a question of ethics

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by MANTIK, Nov 13, 2003.


    MANTIK Guest

    There are a few genres of music that consistently send certain toxic messages to the general public but that have the most powerful effect on children. One genre is Gansta-Rap. Another is death metal and other types of rock music which have "Satanic" messages or lyrics.
    My question: As a mastering engineer how do you see yourself in this process as being an active participant in helping to make these negative types of music more appealing to the ears of our youth? Are you willing to accept any kind of responsibility when reports are made in the news that a kid was killed or committed suicide or had a drug overdose who was heavily involved in a subculture built around one of these types of music?

    I'm reminded of the logic expounded in a book that I once read about the slaughter of the Jews under the NAZI regime in Germany. A particular participant in that horrendous act was caught and his defending argument was " Hey, why are you guys picking on me? I didn't shove all those Jews into the ovens. I was just the guy who tattoed the serial numbers onto their forearms. It was such a trivial part of the process."
  2. Don Grossinger

    Don Grossinger Distinguished past mastering moderator Active Member


    First of all, I do NOT accept your comparison. You are comparing the organized killing of an entire group ( actually "groups") of people numbering millions to a very tenuous linkage of music to random problems of individual people. It has never been shown that the linkage you suggest actually exists at all.

    Where do you draw the line? The recording & mix engineers, recording studio owner, songwriter & publisher, cover artist, record company staff & execs. all share in the dissemination of music.

    I believe in free speech. Isn't that an American right according to the Constitution? Where do you draw the line? Do you censor songs about suicide? About tobacco? Lung cancer kills millions. About beer? Drunken driving kills people also & in great numbers. About eating fast food that will kill you? About "just" robbery or does it have to be about murder before you disallow it to be sold? About sex? AIDS kills horribly.

    All sorts of things are glorified that are bad for society. It is the job of a parent to teach a child how to make good life-decisions & be responsible adults. Using their own minds, not to be regulated so they don't have to think for themselves.

    Parents should know what their kids are listening to & who their kids hang out with & what they are doing. That is their responsability.

    Boy, your attitude really bothers me. I exercise my right to take or refuse any project that comes to me. I am a thinking adult. I do not want to live in a regulated society that tells me what kind of music (or books or movies or lifestyle) is permissible by law. If I find a project very offensive by MY standards then I can refuse to do it & my studio owner will back me up. But I don't want anyone to order me by law to do or not do work on any music project. That's when dictatorship begins to creep in.
  3. joe lambert

    joe lambert Distinguished Member

    I'm obviously a day behind so sorry Don for my afterthoughts.
    Mantik, your comparison is ignorant. First off anyone who blames someone's death on a record is an idiot! I could open a whole can of crap on this but I won't.

    Being a professional engineer is to provide a service. My goal is to help people get the most out of there art. Not to judge it. If you want to criticize the material then your in the wrong business. You have the right to make a record that I may think is complete crap. And I have the right to think of it as such.

    People who act out in a negative way to any kind of art have that negative energy inside and are looking for an excuse to get it out. Be it a record or waiting to long in line at a grocery store. Your logic is to say that long lines cause people to shoot the people in front for taking too long.

    MANTIK Guest

    Don said:"The recording & mix engineers, recording studio owner, songwriter & publisher, cover artist, record company staff & execs. all share in the dissemination of music." and I feel mastering engineers too.

    The focus of my question was: Do you feel that in some way you made a contribution to helping people who make music that promotes toxic ideas or images?- Which could increase the odds in favor of a really negative outcome in concerts or in peoples personal lives who listen to that type of music. Are any of you willing to assume even the slightest bit of responsibility for it?

    I would feel responsible.

    It's interesting to me that I didn't mention anything about CENSORSHIP ,regulations or dictatorships and yet that seems like the first thing that popped into your mind Ron.

    One could almost look at the question as a psychological Rorshack Test- " what does this ink design on this paper bring up for you ?- free associate please"
    I'm not in favor of censorship. The question is about feeling responsible.

    Don said:"If I find a project very offensive by MY standards then I can refuse to do it & my studio owner will back me up. But I don't want anyone to order me by law to do or not do work on any music project."

    I agree that this is the correct response for me too.

    Joe said: Mantik, your comparison is ignorant.

    You may very well be right Joe. Here's a few other things I'm also clueless about because I've never heard of it happening but maybe one of you guys have...

    1.In the middle of a Classical music concert a young man get up from his seat, pulls out a small submachine gun and proceeds to empty it magazine's contents randomly into the surrounding crowd. Upon later investigation we find out that this was a result of a long standing rivalry between East-coast and West-coast producers. One side felt that the violinist just "wasn't keepin it real enough".

    2. A riot breaks out in the middle of a Smooth Jazz festival. Hundreds are trampled because they are running for safety from a feuding few.

    3.A few guys pay a visit to a World Music production studio and assasinate a band member working on his album.

    I'm not favoring the above genres. I just haven't heard of things like that happening at events that play that type of music.
  5. Gold

    Gold Active Member

    I hope you live in Riverdale . If you don't you must lead a hard angry life. I think music is a good way to release anger and frustration. Negative energy needs an outlet. Music is good for this.
  6. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    So what you're saying is that it's not right to kill the clients family after a session? ooooppsss.

    If this music really had that kind of impact on the psychy, then I'd be a mass killer. What ever happened to just plain crazy people. Hitler listened to Classical music and look what he turned out to be. Hell, he commissioned some of the greatest classical composers of our time. the mistake your making is your associations. Maybe the reason why there aren't tramblings at classical concerts is because the colostimy bags weight them down.
  7. mjones4th

    mjones4th Active Member

    Ummm.... Ahhhhhh-nold and Sly have killed more people than NWA has.

    I'd say that the violence endemic at hip hop functions is not related to the violent content of the artists' performance. I'd opine that its more related to the social conditions of the attendees. (we can discuss that further offline, if you'd like) But there is still no excuse, because the ultimate responsibility is on the individual.

    America has a love affair with the macabre. How many deaths do we see on TV on a daily basis? Its funny, we can see plenty of blood, but no boobs. Sounds like population control to me.

    And why must we bash rap? Geez, I'd think we all would get tired of it.


    MANTIK Guest

    Joe said: "People who act out in a negative way to any kind of art have that negative energy inside and are looking for an excuse to get it out."

    according to this view,the negative energy is present only in the person who is listening to the music. The end user.

    Far be it for us to suggest that same negative energy is also present in the musical content creators. If it wasn't. If they weren't "feelin" it, then how could they possibly be "inspired" to re-create it?

    Along this line of thought, I recently watched a small segment in the Bill O'Reilly show "The Factor".
    There were two ganta-rap artists on that were called on there by a principle in a Philadelphia high school. The principle was complaining that their music/music videos were having a negative effect on the kids in school.
    To defend himself one of the artist said that it was the responsibilty of the parents' of the kids.

    I agree with that.

    Then, he said "I am just a reporter of what is going on in the neighborhood that I came from."
    Here we are back to the" don't blame me it's them" argument that I started this string with.

    There are certain running themes in gansta-rap and other music usually connected to violence which we have all grown accustommed to.
    I have a different take on this artist's response that he is "just a reporter".
    I believe that if overnight all the things that he "reports" about were to disappear, he would feel that now there is nothing to report about. In other words, he would be completely lost and in a panic because the things he is "reporting" about is what he likes to see around himself and be a part of. It's what he uses to form his identity from. He wouldn't know how to function in a world where that "negative energy" doesn't exist anymore. The "negative energy is his comfort zone. If he couldn't "report" anymore about what he actually likes to see he would be unable to re-create new songs. That would mean he is out of business! So it is in the artist's best interest that the "negative energy" NEVER disappears. It's just bad business. It's not economically viable.

    Michael said: "What ever happened to just plain crazy people ?" If the content creators along with the end users are "crazy" with this "negative energy", why would I want to help them?
    Another point that was raised in the interview by one of the artists was " why is it that the general media paints gansta-rap as a negative with a broad brush and then they ignor all the good that we do behind the scenes like coming to the schools to talk to the kids and other outreach programs.
    My response to this is that certain notorious South American drug king pins create and fund hospitals for the communities. General Electric Corp. with it's "we bring good things to life" campaigns also makes parts for nuclear weapons.
    The major crude oil corporations shell out millions to "the Arts and humanities" while destroying ecosystems.
  9. Rod Gervais

    Rod Gervais Active Member

    Actualy hate to - but i have to jump in here.

    People buy this music because it appeals to them.... and if they act (after listening to it) it is not because of the music but rather becuase they have a propensity for that violence....

    I am not an ME - nor do i have any desire to listen to this music - HOWEVER - we are talking about a commercial venture here - and to even begin to compare that to Mssr. Hitler and the things that he insituted in that time is absurd to say the least.

    This genre of music does not "create" monsters - rather - it exists because there is a financial reward to the artist for performing it.

    If there were no market - do you think for a moment that this would even exist beyond a small cult following and a few odd performers?

    An ME holds no responsibility for what a listener to any music he has worked on does....... and the very thought of this is (to me) a prime example of one of this country's biggest problems....


    It wasn't me - it was the music....... it isn't my fault - I'm a product of my environment....
    the devil made me do it..........

    Please give me a break - people do what they do - because they choose to do so - it should be dealt with strictly on the basis of personal responsibility...........

    When we re-enter that phase of our society then things will begin to straighten out.....

    Oh - one other thing - what in the world does this have to do with the original question asked in this thread.......

    General Electric Corp. with it's "we bring good things to life" campaigns also makes parts for nuclear weapons. The major crude oil corporations shell out millions to "the Arts and humanities" while destroying ecosystems.

    Or was the original question just an opening for you to have a place to present your global views on the "evils" of the world? :confused: :confused:

  10. mjones4th

    mjones4th Active Member

    He "likes to see" Murder, Crack, destitution, poverty, lawlessness, opression.


    He doesn't like to see it any more than you, my friend. He may have grown up surrounded by it, or he may not have. I did. And when you're in a situation like that, you scratch and scrape to get out of it, like my father did for our family. Going to work at 6 in the morning and getting off at 9 in the evening, seven days a week.

    Until you've seen it, you have no idea about that which you speak. So please keep your uninformed opinion to yourself.

    Some rappers 'report', others 'glorify'. I have a real problem with the glorifiers, however, they do present an opportunity for outsiders such as yourself to gain insight to what is happening. everything they discuss happens. I've seen it. Its ugly. None of them would ever go back to that lifestyle. Its miserable. To even suggest that they like to see it is ignorance.

  11. Rod Gervais

    Rod Gervais Active Member


    As always, you are a class act my friend......... :tu:


  12. Tommy P.

    Tommy P. Well-Known Member

    If some music were to be blacklisted by the industry, or censored by the government, it would only serve to artificially fuel its existence instead of letting it stand on its own merits.
    And it would surely get distributed regardless ( Prohibition was a multi-faceted failure). True?

    So lets hear it all in full fidelity please. That way when I discuss the lyrics with my children, there can be no mistakes about it.

    Hear it , see it, feel it, deal with it. Actually, I think it goes "see me, feel me, touch me, heal me"! Right? ;)

    Censor any music or art and it will still be there, but instead it'll be hiding from an unsuspecting public. That scenario would be a true danger, IMHO. Knowledge is power and freedom to act. Censorship and illiteracy is what is holding back the unfortunate peoples of this earth that cannot begin to know how to participate in the Free World.

    [ November 15, 2003, 10:27 PM: Message edited by: Tommy P. ]
  13. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    I conducted an experiment yesterday to see if music can actually make people act out what the music is suggesting.
    I was standing on the street corner with my ipod when this knockout girl walked up and stood on the corner waiting for the light to change. I quickly selected Marvin Gayes "lets get it on" and flipped one headphone out so she could hear it. She jumped on me and we ran back to my apt and made love. Afterwards she just wouldn't leave, so I casually walked over to the stereo and put on Paul Simons "50 ways to leave your lover". Before the song was over, she was gone. I ordered a pizza and thought about how I could use this new found power of music. I put on Saturday night fever and by the end of the album, I was dancing like a pro. wow, this is great I thought. unfortunately I played 100 bottles of beer on the wall and now i'm a drunk.
  14. Don Grossinger

    Don Grossinger Distinguished past mastering moderator Active Member

    Mitz, Rod, Tommy P., Paul & Michael:

    You guys are a breath of fresh air.

    If there was no market for this stuff, it would go away. Since millions of people worldwide seem to like & buy this music, it remains in the public eye & others blame the music for personal actions. Maybe instead, Mantek should start a publicity campaign to bring back big band music or end violence in society in general. Now that might be useful!.

  15. falkon2

    falkon2 Well-Known Member

    Haha Michael, MANTIK is soooo going to play "Shut up when I'm talking to you" sometime about now.
  16. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    Marvin Gaye's a special case. That $*^t actually works! :)
  17. pandamonkey

    pandamonkey Active Member

    Very interesting....
    I think that Mantik's thoughts are a little heavy, yet promote some debate, so fine.

    Gangster Rap?? I think that Rap and Hip Hop are just new genres of music in a modern time. Gangsters have always liked music, it is not a new thing. I can't imagine that gangsters in the 1950's listened to Hip Hop, yet it's probably safe to say that they listened to something. I have never seen any photos of Miles Davis packing a gun, yet I'm pretty sure he had his own ideas of what having fun can be... On the other hand, Sinatra was rumoured to have certain underworld relations. I don't recall his music making the Hip Hop charts.

    Don mentioned once that he mastered a track called "Sandstorm" by an artist called Darude. This track has no lyrics. Although I am a HUGE electronic music fan, I can't recall ever seeing what Darude looks like either.
    This track was a techno anthem for all time, HUGE. kids and adults alike have surely danced in warehouses and at raves time and time again whacked on all sorts of chemicals listening to Sandstorm. Should Don not have mastered that one based on genre alone? Should he have thought, "I won't master this instrumental techno track because kids might think it's good and good techno instrumentals make kids do crazy things...."? That would be silly.
    Like I said, I've never seen what the producer looks like and there is not a single lyric in the track that instructs me to do anything that might be considered "bad". Sometimes just the simple art of music appeals to certain people, what they do with it is an individual's choice.

    Sorry but if it's good, I'll listen to it.

    P.S. Don, you're a stud.
  18. Rod Gervais

    Rod Gervais Active Member


    That was nothing short of eloquent.......... :c: '

    To all you guys.......... you're nothing but the best........


  19. MANTIK

    MANTIK Guest

    Paul said: "I hope you live in Riverdale"
    Mitzelplik said:"Until you've seen it, you have no idea about that which you speak. So please keep your uninformed opinion to yourself."

    For the benefit of the few who may not know. Paul's comment refers to a section of the Bronx,NY that is like what the upper eastside is to Manhattan. Paul obviously went through the trouble of looking at my member info. and discovered that I live in the Bronx.

    To: both Paul and Mitzelplik - I'm sorry. I done you both a disservice. I have left you uninformed. This puts a bit of a wrinkle in your statements...

    Until the age of 22, I was born and lived in the area that during the 1970's under the Carter presidential administration the U.S. media labelled "the national symbol of urban decay" - the South Bronx! That means that there was no other place and bad as that one in the good old USA. Pretty much everything you hear in this type of music, I was forced to live with and witness. I however wasn't an active participant in the madness. My family was on welfare. I got over it and moved out. I didn't feel it was worthwhile to constantly "report" on something that was obviously harmful to others. There is more to life that being a "hood" but these guys are still stuck in the same record groove. I have a suggestion: stop being bleeding hearts for these guys.

    To Rod: While I admit using the setting of Hitler as a showcase was over-the-top. I wanted to focus your attention not on hilter's exploits but instead on one of his henchmen's unwillingness to accept responsibility, which is the very point that you made, Rod."PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY DOESN'T EXIST ANY MORE"

    To answer your question, I was trying to show a similarity in the mode of operation that G.E. and major Oil companies have and the impression the answer of the artist on Bill O'Rielly's show. Specifically, his stance about the positive things he said that those guys do and the positive that those companies either actually say or try to lead you believe that they do in hopes to downplay all the harm that they actually cause. I see it as a way of sanitizing their image.

    To: Michael - I appreciate the logic of your humor. However, I believe that music has a powerful magnetic quality to it. It attracts a certain mindset depending which genre you wish to listen to. My view on this thing is in the form of a question to myself. If I have seen a track record develop over time of fairly frequent outbreaks of violence in connection with a certain style of music, why would I wanted to add more fuel to the fire by adjusting certain audio qualities of it in order to make it even more alluring to the ear? I begin to feel responsible for it in some way. Especially, since I came from the same type of environment that is portrayed is this genre. I've been there. I've seen the destructive effect the style of thinking showcased in the music has on people that lived there. Wanna-be and real gansters are attracted to the mindset of this music and unfortunately there will be innocent people in their midst when the Sh*t hits the fan in those gatherings. And what is the element with that magnetic quality to bring them altogether into a human chemical reaction? The music.

    Still, I still haven't promoted censorship. Why do you guys keep harping on that?
  20. Don Grossinger

    Don Grossinger Distinguished past mastering moderator Active Member


    This brings me back to the question: " Why do so many people from so many different backgrounds, nationalities (rap / hip hop has affected the music of Jamaica, India, Japan, Russia, Great Britan & more) keep liking and buying this stuff"?

    I agree that the glorifying of drugs & violence is not desireable. But the public seems to want to listen to more & more of it.

    Tastes in music change over time. I really think that the worst of that glorifying may be slowing down. It's a society thing, not a mastering thing.

    People thought that Elvis Presley was the devil incarnate. People thought that Charlie Parker & Dizzy Gillespie were also spreading the disease of loose behavior & drugs. People thought that the Beatles were ruining society by having long hair & questioning authority & speaking out.

    I think there is too great an acceptance of violence (in actuality & in language) & racism in general in our world. It's an easy excuse to blame the music. People choose how they are going to conduct their lives. People are looking for the quick fix & immediate gratification. Quick money, quick sex, quick solution of problems with a gun. Perhaps Gangsta Rap is a symptom of this.

    I have worked on many Rap / Hip Hop tunes that preach understanding & are clearly against drugs & violence. These should be heard also.

    I do not believe that the mastering engineer is going to change society by turning away jobs. The music will get out. Even in communist Russia, R & R got heard despite an entire nation's government effort to stop it.

    I think we must all act to stop the root of the problem ourselves (in our lives & everyday actions) & not blame the problem on music. The music will change when society changes.

    I believe you are promoting the idea of censorship because how else do you propose to stop the music from coming out?

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