Adventures In Audio
Is your music beautiful? Is it exciting?

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of Adventures In Audio.

Tuesday April 10, 2012
FREE EBOOK DOWNLOAD ►

Here's an interesting experiment... Go to a website where ordinary musicians and home-studio producers can sell their work to the public. Take a listen to sample tracks and previews. Typically you will easily find work of amazing professionalism. But will you buy? Will the general public buy?

The problem is that achieving professional-sounding work is seen as the objective by many home recording studio owners. True professionalism is hard to achieve, and when you get there, then it seems that some kind of laurel wreath of victory is warranted. Yes, wear it with pride, but you're not done yet. You have only made it to the first rung of the ladder.

I have been thinking long and hard about what it is that the general public really want from their music. Music that they will be willing to pay for. I'll certainly pay good money for a piece of music that is beautiful. Anything by Sade will fit the bill for me, for instance. Adele, also for instance, seems to fit the bill for a younger audience.

But music doesn't have to be beautiful to sell. If a track is exciting, then it can sell well too. It doesn't have to be beautiful, and in fact quite a number of ugly-duckling recordings have sold massively simply because they generate excitement.

Grass roots beauty/excitement

I was playing with a new compression plug-in the other day on a drum track. "Wow, that's an exciting sound!" I thought. I could tweak the settings from hardly any difference at all, through a little bit exciting, to really exciting, to it's-all-too-much-to-handle. It wasn't hard to find a sound that really was over the top.

What I found, which of course I knew already but hadn't thought about recently, is that there is a point where the excitement is just at the right level. But then there's a point just beyond that where the sound is really exciting!

It occurred to me that perhaps I have myself concentrated too much on achieving professional sounds from all of my instruments and vocals, and maybe I should be a little more adventurous and try adding excitement at the recording stage, to each instrument and to each vocal. Of course there are more ways to do this than with compression, but my feeling is that if excitement is added, or at least considered, in every stage of production, the result should be a really exciting song at the end of the recording, mixing and mastering process.

I could of course apply the same logic to a song that I wanted to sound beautiful. If the multitrack recording is packed out with beautiful sounds, how would it be possible to fail?

New punk recording

I was about to summarize that professionalism should be taken as a given, and excitement or beauty added on top of that. But then I thought back to the punk era where many musicians - or should it be 'musicians'? - could hardly play their instruments. But boy they made an exciting sound.

So maybe music production has gotten a little too professionalism these days. Perhaps we need to get back to basics. Exciting sounds or beautiful musicianship, and who cares about a few rough edges?

If anyone would like to send in their new punk recordings, I'll be happy to feature the best in these pages.

david.mellor@recordproducer.com

Like, follow, and comment on this article at Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Instagram or the social network of your choice.

Come on the Audio Masterclass Pro Home Studio MiniCourse - 60 great hints and tips to get your home recording studio MOVING

It's FREE!

Get It Now >>

Electric guitar - compress before the amp, or after?

How to choose the best key for your song

What is comb filtering? What does it sound like?

NEW: Audio crossfades come to Final Cut Pro X 10.4.9!

What is the difference between EQ and filters? *With Audio*

What difference will a preamp make to your recording?

Watch our video on linear phase filters and frequency response with the FabFilter Pro Q 2

Read our post on linear phase filters and frequency response with the Fabfilter Pro Q 2

Harmonic distortion with the Soundtoys Decapitator

What's the best height for studio monitors? Answer - Not too low!

What is the Red Book standard? Do I need to use it? Why?

Will floating point change the way we record?

Mixing: What is the 'Pedalboard Exception'?

The difference between mic level and line level

The problem with parallel compression that you didn't know you had. What it sounds like and how to fix it.

Compressing a snare drum to even out the level

What does parallel compression on vocals sound like?

How to automate tracks that have parallel compression

Why mono is better than stereo for recording vocals and dialogue

Clipping and compressing a drum recording to achieve an exciting sound texture

What can we learn about room acoustics from this image?

Can you hear the subtle effect of the knee control of the compressor? (With audio and video demonstrations)

What is the best studio microphone?

What is the Neve sound? (Using the Slate Digital FG-73)