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  1. #1

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    Now that I've gotten your attention!:

    When I made my solo recording (over a long period---Bobby Lenti, my recorder/producer, and I started in '09) we ended up doing a lot of editing. I know the inclination is to say that that's not honest---have the balls to keep the flubs in. There's truth to that, but for this project I came to view it a whole other way. And I don't recommend this way for anything other than a solo project. You'll be called selfish and fussy---and rightfully. (Just hope no guns are involved!).

    What I found: making a recording isn't really that different than composing. You write and rewrite, and sometimes, for the betterment---the smoothness, feeling, character of the piece---you leave your best ideas on the cutting room floor. They belong in another piece, they're in a different harmonic or rhythmic language---any number of reasons. You have to attune your ear to self-editing b/c you want the best---the leanest and most representative---to be the final cut. So the board or computer becomes your eraser and pencil. I feel like the best improvisers have an innate sense of self-editing. They know when a solo should wind down, when repetition has begun to set in. I know there are longer solos now, and sometimes it takes a while to get in a zone. That works (or could work when it's not boring) best live. Disclosure: I'm on the tight side, and not really into playing long solos myself---but that also ties in with what I'm discussing here.

    The other exciting aspect to this is that you listen back and do get ideas. A solo project is the perfect laboratory. It's composing. So you record again. Sometimes you goof, but it's all in the game and part of the learning process.

    I think if I do another solo project the content will be way different, but I will take the exact approach. If possible, do it with a friend in a home studio and edit/compose.

    That's all I got. Let's hear your thoughts...


    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
  3. #2

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    That is why Teo Marcero deserved a writing credit on those great Miles recordings where he editied the bejesus out of it...

  4. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by princeplanet
    That is why Teo Marcero deserved a writing credit on those great Miles recordings where he editied the bejesus out of it...
    Probably. Just like film editors...

  5. #4

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    Some folks look at producing a jazz record as capturing a moment in time, since jazz is in the moment. Rudy Van G did alright. Some might produce it by tracking things separately, using overdubs, editing. There's a digital recording technique called "comping" where you just keep continuously recording over a looping section of your choice, over and over until you get the perfect take, or enough to stitch parts together for the perfect solo, vocal, etc.

    I'm capable of playing all the instuments in a guitar, keyboard, bass, drums quartet. If I record all these instruments by myself for a quartet recording, is that jazz?? I think it's not honest, but I will not judge others who feel differently. Jazz shouldn't be perfect, it shouldn't be without risks. Except dinner jazz, or smoooth jazz.

    I know Joel was talking about editing solo guitar, but that is a small niche in the small niche that jazz is. If you can engineer your own stuff, there's no limit to the manipulation you can do...but Jazz? I suppose some fusion was produced like that. Interesting subject.

  6. #5
    Miles and Chet Baker---heavily edited. They weren't as 'smooth' as some others. If some things were 'fixed' after the fact is that not jazz? Not honest? I think it is. The moment, the feeling, the design are still there, just smoother. Sometimes there's no other options but to 'patch'---like Bill Evan's Loose Bloose date, where the musicians had a tough time with Bill's tunes. Many takes, many splices. There's a contract, and a record is made---one way or the other.

    Anyway, that's off-topic. I wasn't talking about looping---playing something over and over ad nauseum. There's many forms of composing, and improvising. Suppose you hear the two tracks back and you get a better idea, then put it in. To me that's listening, reacting, inventing. I wouldn't do it---couldn't do it with a band. I'd want the interaction, the spontaneity. But bouncing off yourself is different to me. If I just heard it and inserted it, it's fresh and new. I get the same exciting feeling as playing with a band and hearing something when it's my turn. And it's jazz. And you can always disclose in the notes about editing. I did.

    Having said all this, I'll still take live over studio any day. And recording live, f'-ups and all. Studio recording is a different game, and it's so much easier today than in the old days with razors and tape. Why not take advantage? It's composing, and still can be quite spontaneous...

  7. #6

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    if you ever heard the bill laswell remixes of miles electric era...(and he did a santana/mclaughlin remix as well) realize teo m was nothing...they (columbia records) recorded hours and hours of spontaneous miles jamming..and he pieced together segments...completely arbitrary

    there's something to be said about all approaches to recording..piecing together something note by note is just as valid as composed piece in one take....

    that's the magic of recording...why its like paint on canvas or poetica on's immortal..beyond now time..don't mistake it for live performance..two different distinct disciplines

    two different illusions


  8. #7
    Well said...

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by joelf
    Probably. Just like film editors...
    Sure, along with like the soundtrack composer / editor - the film editor is the unsung hero/genius that brings the illusion. They can make everybody else on the same project (not just actors) look good.

    Great Director + great Score + great Editor = great chance of creating Magic...

  10. #9

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    Whatever inspires a creative process in you is valid in my opinion. The only thing that matters to me is whether I like the music produced. I was listening to Kevin Eubanks "Angel" cd recently, the whole thing being acoustic guitars, with him playing over his pre-recorded tracks. Great music.

    Even with fixing something in the studio afterwards I have no problem with. Not everyone can afford endless hours of studio time, not every schedule can do it, not every player or band is stellar enough, or gigs enough to do perfect first takes. I would use whatever tools available.

    And the way people record today takes that into consideration. One rehearsal and you go into the studio, because if minor mistakes happen, they can be fixed.

  11. #10

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    I read somewhere that the classical guitar CDs recorded by the Naxos label typically have about a thousand edits each. It is not so much to correct mistakes (the players these days don’t make many), rather it is because they do several takes and find that each take has sections which sound musically/aesthetically better than the others. So they take all the best bits.

    I guess the aim is to produce the best possible listening experience for repeated listening, it’s a different approach to live playing.

    Even Julian Bream’s records had quite a few edits, back in the days of analogue tape it was a bit more obvious, you can often hear them.

  12. #11

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    I think in a video somewhere Joe Pass said all his recordings have mistakes in them, he couldn’t be bothered with multiple takes and edits etc., he just said ‘leave them all in!’

  13. #12
    Listen to Wes's recording of In Your Own Sweet Way. The razor wasn't sharp enough! There's an extra beat when the melody comes back in. That's jazz too.

    'Let's face it, that's how jazz was born. Someone goofed'---Art Blakey

  14. #13

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    Artists and audiences make their own choices.
    It may sound trite, but Ricky Nelson got it right in "Garden Party": "You can't please everyone so you got to please yourself."

  15. #14

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    I don’t equate recording jazz (or any other music) with performance, or anything else.

    If you've ever done a good amount of recording, you know that when that record button gets pressed, it is a whole different world. Sure, maybe you edited out a clam. However, it’s equally likely you edited out someone breathing too hard on an ending.

    Making records is a lot like making sausage. You probably don’t want to know the details, but in the end, it usually tastes alright.

  16. #15

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    ^Although, I did work in a sausage factory - now I know what goes into a good sausage and what to look for...!

    I used to firmly believe that a recording should be a single continuous take - I might allow dubs, but thought a live tracking session was the only way to go.

    Then I heard Steely Dan and gained insight into their methods through an obsessive interest - I even wrote my Methodology exam about the Steely Dan method, which I jokingly titled "Musical Chairs with Steely Dan" - and found out that there were no dogmas for good music.

    I think anyone would prefer a single continuous take, but as unlikely as it might have been then, I think it's even more unlikely today - the session player isn't what it was back in the day, studio players who played all day every day for a living. Of course they were better than I am now, but you need more of a multi-faceted musical personality and capacity to exist in the biz. I might not play as well at 24 as Larry or Lee did, but I also do piano sessions and can operate a recording studio and mix.

    Anyway, I'm going off... To argue the case FOR comping, I was doing sessions on piano earlier this week. I have VSTi's that'll fool even the most seasoned listener, but the session was a miked Steinway grand.
    For some reason, I was playing like absolute shit - no other word for it. My touch was unmusical and my time was so poor I'd've said to the MD "let's never call this guy again" had I been on the observing end.
    Thanks to the magic of comping, we could assemble a couple of solid piano tracks, though.

    To the OP's point of composing during the tracking proccess - yup. We all write score after we finish tracking the basics, right?

  17. #16

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    As some have already said, there's a difference between a live performance and a recording. However, one must ask: what is the creative process? An engineer in a studio who edits for gems and produces a final product that is disconnected with performance reality? Or, the whole carcass--guts and all. For me, it's the latter. Some of the greatest music recorded is unedited: live recordings of Bird, Hawk, Ben Webster, Louis Armstrong, Gene Ammons, Segovia, Narciso Yepes, Rubenstein, Horowitz, etc. that were recorded in clubs/concerts throughout the world. Are we recording the real world or are we recording an imaginative world of perfection? I play exclusively solo and have never performed without mistakes. Even pieces I have played for 30 or more years. But, that's the "in situ" reality of performance. It tells you there's a human being performing . . . not a musical robot of perfection.
    I once attended a Guitar Foundation of America seminar with a masterclass held by performer/composer Jorge Morel. The participants were playing his "Danza Brasilera" with a critique followed by Jorge. There wasn't one participant that didn't play the piece more accurately than Jorge who dropped many notes throughout his performance. However, there wasn't one participant that breathed life and animation into the music as Jorge did. So, the question is: Why do you play? What is real?
    Good playing . . . Marinero

  18. #17
    Jorge Morel! My teacher for a semester in '84 in the Kingsboro-Lehman Local 802 college program for working musicians. Great guy, though I'm sure I drove him bats---I playno fingerstyle, and no way did I even own a Spanish guitar. My teacher John Foca had his record...

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by joelf
    Jorge Morel! My teacher for a semester in '84 in the Kingsboro-Lehman Local 802 college program for working musicians. Great guy, though I'm sure I drove him bats---I playno fingerstyle, and no way did I even own a Spanish guitar. My teacher John Foca had his record...
    Lucky guy, Joel! I found Jorge a really thoughtful person and consummate musician/composer. We never, to my knowledge, had that opportunity for study in Chicago's 10-208 Musician's Union where I was a member for many years. I wonder if you could go back, would you be different? Good playing . . .Marinero

  20. #19
    Probably not. I had an interest in classical in my teens, studied for a little bit. I still have my book. But jazz had me by the throat pretty much by 17, no turning back. I guess I use my fingers in some hybrid way with the pick, but I am not any kind of fingerstyle player in any sense...

  21. #20
    I've been listening to some of the edits on Melody Messenger. Gotta admit I went a little edit-nutso. Shouldda left at least some alone.

    I call the (unwise, b/c unachievable) quest for perfection Chasing Lorelei---the Siren you can never catch, but never stop trying to. That's a good song title, and I will write one on that theme one day...

  22. #21

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    Other examples of editing and overdubbing that are definitely jazz would be some Armstrong records. In Plays Fats I think he sings backing vocals to himself (I did a double take the first time I heard it). Ambassador Satch too was famously Frankenstein-ed together from a myriad takes and had plenty of studio magic sprinkled on.

  23. #22

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    I've played/recorded for a few anal perfectionists, and it only reinforces my belief that perfect is the enemy of outstanding.

  24. #23

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    This topic has previously been discussed here. I think some of you are confusing performance with composition. I know that some of you think of improvisation as "composition on the fly", but even though it may be true in a certain perspective and even though composition is a creative process involving improvisation, still it's not the same thing in a wider sense.

    In pop music today, production and composition has become more or less the same thing. A "songwriter" is sometimes a person that came up with a short riff and some lyrics. But the song we hear on the radio is a result of editing and mixing using a DAW aka "production". The result is a soundscape, that too often cannot be reproduced in a live context. Especially when there are no harmonies or not even a melody. And especially when there are no human beings playing real instruments.

    Once in a while, there's (still) a traditional instrument part of the track. Even though it sometimes has a central role and even though it took twenty re-takes, it's not a "composition", rather an "arrangement", but most of the time just a rehearsed and memorized improvisation.

    Those of you that want to develop composition skills:

    Try not to use the DAW at all. Not until your composition is complete. Also try not to depend on vocals. It must be possible to perform the melody/theme/head using traditional instruments, otherwise it cannot really be regarded as a "composition". Also practice composing without depending on a drum machine pattern.

    Work on harmony, melody and song structure. When you can compose without a DAW, then you can use the DAW like a text editor, speeding up certain tasks. When you're done, leave shaping the soundscape (mixing, mastering, production) to someone else. It has nothing to do with composition, it just steals time you could spend composing your next song.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo
    I've played/recorded for a few anal perfectionists, and it only reinforces my belief that perfect is the enemy of outstanding.
    Wow! Great line, CG! Here's my take: to strive for perfection but realize that a human being is playing . . . not a machine. Otherwise, why do we need musicians at all? However, for the record, based on Joel's previous conversations/dialogues, my impression is that he is striving to do what we all do in some way-- trying to be the best we can be. That IS required to be a good artist. Good playing . . . Marinero

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by JCat
    This topic has previously been discussed here.
    It doesn't sound like you read the OP, it's not about composing per se, it's about editing a recording.