Hey again, folks! Another week, time for another play listen repeat…
I’m in the studio for two weeks, making a new record. Since there have been tangential references to production and studio issues in some comments to the other play listen repeat posts, I’m curious to know where people are on these questions:
Do you like big production? Do you notice how something is recorded or is the music more of an overall experience that either works or doesn’t? Why are some things that are highly produced interesting and stimulating, and others just seem bloated and self-indulgent?
ps. What a great set of comments from last week’s post! Thanks to everyone who posted.


  1. Michael Zapruder
    February 07, 2007 at 10:09pm
    interesting observations - thanks to everyone for posting so far - it's stimulating to read these thoughts while immersed in the studio... as I sit on the studio couch, listening to things developing, something occurs to me. production is actually the accumulation of a million separate decisions. if you're looking for creative, new things as you work and make the record, it's not possible to predetermine the end result. and yet paradoxically that production ends up feeling very intentional and mapped out to the listener. in fact it almost might be the first thing that people really absorb. that is strange, because much of record making is starting from a known point (the song or the content) and then searching for something that sounds or feels like it works (the recording). it's amazing how different the basic idea of a song can be from a compelling single recorded version. usually, that eventual recorded version will have its own tendencies and life, which it demands from the production, and the artist and the engineer need to be attuned to those cues, and they need to follow after them, all the while making creative choices that suit the material and the record overall. so production is primary for the listener - it's the presentation of the content, but it's an unfolding experience for the people making the record. it's uncontrollable in many ways. how mysterious... cheers, mz
  2. Kevin Seal
    February 08, 2007 at 12:39pm
    Great topic, MZ. Production can be as important to a song as the lyrics, especially when you include instrumentation and arrangement into the nebulous umbrella of production. I often enjoy big-production, studio masterpiece rock albums. Nigel Godrich and J Robbins are my favorite of contemporary guys working in that vein, and the old-school masters of that were George Martin, Eddy Offord, Hugh Padgham, Tony Visconti, Brian Eno and Brian Wilson. I think the toughest aspect of making a record with huge production is keeping it from sounding dated. A lot of those big '80s reverbs and choruses sound very much 'of their time' to me. The best productions to me are ones that don't scream "this is 1972" or "here we are in 1985." What makes a big production timeless?
  3. Jay
    February 11, 2007 at 7:24pm
    I thought of bread-making when I read your post. If you overwork the dough or let it rise too much or...well, it seems there are about nine million other factors that can mess up a loaf of bread, you wind up with a brick that would gag a crow. The same seems to apply to production: The producer must know when to STOP. There's an artist who is great live, but the person who produced her first CD decided to pull out all of the stops (or lost his mind) and smothered her high sweet sprightly voice and keyboard with a lot of extraneous echo/reverb/overdubbing/you-name-it-he-did-it that wasn't even close to appropriate for the music. Perhaps he was trying to stamp his own "signature sound" onto the recording but the end result was a dense, unpalatable brick.

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