The first time I was in a studio was 1993, I had no idea about recording or producing, but there was something common to all the studios then; the tape trackers, Studer and so on. You are asked to take a solo, then the following session you feel like changing the line, the engineer tells you sorry it has been bounced! Meaning the machines cannot record more than a certain number of tracks, so they join multiple tracks through a mixer and merge them to one track on the recording machine and that’s the end. Error, men you start the whole project all over.
Then there was no software to quantize your performance, there was autotune to make your voice sound like a great singer. You cannot even see the waves of the tracks you are recording on a screen, so you can’t do copy and paste. You have to perform. Well, things have changed now, everything is easy, you can program a Piano that is as good as Mozart’s even if you don’t know Key C.
Recently, I asked my students of Music Production to use 4 tracks using our Logic PRO software to produce a single, they looked at me like I was crazy, and I told them when I was working with Papa Jimmy Sattu where I learnt a lot about production, he was using 4 tracker tape machine to record live band, he’d tell me if you pick a heavy kick pick a light bass with it, if the bass is very deep pick a light kick so you can avoid masking, I cannot forget such theories. Today, we have gone digital, we use Unlimited Daw Tracking, people just buy a laptop and AJC microphone and they’ve become a producer.
When I watch TV I become tired, and I keep telling my guys this is bad music, they’re like it’s dope. Hmmm dope. Okay, I decided to prove it to them and brought a collection of Boys II Men and played it side by side today’s music on iTunes; not just the “naija” own (that one needs prayer) And one thing caught our attention, the late 80s and 90s sounded better! Why? They were real musicians & producers. Not someone that started playing keyboard last year, but he can only play on Key C and he wants to collect 100 thousand per month from church. Ole! You need to become a musician first before you start making hair styles.
Concept is what we need, not what is in vogue. Music is conceptual, a style might be in vogue now or a software, but once you understand concept and that style fades away you’ll be able to cope. This issue of concept does not only apply to music, it does in arts and movie making. Some James Bond movies looked better than a lot of Hollywood movies today, not to talk of our African Magic. Hmmm, you know I recently saw a movie on AMC and it was Elvis Presley, 1954, the picture looked so good I almost wept. You know what? Cameras and lenses that can do the impossible have been invented today but the production might look worse than the 60s. It isn’t just about the camera, it is about the concept of photography and cinematography! It isn’t just about Protools HD, it is about the concept called music.
If you’re a musician you’re a musician, if you’re a noise maker you’re a noise maker. People that sit down to learn the concept last longer than the noise makers. That was why Stephen Spielberg could make sci-fi movies in the 60s with the old technology and still makes a Jurassic Blockbuster now with today’s technology.
Sit down and read, observe, do, go back, learn more.
Stay tuned and don’t forget to drop your comments.