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  #81  
Old 04-02-2011, 11:52 PM
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Default Re: My rant on today's pop music

It's only very recent pop music that is lost on me, as in within the last two years or so. I can go back just five years, and find stuff that I like. As an example, Christina Aguilera dropped this track in 2006, which I think is awesome. Lately though, I've haven't come across any new, mainstream pop that I'm interested in.
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  #82  
Old 04-03-2011, 12:41 AM
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Default Re: My rant on today's pop music

There was a resurgence of classic R and B tracks with Amy Winehouse and Buffy about that time. I also really liked the Linda Perry song Beautiful that Christina Aguilera did.
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  #83  
Old 04-03-2011, 01:57 AM
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Default Re: My rant on today's pop music

Bermuda, I accept what you're saying - there will be someone behind the machines with interest in creation. That even includes the ... parasi ... *deep breath* ... people who produced Rebecca B's YouTube (and will no doubt create many other crap tracks of similar ilk).

In techno, there will be someone using a loops program, deciding which sounds and elements to put where - where the breakdowns come etc, just like any creative sequencing job. Sequencing is just the melding of composition, arrangement and performance.

So I agree with you there - I'm sure there is interest and enthusiasm behind most techno creations and it's not all cynical.

What I've wondered about is how there can be passion for music so lacking in depth. I admit to old fartism. That classic distorted brass sound you hear in lots of techno drives me as batty as distorted electric guitars drove my father's generation. The relentless of the doofs, whose low frequencies drive their way though any number of walls ... ugh!

I thought I'd become one of those "cool" old people who'd remain open to the music of the next generation. But I hate doof doof techno, abrasive machine gun metal and most rap. Well done, Gens Y and Z. Ya got me. Touché :)

More broadly, my guess is that the taste for mechanisation reflects human evolution towards cyborgism. We increasingly want things tidier, cleaner, more in order. One of these days people are going to routinely have implants so that Google and mobile communications will be available via one's thoughts. Our descendants will effectively be psychic cyborgs, increasingly empowered by integrated technology (unless overpopulation and environmental issues get us first).

So yes, it's robot music for robot people. Times change. I expect that there will be retro movements to organic music (which is how Gen AA, or whatever, will most likely piss off their Gen Z parents) but the broader movement will be towards mechanisation in music IMO

I just hate the economic rationalism and the increasing influence of bean counters. I recently did a business analytics course run by an accountant and I kept thinking that the instructor was like some evil genius - a relentless force of nature, designed to ruthlessly seek out and cull every tiny inefficiency, irregardless of morality or ethics (which he seemed to view as outside his brief - leave that to the ethicists).

That typical multinat mentality is why so much music is formulaic. I have no problems with machines (eg. I love Deep Forest) ... as long as it's not painting by numbers according to some formula for success.

// end somewhat incoherent rant //
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  #84  
Old 04-03-2011, 02:46 AM
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Default Re: My rant on today's pop music

Pop rock is not very interesting anymore. The country pop scene is alive and well.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PNoJyi17p_M
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  #85  
Old 04-03-2011, 09:01 PM
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Default Re: My rant on today's pop music

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What I've wondered about is how there can be passion for music so lacking in depth.
Plenty of music lacks depth, the problem didn't start with sequenced dance tracks or other modern pop production & marketing. But maybe there isn't the same passion for songs and music in the way we had passion and a lot of cultural intertwining with music of the '60s through '80s in particular. I suppose music is viewed differently by today's youth (a/k/a the record-buying public) where songs are virtual and somewhat ephemeral, not something to keep on the shelf in a collection. It's this perspective that may allow a lot of what we might consider vapid and robot music, to just go by innocently with only a face-value quality. They're not looking for depth... that's not what music is about for them. It's still about that for a lot of us, and of course that's where the emotional and sometimes professional conflicts arise.

I guess what needs to happen is, the people who this music is aimed at need to say "enough" and stop buying it. Things will change after that. That's how bands know their time is up - the public tells them. The band either has to change, or it disappears.

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  #86  
Old 04-03-2011, 10:01 PM
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Default Re: My rant on today's pop music

I agree with Bermuda. As a guy who grew up in the 80's but was raised on 50's-70's rock and popular music, I feel like writers, producers, and boobs play more of a part than melody, harmony, and production. Have any of you guys heard Kesha? Well don't. Or you'll projectile vomit.
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  #87  
Old 04-03-2011, 10:33 PM
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Default Re: My rant on today's pop music

Electronic drums, keyboards, bass, and the programming of repetitive sequences have been around a very long time, but lately I have been noticing that pop standards sound entirely too simplistic to be programmed by bass players, keyboard player, or drummers. Even back in the 1980s, these parts were programmed by musicians. Now aparently, they are not. The music producers, like most business men, are out to maximize profits, and I am not going to criticize that - any successful business must keep cost containment in mind.I However, I think the producers have totally taken the ryhthm and melody sections over from musicians, obviously thinking if one can program patterns that sound good, why do you even need musicians anymore?

Music is an art, people, and it is being treated as an automobile production line. This is what I see as the main problem. It is really as if a bunch of New York art dealers found a way to have a computer paint paintings that they thought would sell great, and then got a renowned artist to sign the works as their own. When an art becomes a cookie cutter unit that is spit out from a production line, it loses it's appeal as having ever been an art. Can anyone see that they have literally prostituted music as an art? Where are the fabulous grooves laid down by ryhthm sections anymore? Computers cannot groove - we all know that. Listening to these pop songs with drums that sound like cartoonish sped up dripping faucets is more comical than it is pleasant to listen to. Even the melodies are so simplistic these days, they cannot be programed by real musicians. And to add more problems to an already out of control train, the producers have this strange concept that their market only wants to hear the same old worn out music genres, so anything new get's stifled. I think the only solution to this madness is to let the trainwreck happen. Then perhaps a real grassroots artistic effort will develop. This happened somewhat in the 1970s, when musicians drove the music market despite all the self appointed "music experts" running the record labels and the pop radio stations.
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  #88  
Old 04-03-2011, 11:08 PM
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Default Re: My rant on today's pop music

There was a rant from a music CEO in the NY times about the tragedy that Justin Beiber and Eminem were shunned at the Grammy's. I think M & M won for best rap solo. He is a good rapper and his single did receive 220,000,000 views on youtube. But the focus of that song, Not Afraid, was himself, well, over coming obstacles. But every sentence has "I" in it. Compare that to Witchita Lineman. In that song the hero is this working class guy, who is keeping the system together so every one has electricity, working long hours and missing his girl. it's not about how great the rapper is.

It was the fist time I ever owned albums by the best new artist, and best song nominees. But what galled me was that Esperanza Spalding is a real musician who has gone through the training and rigor of mastering her instrument, and this guy is of course complaining. From a monetary standpoint, I can't imagine there should be any reason why she won over Justin. But she's cuter than Justin or M & M anyway.

That is the problem, as Ian said, you have music that is largely being made by non musicians who are in it for the money, and they're making musical judgments, stating Justin Bieber is a better musician than Esperanza Spalding. The sound like idiots and their making music to make people idiots. But perhaps the Grammy's voters actually acknowledging that is a step in the right direction. Ray Lamontagne's God Willin' and the Creek Don't Rise" won Best Contemporary Folk Album and the song – “Beg Steal Or Borrow” was nominated for Song Of The Year. Now that was my favorite song of this year, and one of my favorite albums, so I really can't complain. But there is no reason that should have been up there except that it is a good song.
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  #89  
Old 04-04-2011, 12:14 AM
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Default Re: My rant on today's pop music

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Where are the fabulous grooves laid down by ryhthm sections anymore? Computers cannot groove - we all know that.
There are plenty of bands that play and groove (fairly) organically. The singers who lay down vocals over a produced track are in a different category. Not better or worse, just different. It seems like there's quite a bit of that music model happening lately, but that element has been there for some time. Lest we forget that Elvis started as a teen idol and didn't write his own songs, and the Beatles were groomed as a boy band and staretd out releasing their share of cover songs. Sinatra didn't write, or even have a band. Again, not good or bad or better or worse, just different, and successful. And I'll agree that they've stood the test of time, unlike most of what we're hearing on the radio now.

As for 'computers' not grooving, it's not true. I'll concede that some programmers can't groove, but there are also some deliciously deep grooves out there. You can't deny them simply because a live drummer didn't play them. You're missing a lot if you do.

I try to take it all in. I don't claim for a minute to like everything I hear, but I give everything a shot, without preconceptions or any personal agenda, such as "that recording is programmed and took a job away from me, so I hate all sequenced music!!" I can't dislike a track simply because it fits in a certain category.

Maybe because I'm involved with more types of music than most, I have a unique perspective. And don't say that I get paid to do those songs, so I have to like them. Not true, I don't claim to like everything I do. But I get what goes into the different styles, and that's what I'm trying to convey here. If more people would actually listen to more music, they'd find the value in it. And not everything has value, but again, that problem has existed for decades in the music world, it didn't start with sequenced parts and Auto-tune.

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  #90  
Old 04-04-2011, 12:26 AM
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Default Re: My rant on today's pop music

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But what galled me was that Esperanza Spalding is a real musician who has gone through the training and rigor of mastering her instrument, and this guy is of course complaining. From a monetary standpoint, I can't imagine there should be any reason why she won over Justin.
The Grammies, like the Oscars, are nominated and voted on by members of those respective organizations. Both can be a very incestuous process with curious outcomes, but the decisions are made by industry members, not the public and not based on sales.

In the case of Esperanza winning, she either has a lot of friends who are voting members of NARAS, or she's really that amazing among the other nominees, or there was as collective mindset to not give it to Justin.

I'm a voting member, but didn't vote this year, so I can't tell you what the exact thought process might have been. It wouldn't have been fair for me to vote for anything I wasn't familiar with, or to deliberately vote against Justin. But I believe that he is not eligble for best new artist again, so he'll have to compete on a level-playing now that he's just another artist, if he expects to win a Grammy for his work.

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  #91  
Old 04-04-2011, 02:39 AM
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Default Re: My rant on today's pop music

Bermuda, you have a unique perspective on this compared with a number of other high-level players, in that you don't just have to play the songs you're asked to, but you have to really nail the parts.

So this is my question. How do you cope with a piece that has been deliberately quantised to Hell and back again? Are you inclined to attempt to humanise it or do you prefer to play it absolutely back to the original? I ask this because I want to know your (obviously contextual) perspective on the quantising issue. I have no specific bias personally - I have written a lot of electronic music in the last few years and I've taken both programming approaches, but is the 'perfect time' tool used too much when it's actually entirely unnecessary?
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  #92  
Old 04-04-2011, 03:29 AM
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Default Re: My rant on today's pop music

Probably the greatest rendition of "Friday" as seen on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5Asg5ww_Iw

Quality pop music. Colbert is musical genius. Along with auto tuned Jimmy Fallon, The Roots, and Taylor Hicks. LMAO

Last edited by Drums101; 04-05-2011 at 03:27 AM.
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  #93  
Old 04-04-2011, 03:32 AM
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Default Re: My rant on today's pop music

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How do you cope with a piece that has been deliberately quantised to Hell and back again? Are you inclined to attempt to humanise it or do you prefer to play it absolutely back to the original?
A track can only be quantized to a grid, it can't go any further than being perfectly tight to the tempo. And let's not forget that a drummer's goal is to play on time, not loosely. Perhaps he doesn't need to be perfectly locked to a grid, but only so much straying and flamming is permissable. Just as you can't over-quantize, you can't over-humanize, or it just sounds bad. There's a point where you can no longer rationalize a drummer's looseness as 'feel'.

Anyway, the rule is, if a song is sequenced, that's what I do. If it's played, that's what I do. The goal is to not make changes, although there've been a few occasions where we've improved upon the feel by straightening out something that just felt bad groove-wise in the original. We don't take things the other way though... making them more 'human' when they weren't that way to begin with.


Quote:
I ask this because I want to know your (obviously contextual) perspective on the quantising issue. I have no specific bias personally - I have written a lot of electronic music in the last few years and I've taken both programming approaches, but is the 'perfect time' tool used too much when it's actually entirely unnecessary?
Is perfect time ever unnecessary? Let's be careful not to confuse groove and tempo as mutually exclusive. When Vinnie and Gadd and all the rest groove hard with a click, nobody jumps all over them or says they sound stiff, sterile, or too perfect. It's just as easy to make a robotic part against grid, as to program a very human part that's also in perfect time. We hear a lot of music on the radio that grooves, flows, and you'd swear has a live drummer. I've been fooled, and I'm supposed to know the difference! I'm also very proud of songs I've recorded that sound like a seqeunce. It's the pinnacle of precision.

That actually raises another point - what if I have to duplicate a part that I can't tell is played or programmed? I do whichever I feel will duplicate the part the closest. Although it might be helpful, it's not so important that I know how a part or sound was created, I just need to know how to re-create it, and that's where my sanity is often taken to the edge.

I'm working on something right now that's mind-numbing in terms of the amount of actual parts and sounds. If I told you what it was, you'd probably say "That? But it sounds so simple!" Well, part of what takes a simple sounding part and makes it groove are all the little subtle shakers, additional loops that are barely perceptible, but they're in there and contribute to the groove. I suppose if some of the pop haters had to program the way I do, they'd have a reason for hating the songs! Haha, seriously though, they'd also have a genuine respect for what goes into those tracks. As I do.

Back to programming.

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  #94  
Old 04-04-2011, 08:22 AM
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Default Re: My rant on today's pop music

How can you cope with a piece that has been deliberately quantified to hell and back? Are you inclined to try to humanize it, or do you prefer to play absolutely return to the original? I ask because I want to know your (obviously contextual) perspective on quantification issue. I have no particular bias in person - I wrote a lot of electronic music in recent years and have taken two approaches to programming, but it is the tool "perfect time" when it is used too effectively completely useless
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  #95  
Old 04-04-2011, 11:32 AM
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Default Re: My rant on today's pop music

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This morning I took my wife's car to work, and there were two of my teenage daughter's CDs in there with a mix of her favorite pop/hip-hop songs that she listens to. I was bored, so I popped them in the CD player and tried listening to the songs on both CDs. I could not get through more than about 30 seconds of any of the songs.

I am an older guy (almost 50), so I admit my opinion is going to be slanted. Certainly my parents had no clue about the rock music I listened to as a teenager, and I'm sure they hated it.

Here's my take on the songs:

1) There wasn't a lot of traditional singing going on here. It was a combination of talking, shouting back and forth, and chanting (usually ad nauseum).

2) All the vocals were heavily modified using echo, compression and whatever that program is that they use to modulate and alter the tone (Cher used it on Do You Believe in Love). The "computerized" voices grated on me after about 2 minutes.

3) The songs had no real structure to them. There was no intro, verse, chorus, middle eight, chorus, out, etc. Seemed like the repitiion goes on until the engineer decides to fade out the end of the song. I imagine this is because the primary reason for these songs is to dance to in a club or a party. The way we danced in the 70's/80's bears no resemblance to how you would dance to this music.

4) Out of about 20 songs, I only found one that sounded like it had real drums in it. The rest had clicks, snaps, and real loud bass booms that kept the beat. Some synthesizers (sampling, no doubt), no piano, no guitar.

Okay - rant over. I know this was only a small sampling of todays popular music. And I'm sure there is some good music out there that doesn't get much air time. Music companies and radio stations are not always the best judges of talent - only what they can sell.
That's a pretty accurate take on it lol
I'm 18 and can't stand that type of music
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  #96  
Old 04-04-2011, 02:20 PM
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Default Re: My rant on today's pop music

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Is perfect time ever unnecessary? Let's be careful not to confuse groove and tempo as mutually exclusive.
Jon, I remember you once talking about how all those old performers we loved like The Beatles would have jumped at the chance to be more perfect, yet we embrace the imperfection. I agree it's a disconnect between the band and some of its fans.

Yet ... I love raw music. Not saying I enjoy it more than super-polished music but it's different and has its own appeal.

Is it always better to speak well? Yes - if there's interesting content and/or sincerity. But I prefer real and gormless people any day over slick and shallow ones. Same with music.
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  #97  
Old 04-04-2011, 02:43 PM
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Default Re: My rant on today's pop music

Here's an example of a very well programmed drum machine (BTW the bass and guitar part is played by the same guy on the record):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NmfzWpp0hMc

...but if you saw this live it would be quite different.

FZ's view on the decline of the record business: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZazEM8cgt0
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  #98  
Old 04-04-2011, 03:11 PM
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Default Re: My rant on today's pop music

Isn't perfect timing only for the producers, in order to help them record songs, and live performances, to place sampled sections into songs? Does the audience even detect a difference, if the difference is not drastic?
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Old 04-04-2011, 03:30 PM
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Isn't perfect timing only for the producers, in order to help them record songs, and live performances, to place sampled sections into songs? Does the audience even detect a difference, if the difference is not drastic?
Funny thing, the difference between fairly tight and really spot on. I think it does reach a point (beyond my level, I should add) where the law of diminishing returns cuts in to the point where it doesn't matter. As Bermuda said "Perhaps he doesn't need to be perfectly locked to a grid, but only so much straying and flamming is permissable.".

For me enjoyment, "permissable" is where the looseness interferes with the vibe. Others will draw the line in a different spot. For high pressure producers, I'm guessing it would be where it becomes inconvenient and costly for the reasons you mentioned and there'd be professional pride at stake.
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Old 04-04-2011, 03:54 PM
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FZ's view on the decline of the record business: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZazEM8cgt0
Thanks for that. Zappa was a prophet in many, many ways.
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  #101  
Old 04-04-2011, 04:24 PM
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Funny thing, the difference between fairly tight and really spot on. I think it does reach a point (beyond my level, I should add) where the law of diminishing returns cuts in to the point where it doesn't matter. As Bermuda said "Perhaps he doesn't need to be perfectly locked to a grid, but only so much straying and flamming is permissable.".

For me enjoyment, "permissable" is where the looseness interferes with the vibe. Others will draw the line in a different spot. For high pressure producers, I'm guessing it would be where it becomes inconvenient and costly for the reasons you mentioned and there'd be professional pride at stake.
Good analysis. When I used to gig, I always felt that timing was an issue only when you would see band members looking around at each other in bewilderment during a song, you know - that "deer in the headlights look" when someone is panicking because they aren't sure if they're on it or not. But today, I have to wonder if it is not driven by these music producers like FZ was talking about. Perhaps they put much greater importance on perfectly timed drummers than really needs to be there. I remember seeing Danny Seraphine of Chicago talk about when he broke from manual to programmed drum tracks on Chicago 18. He stated he did it only to please David Foster, his producer, who was adament about perfection of timing. This is of course, the era in the 1980s that FZ was referring to in the link below. I think Chicago is just a perfect example of what Frank was talking about. They came on in the 1960s with a style of music that was really a fusion of big band jazz and r&b (probably something the old time producers said, "ah what the hell, why not try it?"back in 1968). However, during the 1970s, they fell prey to the pop music machine and ultimately dropped off the radar like all the one hit wonders of the 1980s, after bending their style totally to producers demands. They prostituted themselves beyond their original artistic endeavor, and it stifled them.
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Old 04-04-2011, 04:39 PM
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Default Re: My rant on today's pop music

Pretty weird situation when a drummer of Danny Seraphine's calibre is deemed as less desirable than a drum machine! If it was Krautrock or techno, sure, but otherwise it's bizarre.

I laughed when I read "when you would see band members looking around at each other in bewilderment during a song, you know - that "deer in the headlights look" when someone is panicking because they aren't sure if they're on it or not".

It's a digression but I know that look so well! I'm a big believer in bluff when performing. Things go wrong at times and there's no point chucking a nellie over it.

Our bassist has the ability to look worried even when he's happy (you can see it on my live clips). I'll say "What's wrong?" to him when he looks pensive after a song and he'll say "nothing". I'll press him "Did you think anything was out?" and he'll say no. IMO when you're on stage, no matter how stinky things are sounding, if you look at someone for more than a moment it should have that "Yeah baybee - diggin' that!" vibe rather than, "Hmm, is this right?".

For some reason, audiences seem to find the former more inspiring.

Of course, a brief, furtive poisonous glance or laughing is fair enough when someone's being a klutz - that's just an automatic reaction :)
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Old 04-04-2011, 05:49 PM
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Default Re: My rant on today's pop music

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Jon, I remember you once talking about how all those old performers we loved like The Beatles would have jumped at the chance to be more perfect, yet we embrace the imperfection.
Yes, we embrace flaws and fluctuations as things from a time when it was permissable, from a time when we didn't know the difference. People, not just musicians, listen with a much more critical ear now. Most of that old genuine organicness, innocence, or just plain human-ness is regarded as sloppy by today's standards. Maybe that's unfortunate, and unforgiving to human players, but that's where music (for the most part) has been heading over the last 30-40 years or so. Even in the early-seventies Steely Dan was as precise-minded as it gets, and fans and musicians loved them for it. I don't know if they recorded with a click then, but it wouldn't surprise me.

In short, I appreciate the Beatles for what they did then, Steely Dan and Zappa for they did then, synth pioneers for what they did then, and the people who make music for what they're doing now. It's all a process. Maybe it'll come full circle some day.

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Old 04-04-2011, 06:08 PM
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Originally Posted by bermuda
Maybe it'll come full circle some day.
It is actually coming full circle, at least in academic circles. There's been a lot written about in the last ten years that addresses these issues specifically. It's not making a significant mainstream appearance, but I study the material and compose within that field. This is probably the most famous text:

http://www.noiseforlight.com/constrat/read/cascone.pdf
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Old 04-04-2011, 08:14 PM
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Default Re: My rant on today's pop music

It is interesting to note that the new developments in digital technology underscore that first time in modern history where major changes to the way people produce and access music are being made not only outside of the realm of academia but also outside the realm of tradition. All of the major changes in audio technology happened in the realm of classical music and opera. Even the 78 featured operatic arias and then the album developed from the idea of having an album of 78s that could hold highlights from an opera or operetta, or even longer symphonic works. The lp came along to house symphonies and even the CD is 78 minutes long so as to house Beethoven's ninth.

But now with download technology classical music and any longer form works are out of the picture. It is specifically designed for the single and to feature the performing artist. When you download an opera or musical theater piece on to Itunes, you will end up with a myriad of listings based on the performing artist. Even a CD like Herbie Hancock's The Joni Letter will come up the same way.

This phenomenon has to have significant consequences for the way listeners develop a musical palette. One of those consequences is that music becomes a passive listening experience because there is no breadth of time allotted for anything interesting to happen. It becomes a sound bite, like a television news story or commercial. I don't want to get into any type of moral criticism of the three minute pop song. But there is a note to be said that music is capable of more than a good hook and a rhythm you can dance to. Certainly this has been discussed before, and I leave it to FZ to turn any conversation toward a discussion of ejaculation. But I do find it somewhat interesting and maybe should find it somewhat troubling that we have left a notion of great music on the bonfire of history. You may be able to blame John Cage for that. :)
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Old 04-04-2011, 08:25 PM
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Default Re: My rant on today's pop music

More of a rhetorical question....

If you have an 80's New Wave band, and the track has a drummer with decent time, playing to a click, playing a very straight beat, but playing on an 80's Simmon's kit (or other such electronic device) so it sounds very electronic, how many people would just assume it is a machine playing?

And if you took the same track, and programmed a computer to play the same exact part, and trigger the same exact sounds as the above example, and used the "random" feature to make the timing not-quite machine perfect, would anyone really be able to tell the difference between the two versions?
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Old 04-04-2011, 09:41 PM
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Default Re: My rant on today's pop music

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Originally Posted by DrumEatDrum View Post
More of a rhetorical question....

If you have an 80's New Wave band, and the track has a drummer with decent time, playing to a click, playing a very straight beat, but playing on an 80's Simmon's kit (or other such electronic device) so it sounds very electronic, how many people would just assume it is a machine playing?

And if you took the same track, and programmed a computer to play the same exact part, and trigger the same exact sounds as the above example, and used the "random" feature to make the timing not-quite machine perfect, would anyone really be able to tell the difference between the two versions?
In theory, no.

But it does touch on the question of where does one draw the line in terms of too much technology in music? Is a live drummer tracking to ProTools a sin? How about the simple act of EQ'ing the drums? I mean, it is the electronic alteration of a drum's sound. What about using a Kurzweil piano module and controller instead of a 9-foot Steinway, won't they sound the same on playback?

And likewise, should those Simmons drums have been used at all?

There's a certain amount of tolerance necessary in order to keep from being a hypocrite. If you can't accept electronic tomfoolery at any level in the arts, there'd be precious little music you could listen to or TV shows you could watch, and just about any action/thriller/horror/animated movie is also off the list. And no Photoshopping images for web sites, ebay, etc. And no more EQ on drums - record 'em like they are..

Actually, that was a part of the Memphis Sound way back, to use as little EQ as possible on things. Listen to classic Al Green for a taste of that, it sounds very real and up-close.

Bermuda
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Old 04-04-2011, 11:05 PM
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Pretty weird situation when a drummer of Danny Seraphine's calibre is deemed as less desirable than a drum machine! If it was Krautrock or techno, sure, but otherwise it's bizarre.

I laughed when I read "when you would see band members looking around at each other in bewilderment during a song, you know - that "deer in the headlights look" when someone is panicking because they aren't sure if they're on it or not".

It's a digression but I know that look so well! I'm a big believer in bluff when performing. Things go wrong at times and there's no point chucking a nellie over it.

Our bassist has the ability to look worried even when he's happy (you can see it on my live clips). I'll say "What's wrong?" to him when he looks pensive after a song and he'll say "nothing". I'll press him "Did you think anything was out?" and he'll say no. IMO when you're on stage, no matter how stinky things are sounding, if you look at someone for more than a moment it should have that "Yeah baybee - diggin' that!" vibe rather than, "Hmm, is this right?".

For some reason, audiences seem to find the former more inspiring.

Of course, a brief, furtive poisonous glance or laughing is fair enough when someone's being a klutz - that's just an automatic reaction :)
LOL - We had two main problems - our sound guy always kept my volume down (which caused me to pound harder with baseball bat sticks and crack many many cymbals), and we had the crappiest monitor system you could imagine. Then our lead guitarist would just take off on his own at times, realize it, and then look towards me with this panicked look. He would have to move close to my set to even hear the drums, but would ultimately correct himself. The rest of the band would be glaring at him with murderous looks. This was all caused by our sound guy, of course.

As for Danny, he did a pretty good job programming drum tracks on that album. Here is a good example:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejNf2_aj7cA

Nowadays, that would be some nightmarish straight beat with cartoonish drum sounds that would drive one crazy with it's repetitiveness.

But for comparisons sakes, listen to this remake from their 1970 album Chicago II:

25 or 6 to 4 in 1986 with programmed drums (perfect timing):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0jVS_-4nhQ

25 or 6 to 4 in 1974 with manual drums (imperfect timing):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCAbdNXx2sE

I picked up one spot at about the 3/4 mark of the 1974 recording where the tempo hit adrenalin overdrive. However, with all of it's imperfections, one has to ask one's self - is it really the listeners who don't accept that imperfections or was it just David Foster? What Frank Zappa was basically saying was that his (my) generation produced many self appointed "experts" in the music industry that were saying that to appeal to the young people you must do this or that, without exception. But did the audience really care, or will it ever care? The old system of putting everything out and seeing what takes versus the current system of having a jury of self proclaimed experts filter out what they say the public wants is essentially taking the decision away from the people, and could very likely be why the music industry is a trainwreck today.

Last edited by Strangelove; 04-04-2011 at 11:15 PM.
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Old 04-05-2011, 07:37 AM
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Default Re: My rant on today's pop music

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Originally Posted by bermuda View Post
In theory, no.

But it does touch on the question of where does one draw the line in terms of too much technology in music? Is a live drummer tracking to ProTools a sin? How about the simple act of EQ'ing the drums? I mean, it is the electronic alteration of a drum's sound. What about using a Kurzweil piano module and controller instead of a 9-foot Steinway, won't they sound the same on playback?

And likewise, should those Simmons drums have been used at all?

There's a certain amount of tolerance necessary in order to keep from being a hypocrite. If you can't accept electronic tomfoolery at any level in the arts, there'd be precious little music you could listen to or TV shows you could watch, and just about any action/thriller/horror/animated movie is also off the list. And no Photoshopping images for web sites, ebay, etc. And no more EQ on drums - record 'em like they are..

Actually, that was a part of the Memphis Sound way back, to use as little EQ as possible on things. Listen to classic Al Green for a taste of that, it sounds very real and up-close.

Bermuda
There are a lot of drum tracks that sound programmed and this goes back to the 1980s in tracks like Ain't Nobody or Billie Jean, or bands like Devo and Depeche Mode. Questlove is known for doing this.

I think the controversy is really in the use of automated performance devices as opposed to live musicians, though I don't think you can match a Kurzwell against a live grand.
I've probably been through more acoustic concerts than most people, having listened to well over two hundred symphony concerts alone, never mind opera, singer songwriter or recitals. Never mind that I listen to myself everyday. Even when I play electric jazz, many times I am still the acoustic guy.

There are many functions of electronic music: enhancing the sound, amplifying the sound, manipulating the sound, or using electronics to generate a sound. I would just have to side with the OP in his statement that much of the programmed music on pop today is trash. Should that surprise anybody that most pop is trash? You've asked , how many people are making these judgments but have listened to little if any new popular music? I used to get together with my old buddies on a Friday night to play cards and they would be excited about finding a station on Satellite that played AC/DC or Aerosmith b sides, or acoustic versions of well known artist. They haven't purchased music by a new artist in 2 decades.

Electronic music does put musicians out of business. Gigging musicians have been losing gigs to deejays for almost forty years. And a lot of electronic soundtrack music can now be done by one guy rather than the myriad of instrumentalists used years ago. And our musical culture has been usurped by deejay culture and with its relations to third world countries: pre-recorded riddum tracks, non developmental music, and a lack of sophistication in lyric writing. Of course this is not always the case, and there have been many great thJrd world artist, Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Fela, etc. AS the old joke says, what do you call a trombone player with a cell phone? An optimist.
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Old 04-05-2011, 08:23 AM
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There are a lot of drum tracks that sound programmed and this goes back to the 1980s in tracks like Ain't Nobody or Billie Jean, or bands like Devo and Depeche Mode.
Billie Jean is a good one. It is a real drummer, but sounds rather mechanical.

Bands like Berlin, Flock of Seagulls and others sound like they used machines in the studio, but those bands had real drummers in the band.

Then there is this video for "Talk Talk" by the band Talk Talk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eqjttpl3peI
The into sounds mechanical, but then you see the image of the drummer playing a simmons kit, and suddenly, it starts to sound more human. Or is it just power of suggestion.

And then in the late 90's, everyone started mixing loops with real drums. Even in my band, I started to wonder if the average listener could tell where the real drums stoped and started as opposed to the "fake" drums. And some loops were me playing shorter bits on an e-kit, then looped, and real drums put on top of it. Was I playing with a loop or playing to myself? Not that it matters, it was just funny to think about.


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Gigging musicians have been losing gigs to deejays for almost forty years. .
And so many people consider DJ's musicians now.
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Old 04-05-2011, 01:16 PM
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Default Re: My rant on today's pop music

It seems like nowadays a lot of the most innovative and fresh drummers are embracing electronics and music synthesis with an organic sensibility. Questlove, Chris Dave, Adam Deitch -- all great producers of hip hop/pop along with being excellent drummers. You can't really avoid today's musical advances, so why try to remain in the past? I'm all for the 'old school,' but nowadays, that's not getting people very far.
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Old 04-05-2011, 02:30 PM
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Default Re: My rant on today's pop music

A lot of metal drummers use triggers and electronic kits.

Listen to any Daniel Erlandsson drum solo.
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Old 04-05-2011, 06:55 PM
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Default Re: My rant on today's pop music

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Originally Posted by DrumEatDrum View Post
More of a rhetorical question....

If you have an 80's New Wave band, and the track has a drummer with decent time, playing to a click, playing a very straight beat, but playing on an 80's Simmon's kit (or other such electronic device) so it sounds very electronic, how many people would just assume it is a machine playing?

And if you took the same track, and programmed a computer to play the same exact part, and trigger the same exact sounds as the above example, and used the "random" feature to make the timing not-quite machine perfect, would anyone really be able to tell the difference between the two versions?
I can't believe my rant has resulted in 6 pages of discussion!

My biggest beef is not that they are using computers to generate the sound, it's that the sound they are generating doesn't resemble a drum set in any way, shape or form. As I said before, what you hear on many pop songs is a clicking or snapping sound to keep the beat, usually coupled with a loud booming bass-type sound. That is not music to my ears, so to speak. I like a bass drum, hi-hat, ride cymbals and different toms. I like to hear rolls, even in a pop song.

Remember Tone Loc song Wild Thing? I'm sure some type of drum synthesizers were used, but I love the sound:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=387ZDGSKVSg
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Old 04-05-2011, 06:58 PM
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Remember Tone Loc song Wild Thing? I'm sure some type of drum synthesizers were used, but I love the sound:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=387ZDGSKVSg
The song samples "Jamie's Cryin'" by Van Halen.
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Old 04-05-2011, 07:21 PM
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Default Re: My rant on today's pop music

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My biggest beef is not that they are using computers to generate the sound, it's that the sound they are generating doesn't resemble a drum set in any way, shape or form.
You would probably hate what I'm working on right now... I had to dig deep to find where I'd stashed this old gem -



(Yes those are cassettes... yes that's a Partridge Family lunchbox... yes I have both Mac & PC.)

Welcome to the hell that is my workspace this week.

Bermuda
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Old 04-05-2011, 07:28 PM
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Snydrum! I didn't know any of those still existed!


Cassette tapes? Wow.... why?


Your work table looks like it came from the same store mine did. hahah.....
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Old 04-05-2011, 07:30 PM
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Default Re: My rant on today's pop music

Some very good points were raised in this post. There was no real singing, becasue almost noone can sing these days!!! Todays music is not geared towards people who appreciate music, like it was in the good old days. Todays pop music is geared towards people who just want to hear something playing in the background, as opposed to listening to a great drum beat or fill, catchy guitar riff, killer bass line, or lyrics with artisic value.
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Old 04-05-2011, 07:46 PM
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Default Re: My rant on today's pop music

Quote:
Originally Posted by inneedofgrace
My biggest beef is not that they are using computers to generate the sound, it's that the sound they are generating doesn't resemble a drum set in any way, shape or form. As I said before, what you hear on many pop songs is a clicking or snapping sound to keep the beat, usually coupled with a loud booming bass-type sound. That is not music to my ears, so to speak. I like a bass drum, hi-hat, ride cymbals and different toms. I like to hear rolls, even in a pop song.
So what?

Hasn't this always been the case? Is it not true that Orchestral music rarely uses a drum set? Or is it just a specific dislike of synthesised sound? I don't understand what the issue is. When the drum set was first developed, the idea was to generate rhythm through a collection of organised sound. Now, technology is just doing exactly the same thing and the software has been developed for exactly the same reason. Just because a person isn't always playing it doesn't mean that skill hasn't gone into its creation.

Sure, there are cliches and there is the rabid overuse of tools and textures - like the hand clap. But I could say exactly the same thing about a lot of the 'Rock' back catalogue. Pentatonic guitar riffs, poodle-haired (no offence to Al, Bermuda!) singers screaming about their 'wohman!' or someone elses' 'wohman!', fat backbeats and heavy bass-drum sounds. The simple fact is that 'Rock' music is largely dying at the expense of the newer forms of music because it really hasn't moved on since about 1983 and yet I STILL hear bands like Wolfmother playing out the same tired cliches, thirty years after those cliches were in vogue.

And you know what? I don't even like the kind of music you're referring to. I just think your argument is hollow. It's like a security blanket that covers you because you don't want to move out from under the rock (pun intended) that you found some thirty years ago. If you don't like it, why don't you do something about it and try to create something that is truly beautiful and artistic rather than ranting on a forum.

No tool is inherently bad, no sound is inherently 'false' and nothing is inherently 'unartistic'.

DrumEatDrum - I use cassette tapes sometimes. So many memories!

Last edited by mediocrefunkybeat; 04-05-2011 at 08:05 PM.
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Old 04-05-2011, 08:03 PM
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Default Re: My rant on today's pop music

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And you know what? I don't even like the kind of music you're referring to. I just think your argument is hollow.
This is kind of what I've been saying. I don't begrudge anyone for disliking 'pop' or dance music or whatever, I begrudge them for disliking it for the wrong reasons. I've been trying to instill some perspective, but it's largely falling on deaf ears. I'm not stuck in the '60s or '70s, or stuck in a genre... I'm stuck in music. It's all just music, period. Some good, some bad, some simple, some complex, some real bands, some lone producers with a keyboard, serious lyrics, and silly lyrics. I don't quite understand how someone can make their listening decisions based strictly on genre, or on which parts are real or synthesized. Every song deserves to be liked or disliked on its own merits, or lack of.

It's no different than saying "I got one of those Forum kits and they're terrible! All Pearl drums suck, and I'll never play a Pearl drum again!" It doesn't actually matter whether Pearl drums suck or not - it's the reasoning that's faulty.

Bermuda
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Old 04-05-2011, 08:07 PM
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This is kind of what I've been saying. I don't begrudge anyone for disliking 'pop' or dance music or whatever, I begrudge them for disliking it for the wrong reasons. I've been trying to instill some perspective, but it's largely falling on deaf ears. I'm not stuck in the '60s or '70s, or stuck in a genre... I'm stuck in music. It's all just music, period. Some good, some bad, some simple, some complex, some real bands, some lone producers with a keyboard, serious lyrics, and silly lyrics. I don't quite understand how someone can make their listening decisions based strictly on genre, or on which parts are real or synthesized. Every song deserves to be liked or disliked on its own merits, or lack of.

It's no different than saying "I got one of those Forum kits and they're terrible! All Pearl drums suck, and I'll never play a Pearl drum again!" It doesn't actually matter whether Pearl drums suck or not - it's the reasoning that's faulty.

Bermuda
Thank you Bermuda. You're far more diplomatic than I.
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