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Re: Why contemporary music sounds terrible

I wholly agree with this, I believe a lot of today's
music is crap, not just because the talent is lacking,
but the dynamics as a whole is lacking.  Aside from
super compressed material, the bands themselves only
see to know two sounds, clean and dirty.  Where's the
middle ground?  I can listen to a blues song and still
hear the dynamics, I can hear the accentuations on the
notes being played to create emotion.  A lot of
today's pop and rock music lacks that.  Mind you,
Metal in all it's forms, isn't supposed to be dynamic
in the musical sense, but why would you squeeze the
life out of any song to make it in your face?  My
favorite stuff to listen to would be anything Jimmy
Page produced(Led Zeppelin for sure).  He composed his
songs and used the studio to enhance his material with
what he refers to "light and shade".  The combination
of close and room micing, soft versus loud and
layering acoustics with clean electrics and so on.  If
you think about it, even some of the heaviest sounding
stuff he did, wasn't all that distorted.  Ultimately,
his use of dynamics traslated over into the mastering
part as well, what makes the big parts sound big is
the small parts, thus making the song truly engulfing.
 Another band to use dynamics to it's fullest is Tool,
because of the ebb and flow, you can listen to an 8
minute tune and not get bored, because the shifts in
phrasing and dynamics keeps you there, and what's
more, everytime you listen to it, a new part pops up
you didn't realise was there before.  Anyway, I've
spoken what I think, so I have to agree, part of what
is annoying about today's music is the lack of
dynamics, it wears you out.
--- Krispen Hartung <khartung@cableone.net> wrote:

> This is an interesting article posted on the jazz
> guitar discussion group. 
> Jeff Kaiser and I had some interesting discussions
> about the abuses or 
> misgivings of compression and the quest for hotter
> levels in newer CDs when 
> I was mastering the discs for the Boise Experimental
> Music Festival....all 
> the different ways you can increase levels (for CDs
> to sound comparable to 
> other professional CDs in your player),  yet
> maintain natural dynamics, etc. 
> Now, it has occured to me that often times when I
> hear a CD, especially 
> pop/rock CDs, and I think to myself, wow that is a
> really hot and "in your 
> face" level", the mix also doesn't have much of a
> dynamic range...some guy 
> is screaming his lyrics, or you can tell that is is
> practically blowing his 
> brains out to get that tone out of his horn...but it
> is no louder than the 
> section where he is wispering poetry over an ambient
> section.  It's like 
> compress, compress, compress, limit, limit,
> limit....turn that wave form 
> into a solid bar, and then raise it to 0db...in your
> face, 100% of the time. 
> Below is the first time I've seen this referred to
> as exhausting, but it 
> makes sense. Even if you turn your stereo down,
> there might be something to 
> be said of giving the human pyche a break with
> natural dynamics and more 
> space. 
> etc, 
> etc.
> This article/topic, could I suppose turn into the
> discussion of the 
> pschological results/benefits of adding more space
> to one's compositions 
> (not making the composition "better" or "worse,"
> mind you).  Can adding more 
> space and natural dynamics put the human psche at
> ease? Is it more condusive 
> to generating natural emotive responses? (natural
> meaning those that one 
> might expect on the bell curve of a person, day to
> day).  Good questions. I 
> suppose part II of the article below could explore
> this: "Natural dynamics 
> in music and 'Horror of the Vacuum'."
> What would be hilarious, or maybe frightening, is if
> something happened to 
> our atmosphere, such that it added a form of
> compression and normalization 
> to 0db to all sound....imagine walking down the
> street, hearing a boy wisper 
> to his mother, a man scream at his dog, a
> streetworker jackhammering, cars 
> beeping, etc...but everything  never veered much
> from 0db....even the 
> ambience in the atmosphere (white noise) would be
> 0db. We might go insane. 
> :)
> I included some excerpts from the article below, as
> well.
> Kris
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> Everything Louder Than Everything Else: Have the
> loudness wars reached their 
> final battle?
> "You listen to these modern records, they're
> atrocious, they have sound all 
> over them. There's no definition of nothing, no
> vocal, no nothing, just 
> like - static."
> - Bob Dylan in Rolling Stone magazine
> "There's something . . . sinister in audio that is
> causing our listeners 
> fatigue and even pain while trying to enjoy their
> favorite music. It has 
> been propagated by A&R departments for the last
> eight years: The complete 
> abuse of compression in mastering (forced on the
> mastering engineers against 
> their will and better judgment)."
> "The mistaken belief that a 'super loud' record will
> sound better and 
> magically turn a song into a hit has caused most
> major label releases in the 
> past eight years to be an aural assault on the
> listener," Montrone's letter 
> continued. "Have you ever heard one of those test
> tones on TV when the 
> station is off the air? Notice how it becomes
> painfully annoying in a very 
> short time? That's essentially what you do to a song
> when you super compress 
> it. You eliminate all dynamics."
> For those already confused, Montrone was essentially
> saying that there are 
> millions of copies of CDs being released that are
> physically exhausting 
> listeners, most of whom probably don't know why
> their ears and brains are 
> feeling worn out.

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