Music Talk On Monday

Sparks Of Insanity By Vinny "Bond" Marini Monday, June 08, 2009

This Week - a dinner we posted here last September:
"Grilled Salmon with Crunchy Sweet Mustard Vinaigrette"

I am waiting for some interview requests to be returned, so we will hold off today, on new music. It could show up any other day this week...stay posted.

In the last week, I have been on other sites and been involved in discussions on the music industry and recording technologies, and specifically two certain aspects.

My friend TRAVIS from "Trav's Thoughts" also sent me a link to an article which I thought made some excellent points regarding the first technology.

The article is by Tony Sclafani, contributor, and can be found HERE, discusses the frequent use of AUTO-TUNE.

Some of the tuneage at the top of the charts today would not exist without Auto-Tune.
“Blame It” by Jamie Foxx and T-Pain, “Just Dance” by Lady Gaga and “Right Now (Na Na Na)” by Akon - all Auto-Tune Tuneage.

You American Idol fans...remember the night your ears bled when Paula Abdul sang her new song? Well, the recording you listened to as Paula lip-synced her way through a bevy of young nubile men, was all Auto-Tune.

How much of the music we, the consumers, purchase today can be recreated in a concert environment? Well, that presumes you are not watching a recording-aided concert anyway. What happened to the days when singers sang, using their own voice?

Did it all really begin back in 1988 when that evil villian Frank Farian duped the world into the fantasy of Milli Vanilli?

Or should we go all the way back to the year 1976 when one Peter Frampton used the sinister Talk Box to hypnotize the rock world with the song "Do You Feel Like We Do"?

Is this just the progression that is inevitable in the music industry with technology taking the 'artistry' out of writing and recording music? Or does it take the artistry out of the music?

That depends upon the listener I suspect. I can tell you that I was one of those mesmerized by Frampton's use of the talk box. Would we have the hits of the 50's and early 60's without the over-dubbing being done in the studio?

Les Paul was a pioneer in the art of layering guitar parts, one on top of another, in the studio And his introduction of the 8-track recorder in 1958 shot the music industry ahead. Now, it was possible to record each instrument independently (Up to 7 of course - one for the vocals), allowing the drummer to 'fix' that run they missed on the first take.

So from the days of over-dubbing, we are now buying music that just might be totally 'mechanized'.

In so many ways this new technology is a tremendous bonus for the music industry, or rather for the music-buying public. The ability for an artist to record their own music, edit it, burn it to disc and market it, has put us all smack-dab in the middle of the renaissance age of music.

Do a Google search for music recording software and the number of hits is over 22-million. Now, I will not tell you there are that many different programs you can use, but there just may be half that amount!

Audacity, Acoustica, GarageBand, n-track...take your choice...those are just four...become a recording star...

Or will you? In the end, I would like to think that the music lovers of the world will ensure those who are trying to get famous will only do so if they have talent.

The second subject was the demise of the 'album'. You know...a collection of music that relates; something the artist thought about before releasing.

OK, before I get, HEY, U2 sequence their CDs...I am talking in general here, ot specifically. And I understand why it does not really matter what song follows the one before it for most artists today.

They feel that their music will be bought on i-Tunes or Rhapsody or downloaded illegally and in 80% of those cases, the buyer will be purchasing one or two songs form the CD.

Those of you closer to my age will remember when you would pluck your money down for that new album - vinyl, large, came in a cardboard wrapper with pictures and sometimes that cardboard opened and there was even more magic inside with words from your 'heroes' or more pictures to see - and running home to tear off the cellophane, putting the disc on the turntable, gently lowering the needle to hear that initial scratch, the the stylus fed into the groove and the first strains of music would fill your room.

As you listened, you looked at the the liner notes...and listened. When the sdie ended, you flipped it over and listened.

Start to finish. An artist could tell you an entire story. Could let you escape into a world they created for a little over an hour.

The most known of those would be The Beatles ground-breaking SGT PEPPERS LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND and TOMMY, The Who's historic rock-opera...but albums like King Crimson's COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING and Led Zeppelin's first three albums are all creations made to be heard start to finish.

I am sure you can add to that abbreviated list and will do so in comments, and I encourage you to do so.

This is not so much "I miss the old days" as much as "I miss when they did it for real"...

What do you think?

25 Of Your Sparks

  1. I had no idea. Your post was fascinating. The stuff you linked to was great information. Survive your Monday...

  2. Matt-Man Says:
  3. What do you mean artists today can't recreate their sound in a live, concert environment? Have you never heard Ashlee Simpson belt out a tune? She's gold Vinny, gold!! Cheers!!

  4. DrillerAA09 Says:
  5. We've been treated to lip-synching ever since Lawrence Welk hit the air waves.
    Virtually every Moody Blues album was a story that was meant to be heard from start to finish. Santana is a master of putting together a story through his music. His last effort, the double CD, "Multi-dimensional Warrior", is a masterwork. It stays in my car for weeks on end. And yes, he can recreate that sound in concert.

  6. Bond Says:
  7. BUD: Thanks dude...glad you got some knowledge.

    MATT-MAN: Well besides her! bwahahaha

    DRILLERAA: On TV, yes it has been prevalent...I hate it on stage though. Moody's totally fit into that niche...Thanks for the input.

  8. ...ahhhhhhhh,the Album...I thought I was the only one who truly does miss that format of yore. For an art lover,the album provided a plethora of nuggets (don't forget both the poster and colored glossies from the White Album)...For the music listener it was like strapping in for a journey each time the needle hit the first groove...and sequencing IS an art form...

  9. Bond Says:
  10. PHFRANKIE: Not the only one Sir...and I totally agree about sequencing.

  11. Jay Says:
  12. My favorite thing about the old albums was the way they would skip or get stuck or the needle would slide across the album ruining it. Yeah, that was cool.

    Not as cool as playing it on the wrong speed and laughing at how funny they sounded.

    I think there should be a federal law that requires shows or networks to put "He/she is lip syncing" on the bottom of the screen when someone is not really singing on a show.

    Of course for most of them you can tell when they are really sining. Cause when they really sing, THEY SOUND LIKE CRAP! LOL ;-)

  13. JohnH985 Says:
  14. Oooh, I could write tons about this and will later, but I got to get ready for work right now. Jut wanted to let you know excellent post and I agree 100% with it. Auto Tune should be outlawed. If you can't sing without a machine getting you in tune than you shouldn't be singing. I enjoy the voices that aren't perfect, that are slightly left of center, they are soul and truth in their voice. That's one reason I can't stand Daughtry...he sounds just like ever other hard rock singer from today. Ok, I said I had to get ready to work, I'll try and come back later and write more...

  15. Bond Says:
  16. JAY: Sure there were some issues with vinyl...and the playing at different speeds was fun to do
    I like that law...and both Kanye and Ashley Simpson proved that on SNL.

    JOHNH: LOL come on back and tell us how you really feel. I know exactly how you feel about Daughtry...

  17. katherine. Says:
  18. I think some of the technology is has helped songwriters who don't have the best of vocal ability be able to "perform" their own stuff.

    There are some photography people out there who bemoan the digital picture craze and how many of us can manipulate a so-so photo into something rather spectacular.

    Music like any art form is in the "ears" of the beholder...some people are a bit more traditional than others...

  19. Bond Says:
  20. KATHERINE: Excellent comparison to photography. And I totally agree...'ears of the beholder/listener'.

  21. Fred Says:
  22. I've held on to my old albums, and I'm glad I did. D3 likes to collect things from the "olden days" and she recently bought a record player. The first album she played was from Rick Springfield. (Did I really buy that?)

  23. Tug Says:
  24. I loved albums! I think I still have a couple packed away in my trunk. A nickle taped to the needle always helped prevent the skipping. ;-)

    I do have to say though, that it's been YEARS since I've purchased a full CD because I get so tired of skipping over songs I don't love, but yeah - I do remember going through the pictures and anything included in the album while it was playing in the background.

  25. Bond Says:
  26. FRED: Sure your sister did not buy the Springfield and it ended up in your pile?

    TUG: See, that is what I meant by not having to sequence. A CD where the songs played off each other would be lost on you. No offense, many many many people today are just like you which is why digital downloading is so popular.

  27. Tug Says:
  28. No offense taken at ALL...I used to be able to sit & listen for hours, or sit through a movie. I got old(er), and all of a sudden I'm type A, or ADD or something - weird.

  29. Ralph Says:
  30. There was a real visceral experience to be had with an 22-1/3 LP. The cover art might have been the last straw that persuaded you to purchase it. The cover was to be studied as you played the disc for the first time - unless the lyrics were printed on the sleeve :>)

    I do not have a qualm if any gaudy effects were the artist's idea, and not that of an overzealous producer...

    I like concepts albums, or even concept groupings in a song. One of the best in this regard, IMO, is on the Beatles Abbey Road with Paul's tour de force Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End. One song composed of many smaller compositions that carries an idea forward.

    LPs are a lost art that many younger people are starting to see the many neat things about records. Check out any of the used music places like Merle's Record Rack around New Haven or Spinnakers on the Cape. I have lots of vinyl awaiting the USB turntable. The covers will be examined again!

  31. Travis Says:
  32. I read most of this post this morning but didn't have time to comment. I've been thinking about it off and on today.

    I guess what it boils down to for me much a person is willing to evolve not only their own musical tastes, but also the way they get their music. I remember resisting CDs for so long. And then I wouldn't buy anything from iTunes for the longest time.

  33. Bond Says:
  34. TUG: LOL...well, I understand that

    RALPH: Nicely put Sir.

    TRAVIS: I also resisted CDs and iTunes and still do not use iTunes often. When I have it is to buy the entire CD.

  35. Dana Says:
  36. You know what I miss? Good album ART! Remember the days when you could frame album covers?

    Don't even get me started on the lack of ability to perform live these days - at least when it comes to my son's favorite music genre.

  37. Starrlight Says:
  38. Well I fall on both sides of the fence. I buy single songs because that is how it is marketed these days and really iTunes is nothing more than a digital 45. I tend to buy the entire album if I get to the point where I have purchased 3 or more songs. But most albums I buy today, complete albums, are by established artists or Indie artists. They are the only ones who seem to get the idea behind song order.

    And you bet your ass that U2 sequences. Heck they have had huge band fights over song order! They have a giant white board that they work on. It really is an artform. Green Day's new album is sequenced beautifully as well. It has the feel of a great 70's stadium albums with lots of influence from The Who to Cheap Trick.

    As for auto tune, Trav sent me that article too. Can you wrap your brain around what it would have sounded like had they auto tuned Dylan? Petty? Heck Lennon?!

  39. I had no idea that it was called Auto-Tune, but I knew that it was being done. How obvious when one tries to listen to these so-called singers (really, just poseurs) perform live. It got a taste of this first hand when I was part of recording our church choir CD this past December. My choir director asked me if I wanted to have my off-key notes digitally corrected, and I said, "Hell, no! I'll record it again and sing it correctly!" Guess I'm old-school. A singer should be able to sing or else the public accept the fact that someone will always be a half-note flat (ahem, Bono, ahem).

  40. Starrlight Says:
  41. OH DESERT! The Irish are gonna come for you now :P

  42. BeckEye Says:
  43. I hate Auto Tune. Whoever invented it should be beaten to death with a keytar.

  44. TopChamp Says:
  45. I skipped to the comment input bit so I say what I want to before I read other people's opinions any more!

    To address the point that you miss when they did it for real:
    They didn't ALL do it for real back in the day. And I believe that the lipsynchers and auto-tuners of today will be forgotten in years to come as the majority of the dodgier 60's and 70's tunes are now only to be heard on historic/reminiscent radio shows.

    I have heard a lot of current bands who really do do it for real. I have been moved and amazed by what they do and am passionate about the magic of live performance.

    I think you confuse Pop music with good music here (though I realise you know the difference!). Pop can be good - but can also just be something which hits the mood of the moment. Somthing trite that makes people feel happy. And so what if it's artificially produced, or that the voice is tuned by machine? I suspect it won't be remembered in years to come.

    There are many points in your post I agree with! I will be sad to see the demise of the album but suspect you may be right that it is becoming less popular with downloads. I love the limited editions, the extras on the vinyl.

    As to modern albums that tell a story - try Reverand and the Makers: The State of Things for a comment on life over here in Britain today.

  46. TopChamp Says:
  47. I wonder whether it is more of an issue in America than the UK? Live music is a huge deal for us, and bands really aren't well regarded here if they can't do it live.

    You've sparked a debate in my house tonight - we're now trying to think of anyone we've ever seen lip-synch live... We know Britney's here doin it but the only other band we can think of (Fisherspooner) were booed off.


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