I have written to you many times before [writes Audio Masterclass reader Ronald Jeff], and always look forward to your fantastic newsletters. However, at this point in time, the world seems to be facing a severe economic depression. Here in the USA, fore-closures are at an all time record high and thousands are losing their jobs. HIGH end digital studios have closed here in the NYC area, and many of us have upgraded older equipment (yes, including 24 track tape machines) to keep our costs down. The ever-changing world of new recording "bells and whistles" is just not necessary right now for most of us who have run studios for many years, and the "tried and true" equipment of the 60's and 70's has been put back in service and the results are stunning. However, having to go back to tape editing and "hiss mushing" roll backs on the mixing board is not pleasing .. but the warmth of analog recording makes up for it. We can still make wonderful recordings without spending all this money. Everything is easily transferred to digital once the mixing and mastering is accomplished.
Here is the MOST important part of this message, concerning the phase of this new economic crisis. People are suffering, and it is the traveling troubadours like Woody Guthrie and son Arlo, Bob Dylan, John Prine, et. al, some armed with only an acoustic guitar and 45 rpm or 78 rpm shellac recordings, who addressed the issues through their music and raised the world consciousness. Woody's recordings from the Great Depression of 1930's technology still reach into our souls, though recorded on primitive audio equipment not acceptable to many of us today. The quality of the sound did not matter. The message DID! YES, you CAN make fantastic music without going "ulta-tech", especially when the words and music are relevant to what is happening out there right now. It just takes intelligent, simple writing that comes from the heart .. people WILL hear it.
SO, to all of those with a tendency to write "words and music", pick up that old Martin or Yamaha guitar and start writing words and music that people will HEAR, even through the circuits of an old reel to reel machine transferred to digital. The flavor will come through. Just like years past, the most memorable music comes from true-life experiences, and this heart-felt material transcends years of technological advancement and needs only a CLEAR vocal and CLEAN guitar track. Listen to Dylan's "Blowin in the Wind" ... probably a 2 or 4 track recording at most. One voice, one guitar, words and music that will last centuries into the future. Nobody cares about after effects. That track plays today and the message has not changed, even with digital re-mastering. Dylan is an artist first, and he hated doing even 2 takes in the studio. Engineers at CBS who were assigned to the studios on his shift often tried not to work with him because he refused the many takes they were asking for. I am not a devout fan of his, but history proves the worth of his work through ANY recorded medium. The first take of many of his songs survive as classics today because he had the talent to write off the top of his head and gave no thought to "sweetening" the tracks after they were done. Not a great voice, technically, but certainly a poet and visionary of the 20th century and well beyond. All carried by "inferior" analog equipment.
HELP! We need writers who understand that their MESSAGES will bring attention and music can once again be used to raise consciousness and concern over what is happening. Don't pay so much attention to the new equipment that promises miracles. So far, this technology cannot "think" clear enough to actually write a wonderful song. We need to UNDERSTAND the lyrics being sung, and distortion or 64 tracks of pumped up and compressed bashing doesn't allow this to happen. Cut the distortion, accept well written "songs" and record them simple. There's now a job for the troubadour, and a good place to record just 2 tracks. Best of all, what is being written now could probably last well into the future ... and be sung around a campfire at some camp in a summer 100 years from now. That's the mark of a truly gifted artist.
Back to good music and lyrics ... reach for the soul, not the compression controls.
Ronald Jeff. Fantoxic Music. www.thesoleproprietor.com
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