okay...what of the common man?

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by bovellum, Nov 9, 2007.

  1. bovellum

    bovellum Guest

    here is a very legitimate question: When put in the face of the common man, without the ears, the knowledge, the music theory, the hi tech equipment....and they "feel" ....I mean..."FEEL" the music...where does all the technical analysis go? What does it matter when music is a language of the soul? I think there is a boundary....a line where the technical trades with the essentiall...the soul. Talk to me here please!!! Yes, I completely recognize the vehicle of the technical to reach the ears...but at some point the technical is lost on the deeper, intuitive and infinitely more intelligent senses of the heart. YES?

    I have many many friends that have listened to my song and NONE of them have expressed the musical theory complications and changing modality difficulties of my piece. Novices, yes. Ignorant of both digital sound and music theory, yes. but infinitely in tune, maybe more than you and I...to the nuances of musical emotion, NO.

    I myself have many years of writing and a fair amount of experience with the technical. No, my mix and my music is not masterful...technically. But in spite of dissonance and imperfect recording and mixing...I know my music speaks emotionally. And I will be in the front of the line in criticizing the expression....leaving room for improvement.

    But to write it off as amateur, novice or hugely lacking...NO. where do we draw the line? and how many of us recognize, openly , the value of RAW. the beauty and warmth that is found in the atonal, imperfections of spontaneous expresson?
  2. bent

    bent No Bad Vibes! Well-Known Member

    Bovellum, in a different thread, wrote:
    You didn't mean that, did you? :?

    Yes, you are correct, the 'common man' does not critically listen to things that are in (or out) of phase, and understand what he hears.
    The common man (or, friend) tells you everything's great because he thinks that that's what you want to hear, because he doesn't want to upset the only guy he knows who might possibly 'make it out of this place'.

    He also takes it for a grain of salt when he hears things out of phase played (unbeknownst to him) in mono, which cause important things like vocals and percussion to totally disappear from the mix.

    There's nothing 'raw' about phase cancellation, or dissonance, or strange sibilant artifacts in the higher frequency on vocal tracks.

    You have talent in the songwriting category, that doesn't necessarily mean that you have it in the 'tech' category.
    (Conversely, I can't write a song to save my life...) :roll:
  3. bovellum

    bovellum Guest

    I love it. I think I found a new forum home. Im laughing and thank you for your response.

    I do think...no, I KNOW, that so many people dont hear that kind of stuff...or...if they do..they hear thru it. GRANTED...if they know it is an "amateur" recording..Do you catch what Im suggesting? Its like this switch goes off, that turns off the "commercial" evaluation and it tunes into the heart of the expression.

    But thank you so much for the songwriting statement. That does help to confirm my passion somewhat...in the midst of the obvious giants of this forum.
  4. bovellum

    bovellum Guest

    YES YES YES!!! I TOTALLY meant that!!! Test me on it!! pick it apart, tear it up. Its not about ME. I am, as you are, a vehicle of something higher. The only criticism is in my commitment to learning and my yielding to that creative, transformative force...

    Some will certainly laugh at this. I laugh with you. It is humorous indeed...an indescribable experience of wonder and amusement indeed...whether ANY of us get it or not.

    Fire away
  5. bent

    bent No Bad Vibes! Well-Known Member


  6. TheBear

    TheBear Guest

    i hope im getting this right. but yes, i kinda wish i was the common man where i could just FEEL the music rather than just pick it apart and figure out how they did it, what they used, etc. i wish i could get lost again in the music like i used to before i started getting into recording. but i think this is where the technical side kind of comes in. this technical side of things helps us (engineers/producers) convey this emotion for those who havent been tainted by the technical side of things. we are the ones that help share the emotions of bands, artists, etc. to those who cant go to their shows and feel it there. so yes, when people are listening to these songs the technical is overshadowed by the emotional eventhough it is almost equally important as the emotional.

    but thats just me, and i hope thats what you meant. if not...im dumb.
  7. bovellum

    bovellum Guest

    ..I can see thru and tell the difference between genuine constructive , helpful and developmental criticism and immature, egotistical meanness.

    Ill know the difference.
  8. bovellum

    bovellum Guest

    Yeah, I agree...however novice I may be...Im still way more sensitive to the complexities of music and technicalities than most people. And it is hard to let go of that sometimes ...the filters are so thick and the senses clouded. I often wish I could go back too... But I would rather err on the side of ignorance...and let someone else communicate my music, as you said, more accurately and technically. (money barrier)

    Childhood held such magic and wondrous possibilities. I wish there was a switch that we could flip between the modes of ignorance and bliss - and the perspective of broad, technical and wise awareness. Fortunately, I still fall on the dumbass side. :D
  9. TheBear

    TheBear Guest

    haha dont we all fall on the dumbass side. but yes, its all such a loaded question where you cant fully side with one idea or the other. cuz there is so much more, which i find so intriguing. maybe thats the reason lots of times drugs come into play with music so you can turn that switch on/off ;) but who knows...im not gunna say.
  10. bovellum

    bovellum Guest

    LOL!! Well said...or not said, lol. Im so with you on this. What a dillema. Notice my choice of word - "filter"...
  11. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    I am not quite clear on what you're getting at?

    I don't play any instruments anymore but I still play the console and recorders and processors.

    I have the very best equipment and I've used the very worst equipment. I still get lovely recordings either way because making good recordings really don't have much to do with the equipment. Sure, the better the equipment the better your recording might sound but only might. If you have lousy musical technique and produce a lousy sound with your instrument, I don't think anybody cares about the content if it sounds like crap, regardless of the technical blah blah. People won't want to listen to it that way. There must be some modicum of professionalism, in your recording, for people to accept your talent. It's a whole package deal.

    Whole package girl
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  12. bovellum

    bovellum Guest

    Lol, thats exactly what were saying...sorta...

    no doubt, when doing the technical, a sort of pause has to be put on the emotional...or at best, it needs to be very very carefully fused....wow..an art in itself.

    and when doing the emotional...the technical must be suspended....or delicately controlled as to not interfere with the divine.
  13. TheBear

    TheBear Guest

    exactly. that where the technical side comes in to the whole emotion aspect. us as engineers blah blahblah, we also have to have the ability to convey emotion with our technical "expertise" if we dont have an ear for these things, we're doomed from the start. which goes along with what remy says, you can make a good recording with amazing equipment or shitty equipment, you just gotta know what ur doing, which goes along with the emotional side AND technical side.

    technical conveys emotional but technical is overshadowed by the emotional by the common man yada yada yada
  14. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Okay...I'll bite since I was the one that trashed the compositional aspect of your song.

    I'll happily say that I am quite capable of sitting back and listening to music for the sake of music as well as flipping the switch and then listening via technical ears.

    And listening to the previously posted song, even with my musical (non-technical) ears, something felt off with the strings. Even my wife (a classical clarinetist and VERY non-technical person), gave my computer a strange look at the entrance of the strings declaring them odd sounding and way out of tune (referring back to the odd mode used in place of Major or minor.)

    We can say that this can be chalked up to once again, a musically inclined person evaluating the piece, but I have to argue this.

    If Mozart or Beethoven had written pieces which were as dissettling, would they be known today? I would say "no."

    The general public decided on their popularity, not music critics or musicians themselves. Therefore, I think that the common man here is getting the shaft and being blamed for ignorance which he does not possess.
  15. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    I would add that I bet if you replaced the strings with better samples or live players playing notes that made sense, your friends would sit up and take notice and compliment you on the vast improvement of the piece - even if they're not able to tell you what changed.
  16. bovellum

    bovellum Guest

    Yeah, and I might too, lol. Im gonna take a long hard look at this as I know, admittedly NOTHING about strings. But I think the jump up to a maj 7, then to a minor , etc, is the problem.I intentionally did that but I suppose it was too much.
  17. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    On top of that, the "common man" doesn't technically (at the musical level) dissect the song -- He either listens to it and likes it, or dislikes it. He doesn't usually care why.

    But if a song has "unmusical" qualities in it, the "common man" probably won't really care for it. No matter if the production quality is amazing or not. Contrast that with some really mediocre recordings out there of classic hits -- A lot of those recordings (generically speaking) from the 50's and 60's are crap by today's standards. But if the song kicks a$$, there you go.
  18. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    I would add that life is a journey, and in order to improve, we must learn and re-evaluate everything all along the way. There's no shame in learning the craft as best as you can, and you lose nothing in the process.

    What you thought was great when you were 10 might not be so impressive at 20, and so on. Your basic sensibilities may have been spot on from the very beginning, but you still refine things as you go along in life. That is called growth, and without it, we wither and die.

    The "Common man" is only common if he/she chooses to never grow, never learn, never want to be any better than a passing, pedestrian observer in life, music, recordings, etc. You may as well try playing your music for sheep and cattle too. They may like it, they may not, they may simply roll their eyes at you. They will never rise above the "passing fancy" stage of listener. They don't know WHY they like it, (or hate it), but they do. That's fine for selling apples and pencils, and to some extent, even CDs. (We NEED common people for some things; if the world were full of experts, if EVERYONE could do it, what then??)

    Yes, it's very commendable that you want to write & record something that simply "Feels" right, and hits any kind of person, regardless of their station in life, in an emotional way. (Wouldn't we all!) But aside from the few rare geniouses in life who could do this, (Beatles, Mozart, Bach, etc.) the rest of us have to put one foot down in front of the other, and do it the old fashioned way: With hard work and dedication.

    Yes, it's a shame you'll have to lose some child-like naivette when you learn HOW frequencies work, how microphone patterns capture sound, wavelenghts of various instruments, distortion and level settings, but it's part of learning one's craft. Painters and Ballet instructors go through similar proceses, so do set builders and movie prop makers. Craft is as important as inspiration.

    As an extreme example, look at any good magician: he never leaves anything to "Chance" (or real "MAGIC") - every trick is rehearsed, timed, and practiced to perfection. Sadly, the magician himself never gets to feel the joy or the fun of a great trick, done well, at least not the way the audience does. The audience, of course, goes bonkers over a great trick, and will try (only to a point) to figure out how it was done. Imagine how rotten a magician would be without planning, practice and timing.

    A good musical performance can be similar; the artist has worked on the piece to the point where it cannot fail (even with a wrong note or two); the passion & the emotion is there intrinsicly, but he/she is too busy with the mechanics at the moment to enjoy it the same way the audience does. (Unless it's one of those rare moments of true communion with the audience where the artist is having as much of a good time as THEY are.)

    Many people (including Jeremy, others here and hopefully myself) can toggle back and forth between the "Pro" set of ears, vs. the "Naive" or common man set of ears and simply enjoy something for what it is. That too can be learned, as long as one's mind is always open to how this whole thing works.

    I don't think you have to separate the two, and I DO think you can have both, esp if you're going to try to make a living at this thing. I don't think there's any shame or loss by getting overly technical and learning your craft as best as you can. Sure, you may one day accidently write the ultimate emotional hit pop song that gets perfectly recorded and touches millions of people in a 3 minute ditty.

    BUt most artists - even the biggest of them - will tell you it's 5% inspiration, and 95% perspiration.
  19. csi

    csi Active Member

    Hey there!

    I think your question(s) are totally on target. The thing I feel you have to be careful of is what one post mentioned and that is your friends saying it sounds great out of courtesy. However what I have found is this...the general public either likes it or they don't. They have no idea why.

    My wife will listen to what I feel is a totally inappropriate song (we're Christians) with my daughter - I will listen to it and ask her if she heard what the lyrics were saying - she would reply, no I just like the music. So to her it's not about the lyrics it's the groove that she enjoys. Some it's the lyrics that they connect with. However sonically speaking people won't pin point what they don't like - they just don't. So does it matter if it's mastered to sonic perfection - ah, no. But if you are going back to back with a national release on the radio or the like it better be able to hold it's own - so mastering is probably a very strong idea.

    With my music I have a decent ear and a pretty good room to record in. Will I ever desire to get signed - not on your life! The sacrifices are way to great. So mastering is not an issue with me.

    As with most of these threads this is just one mans opinion :)

    God Bless!

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