Is recording in sections cheating?

Creating a home studio for recording the classical guitar. Equipment, software and recording techniques. Amplification for live performance.
2handband
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Re: Is recording in sections cheating?

Post by 2handband » Wed Jul 08, 2015 10:53 pm

I might be on dangerous ground here, but I think a lot of you are thinking in the wrong league. A recording studio doesn't necessarily exist only to capture a raw performance. At it's best, it's an instrument all by itself.

Consider the example of Jimi Hendrix. Live he was about as stripped down as you can get; guitar bass and drums. The only real exception was Woodstock. In the studio he layered multiple guitars and other instruments and liberally applied effects to create a work of art that couldn't exist in live performance, especially in the 1960s. Those who recorded with him frequently remark on his intuitive grasp of studio technology and what could be done with it.

You also have to consider record company deadlines combined with the fact that recording may take place within just a few weeks of writing. I remember a John Petrucci interview from the 90s in which he stated that he would frequently know exactly what he wanted to do with a solo but not have time to bring it to performance level. So he'd do a a lot of cut and paste, and then practice till he could pull it off live. Bottom line:you do what it takes to realize your vision on record, and worry about live performance later.

I get that this line of thinking may fall a big outside the classical aesthetic, but I think it's ridiculous to apply live performance standards to recording. They're two separate art forms.

Mick the Ramirez Man

Re: Is recording in sections cheating?

Post by Mick the Ramirez Man » Thu Jul 09, 2015 6:36 am

To me it comes down to the goal of the recording. My goal is not a perfect performance because I always find something wrong with my performance, even if a particular take is the best performance I've ever pulled off of a particular piece. I'm such a perfectionist (which is one of the reasons why I'm attracted to the Classical Guitar as my means of musical expression) that I realize it's not realistic to expect myself to record "the perfect take". My goal for a recorded performance is "This is the way it should sound". If I have to edit to get an acceptable take ... so be it. :sage:

RustyFingers

Re: Is recording in sections cheating?

Post by RustyFingers » Thu Jul 09, 2015 7:20 am

Just to nail my colours to this already colourful mast:

I have no truck with the idea that recording is supposed to capture some perfect artistic moment and render that flawlessly to a playable medium. That viewpoint overlooks all the practical realities of professional recording where multiple takes and post-production reassembly are commonplace.

All music is recorded:
With a particular outlook
To a budget
By an artist
With an instrument
Located in a venue
By an engineer (who has their own artistic and engineering preferences)
With a microphone
And a cable
Via an audio interface
To a recording device
To time constraints (imposed by natural rhythms, professional commitments and venue availability)

All these impose limitations on the performance captured during recording. Performances will need to be done and re-done until both the performer and the enginneer(s) are happy.
And after all this is accomplished there are still a bunch of post-production decisions that need to be made (which takes, do the takes need colour-balancing, who will master the final cut, &c, &c).

Music doesn't exist in some artistic vacuum devoid of contact with the real world.

If you believe recording in sections is cheating because it's not 'real' somehow doesn't that apply to recording in general. And doesn't it apply to sheet music too? Sheet music isn't a 'real' performance - it's a recording of a performance. And worse! It's a recording of a performance assembled by the composer over time! Did Debussy compose La Mer in one sustained session? No? Cheat!

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markodarko
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Re: Is recording in sections cheating?

Post by markodarko » Thu Jul 09, 2015 8:54 am

With respect, sheet music isn't a performance, painting isn't a performance, composing isn't a performance, writing a book isn't a performance. Etc.

At the end of the day it comes down to whether you want to create a record of the performance or of the music. Sometimes something magical happens and you get both.

It reminds me of the story of Whitney Houston's version of I Will Always Love You. They recorded a demo of it and took it to the powers that be and they gave it the go ahead to record it in the all-singing-all-dancing studio.

They recorded her over and over, take after take, for days, but not one take sounded as good as the original demo. Not one had that magic. Not one had captured her performance even though in parts, she's a teeny bit flat on the odd note. So, they made a decision and the vocal that you hear on the record is actually the one from the original demo (warts 'n' all) - done in one take, completely off the cuff.

Sometimes, when we record things over and over or piece things together from various takes, we run the risk of losing that one magical performance in the name of recording "perfection"...
Negative, I am a meat popsicle.

RustyFingers

Re: Is recording in sections cheating?

Post by RustyFingers » Thu Jul 09, 2015 11:27 am

And yet Sgt. Pepper is a collage. Sometimes you lose something by assembling a performance from pieces; sometimes you gain something.

2handband
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Re: Is recording in sections cheating?

Post by 2handband » Thu Jul 09, 2015 12:42 pm

Marko, just speaking as someone who has spent a lot of time in recording studios, I'd have to say that scenario is very much the exception to the rule. And sometimes they lie. Two of the engineers that worked with Led Zeppelin have stated in the press that Page's claim of being able to get a great Robert plant performance in two or three takes is flat-out untrue... and if you listen to the guy's god-awful live performances, I'd have to say they're probably telling the truth.

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Denian Arcoleo
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Re: Is recording in sections cheating?

Post by Denian Arcoleo » Thu Jul 09, 2015 1:08 pm

2handband wrote:... Page's claim of being able to get a great Robert plant performance in two or three takes is flat-out untrue... and if you listen to the guy's god-awful live performances, I'd have to say they're probably telling the truth.
Rock music's all about self-belief. Plant has enough of it for all of us.

AndreiKrylov

Re: Is recording in sections cheating?

Post by AndreiKrylov » Thu Jul 09, 2015 1:21 pm

markodarko wrote:With respect, sheet music isn't a performance, painting isn't a performance, composing isn't a performance, writing a book isn't a performance. Etc.

At the end of the day it comes down to whether you want to create a record of the performance or of the music. Sometimes something magical happens and you get both.

Sometimes, when we record things over and over or piece things together from various takes, we run the risk of losing that one magical performance in the name of recording "perfection"...
Yes, I agree that repeating or re-recording could always bring best results. Yes sometimes it does not work. Probably because one of the most important element in work (recording in this case) is inspiration and it is not constant thing and could come and leave...
But artist should have freedom and possibility to use all kind of technical means to express himself when he inspired.

As far as this: "sheet music isn't a performance, painting isn't a performance, composing isn't a performance, writing a book isn't a performance."
No, I disagree.
It is not performance only in a way that it is not used to be a performance in our culture, but put people on stage and let them draw - it would be a performance! It could be even more attractive for audience than classical guitar, depending how it presented... :)
Same could happen with writing of sheet music, composing or writing a book.... just put people who do that on stage, bring audience - and it would be performance.

To make it very simple we could say: when someone plays - his brains working and his hands/fingers moving and he produce sound picture as a result of this work of brain and hands/fingers.

But what is the difference with the writer? - his brains working and his fingers moving and he produce text (which is actually sound as well) as a result of this work of brain and hands/fingers .

And what about painter? - his brains working and his fingers moving and he produce picture as a result of this work of brain and hands/fingers .

So basically in all cases it is combined work of our brains and hands/fingers.
All of it is a performance in a way that to be as productive as possible and as perfect as possible we need to have the best possible performance of our brains and hands/fingers (therefore as best as possible physical condition of our bodies) , therefore in all cases we we have to have the best possible performance of our bodies for best results...
Then second thing. Most of (guitar) recordings nowadays happening when someone alone recording in studio or by himself using (working by) his brains and his hands/fingers moving and producing sound picture as a result of this work of brain and hands/fingers.

What is the difference with writer, composer or artist??
He also working alone himself using (working by) his brains and his hands/fingers moving and producing sound picture as a result of this work of brain and hands/fingers.

Certainly someone could say that he want to record his (hands/fingers?) performance for the time only... and probably he does not care if he will achieve the best result (beautiful music?) and do not want to please ears/souls of others with music, but just want to be as "HONEST" as possible... and that is the best way to do for everybody else....

Then maybe, maybe there are some people (listeners) who interested not in the beautiful music, but in "Honesty" only. But probably not many... and isn't "Honesty" about himself a bit strange purpose for Art?

Myself, when I am recording - I prefer to record piece in one take, when I am inspired.
But if this would not work - I would do more takes and record in sections. And yes I prefer and always trying to finish all in one take.
But not because of "honesty" or "honest reflection of my performance" - NO!
I do not make music for performance, I do not care about performance, performance not thing I even think about at all! I have Music in me... and it is overwhelming me and I have to record this Music, because it is beautiful and inspiring (for me), so this Music will come alive and be available for others... that is why I am recording Music in general.
Performance ? Competitions ? Particular audience of particular place?
- I do not give a damn about all those things. My purpose is just a record of Music itself. Music as a sound picture, sound world, poetic description of this and other worlds.
Music as a performance ? For judgement ? Competition ?
No thanks. Not interested!!!

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Mark Clifton-Gaultier
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Re: Is recording in sections cheating?

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Sun Jul 12, 2015 10:24 am

It's cheating, plain and simple - compare with a gymnast, figure skater or whatever - the real performance, what you can actually do, is the only thing that is true.

Purchasers of recorded music may be easily fooled for the purposes of finance or pride but the person recording will always know their true capabilities.

AndreiKrylov

Re: Is recording in sections cheating?

Post by AndreiKrylov » Sun Jul 12, 2015 6:36 pm

Mark Clifton-Gaultier wrote:It's cheating, plain and simple - compare with a gymnast, figure skater or whatever - the real performance, what you can actually do, is the only thing that is true.

Purchasers of recorded music may be easily fooled for the purposes of finance or pride but the person recording will always know their true capabilities.
Marc, Thanks for confirming my observations about Sport and Art !

alfonso

Re: Is recording in sections cheating?

Post by alfonso » Tue Jul 14, 2015 2:58 am

I suppose then many of us will continue to 'cheat' in the studio setting if only to serve the aim of representing the recorded music in a way that is able to withstand repeated listening!

RustyFingers

Re: Is recording in sections cheating?

Post by RustyFingers » Tue Jul 14, 2015 7:35 am

> It's cheating, plain and simple - compare with a gymnast, figure skater or whatever

If only there were some medium that could capture performances so they could be edited after the fact in order to produce a consistent, repeatable and enjoyable performance for the audience!

Your argument is the equivalent of "Film actors are edited after the fact. So they're merely cheating. Only theatre-acting is real acting".
Presumably this means that film actors are doing something else from what they would do if they were performing in theatre. But what could that be? Certainly it's not the act of standing in front of people pretending to be someone, speaking some lines, emoting and so on (i.e. acting). The only difference is the type of audience (crew -vs- theatregoers), the length of performance (repeated takes each taking a few minutes), and the sustained nature of the performance (shorter -vs- longer). Certainly it's not about whether one person is doing acting or not. Not unless, of course, all you actuall mean is "I think this kind of acting is the only acting of any importance". And that's just the pig of snobbery clothed with some lipstick and a dress.

Anyway, to get back to music, a recording isn't a record of what you can do on your own simply because it involves all the other kit and caboodle that goes along with recording. Even if someone records only and exactly what you play it's still not a live performance unless the audience is in the room with you at the time: It's a recording of a live performance.

A recording? C'est ci n'est pas un pipe.

So why expect that something that is clearly a different beast would have the same rules?

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markodarko
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Re: Is recording in sections cheating?

Post by markodarko » Tue Jul 14, 2015 11:56 pm

Rusty, the film analogy doesn't fit in the slightest with regards to recording solo guitar. Making a film involves a massive crew and the logistics of filming different scenes in different locations. For example they may film scenes 1,5,12 and 13 on one day, 2 and 7 on another. All depending on how long they have the location and the actors for. This analogy does however fit a band recording where the drums and bass are usually recorded first to a guide guitar, then other instruments and vocals are added etc., but I fail to see how it fits to solo guitar as an analogy - unless of course I've completely missed the point of this thread and we're talking about recording in general and not specifically the solo guitar. :oops:
Negative, I am a meat popsicle.

RustyFingers

Re: Is recording in sections cheating?

Post by RustyFingers » Wed Jul 15, 2015 7:38 am

marcodarko wrote:Rusty, the film analogy doesn't fit in the slightest with regards to recording solo guitar.
Yeah it does. Record in bits, assemble afterwards. The analogy's bang on.
marcodarko wrote:Making a film involves a massive crew
Not necessarily: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primer_%2 ... Production
If you're thinking Django Unchained then of course it does, but that's the film equivalent of the London Philharmonic recording with John Williams for a month.
And the crew has to be larger because you're recording sound and images.
marcodarko wrote:I fail to see how it fits to solo guitar as an analogy
As I said: Record in bits, assemble afterwards.

From an engineer's perspective recording classical guitar is no different from recording anything else: Discuss approach. [Determine location(s), place microphone(s), press 'Record'. Wait. Press 'Stop'.] Iterate. [Assemble files. Balance files.] Iterate. Master. Deliver. The files can be long or short but - with very few exceptions - there's going to be some assembly and some balancing over and above the performance that will alter what was actually played on the day into what you will buy.

The point I'm making is that despite the fact that both involve playing, recording a piece so you can sell it (rather than it just being a 'work in progress' scratch recording for your own reference) is an entirely different beast from performing that piece live, and to attempt to apply the standards of one to the other because you have hang-ups about what's "real" and what isn't is completely misguided.
Last edited by RustyFingers on Wed Jul 15, 2015 7:50 am, edited 1 time in total.

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markodarko
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Re: Is recording in sections cheating?

Post by markodarko » Wed Jul 15, 2015 7:49 am

I think we're just going to have to agree to disagree on this on, Mr. Rusty else we'll be going round in circles. :-D
Negative, I am a meat popsicle.

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