Emotional triggers

Discussion of anything not related to audio or music production
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Tarekith
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Emotional triggers

Post by Tarekith » Tue Feb 24, 2015 12:12 pm

Image

One of the upsides of moving to Europe, was that I finally got a chance to upgrade my battered iPhone5. It had been having increasing issues after 2 and half years of constant use and abuse, but with an overseas trip coming up, it didn’t make sense for me to sign a new 2-year carrier contract in the US in order to get a new phone. So, at long last I was finally able to get an iPhone6, something an iOS musician like myself can appreciate for numerous reasons.

One of the more unexpected reasons I’ve discovered, is just how much better the camera is on the iPhone6 compared to my iPhone5. Given that I’m in a brand new country for only a few weeks now, I’ve of course been out walking and taking a lot of pictures. It surprised me how great they look once I get back to the computer to look at them. (this blog post pertains to music, bear with me)

In fact I was discussing this with a friend of mine who’s into photography, and I mentioned I doubt I’ll ever buy a point and shoot camera again. How I think for my needs, the iPhone6 camera is all I’ll likely need ever again. Convenient since it’s almost always with me too.

Of course my photography friend was aghast.

He sent me numerous links to articles pointing out the flaws in the sensor, the lack of details compared to higher end cameras, endless comparisons with “real” cameras, etc. I replied that none of that mattered to me, I just like looking at pictures to remind me of certain times in my life, as a way of triggering a memory. Of course, he then reminded me that this is why the majority of people are ok with low quality MP3s when it comes to listening to music. Even though it might make a mastering engineer like myself cringe to read that people are tossing their CDs after ripping them to 128kbps MP3s.

Obviously, the analogy is spot on, and we agreed to disagree having reminded ourselves that not everyone needs accuracy or the best available detail to get enjoyment out of different forms of media. It’s a good reminder that often the people most wrapped up in the creation of an artform are the only ones who really care about details of the medium used. So while musicians might debate ad naseum the best algorithm for dithering, or photographers might debate…. well whatever it is they debate, it’s important to remember yet again that it’s the message that truly matters.

Of course we should take pride in capturing our message as clearly and transparently as possible, so the medium doesn’t detract from it. But at the end of the day that aspect of our craft pales in significance to how well we actual convey emotion or express an idea. As always, it’s those things that trigger the greatest emotions in most people, not how well it was actually recorded.

A good reminder for us all I think. :)

re:dream
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Re: Emotional triggers

Post by re:dream » Tue Feb 24, 2015 12:35 pm

I've been thinking recently of the following paradox:

(1) Subtlety matters. Tiny differences in the texture or rendition of a sound are worth spending time on. This, after all, is why musicians fret about their town, spend millions on a Strad; why people spend money on decent audio at all. I will spend 80% of my time fine-tuning tiny details of a piece of audio, long after most of my friends think it's done. Because it matters.

(2) The difference between audio that's enjoyable and audio that's not is usually obvious and evident. It's not only that polished crap is still crap. It is also that some of those early Motown hits were recorded in crap studios, on crap equipment, under crap conditions, and often the mix is quite bad. But play it at a party and everyone dances.

TomViolenz
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Re: Emotional triggers

Post by TomViolenz » Tue Feb 24, 2015 12:41 pm

congrats on the new phone. You got the bigger one?!

As to quality of point and shoots, I fully agree with you.
Point and shoot cameras are becoming an ever smaller niche between ever more powerfull prosumer cameras with exchangable lense systems and bigger sensors from above and ever better mobile phone cameras from below.

I wouldn't buy one anymore that's for sure.

And since the most common mp3 format to rip CDs to is becoming 256 or at least 192kbps for quite some years now, which are good enough IMO so that you won't hear a difference on most reproduction systems, I'm starting to make my peace with that development.

Tarekith
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Re: Emotional triggers

Post by Tarekith » Tue Feb 24, 2015 12:42 pm

Indeed, there is no simple answer! I mean, why make it easy? :)

slatepipe
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Re: Emotional triggers

Post by slatepipe » Tue Feb 24, 2015 2:03 pm

paradoxes for sure - a track i made last year took me nearly all of that year to make. i quite like it, but fucking hell - a year??? and i ask myself is it really that much better than some of the other things i've done lately which took a fraction of the time?

it's the bits of dirt and mistakes that i choose to leave in (in both sound and film) that can make the piece more remarkable. i have shitloads of super 8 film that i used to do myself in the late 90's and i love the dirt and colour in that, it's part of my aesthetic i guess

some of the pieces of music i make nowadays have got a lot of tracks in them (for me anyway), twenty or thirty maybe. that's just how they ended up working out. but then i can go back into the live file for an old tune i made back with live four about 9 or 10 years ago and it'll have four or five tracks in it, a few effects and a bit of eq

maybe it serves to show how my music has progressed over the years? and how my approach to music making with ableton has changed too. maybe i figured using four or five tracks back then made it sound more like a band? i dunno, i think i used more instruments back then, nowadays i'm currently more obsessed with field recordings and how they can be manipulated to produce some kind of massive layered sound orchestra-scape thing

but then i'll do some long jam with my mate and we'll just record it all as one track, eq it a bit and it's done

i've never ever used dithering. i keep seeing it in the export menu but never clicked it

sometimes it's nice to put limitations on yourself when making a piece. just four tracks, just five minutes, just field recordings, just 4 track tape recordings. sometimes i have to tell myself - 'nope, this one is finished, it doesn't need more altering'

limitations are useful, as the scope provided by this program is bewilderingly vast

Garry Knight
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Re: Emotional triggers

Post by Garry Knight » Tue Feb 24, 2015 3:05 pm

Nice post, Erik, and to the point. I've gone from the point and shoot through the bridge camera, the big(gish) DSLR, and now the mirrorless compact system camera. To me, and I'm sure to others like me, the iPhone is a point and shoot camera. But you're right about one thing. I've always said, from the time I first got interested in photography, that 'content is king'. In other words, it's all about the picture, not how you took it or what you took it with.
Garry Knight

beats me
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Re: Emotional triggers

Post by beats me » Tue Feb 24, 2015 3:25 pm

Every single picture taken by and of my mom’s extended family has everybody looking directly at the camera, and there’s no less than a half dozen pictures taken of that same unnatural and staged pose. That’s not how you capture a moment.

Don’t be my mom’s family Rob Lowe. :x

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Re: Emotional triggers

Post by Angstrom » Tue Feb 24, 2015 4:25 pm

I completely agree that the emotion captured is much more important than the recording quality. As long as you can hear what's going on, that's as far as you need to go for 99.9% of the population. As for the remainder - they are "dancing to architecture".

People get far too precious about things which don't actually matter

In my town during the 90s there was a big-ish indie band signed to a large label. I know the engineer who used to record them back when they were a lovably slapdash bunch of arrogant stoned drunks. Like many young musicians they lifted riffs from all over the place and didn't think too much about what they were doing "we are geniuses" they thought. People liked their music enough for them to have a deal and a good career, etc.
A couple of years ago I bumped into the engineer and he tells me the band has reformed and are recording a new album. Hows it going I asked "It's hell, they keep second guessing themselves. They'll make a perfectly decent track and then overdub and edit it into oblivion. Then they discard it for not being THEM enough, not innovative or whatever. they are worried their fans will not be in awe of the music". They were overthinking. As far as I know they have now take 4 years to not make this album. They have probably discarded 5 albums worth of material.

What their fans used to like was a raw expression of whatever the fuck was in the bands minds. Wild and free.
What the reformed band became mired down in was details like the compressor wasn't suitably vintage enough, some guy tells them they ought to record the whole thing on half inch and through a specially customised Neve desk, or its not good enough. Their first album was recorded on dirt, through dirt, by dirt.

BoddAH
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Re: Emotional triggers

Post by BoddAH » Thu Feb 26, 2015 3:58 pm

Angstrom wrote:I completely agree that the emotion captured is much more important than the recording quality. As long as you can hear what's going on, that's as far as you need to go for 99.9% of the population. As for the remainder - they are "dancing to architecture".

People get far too precious about things which don't actually matter

In my town during the 90s there was a big-ish indie band signed to a large label. I know the engineer who used to record them back when they were a lovably slapdash bunch of arrogant stoned drunks. Like many young musicians they lifted riffs from all over the place and didn't think too much about what they were doing "we are geniuses" they thought. People liked their music enough for them to have a deal and a good career, etc.
A couple of years ago I bumped into the engineer and he tells me the band has reformed and are recording a new album. Hows it going I asked "It's hell, they keep second guessing themselves. They'll make a perfectly decent track and then overdub and edit it into oblivion. Then they discard it for not being THEM enough, not innovative or whatever. they are worried their fans will not be in awe of the music". They were overthinking. As far as I know they have now take 4 years to not make this album. They have probably discarded 5 albums worth of material.
Amen.
The world of music production would be a better place if producers stopped spending thousands and thousands of dollars and most of their productive time on high-end plug-ins and hardware and a little more on actually making meaningful and creative music.
I have the firm belief that a catchy, beautiful and well-constructed song made with nothing but a laptop and Live Intro’s Impulse and Simpler instruments, hell, even an iPhone app, has more than enough potential to be an objectively better and more valuable product than some uninspired noodling made on high end gear.
Not because supposedly measurable and objective “sound quality” is, at best, less important than the creative value of a song (it is) but because “sound quality” isn’t even objectively measurable anyway. People are looking for old, analogue and arguably obsolete gear all the time and clinical, perfect and sterile commercial music is criticized probably more often than it is praised.
Just think about it. Some of the best music ever recorded was made in studios with hardware that is comparatively less powerful than a modern smartphone with a couple apps. Think of mono vinyl records that were recorded in one take, in mono, with a shitty sound quality, background noise almost overpowering the music itself and no mixing, editing or mastering whatsoever.


What their fans used to like was a raw expression of whatever the fuck was in the bands minds. Wild and free.
What the reformed band became mired down in was details like the compressor wasn't suitably vintage enough, some guy tells them they ought to record the whole thing on half inch and through a specially customised Neve desk, or its not good enough. Their first album was recorded on dirt, through dirt, by dirt.

Goddard
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Re: Emotional triggers

Post by Goddard » Mon Mar 02, 2015 12:01 pm

Haven't known that there is anything after iPhone 5... For real...
Still trying to get rid of my iPhone 4 (not even "S") that I hate... Takes too much of my precious life and gives nothing back...
Only by accident I unfortunatelly upgraded to iOS6 that pisses me even more...
Regarding real hardware, since all upgrades require at least OSX 10.7 and I am still on Snow Leopard I am not interested in having internet connection anymore...
Because I am very emotional... and tired...
Skål!
"Machines are the weapon employed by the capitalists to quell the revolt of specialized labor" Karl Marx

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