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Prog Production Values Over The Years

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Angelo View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Angelo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 26 2011 at 18:37
A nice lesson in technology history from the geek master. ClapWink

 
Even prog is rooted in the blues, at some point...

http://www.hulshout.nl/rfm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote cstack3 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 26 2011 at 19:54
Originally posted by Dean Dean wrote:

Originally posted by cstack3 cstack3 wrote:


Don't need Autotune for pitch correction, engineers have corrected off-pitch vocals for years in the studio by modulating the speed of the tape.  Madonna was notorious for her off-key studio work, and she required a LOT of tuning help long before Auto-Tune! 
I never said they needed Autotune for pitch correction, I said that was what it was designed for - because modulating tape speed affects the pitch and timing (tempo) whereas Autotune does not - for example with Tammy Winette her singing was so flat they used to record her vocals, pitch correct by altering the tape speed which changed the timing so badly it didn't fit the backing music anymore so they then re-recorded the instrumentation to the new tempo.
Originally posted by cstack3 cstack3 wrote:

My point is that, as a vocal enhancer, the AutoTune effects of ring modulator, flanger, and delay were employed by prog long before popular music.  
 
Originally posted by cstack3 cstack3 wrote:


Emerson's vocal treatment are essentially similar to AutoTuned effects we hear all the time.  
But it's not essentially similar at all - the Moog Vocoder and the Ring Modulator produce different effects to Autotune - and we don't hear Autotune effects "all the time" - Autotune is used a lot but it is rarely used to create robotic effects because it's so cliched, even for Pop.
Originally posted by cstack3 cstack3 wrote:

Autotune just bundles them into one package.  It is standard in Apple's "Garage Band" program.  
Yes, and no. The technology used in Autotune can also produce those effects because of how the algorhytm works, but it does not work the other way around - a vocoder, ring modulator and/or a flanger cannot be used for pitch-correction - the development of those effects did not lead to Autotune and Autotune was not created to emulate those effects. The main use of Autotune is pitch correction - hence its name.
Originally posted by cstack3 cstack3 wrote:

From Wikipedia:

  "Karn Evil 9" includes vocal credit for Keith Emerson, and is Emerson's only official vocal credit on an ELP record. The only vocals he contributed to the song were those of the voice of the mouse in the Second Impression, which was sped up, and the computer voice in the Third Impression. 

Emerson ran his voice through the Ring Modulator on his Moog Modular to achieve this sound.  

Autotune just jazzes it up.  We did it first, Hollywood just ripped it off.

(Bob Moog produced a vocoder long before Karn Evil #9, Walter Carlos used it in '71 so I assumed Emerson had one (or at least used it) - if he used the Moog's ring modulator instead then I assumed wrong - but that's still unrelated to Autotune.)
 
However - Prog didn't do it first - not by a long way - the BBC Radiophonic Workshop used ring modulators back in 1963, Hollywood used them before that in The Forbidden Planet (1956) - ring modulators (double-sideband suppressed carrier modulators) go back to the early days of radio in the 1930s, similarly vocoders were originally designed for telephony in the late 30s - there were several other electronic and electro-mechanical devices used to create robotic singing voices before Prog. Prog was no more the first use of vocoders than it was first use of the electric guitar, the mellotron or the synthesiser.

Bishop takes rook, checkmate!  Good argument!  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote CloseToTheMoon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 26 2011 at 21:36
Production is always the first thing I notice. If it's over produced or compressed, my ears put up a firewall. Getting pristine recordings back in the analog days is completely different, because so much effort was put into perfecting the techniques and ironing out the compositions. Now it's just putting money into rack mounts, EQs and Protools. Not impressive.
It's funny how the colors of the real world only seem really real when you viddy them on the screen.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote cstack3 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 01 2012 at 00:24
Originally posted by Dean Dean wrote:

Eh? What!!! "software" in 1974??? No - any hardware that used software would have filled a small room back in 1974.

Karn Evil 9 used a Moog Vocoder - a completely electronic analogue device, and as such wasn't even new in 1974 - anyone old enough will remember Sparky's Magic Piano. Autotune is a different device using a different technology, in terms of product development there is no connection between a vocoder and Autotune, one is not the forerunner of the other.
 
Autotune can be used ot make robot vioces and weird pitch shifts and modulations in a vocal but that isn't its main use, it is designed for pitch correction and used properly most people won't even notice when it is being used.

Happy New Year, Dean and everyone!  

No, we had software in 1974 & the first portable IBMs came out about then.  I went to college with the University of Illinois group that developed the first graphical browser for the earyl internet (very crude network back then), called "Mosaic."   It was a cool time, when little gadgets like HP programmable scientific calculators were appearing, and early PCs were being built.   Cool times, the UI network guys invented email as a way of posting maintenance messages on the "Plato" network!

I knew computer geeks at UI (some of whom went on to get filthy rich) who were playing around with the big campus mainframes to make computer music, those were great days!  They also built small synths & sound processors with bits & pieces.  When the Timex Sinclair came out, they used those for all sorts of processing tasks, using BASIC language.   Herb Schildt, keyboardist with Starcastle, came out of that group and presently writes programming texts. Bright guys! 

Back to AutoTune - I had the chance to listen to a bit of auto-tune vocal processing tonight on the New Year's Eve broadcast from Times Square, New York and still believe that, as a vocal processing tool, it could have a valid part in prog.  I understand the studio-magic "making a lousy voice sound better" aspect which is lamentable, but using it to process a perfectly good prog vocalist & do some very interesting modulation would be fun.  

Using autotune to make robot voices and weird pitch shifts excites me!  I'm going to try doing some on my own.  The MacBook Pro has that built into Garageband.  

On another note, I just bought one of these YouRock MIDI controllers & am going to experiment with it, I'll post some tunes when I record something.  US $150, nice toy!  


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rogerthat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 01 2012 at 04:33
They did use processing a lot on vocals in the 70s, I guess.  Of course, I wasn't there and my opinion is based entirely on the classics but my problem with vocal recording these days if at all would be more that it's too dry sometimes.  I don't mind some amount of processing but a lot of people in my generation think processing/effects are cheesy and MAYBE that drives the thinking that favours dryness...just a guess.  Unlike the 70s, there is a lot of emphasis on making it sound 'real' and making sense in rock music in general today, for better or worse.  There was a lot more of playing a part and, well, pretense in the 70s which has its pluses but was voted out eventually by the public.  Then again, did they?  Is that not Lady Gaga's whole USP, really? 

EDIT:  By the way, by 'dry', I don't mind without delay. I mean just that a feeling of lack of embellishment.


Edited by rogerthat - January 01 2012 at 04:35
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dean Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 01 2012 at 05:20
Originally posted by cstack3 cstack3 wrote:

Originally posted by Dean Dean wrote:

Eh? What!!! "software" in 1974??? No - any hardware that used software would have filled a small room back in 1974.

Karn Evil 9 used a Moog Vocoder - a completely electronic analogue device, and as such wasn't even new in 1974 - anyone old enough will remember Sparky's Magic Piano. Autotune is a different device using a different technology, in terms of product development there is no connection between a vocoder and Autotune, one is not the forerunner of the other.
 
Autotune can be used ot make robot vioces and weird pitch shifts and modulations in a vocal but that isn't its main use, it is designed for pitch correction and used properly most people won't even notice when it is being used.

Happy New Year, Dean and everyone!  
Happy New Year Mr C.
Originally posted by cstack3 cstack3 wrote:


 
No, we had software in 1974 & the first portable IBMs came out about then.  I went to college with the University of Illinois group that developed the first graphical browser for the earyl internet (very crude network back then), called "Mosaic."   It was a cool time, when little gadgets like HP programmable scientific calculators were appearing, and early PCs were being built.   Cool times, the UI network guys invented email as a way of posting maintenance messages on the "Plato" network!
Nice try, in 1974 I was working on a Xerox Sigma-8 computer so I know we had software, what I said was any hardware that used software would fill a room back then. The IBM PC was released in 1981, Mosaic in 1991, however you are correct about HP programmable calculators, the first of those was in 1974 (but it wasn't until the HP41C in 1979 did we get the ability to store and save any calculation steps as a "program"). In 1974 vocoders were not software based, they were 100% hardware - sure large mainframe computers in universities were used to create electronic and electroacoustic music and process the human voice, but Keith Emerson didn't use them, neither on stage nor in the studio.
Originally posted by cstack3 cstack3 wrote:

I knew computer geeks at UI (some of whom went on to get filthy rich) who were playing around with the big campus mainframes to make computer music, those were great days!  They also built small synths & sound processors with bits & pieces.  When the Timex Sinclair came out, they used those for all sorts of processing tasks, using BASIC language.   Herb Schildt, keyboardist with Starcastle, came out of that group and presently writes programming texts. Bright guys! 
From the early 70s to sometime in the mid 90s was a great time to build your own electronic music hardware - as with the modern attitude to PCs, there was nothing we thought too big or too ambitious to attempt, I've still got a few boards from an analogue synth I started back in 1973 kicking around somewhere in the attic - the only thing that stopped me then was spending 10 weeks wages on the keyboard switches.
 
The Timex Sinclair came out in the UK in 1981 (you guys got it a year later) - when I bought mine it was my third home computer - I used it to write some music software back then, but not in BASIC, that was far too slow for audio - to make sounds you needed to go to machine code.
 
[Sinclair BASIC was so slow I remember using FOR x=1 TO 4E4 .... NEXT in the ZX81 to make a loop that appeared to last forever (four e-four) because it took so long to loop 40,000 times in BASIC ... to process sound that loop would need to execute in 1 second]
Originally posted by cstack3 cstack3 wrote:

Back to AutoTune - I had the chance to listen to a bit of auto-tune vocal processing tonight on the New Year's Eve broadcast from Times Square, New York and still believe that, as a vocal processing tool, it could have a valid part in prog.  I understand the studio-magic "making a lousy voice sound better" aspect which is lamentable, but using it to process a perfectly good prog vocalist & do some very interesting modulation would be fun.  

Using autotune to make robot voices and weird pitch shifts excites me!  I'm going to try doing some on my own.  The MacBook Pro has that built into Garageband.  
I've used it to turn my lone male voice into a female choir - but with all these new toys - they're best used in moderation and not whack all the knobs up to max to produce the full-on effects. As I'm more into the electronic (and electronics) side of music I believe every gadget, gimick and innovation has a place in Prog - anything that can produce a sound can be part of the sound palette.
Originally posted by cstack3 cstack3 wrote:


On another note, I just bought one of these YouRock MIDI controllers & am going to experiment with it, I'll post some tunes when I record something.  US $150, nice toy!  


That looks like fun Approve - I've used a freeware VST plug-in that converts normal guitar to MIDI (some of the time, if you only play one note at a time and don't play too fast) - for $150 that toy looks more practical than the eKeys-37 USB/MIDI keyboard I have plugged into my laptop for messing around.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote cstack3 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 01 2012 at 20:46
Originally posted by Dean Dean wrote:

[QUOTE=cstack3] [QUOTE=Dean]That looks like fun Approve - I've used a freeware VST plug-in that converts normal guitar to MIDI (some of the time, if you only play one note at a time and don't play too fast) - for $150 that toy looks more practical than the eKeys-37 USB/MIDI keyboard I have plugged into my laptop for messing around.

Dean, I wish we could meet!!  I think the sparks would fly!  

You are correct that the formal Mosaic browser was issued in the early 90's, but work on the technology was apace in the '70s.  My buddy Len Kawell was part of the Ray Ozzie group (1973-77) working with the Plato network, and Len basically invented the software that became IBM Lotus Notes:


I presently teach at the University of Illinois and they lament how they gave the Mosaic browser away for next to nothing!  It's hilarious to hear that used over & over as an example of how they shouldn't let patents get away!

This is my last issued patent, if you can understand it, please let me know!  (sorry, no musical applications just yet)


I need to pick your brains on the vocal chorus!  For years, I've wanted to use a vocal harmonizer so that I could become a one-man Yes!  Alas, I haven't found the equipment that I wanted to invest in and figured I could do it with software.   Happy New Year, my friend!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dean Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 01 2012 at 21:51
Originally posted by cstack3 cstack3 wrote:


You are correct that the formal Mosaic browser was issued in the early 90's, but work on the technology was apace in the '70s.  My buddy Len Kawell was part of the Ray Ozzie group (1973-77) working with the Plato network, and Len basically invented the software that became IBM Lotus Notes:

 
I presently teach at the University of Illinois and they lament how they gave the Mosaic browser away for next to nothing!  It's hilarious to hear that used over & over as an example of how they shouldn't let patents get away!
That was one bit of history I wasn't aware of, while I was aware of networked mainframes in the UK during the early 70s any comms was still being done by Teletype at 110 baud (or by sending bundles of punched card by post as that was generally faster and more reliable than the UK telephone system LOL)
 
Back in the 80s I worked on systems that were controlled by VAX minicomputers, so while i've never heard of Len Kawell before, I have used his VMS operating system (and Lotus Notes/CCMail for a short while).
Originally posted by cstack3 cstack3 wrote:


This is my last issued patent, if you can understand it, please let me know!  (sorry, no musical applications just yet)

(can anyone understand US patents? Wink) It's not my field of expertise so would have to spend quite some time understanding it - also, I should point out that I'm an electronics engineer first and a programmer second, so on a cursory glance I can't tell what is invention and what is system design in this case.
Originally posted by cstack3 cstack3 wrote:

I need to pick your brains on the vocal chorus!  For years, I've wanted to use a vocal harmonizer so that I could become a one-man Yes!  Alas, I haven't found the equipment that I wanted to invest in and figured I could do it with software.   Happy New Year, my friend!
I did it manually one vocal track at a time until I had the number of voices I thought sounded right. Because I was pitch-shifting to make my voice sound female, I could cheat a little on the harmonies by additionally shifting a copy of the shifted root by a further third (for example).


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote sturoc Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 03 2012 at 00:32
Yes many posts here are steered to into composition and not production, Auto tune arguments aside.
There is one process that no one has included in their posts and indeed it is the last important piece of the final production puzzle:
 The Mastering engineer.
He/She can make an excellent recording sound even greater or trash it to bits if they are not experienced.
With the plug-ins available that accurately emulate the compressors, reverbs, etc of days gone by One can effectively obtain the vintage sound within the digital realm.
5 years ago i would not have said the above, but as technology progresses it can only help us.
While the work-flow of recording engineering has streamlined itself nicely,Too many times these days people are rushed to get to the final product.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Smurph Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 03 2012 at 08:03
Originally posted by cstack3 cstack3 wrote:

 
I'm still waiting for auto-tune to reach the prog shores....actually, could be interesting if used as a very selective effect! 
 
 
MOSE GIGANTICUS ... hells yes. Also CYNIC.
 
 
Personally, I prefer the opposite of what most prog fans prefer. I like crisp, super compressed, too slick for its own good production. I mean, could you IMAGINE hearing Bedlam in Goliath with 70's production. You wouldn't be able to pick out all the weird keyboard parts that lie quietly underneath everything.
 
The only production I really don't like is all the death metal production from mid 80's until Symbolic.


Edited by Smurph - May 03 2012 at 08:24
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Howard the Duck Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 04 2012 at 08:51

Originally posted by sleeper sleeper wrote:


Well said. What has to be remembered is that a lot of prog bands in the 70's were very heavily constrained financially so they couldnt afford the best production techniques and setup available at the time, and quite a lot of them werent actually given that much time to record their albums.

One could argue that the pressure to get it right within a few takes due to the shorter recording sessions actually helped the albums in some cases, though with so many prog bands at their creative peaks during that period perhaps it's a moot point.

More on topic, I mostly listen to remasterings of the classic albums because I grew up in the era where these were the readily available versions on CD, and overall I much prefer these versions to the original mixes. The only time I can really point to enjoying an original mix would be Neil Young's Harvest, which isn't a prog album in any case. I find there are so many added dimensions and previously "hidden" elements to the sound of remasters that the originals can't really compare - though really the only album I can confirm this on is ELP's debut (compared from the original cassette's mix to the remastered Rhino release). Now that I think of it though, a more muddy remaster, which is likely closer to Eddie Offord's original mix, of the ending of Yes' Gates of Delirium always would make my hairs stand on end, while the Rhino remaster doesn't achieve this for me.

Thus I end my rambling post.



Edited by Howard the Duck - May 04 2012 at 08:54
MacGyver can do a super guitar solo with a broom and an elastic band. Can you do better?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote prog4evr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 12 2012 at 21:30
Give the live "Meet the Flower Kings" (2003) a listen.  Recorded in a smaller venue, I believe it has the best of "live room" sound with the digitalized dampening that gives a dryer, hence more listenable, sound.  Don't know if you even like FK, but this live album / DVD set is worth a try...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Big Ears Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 03 2012 at 02:42
I like the sharp and clean modern production, I just cannot get into the music.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dean Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 03 2012 at 02:48
Originally posted by Big Ears Big Ears wrote:

I like the sharp and clean modern production, I just cannot get into the music.
So, this modern Prog does nothing for you?
 


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