Subscriber Tom Parker forwarded this to me. Thought you might find it interesting, too.

I’m not sure what website it’s from, but it’s a quote from a film sound designer named John Sisti.

Here it is:

“Is the over-engineering of music costing us our audience? Do we get in front of the artist rather than present them?

Why do so many young people listen to music that was recorded twenty or forty years before they were born?

With the tools available today, we have so much control over the sound that will be heard in the end product. Products like Melodyne, Autotune, and others we can ‘fix’ even the smallest details within a performance. With sound being able to trigger a response on a millisecond level are we destroying the very elements that connect our artists to their listeners?

Shouldn’t the priority be the expression within the performance rather than a rigid standard of perfection in the sound?”

One of the areas I struggle with as both a musician and an engineer is this very concept of capturing and preserving the performance itself.

There’s a particular song on my upcoming album that is a bit difficult for me to sing. It’s got some fairly complex chord changes on the chorus, and the vocal is holding out long notes. For whatever reason, I have a hard time singing those notes on pitch.

The easy solution would be to record it, slap Melodyne on it, and call it a day.

And I could justify it by saying something like, “Unlike a live performance, a recording can be played over and over, therefore any mistakes become much more glaring than, say, a missed note or two during a concert.”

But let’s say I want to do a live streaming concert, performing acoustic versions of these songs from my album. What happens when I sing this particular song?

I’m still going to be pitchy.


Because I opted for the easy solution.

The more difficult (and infinitely better) solution is for me to sit down and PRACTICE singing that song – over and over – until I get it right.

Then something magical happens. Whether I’m recording a lead vocal track or performing the song at a coffee shop, I will SING IT RIGHT.

The tools we have at our disposal give us amazing ways to supplement a good performance.

But if we find ourselves relying on the tools rather than musicianship, I think we’re missing out on the very reason we got into audio in the first place.

That’s precisely the reason you’ll hear plenty of imperfections in this month’s song over at Dueling Mixes.

I produced the track and played most of the instruments. There are a few spots where I improvised some parts. The execution wasn’t perfect, but the vibe was cool. And I liked the imperfect performance.

I didn’t want to re-record it perfectly. It would lose some of its humanity.

To hear it (and mix it) for yourself, sign up here:

Joe Gilder
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