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evrard
About professional music
on Oct 6, 2006 at 5:10:47 am

Hi,

As today i listen back to my favorite rap songs like Milli Vanilli, Bobby Brown, Snap, etc, i feel like iam listening to empty boxes. Please don't get me wrong i know today the tempatation is easy to throw some stones at Milli Vanilli or Bobby Brown (in order to be politically correct), but my post is beyond these scopes. Iam trying to understand why technically these songs we used to hear as top-notch when we were youg today sound like noise in our same hears. Is there any psychological side to what we call technological improvement or is it mental or please tell me where the difference is.

Beside all these comments i would like to ask how rap songs are recorded and post-producted. What are the tools involded and how are they used? In which order?

Thanks


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Will Salley
Re: About professional music
on Oct 6, 2006 at 7:15:52 am

I never considered Bobby Brown or Milli Vanili rap acts - they actually sing...well Bobby Brown does. Somebody sang the Milli stuff. I've never heard of Snap.

Here's where you might want to stop reading if your are into rap, hip-hop, etc.

I've been in the music business for all of my adult life and in the pro audio business for about 18 years. This includes being a club DJ, radio announcer, record store manager, guitar player, studio engineer, and location sound recordist as well as some other jobs related to the music biz. I can tell you most of the Top 40 songs, artists, and label of every song from 1960 to 1985 - after that I lost interest. Why? Because somewhere about 1980, "pop" music gradually became more about image (blame MTV) and technology (blame MIDI and synths), and less about harmony, melody and feel. About 1978, In the discos of New York City, the DJ's took the intrumental sides of 12" singles and began rapping over the music. The song "Rapper's Delight" was released by The Sugarhill Gang and actually was classified in many reviews as a "novelty" record. The song was a fairly big hit and featured the music track from "Good Times" by Chic.

Rap acts have been ripping-off, or stealing, creative works ever since. Notice I did not say borrowing ideas or emulating syles - they steal other peoples music. Now, I know there are a few rap/hip-hop artists who create their own works and who actually have some talent and have made some pretty good recordings of their own. Arrested Development, OutKast, and The Black Eyd Peas, among others, have recorded some excellent tracks, but those recordings were outside of the genre and used real instruments and singers.

In the early days, singers and performers often would regard rap as a fad and not as a "legitimate" musical form. While that is still debateable, it's certainly been around long enough to be considered a "form of art". I could use up a great portion of this forum discussing rap's validity, or lack thereof, as a legitimate musical form, but I think the topic here is more psychological in scope and less about musical taste, so I'll only say that, in most definitions of music, harmony, melody, and beat are all essential. Which leads me to try and answer part of your original inquiry.

Rap - and most hip-hop, certainly has a beat, and it's almost always created by a sequencer or drum machine with a very machine-like pattern. It's this beat that has become so prominent in most modern R&B, fusion jazz, and even some modern country. It's also, the thing that so many people find incredibly irritating about the genre. When you add the sub-harmonic bass drone, and the vulgar, beligerent attitude of the rap on top, it's no wonder so many people find it offensive. Just go back to some of the electronic pop of the eighties and listen to say, A Flock Of Seagulls. The music is very melodic and "hooky", but the synthesized drum tracks have induced headaches in this 40 year old. It sounds dated. As hard as Black Sabbath and Led Zepplen sounded in the seventies, they are still less abrasive than anything with sequenced tracks. As we age, we become more agitated by such machine-like recordings and most people find it dificult to tolerate even though they may not know exactly what it is that they find irritating.

The good news is that there are still real musicians out there making excellent rock, blues, soul, and jazz with real players - and recording great material. John Mayer, Al Green, Jason Mraz, Natalie Cole, Jackie Greene, Murali Coryell are but a few of the artists with new releases out now that will be as fresh twenty years from now - to people of all ages - as it is today, try making that claim with Eminem or Public Enemy, or (giggle) K-Fed.

This analysis also hold true for drum machines used by real musicians for performance and/or recording. Computers are good at many things, but they will suck the soul out your music if you let them.



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evrard
Re: About professional music
on Oct 6, 2006 at 9:34:46 pm

Thank you Will, i can tell you are experienced in this field indeed. Whether music has lost its soul or all this is just another paradigm shift (a normal process in civilizations) is a big question, out of the interest of a forum like this. I can imagine 500 years ago music was a matter of real performers with natural instruments, in regard of that the musicians in the 60s, 70s, 80s themselves are "cheating" already. It all depend on the reference.

I will have a technical question if you don't mind. Can one create some beats with computer only, without actualy using the sequencers or drum machines? If yes, how?

Also, do you know some ressources that can help me create jinglers quickly? (i will run an internet-radio very soon so i will need these stuffs). Finaly how can i use a tool like adobe audition in that process?

Again thank you


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Ty Ford
Re: About professional music
on Oct 8, 2006 at 6:26:46 am

you can try to do this with programs like garage band. Having music ability helps a lot.

Regards,

Ty

Ty Ford's "Audio Bootcamp Field Guide" was written for video people who want better audio. Find out more at http://www.tyford.com


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