I've been working on a project for a while now that I've truly enjoyed working on. It's full of imperfection. I've felt so free as I've done it. It's simply a joy to work on. One of the best parts of it has been cutting backing vocals. As I've had various singers come in to cut parts, I've chosen more mature singers that remember what it was like before auto-tune and melodyne came into being. These folks are one-take wonders due to their experience and maturity. They actually take the time to learn the parts. They read music. They listen to the parts. They listen to the lead parts, and they work on their inflections to match the timing, tone and timbre of each nuance of each note and phrase from the lead parts. It's amazing to hear. There is no laziness to their skill sets and their discipline. There is a total commitment to excellence. And furthermore, their pitch and timing is excellent.
But still, they are not perfect. When I solo the lead vocal and the backing vocals, I hear imperfection in timing and pitch. It doesn't all lock up quite right. It's quite honestly, a touch tempting to load in melodyne into each track and just tighten things up a little, you know, to make it more... perfect. Now, mind you, I said it's "tempting" to do it. Fortunately, I have some ability to resist temptation. The older I get, the more I have the ability to do this. So, last night, as we were tracking a female backing vocal, we had a discussion about this. Actually, we weren't talking about fixing the tuning of the vocal, because the singer was nailing the pitch and timing. The discussing was about using melodyne in case we wanted to change the arrangement of the notes on a particular part. This would be known as being a lazy producer (me). Why would that be lazy of me to do this? Because that means I hadn't really thought things through before getting into the studio. That bothers me. OK, so yeah, that's a little confession here too. Maybe I miss that level of commitment to the production process too. Because back in the day, we really didn't have the choice of messing with things that much, did we? Well, we did, but it wasn't as easy, wasn't as quick, and candidly, it just didn't sound nearly as natural. But I'll still argue that it doesn't. Anyway, I digress... The singer I was working with almost threw a fit at the mere suggestion that I'd use Melodyne to "correct" the notes she was singing. She said, "can't you just have me retake any notes you might want me to change or redo?" I LOVED HEARING THIS!"
Truth is, I remember even only 5 years ago, singers would get so freaking mad if they knew you were tuning them. Their feelings were hurt. They were offended! Now, they stand over your shoulder and make sure you tune them, because they are all afraid that they might sound out of tune. Why? Because that's the new standard. Yeah, I know, we've all griped about auto-tune and Melodyne. So this is nothing new, right? Right. I get that.
So this is just me, saying, I really miss imperfection. And at least, on this project, I'm going to stick with imperfection, and I'm proud of that. And candidly, it's so freaking refreshing to work with mature, quality singers who know how to sing imperfectly, and to do it so freaking well that imperfection is amazing and beautiful.
Oh, and I'm also glad I won't be slaving over Melodyne for 30 hours on 12 tracks of vocals. Because that's just not all that much fun.
Now, if we can just get the kids, er, I mean the radio stations, er, I mean the record labels to start putting out music again... Oops, I mean artists.... er, I mean... Yeah, that's really what I mean.