Fail, fail, fail, fail, succeed

Recording In The Digital Playground

I love this metaphor – partly because it implies childlike fun and discovery, and partly because it acknowledges the inherent artifice of recording music.

Nothing – I mean nothing – will ever sound like hearing live music in a room. The visceral direct neurological stimulation of sound exciting the anatomical structures in our ears and then traveling directly into our brain for interpretation simply cannot be simulated by any recording, no matter how good the equipment or technique of the engineer. There seems to be some kind of energy exchange going on in the immediate environment when music is being played live. Just the process of putting up a mic, running it into a preamp, and recording it to a medium is in itself artificial. These kinds of recordings can certainly be great (when they capture transcendent performances), but they will never approach what the event actually sounded like live.

So if that’s the case, why not use every tool at your disposal to craft an audio event that could never happen in the real world? We live in a golden age of digital tools that enable us to manipulate audio in ways that were never before possible. Of course, at least 90% of everything made will be at best competent and at worst unlistenable – but that was always pretty much the same for everything ever recorded. However, the 10% at the top has the potential to show us things about ourselves we never dreamed possible.

The only limit is your imagination and audacity. So stop thinking like an adult, break rules as if you never learned them, and get to work!