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How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love The Song


TRIBE Promoter
Isosceles_CAT on
Quality vs Quantity

I've been writing music for a long time, and I have come to have the opinion that the quality of the music one composes, is much more important than the quantity of bits or samples involved. Don't get me wrong, making a reasonable effort to achieve a recording that sounds nice is all well and good, but it seems many electronic musicians have lost sight of what is truly important: being able to produce good music.

I mean, take a group like Boards of Canada, who purposefully degrade and lower the quality of their sound just to achieve an effect. One of the things that is so appealing about their sound is it's uniqueness. This idea, however, seems to be lost amoung the majority of todays musicians, be them super star djs or bedroom studio potheads.

What is the obsession with the latest technology? Why are we constantly hearing high quality crystal clear recordings of vapid uninspired tripe? I think one of the reasons for this, is that good music requires talent, which is something that cannot be purchased from L&M. It also requires hard work and nurturing, and often involves disappointment.

Now I know it can be easy to choose the wrong path, taunted by dark sided promises of the latest and greatest new technology, the promises of would-be messiahs and false idols. When inspiration is lost, it is so tempting to turn to something tangible to replace it. But the fact is, if your song wouldn't sound good on audio tape it cannot be saved by DSD (no matter how much the sample rate flux capacitor can reverse the phase distortion of the less-than-ideal biquadratic second order filter series).

In conclusion, I feel that when the dust settles, the people will always prefer a good song to a good recording, and that someone who desires to achieve sonic greatness must truly embrace this fact.

.... Thoughts? Opinions?
Alex D. from TRIBE on Utility Room

Matt Carl

TRIBE Member
it's all about having fun imo

we make tons of tunes that i am sure no one would listen to but i do NOT give a shit cuz i certainly seem to be enjoying it, and frankly, everyone can kiss my ass :D

you can hear when a producer has talent, and is having fun with a track compared to when it seems forced...like, lack of inspiration hits, but they still want to finish a tune type thing....or no talent at all, but still pumping out shit that gets played...

iiiiiii dunno...

i learned to start liking my stuff more when i stopped caring what other people thought....


TRIBE Promoter
I find when you're not trying to write to a preconceived notion of what you should sound like, that you expand your boundaries and are, in general, happier with the end result.

I've learned a lot more by writing different types of songs/music, than writing the actual genre of music that I like the most because I try to fit it in too much ("On this one, I'd like to sound like <insert favourite producer here>"). And some of the techniques I learn can actually be applied to my favourite genre, but I wouldn't have ever tried it (or thought of it) because my headspace is somewhat constrained by the genre.

dig this

TRIBE Member
it's hard not to get caught up in all the new technology, cause to be quite honest there's a lot of cool shit out there... and new programs can make the creative process easier so the composer can get more of their ideas out, but i do agree with what you're (I-Cat) are saying... it's all about creativity. you can mak a drum set out of plastic buckets and still sound great.

great tracks were written 10 years ago using half the 'technology'... it's comforting to know sometimes that even though i'm still on my G4 867, theoretically it can last forever as long as i have the ideas to create.

why not

TRIBE Member
in the end, it really does come down to the song - the sound quality and gear just place that song in an era, and give it a texture.

the problem with all these discussions about audio quality and gear is that they tend to based on the assumption that the goal of recording is to capture the most realistic version of the performance.
realism hasn't been a driving concern in modern music since the sixties - almost no one is trying to reproduce the sound of a live performance, and producers have been distorting and twisting audio into 'flawed' shapes since the sixties.
the listener doesn't care if all your drum sounds are 8-bit, as long as you can make it work in the context of the song.
tribe cannabis accessories silver grinders


TRIBE Promoter
^^^ exactly....

but i'll add one thing.

if you're looking for an 8bit sound. if you want the qualities of it... then no harm no foul. but if you're like me, and explored the sound of a delay or a reverb at a higher bitrate and lusted for it.. and want to explore it more. Then you go out and get educated on how to make it... what you need to make it, and then just do it.

some ppl make music with what they got... and it sounds like what they got.

some ppl make music with what they imagine... and it sounds like what they imagine.

whats the difference?

doing it out of nessessity

or doing it on purpose.

why not

TRIBE Member
i'm working at the office right now, and getting blown away by two very lo-fi CDs.

the one on right now is a compilation of Sir Coxone Dodd's classic productions for Studio One. Recorded in the late sixties and early seventies in jamaica, these were done on a fucking four-track, and are raw as fuck. distorted, full of hiss, and with very little dynamic range.
you don't listen to this stuff wishing it had more headroom or clarity, you just submit to the bass and the great musicianship, and the creative production.
i'd rather listen to this than any well recorded modern reggae.
and don't even start in with the vinyl vs CD debate, because i own plenty of vintage reggae vinyl and it all sounds like shit, even the modern UK reissues, and especially those crappy brooklyn repressings.

why? because the songs are good, and the playing is good, which will always trump anything else.

earlier, i was listening to Congotronics2, a compilation of bands from the Congo who use homemade electric instruments.
while it was likely recorded on modern equipment, it wasn't recorded in anything approaching a professional studio, and was all played live. it displays all the undesireable aspects of cheap digital recordings, and the homemade instruments (and mics!) are as lo-fi as you can get.
it also sounds great.
if you listen to something like this and complain about the sound quality, congratulations, you're now officially a wanker.

if you're a rich kid and can afford the latest and greatest, go ahead and buy it, but if you're not, don't let that stop you from expressing yourself, because no one who actually enjoys music will let fidelity get in the way of appreciating and enjoying good music.

then again, this is coming from a guy who would rather use his no-name analog delay pedal because it's noisy and innaccurate, and who would take clangy spring reverbs over much more realistic digital 'verbs any day.
however, i have recorded in high end analog studios, as well as a variety of well equiped digital studios, along with doing my own music on my no-name PC with it's stock sound card. i'm well aware of the differences in audio quality, i just don't think they're a good excuse to not make the tune that's in your head, which is what i see far too many gearpigs doing.
the best musicians and producers can get gold from anything - if your songs suck, it's you , not your gear.

Mike Goodwin

TRIBE Member

I am a slave to the new thing.

Yep it is true. BUT I will say that I am now (after over ten years producing my own tracks) starting to mellow out. I have come to find that synths that work for me. Through the new world of quality soft synths I can have the room full of synths that I always dreamed of. Not to mention the racks of TC electronic gear that I always wish I had. Also with the invention of ableton live 4 I could start to produce in a way that broke through so many problems that I had previously had in my hardware studio. But it seems that FINALY I have come to a point where I basically have what I need to write the songs/tracks that are in my head. For the first time I can come home from an experience that moved me and by six in the morning I have a track that I would be happy to press to vinyl. The only real thing that stands in the way for me now is the idea, a little bit of time and the focus. As for the hole digital vs. analog debate, I am not interested anymore. I don’t care. They both sound good they both have there own sound. So guess what be happy that we have both! It seems that people always need something to complain about no matter how fucking sweet the pie is. I for one am so glad that I have what I do. And that I could actually afford to buy it. Yes I Cat it is always going to be about a good song for the people that actually rely care about music. There will always be the group of people, a very small percentage of people that will bitch about anything in the audio quality department of the audio world. Thank god it is not them that are going out to see the music. People who go out to see the music want to hear the songs, they are not listening for artifacts and things like phase distortion, grainy tails on the reverb.

peace happy producing