me that’s enough. 

 

Very zen..
The 'perfection' is in the playing of it, not the recording of it.

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