01 January, 2008

I agree with Jack White

If you've read a few Jack White interviews, you'd know that he isn't a fan of digital recording, electronic music and modern recording techniques in general. I agree with him. I think recording digitally is a good thing, but I don't think that computers should be used to correct mistakes or to replace musicians. People are what makes a good recording a good recording. A musician's emotions can totally change the way a part gets played. Concerts are good place to see this in action. If the band or performer isn't feeling it, the audience can tell. Conversely, if the performer is into it the performance can be amazing. Also, if you have two musicians play identical parts, those two parts will be different. The human element is infinitely variable and no matter how hard programmers try, they can never really duplicate that.

I'm not saying electronic music is shit, it certainly has it's place, but to my ears, it lacks emotion. I find songs that are the the same, performance after performance, to be very boring. Of course, not all music, digitally enhanced or not, is good. The country music of the last eight or so years, for example, has been pretty bad. The songs have been fairly good, but production has sucked really bad. A lot of it has sounded like the music was being played on a boom box in the background and the singer was singing in front of it. The stereo spectrum sounded like it had been reduced to front and back, with nothing on the sides. Once I realized this, country music and I parted ways. I went backward, it went forward.

This brings me to another point. I think all songs should be recorded live in the studio, with minimal tracks and overdubs. The old AC/DC recordings are a great example. Put on some headphones and listen to "Shot down in flames." When the main guitar riff starts playing you can hear someone holler in the background and then Bonn Scott hollers himself. The band records their tracks at the same time, in the same room (at least they used to, I don't know about now) and they can react to one another. However many people are in the band, that's how many tracks there are, occasional overdubs not withstanding. Had they recorded their parts seperately, I think the records would've sounded very bland. Another example of what I'm talking about is the old recordings of Sinatra, Martin, Bennet et al. Most of those old recordings were only two tracks. One for the vocals and one for the band and everything you hear is coming from musicians. Those old recordings are incredible! One room, one gifted crooner and a big band. Now THAT'S music. Everyone involved was good at their job, rehearsed beforehand and probably only had to do a couple of takes before they nailed it. Digital production (I'm not talking about digital recording, just production) has only degraded music. It has been used as a crutch for people that don't rehearse or have talent. Songs should be ready to go before entering a studio. Writing songs while in a studio only kills any spontaneity and emotion that might have made the difference between getting an incredible recording or a bland, vanilla recording that sounds as empty as it is.

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