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Author Topic: Opinions on BWPS  (Read 10860 times)
Sam_BFC
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« Reply #75 on: April 07, 2011, 09:39:13 AM »

I think the fact that BWPS was for the most part tracked with the band playing live together in the studio already sets it far apart from the stereotypical 'ProTools' records.
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« Reply #76 on: April 07, 2011, 09:47:14 AM »

I have to question using the phrase "pro-tooled to death" as a critique of BWPS/Smile. Since this is the accepted method of recording 99% of what you hear on radio, movies, and television today, and since analog tape is still in a niche market but slowly coming back only in certain genres of music, what other method of recording should have been used on Smile?

If Smile was an over-use of ProTools technology, than what music made in the last 10 years on ProTools or any similar digital recording program would be an example of a good use of ProTools? Is anyone questioning someone like Kanye or Lady Gaga for overusing ProTools when that's literally all they use to record their music?

I guess you're right. I myself don't pay any attention to whether and where PT is in effect on BWPS. I didn't notice it in the first listening sessions, and I don't bother. So I somply don't hear it at all. But that's me in general: not analyzing things to death.

I don't bother either because ProTools is nothing more than a recording program which just happens to be one of the more widely used programs in professional and semi-pro studios. I don't hear many people saying anything similar about Cubase or Logic or Ableton Live or whatever else someone used to record an album. It seems like a non-issue unless the brand of tape machine used to record a certain album decades ago becomes a factor in an opinion of that album, whether it was recorded on a Studer or an MCI or a Sony.

The first song I remember hearing that kind of criticism of was "Fly Away" by Lenny Kravitz, where a reviewer wrote something like "the ProTools was too obvious", where maybe he meant the digital editing itself was too obvious, never mind what program was used to do that editing. In any case I never noticed that on BWPS, but everyone has a different opinion!
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"All of us have the privilege of making music that helps and heals - to make music that makes people happier, stronger, and kinder. Don't forget: Music is God's voice." - Brian Wilson
Wirestone
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« Reply #77 on: April 07, 2011, 10:49:47 AM »

People are not talking about Pro Tools.

As already stated here, Pro Tools is simply a digital recording program, and its results can sound as natural or artificial as you like. Bob Dylan's "Love and Theft" and "Modern Times" were both recorded with Pro Tools rigs, and no one would say they sound glossy or unnatural.

What people on these boards tend to mean by "Pro Tools" is digital pitch correction. In the last couple of years, people have come to know it as Autotune. That's a software plug-in for programs like Pro Tools that allows for fixes to bum notes. In extremis, it leads to the ultra-roboty vocals of a lot of recent pop records (the first big one was "Believe" by Cher).

The confusion stems from the fact that Brian's "Imagination," released in 98, was touted for its use of Pro Tools -- and people confused the obvious pitch correction on Brian's vocals on that record with Pro Tools itself. Not the same thing at all.
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« Reply #78 on: April 07, 2011, 11:39:50 AM »

The comment was seen here in regards to BWPS, and I remember several posters at the time BWPS was released saying that they could "hear" ProTools or that ProTools was used in a heavy-handed way. I thought it might be a misinterpretation of ProTools as a recording format that shouldn't enter into a critique of the album, any more than saying the brand of tape machine used for Sunflower would affect an opinion of that album.

What changed my mind about the ProTools commentary in general was finding out that Matthew Sweet's "Girlfriend" album used a very early version of ProTools, and here I was going around singing that album's praises as an example of the glories of Revolver-inspired pure analog record-making. Silly me. Smiley
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"All of us have the privilege of making music that helps and heals - to make music that makes people happier, stronger, and kinder. Don't forget: Music is God's voice." - Brian Wilson
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« Reply #79 on: April 07, 2011, 11:59:01 AM »

Exactly. There's a weird luddite stand to the commentary about this all -- as somehow the fact that people record to computers now makes music "worse" in some tangible way. Of course it doesn't.

Yes, technology has allowed people to make some bad musical decisions that they previously couldn't (the whole loudness wars of CDs, for example), but that's not intrinsic to the technology. It's just up to the people recording to show a modicum of taste.
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monkee knutz
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« Reply #80 on: April 07, 2011, 02:40:12 PM »

I agree with most said about pro-tools above.
I could go on a very long diatribe about the applications of recording digitally, but for the most part, people don't use it as an actual tool, as intended, but rather a crutch to repair and correct things that the producer/engineer/artist believe need it. Digital recording has come a long way, but I believe it still has a way to go, much like digital photography did in its infancy. Looks much better now that it did, but still not as good as it should be.

Digital recording still sounds flat to me. There's no life to it. No presence. It doesn't breathe like analog recordings do.
And yes, my biggest beef with digital recording is all the 'futzing' that done with autotune and other corrective means within other software. I don't pay much attention to what's popular on radio unless it's within ear shot and I have to hear it. I recently heard some Katy Perry tune and I was dumbfounded by how robotic everything sounded. Nothing sounded like it was produced or played by a human. When you start tinkering with instrumentation to smooth things out, that's when instruments can sound completely hallow. As a musician, I like to hear the nuances of music- errors, sour notes, microphone bleeding, and for the most part in modern music, that's long gone. Brian's last few albums take on this asthetic. Digital tinkering sucks the life out of a recording and my ear hears it. I'd much rather hear albums like 'Orange Crate Art' and 'Imagination' prior to autotune and other vocal smoothing techniques. It sounds more natural and pleasing.

I have a friend that is a die hard rockabilly artist. He's made a name for himself and is a very popular touring and recording artist. I was discussing some of his material with him and asked about a specific record. I told him I liked the way it sounded and he said, "Recorded with pro-tools! Can you believe it?!" I was absolutely floored and he shared the notion of disbelief. But it goes to show that if used correctly as a means to capture sound and not completely manipulate it, things can actually sound fresh and organic. Trust me I could go on and on, but there's my kodger rant.  Old Man


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onkster
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« Reply #81 on: April 07, 2011, 02:51:59 PM »

Yeah, that Luddite thing--I guess everybody forgot how much beeyotching there was back in the Seventies about 24- and 48-track, and how that was ruining the recording process. If you can't do it live, it's cheating! (Which is kinda like saying if you can't perform a movie live as a play, it's cheating. Different animal entirely, dammit!)

Same thing with synthesizers.

What it truly comes down to, regarding tools, technology, talent, brainpower: IT'S HOW YOU USE IT.

You can make something that sounds human or machine tooled, or somewhere in between. You can kill a song or bring it to life.

Or you can even use your tool deliberately as an effect (which I sometimes do with special guests, right in my very boudoir...). Once again: Cher. (No, she wasn't one of the special guests. Yet.)
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« Reply #82 on: April 07, 2011, 03:20:50 PM »

i remember i appreciated BWPS much more after i heard the purple chick smile. 

but i love the added stuff.  in blue hawaii is just great, the middle suite is obviously ridiculously good.  and the end to heroes and villain is one of my favorite things ever.  if someone tagged that completed section to a beach boys recording i'd be in heaven (the old one is incomplete). 
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monkee knutz
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« Reply #83 on: April 08, 2011, 05:53:51 AM »

Yeah, that Luddite thing--I guess everybody forgot how much beeyotching there was back in the Seventies about 24- and 48-track, and how that was ruining the recording process. If you can't do it live, it's cheating! (Which is kinda like saying if you can't perform a movie live as a play, it's cheating. Different animal entirely, dammit!)

Same thing with synthesizers.

What it truly comes down to, regarding tools, technology, talent, brainpower: IT'S HOW YOU USE IT.

You can make something that sounds human or machine tooled, or somewhere in between. You can kill a song or bring it to life.

Or you can even use your tool deliberately as an effect (which I sometimes do with special guests, right in my very boudoir...). Once again: Cher. (No, she wasn't one of the special guests. Yet.)
Dude! You get it!  Rock!
It's a shame more people don't.

Brian used to capture the magic on 4 tracks! Roughly 12 instruments and 2 sets of 5 voices!!
Then in 1979/80, Keepin The Summer Alive was recorded on 48 tracks! Two 24 track decks in synch. WHAT HAPPENED?!
Wasn't the Imagination album recorded on 96 tracks? 96 tracks!!! WHAT THE f***?!?!
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TdHabib
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« Reply #84 on: April 08, 2011, 06:12:00 AM »

The confusion stems from the fact that Brian's "Imagination," released in 98, was touted for its use of Pro Tools -- and people confused the obvious pitch correction on Brian's vocals on that record with Pro Tools itself. Not the same thing at all.
It's more than that--it plays into culture as a whole, unfortunately people only read bottom-lines. A good example is when people say someone was "photoshopped" out of a picture. No, they weren't. They were cropped out of the picture.
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guitarfool2002
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« Reply #85 on: April 08, 2011, 10:15:23 AM »

It's good to see a consensus of sorts about using the term "ProTools" as a verb. I remember as reviews for the BWPS album were being posted at various boards back in the day, some of the criticism was being able to "hear" AutoTune, or digital editing/trickery at times, and I have to admit I never heard this outright use of anything like that on the album, or if I did I never paid attention to it because the music was really good.

And even if there was audible stuff like that in some peoples' opinions, can that be used as a critique of the album itself? And could someone using that logic then go on to praise artists and/or albums which rely solely on that kind of digital technology to create the signature sound of the genre itself, i.e. Kanye West, Black Eyed Peas, or most of hip-hop music on the charts? Or dare I say Lady Gaga?

One can do some really creative and catchy music with that technology, but if the criticism is over-use of said technology then let's apply it across the board and say if a Brian Wilson vocal which was tuned digitally is a negative point, than so should entire AutoTuned vocals on a given album or song be a negative. The same standard should be applied, but in my mind if the song is good that's what I'm concerned with. And that is purely subjective.

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monkee knutz
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« Reply #86 on: April 08, 2011, 10:25:39 AM »

And even if there was audible stuff like that in some peoples' opinions, can that be used as a critique of the album itself?
Absolutely. When you tamper with the integrity of the music itself and manipulate it into something that it wasn't to start with, then it's not the music you like... it's the production and what the original recorded music was turned into. It reflects the production, not the music itself. You're no longer liking the music, you're liking the production. The people turning the knobs and not the performers. The producers become the performers. Come on Craig, you're a musician, you should know this stuff.
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guitarfool2002
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« Reply #87 on: April 08, 2011, 10:44:19 AM »

And even if there was audible stuff like that in some peoples' opinions, can that be used as a critique of the album itself?
Absolutely. When you tamper with the integrity of the music itself and manipulate it into something that it wasn't to start with, then it's not the music you like... it's the production and what the original recorded music was turned into. It reflects the production, not the music itself. You're no longer liking the music, you're liking the production. The people turning the knobs and not the performers. The producers become the performers. Come on Craig, you're a musician, you should know this stuff.

I've also spent time in the past involved with mixing projects for various performers, and I will say I think producers and engineers in some cases are performers as well (and possibly have to be in many cases), and I point to the way someone like Phil Spector would deliberately do certain things during a session in order to get what he wanted from the musicians which they may not have done if left to their own devices. Going a step further, how important to a recording is the mix, and then the mastering of that mix? You can change one frequency on a vocal track and transform it from dull to sparkling, and most of that comes after the band and the performers have finished their job in the process and with many performers they don't even know what's being done technically to make their song sound different. Every live album is also mixed and certain things are added and applied to make it sound more pleasing and less raw, down to any live remote feed of a concert, so even those live remotes are not a 100% pure representation of what's being performed if they're being digitally EQ'd and compressed coming out of the board.

Would Elvis' Sun recordings sound the same if you take Sam Phillips and his tape delays out of the picture and have it solely be a pure recording of the band on the studio floor minus Sam's electronic manipulations? 

In the case of BWPS, I'll concede everyone hears something different and that's what makes music what it is, but are there any overt cases of AutoTune or digital manipulation on that album which a listener might hear and object to stylistically? If they had put a maxed-out T-Pain autotune effect on Brian's vocals then I'd say definitely it's not a good choice for that style and it probably would sound out of place.

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"All of us have the privilege of making music that helps and heals - to make music that makes people happier, stronger, and kinder. Don't forget: Music is God's voice." - Brian Wilson
guitarfool2002
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« Reply #88 on: April 08, 2011, 11:31:31 AM »

One more point to consider - if there is any song which you may have liked and heard on modern rock radio, or modern country radio, or any other commercial genre in the past 8 years or so, the chances are very good that those drum sounds are either triggered samples, manipulated or replaced by programs like Drum-A-Gog, or copied-pasted then looped and time-stretched to create a better sound and groove than what originally went down on tape.

I like a lot of commercial modern rock, and I play it and listen all the time, but I'd easily say the majority of the drum tracks are nothing like what was heard in the studio by the time we hear it on the radio. If you replace snare hits with crisper snare samples from Drum-A-Gog, if you trigger better kick drum beats digitally than you originally captured on mic, if you time-stretch or edit a few bars to create a more fluid groove on a track, if you duck a bass track to hit better with that kick drum, then you're presenting something other than what it was to start with. It's so accepted, at this point in time, that it doesn't seem as much of a point to criticize beyond what you might feel about the song itself. It's ubiquitous to the point where apart from some exceptions, that's the current accepted way of making records for commercial airplay.
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"All of us have the privilege of making music that helps and heals - to make music that makes people happier, stronger, and kinder. Don't forget: Music is God's voice." - Brian Wilson
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