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And it's about one of her favorite topics: excessive (and unacknowledged) editing in recorded music. She had posted on a Gramophone forum a few years ago, but the topic continues to interest her. It doesn't look like ARG has a letters section in their printed editions anymore (at least that I can find), so Madeline's essay was presented as a "guest editorial" in the May/June 2017 issue.
I have to say that, as I read it, I was impressed by the upbeat tone of her writing, even though, in a sense, she's complaining about excessive editing. (If I were writing this, I'd be trying to push people's buttons, at least some of the time - LOL!)
Anyway, if you have access to this latest issue, check it out! ;-)
I am not a subscriber to ARG, so cannot read the article, and won't comment on that. I did read through this whole thread however, and I do have some comments on "live" recording, speaking as someone who has done many of them.
Almost never anymore is even a "live" recording unedited. If an orchestra releases a "live" recording, here is what has happened. Not only has each performance from the entire weekend been recorded, but almost always the dress rehearsal as well. There is also always a patch session right after the final performance, once the hall has been cleared of the audience. All of this is heavily edited together to create the best possible "live" recording.
(And by the way, this is also how the radio broadcasts of your local orchestras are done, minus the dress rehearsal and without a patch - even here, you are still hearing something put together from all three or four performances, though this is the only case where there is not any editing done - they merely choose complete movements - it might be the first and second movements of a symphony from Saturday and the third and fourth from Sunday - so these are much closer to "live" than a "live" recording is).
Almost every recording made nowadays by all but the very largest orchestras is done this way, as it is much less expensive. The orchestra is already hired to do all those performances and the dress rehearsal, and the patch session is usually very short, to involve as little overtime as possible. The payment to the musicians for this type of recording varies according to the type of agreement used - for instance, a smaller orchestra might do one that is only released in the local area. Most often orchestras will use some type of limited pressing agreement, in which payments to the musicians are based on x number of copies being sold, and more royalties are paid only if x is exceeded. Also many orchestras self-produce as well, which saves even more money.
As has been mentioned before, even a "live" recording has no real resemblance to a live performance, since it has been as heavily edited as a studio session.
Chris, for us furriners, what is ARG?
Unfortunately I am not a a subscriber. I am also located on another continent where any chance of finding a newstand copy is zero. This means that I will not be able to read the guest editorial that is the basis of this thread. However I also respect its author's desire that any comments should be based upon having read it!
Pretty much the story with most of the publishing industry, at least on this side of the pond.
Not know if ARG still publishes on paper, but I would doubt it.
Yes, they still publish a paper issue. The editor of the magazine, Donald Vroon, is, shall we say, "old-school" and provides only a paper subscription. You can, however, as a subscriber, go to the website and download or view PDF files of recent issues. Right now, only the January/February and March/April issues are available free for subscribers.
On newsstand availability, Mr. Vroon writes on the website:
"ARG is no longer sold in most stores. A few independent stores still carry it, but distribution thru the large chains (like Barnes & Noble) has become too much a money-loser for us. Statistics show that the internet is not killing off magazines in general; more people are reading them than ever. But we hope you will subscribe. Subscribers are what keeps us going."
They do sell some back issues, and now it looks like you can buy PDFs of back issues, too. The paper issues are $3 - $7 depending on age, and the PDFs are $6. The availability of paper back issues is spotty. You can buy the one discussed in this thread as a PDF for $6.
I received the current issue late last week and haven't had time to check it out. Madeline's essay is a "Guest Editorial" starting page 52, part of the "Critical Convictions" segment of the magazine. This is where Mr. Vroon waxes poetic on many issues that will either entertain or enrage, depending on your outlook.
Mr. Vroon also reviews albums, and his reviews are known for being pithy to say the least. He, like Chris, is not a fan of HIP.
One reason I grew disenchanted with ARG is because Donald Vroon's editorials and reviews often seemed underlaid with an old-guy "You kids get off my lawn!" crankiness to them. OTOH, Madeline said she found him a delight to deal with.
I would love to have lunch with him and pick his brain about music and the music industry. He is a true character.
...and I agree with her basic premise. I've come to prefer live recordings over studio ones, a stance I would have readily dismissed about 10 years ago. However, the caliber of playing has continued to go up and the best artists and orchestras are so good that the electricity and excitement of the live experience easily outshines a "perfect" studio recording that's been sucked soulless via editing. Plus, recording engineers have figured out how to record the live session with high fidelity.
However, I must ask: are her assertions about studio editing more than anecdotal? Does she have direct experience of the process? Has she conducted a covert "confessions of an audio producer" undercover investigation? It may be reasonable to assume that, because digital can be so readily edited, it MUST be happening but I really wonder how many studio jobs have 400-800 edits versus those with many fewer edits. I assume that the number of edits spans a huge range for commercial recordings. Bottom line - be careful not to paint with too broad a brush when dealing with anecdotal evidence.
But, they've always been able to do that.
If the engineer/s know the venue and how it changes with the size of the performing group, they can position a stereo pair very quickly. Or any other relatively simple array.
'Clarity' for home listening, might be 'improved', but fidelity can not be increased, by adding mikes.
Each time we add one capsule we add edge cancellations, timing problems, and timbre alterations. If we start with two capsules (stereo) and add just one capsule, we've got three extra edge cancellations. Timing problems and if it's a spot mike, timbral shifts.
Skeptical Measurer & Audio Scrounger
. . . and they're in agreement about the 400-800 (or more!) edits. In one case, our info was second-hand, since our friend talked directly to a producer of the company he records for. In another case, the producer (of another company - well known to audiophiles!) was a guest in our house, Madeline cornered him for a few minutes and he had to spill the beans! ;-)
I thought you gave up on ARG Chris.
But Madeline, being the strong and independent woman that she is, acted completely autonomously. I didn't know she had this activity going on, and I don't know how she ended up with ARG - I'll have to ask her. ;-)
Nah, and I've usually found their recommendations on the mark and their writing excellent.
I've never seen ANY recording with that info!
As someone who has utilized edits I can't imagine why an artist or producer would want a listener to know about it. The whole idea is to make edits so seamless that they go unnoticed.
Some object to the whole idea of edits, must somehow be dishonest.
Some Classical recordings are said to have hundreds.
As if you just waltz in, lay it down, and it's Miller Time.
Movies are Edited. Books, too.
I only care about the final product.
I never watch "How it's Done" type of thing, because I don't care.
I read that (one of) Cannonball's Solos on a record was from a completely different take!
Now THAT'S Editing, when you just can't tell.
Tempest in a Teapot to me.
Don't just rely on my summary. ;-)
Generally, like you, I don't have any problems with editing. OTOH, she loves live, unedited performances - we were just listening to a live performance from 1989 of the Mozart Clarinet Concerto and the Brahms Fourth Symphony with Vaclav Neumann and the VPO (not the CzPO). The clarinetist, Peter Schmidl (first clarinet in the VPO at that time), muffs a passage right near the beginning of the Mozart (probably from nerves, since the rest of the performance was fine). Madeline was absolutely thrilled to hear this, since, to her, it restored the human element to the music making! It's not so much that she wants to stamp out editing, but she would like more of a balance between edited and unedited performances. Read her editorial - she states it much better than I'm doing right now.
C'mon Chris, flubs restore the human element? Who wants to hear the same mistakes over and over every time ya listen to a recording? Does anyone go to a concert hoping to hear a pianist screw up the first 4 bars of a sonata so that it sounds more "human"? I doubt that clarinetist is "thrilled" to have his flub on that recording because it makes him sound "human".
If mistakes represent the human element why not write them in? Think how much more "human" pieces could sound. For variety you could write in a few blatantly wrong notes for the clarinet to be played on Monday's performance, on Tuesday the first trumpet could blat out a high C three bars early, on Wed. the 2nd bassoonist plays bars 120-128 instead of bars 110-118 and so on. Oh, the humanity!
I don't have personal experience with editing "classical" recordings, but if some things I've read are true I do think they've gone over the edge. Hundreds of edits in a single piece? If that really is done, to me that's nuts, and I can't see how it could be even remotely necessary. What orchestra is so lame that they'd require hundreds of edits in one piece? An orchestra and/or soloist that bad shouldn't be recording in the first place.
But sane and *judicious* use of editing/overdubbing to correct a few mistakes and/or improve a recording makes sense to me. Beginning section of a 2nd movement is too sluggish but everything else is good? Why would an artist/producer/conductor not want to correct that by recording that section again and editing it in seamlessly?
my opinions are based on my experience, not Madeline's Article, or your Summary.
It's the way it is, and I for one, don't really care how it's done.
If I have something to say on a particular subject, I'll say it.
I'll read it, but I'm just expressing my already held opinion.
Certainly one-shot Live recordings will appeal to Madeline more, but they are few and far-between.
In Movies, a scene may done over and over, until the actors are really into it.
The same can occur at recording sessions, and what is heard in the booth will reveal things the musicians aren't aware of, being off or out of tune, out of balance, which they will try to improve by further takes.
I would certainly object to the opinion that edits are somehow dishonest, tho.
But I have no Threshold of Excess in that regard.
Lots off things went wrong during my recent week with the SFS, you noticed the Clarinet squeak.
No way they would let that on an Album, tho. ( No Album was recorded that week of course ).
Perfection is so difficult.
On my personal recordings of groups I'm in, mistakes become part of whole, I just accept and kind listen around them, and the sting fades with time, become less important, instead of the Huge Problem they seem initially, especially on my own Pieces/Arrangements!
I will say that this isn't a subject I think about much.
If part of one take can be combined with part of another, they'll use that and move on to something else.
Getting it all in one take never happens, in my experience.
Jazz solos are often over-dubbed, the best one used or combined.
Probably Solo Piano Recordings would be the place to look for Complete Take albums.
But it might not be the first take-
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