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Lucas Hardy
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I comment as one who knows Dr. Friedlander personally: You had asked once what the role of a "producer" is in pop music, and I can offer a new answer: The role of a producer is to put the lie to any and all of your critiques of these *studio* recordings. And in this aspect of their role, they are operating arm-in-arm as accomplice with the tracking engineer and/or the mix engineer. You see, if there's one thing I learned from studying Music Production & Engineering at Berklee, it's that you can't trust a single thing you hear on these tracks, if you're listening with the ear of a live performer. One of the very first things they taught us to do, before they got into any new-fangled digital wizardry, was how to edit analog tape with a good-ol' razor blade. (I have to wonder if they still do that, since it was already ludicrously outdated when they made me put isopropyl alcohol on my fingers.) One of the points of this was to demonstrate that Editing has been an art form and a powerful tool in the producer/engineer's bag for decades. Ain't nothing new. If you ever run across someone who does production or engineering in a modern studio, ask them what "comp" means. It's not short for "complimentary", but for "compilation". It's been around far longer than digital audio, though now it's exponentially easier than when some of these albums were made. What it means in the end is that you can't be sure that what you're hearing in the attack and in the release *of the same note* was even recorded *on the same day*. Because these guys have no qualms about slicing the holy bejeezus out of their several-dozen takes to get a vocal performance that will sell records, whether the performer can back it up live or not. Hopefully, if the producer has some notion of "artistic integrity", the performance you hear on the album is not that different from the performance you will hear in the arena. And given the fame of these artists, I think that's not a losing bet. But, in the final balance, the only judgment of vocal performance you can really, really trust is one you hear with your own ears straight from their mouths. Preferably with no electric reinforcement system that could be masking a lip-synch. (No, I swear I didn't just accuse Ronnie James Dio of lip-synching. R.I.P., Dio, seriously. I don't need that little bastard haunting me.)
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Oct 18, 2011