NYT: They Really Don’t Make Music Like They Used To

Ron Resnick

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#1

RogerD

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May 23, 2010
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#2
No #Fakenews there.....I don’t listen to all that crap.
 
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KeithR

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#3
Per a recent discussion in my office, we think today’s music sucks, our parents thought our music sucked, and our grandparents thought our parents music sucked. Ha!

While the loudness wars are important, I feel the article used that angle to say more of the same “music sucks now”
 

Folsom

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#4
The loudness is only half of it. Top40 is topVomit these days. While I don’t like The Beatles, I can confess old hits were waaaaaaaaaaay better.
 

KeithR

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#5
Top 40 is meaningless due to music fragmentation and current distribution models.

For example, Tame Impala is headlining Coachella- doubt they have a Billboard top 40 song (great band).
 
Jan 29, 2012
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#6
I have a theory that its the way the music is made currently that makes it unappealing. #1 the majority of music made today is not made by band playing live in a studio. Band members record their parts separately and the song is assembled by a producer. #2 drum machines are used in the majority of songs today, or when a drummer is used they play to a click track. This removes the "human factor" of the rhythm as computers can't "swing."
 
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asiufy

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#7
That isn't it for me. I like electronic music, going as far back as the 70s. I don't even care how it was recorded.
Top 40 stuff today is, frankly, poor. I was at a restaurant the other day, and I had to leave, as the music (rap, hip hop or something similar) was getting on my nerves.
 

Ron Resnick

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#8
I have a theory that its the way the music is made currently that makes it unappealing. #1 the majority of music made today is not made by band playing live in a studio. Band members record their parts separately and the song is assembled by a producer. #2 drum machines are used in the majority of songs today, or when a drummer is used they play to a click track. This removes the "human factor" of the rhythm as computers can't "swing."
But hasn’t this been true for a long time? Hasn’t pop music been recorded and mixed in multi-track for a long time now?

I don’t think the first Madonna album in 1983 was recorded with a live band playing at the same time in the same place? Then it was multi-track also, no?
 

Joe Whip

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Feb 8, 2014
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#9
You are correct Ron. However, back in the day, for the most part, the band, or at least the rhythm section recorded at the same time, even if in separate rooms. To me, having as many members of the band playing together makes a difference in the feel of a recording. You can then add things like a sax solo and it all works. Now a days, you can record everyone separately and mix them together. However, this requires the use of a click track which I feel robs music of pace and feel and makes the music sound stilted. The recording engineer has used them in some of the recordings my son has made and I am not a fan of the click track. It seems to be a necessary evil in today’s world.
 

spiritofmusic

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Jun 13, 2013
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#10
Didn't Adele's drummer record his drums as an MP3 on an Apple phone and quite literally phone it thru.
 

spiritofmusic

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#11
I always thought it was ironic that Neil Peart of Rush felt the need to move to a click track from Power Windows onwards, and then felt the need to counterbalance this with the need to loosen up with jazz greats Peter Erskine and Freddy Gruber from Test For Echo onwards.

If you listen to these albums, you'll hear a progressive loss in tightness and artistry despite a theoretical gain in timing and expression.
 

Blue58

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Jan 20, 2013
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#13

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Ron Resnick

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Jan 25, 2015
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#14
You are correct Ron. However, back in the day, for the most part, the band, or at least the rhythm section recorded at the same time, even if in separate rooms. To me, having as many members of the band playing together makes a difference in the feel of a recording. You can then add things like a sax solo and it all works. Now a days, you can record everyone separately and mix them together. However, this requires the use of a click track which I feel robs music of pace and feel and makes the music sound stilted. The recording engineer has used them in some of the recordings my son has made and I am not a fan of the click track. It seems to be a necessary evil in today’s world.
Yes, I understand, Joe. I agree with you! Adding one or two instruments to a real recording of most of the band plus the singer is a lot better than mixing together tracks of each discrete player.

Thank you for explaining!
 

the sound of Tao

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Jul 18, 2014
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#15
But hasn’t this been true for a long time? Hasn’t pop music been recorded and mixed in multi-track for a long time now?

I don’t think the first Madonna album in 1983 was recorded with a live band playing at the same time in the same place? Then it was multi-track also, no?
We can go back aways even further than that Ron, the machine age and music recording technology changed the process of recording and therefore also eventually the art of making music.

Back in the day Herbert Von Karajan embraced technology for its ability to shape and control the sound of his band. Interestingly this classics giant of the day is not now at all an oft quoted or oft played conductor. His body of work doesn’t come up that often in best performance conversations any more but certainly his technical influence lives on.

Editing, multi tracking, EQ and reverb was a marvellous modern machine age technology part of the new music process that put the producer into the centre of the creative process. Business and technology took its place equal or greater alongside of art and performance in the music making world. We went from the priceless one take shellac as a treasure of a moment of the band to edited and composited tape as the machine took over and isolated the parts (the players) in a relentless pursuit of perfection and order.

Efficiency, perfectionism, autocratic control with often just one person’s creative vision dominating and stealing away the traditional musical process and so took it into a completely self combusting creative direction. A classic example in popular music we also had the spectre of the Spector sound. The modern engineer may have shaped the first half of the 20th century and the entrepreneur shaped the second half.

This in mythological terms is played out in the story of Phaeton (yes as in Rolls Royce for the more well heeled amongst us) art, music the solar creative journey is a connected theme in history. Phaeton a demi-god who stole and crashed the creative Sun chariot of his father (music making, art and Sun God) Apollo. When we hijack something like art or music that is greater or larger than any one of us can handle we often also eventually crash and burn. Music making as a process of human civilisation is at its greatest when it is shared and not owned.

I think that’s why live band recordings can have such a specialness, a shared kind of truth and the frisson between players engaged and created in the same space and the same time... the less post production the better, well the more honest at any rate.

Interestingly as technology became more accessible (and anybody could become a recording giant if they just had a computer) then also the centralised recording industry as a large music culture and industry shaping organism is joining all other forms of mainstream media and becoming something of a dinosaur and interestingly art and music and communication is falling back into the hands of the musicians, much like when it all started. For good or for bad it just all is.
 
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RogerD

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May 23, 2010
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#16
Who developed the first multi track recorder? Answer....Les Paul...many many moons ago. Les and Mary Ford used the recorder to make the first multi track recordings. The rest is history for better or worse.
 

APP

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Oct 2, 2014
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#17

This is how to do it. Some interesting info lower down the page.
https://www.soundliaison.com/index.php/408-carmen-gomes-inc-dont-you-cry
Yes this is a one point stereo/one microphone recording and it's the best of it's kind of what I have heard so far in my opinion.
Multi track recording has advantages and disadvantages. The good is that you can make an instrument louder or softer as you please. The bad thing when the recording is done in one room is phase. Maybe, the most time consuming aspect of our way of recording is getting the phase between the mics right. Frans de Rond is a true genius in that field and his expertise is one of the secrets to our well defined sound stage.
Now with only one mic the challenge lay elsewhere.
Mixing was no longer possible. We would have to make the complete sound stage right there by carefully moving each instrument closer or further away as well as left and right in relationship to the microphone.
from the liner notes; Carmen Gomes ''Don't You Cry"

Good old fashioned with modern technology.
 

APP

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Oct 2, 2014
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#18
Who developed the first multi track recorder? Answer....Les Paul...many many moons ago. Les and Mary Ford used the recorder to make the first multi track recordings. The rest is history for better or worse.
Lots of good came out of it and indeed it made it possible for lesser musicians to get away with being lesser musicians.:)
 

KeithR

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#19
Thinking about this subject today and the music sucks now people - most of them skip over yacht rock and other, well, sub-par music of prior decades.

Let's start with Sailing:


This album won 5 Grammys in 1980. You can also group Air Supply, Chicago, the Doobies, Barry Manilow, the Captain, Carpenters, etc. into the soft rock bubble of the late 70s.

Unfortunately people only think of the Beatles, Zepp, and Floyd and skim over the not so glamorous chart queens. There are many of them in each decade. Beck, Bon Iver, Mumford & Sons, and others have had Grammy winning albums in recent years - but music sucks people focus on Taylor Swift. Its pretty unfair.
 

the sound of Tao

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Jul 18, 2014
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#20
Absolutely agreed. Every age has had as much suck music and as many bad hairstyles as every other age before it and after... now just where did A Flock of Seagulls go into history :)
 
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