Recording Jargon

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RAGUS
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Recording Jargon

Postby RAGUS » Fri Oct 08, 2010 6:47 am UTC

Producing, mixing, remixing, mastering, engineering, etc...

I've been in the audio industry my whole life, I was raised by an audio engineer that still tours the world to this day, and I currently run a mid-sized recording studio in Dallas.

These words, and so many other audio related words, piss me off constantly.
Or more, their varied and unspecific usage.


"No, making beats for people to rap over does not make you a producer"


Are their any other musicians or techies that get irritated by this crap? And furthermore, can anyone provide what they think the concrete meanings of these and other words might be?
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Re: Recording Jargon

Postby SurgicalSteel » Fri Oct 08, 2010 7:18 am UTC

Why don't you tell us what you think they mean. Just going off your one half-example: I see no reason to not call someone who creates the beat for a hip-hop song a producer.
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Re: Recording Jargon

Postby Dream » Fri Oct 08, 2010 8:58 am UTC

I'd have said that mastering and engineering have very specific, well defined meanings. One is physically capturing sound and manipulating it, the other is tailoring finished recordings to specific media. Both can be done creatively or purely technically, but the skills and processes are the same all over.

Producing, mixing and remixing are ephemeral terms that by their nature don't have a well defined meaning. Brian Eno, John Cale and Conny Plank are all producers, and all define their roles very (very) differently. The term has to cover all that plus far, far more. Same goes for mixing and mix engineering.

So basically a dictionary style definition of the first two is quite possible, but the last three are necessarily non-specific. I personally don't get worked up over it. I make music with computers, and I jut call myself a computer musician, because that avoids the "producer" tag, and covers performance and composition also, and can even be extended to programming. Mixing is something I do to my finished work, but I'm not a mix engineer.

Nice to see a recording studio person about.
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Re: Recording Jargon

Postby Роберт » Fri Oct 08, 2010 3:18 pm UTC

Producer has become fairly meaningless, because it is a vague term, but I'm not sure I would say it's technically incorrect to call oneself a producer in the example you mentioned.
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Re: Recording Jargon

Postby SurgicalSteel » Fri Oct 08, 2010 5:09 pm UTC

I don't think producer is meaningless, or rather, it's not meaningless in context. If someone just says "I'm a producer!" yea, that's kind of meaningless because that could mean just about anything. But if someone says "I'm a hip-hop producer" or "I'm a theater producer" or "I'm a movie producer" I can be pretty sure what each of those people does.
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Re: Recording Jargon

Postby RAGUS » Fri Oct 08, 2010 6:26 pm UTC

SurgicalSteel wrote:I don't think producer is meaningless, or rather, it's not meaningless in context. If someone just says "I'm a producer!" yea, that's kind of meaningless because that could mean just about anything. But if someone says "I'm a hip-hop producer" or "I'm a theater producer" or "I'm a movie producer" I can be pretty sure what each of those people does.



Yeah, I think thats the main source of my irritation. So often when my line of work gets mentioned in conversation someone within earshot will pipe up "Your run a studio? Thats cool, i'm a producer!" without any context of any kind; and my skin crawls a little bit cause I know the conversation i'm about to have has a 95% chance of being really, really dumb.

Also i've been kinda burned a few times attempting to work with hip hop "producers", who were always the quickest to spout the "p" word, so i'm kinda conditioned to key off of it in a negative way.
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Re: Recording Jargon

Postby psykx » Wed Oct 13, 2010 10:12 am UTC

when you say you got burned what do you mean? Because really if they produce music they can call themselves a producer legitimately, obviously that doesn't infer the level of experience or knowledge you expect, but they are still producers in a loose sense of the word.
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Re: Recording Jargon

Postby Midnight » Wed Oct 13, 2010 10:24 pm UTC

Yeah but you're not really a producer, in my opinion, if you buy your beats from someone else and just drop the loop in FL studio and have someone rap over it, then hit render.
I've seen it, though.
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Re: Recording Jargon

Postby SecondTalon » Thu Oct 14, 2010 9:20 pm UTC

psykx wrote:when you say you got burned what do you mean? Because really if they produce music they can call themselves a producer legitimately, obviously that doesn't infer the level of experience or knowledge you expect, but they are still producers in a loose sense of the word.

Just hazarding a guess here.. that it's like photography. There's Photographers, and then there's assholes with nice cameras who charge people money to take pictures. So there's probably Music Producers... and people who do that thing Midnight said, or something suitably similar for other musical genres.
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Re: Recording Jargon

Postby psykx » Fri Oct 15, 2010 9:13 am UTC

Midnight wrote:Yeah but you're not really a producer, in my opinion, if you buy your beats from someone else and just drop the loop in FL studio and have someone rap over it, then hit render.
I've seen it, though.

I've never really come across this kind of thing. I would say they were not a producer, but mostly because they haven't actually produced anything it's all other peoples work. I'm actually surprised you buy beats like that.
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Re: Recording Jargon

Postby Dream » Fri Oct 15, 2010 11:34 am UTC

SecondTalon wrote:There's Photographers, and then there's assholes with nice cameras who charge people money to take pictures. So there's probably Music Producers... and people who do that thing Midnight said, or something suitably similar for other musical genres.

That's the truth, but not all of it. There's a third category in producing: People who are highly creative, artistic musicians, but who only know how to use a narrowly defined, usually modern computer based, technique. They're still producing, i.e. they are creating whole-cloth record version of someone's (or their own) song or rap. But when they arrive in a professional studio, they don't so much as know where to hang their hat, let alone how to use the equipment properly. Now, this knowledge isn't expected of other recording artists, and I think it is only the semantic confusion that means it is expected of hip-hop producers. These guys just need to know how to sample and sequence, just like a guitarist only needs to know how to play the guitar.* So I find it a little patronising that people like RAGUS have the attitudes they do. It's like this. Any studio staff will have been "burned" by all kinds of clients showing up and wasting their time due to lack of knowledge, skill or bad attitudes. But for some reason, hip hop people are singled out.

*In fact, to take the metaphor further, the guitarist wouldn't be any less a guitarist if they didn't play acoustic well, but only electric. The hip hop producer on the other hand is suspect if they only use and know certain techniques.
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Re: Recording Jargon

Postby Midnight » Mon Oct 18, 2010 11:49 pm UTC

Yeah but if a guy can't play guitar he isn't a guitarist. If he calls himself a guitarist, he's a joke.
But if a guy is doing what I said (prepackaged loops into whatever daw you want, no creativity involved), they aren't called out for their lack of skills, because it's a different (and altogether lamer) definition of producer. Because of the narrowness of the requirements, you don't need skills of microphone placement or room treatment, you just need drag-and-drop. They're still producing the music, but they're not producers in the classical sense, eh?
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Re: Recording Jargon

Postby Dream » Tue Oct 19, 2010 12:08 am UTC

Midnight wrote:Because of the narrowness of the requirements, you don't need skills of microphone placement or room treatment, you just need drag-and-drop. They're still producing the music, but they're not producers in the classical sense, eh?

Of course not, but then a person who rocks up to a studio with a guitar they can barely play and a few half-written songs is in a very similar situation. But the difference is that if they managed to record something they'd be a bona fide singer-songwriter, albeit a rubbish one. They have the ear and the creativity, but not the talent. The hip hop guy in the same boat is prevented from using the term "producer" because they aren't a completely different kind of producer and couldn't be if they tried.

I think if you can produce something good, you get the benefit of the doubt, regardless of whether you actually know anything about how it's done. Like the guitarist: it doesn't take a lot of talent to play like the Ramones, so do guitar players in the Ramones not get to refer to themselves as guitarists?
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Re: Recording Jargon

Postby Midnight » Tue Oct 19, 2010 3:36 am UTC

No I'm saying they CAN and DO, but us snobbish "real" guitarists/producers will still be angry that they're sullying our good name.
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Re: Recording Jargon

Postby poxic » Tue Oct 19, 2010 3:49 am UTC

I can't resist asking a question that compares to the visual art world. Is a small child who happily spends two minutes on a canvas, splashing around with joy, an artist? Yes, absolutely, and perhaps the most unsullied form of artist that can exist. Can you call that child a craftsperson? No. The child hasn't learned the particular skills expected of a culturally educated craftsperson-artist.

What is the equivalent in music recording? Someone who intuitively understands what sounds good, but doesn't have the skill to make it happen? Is it at all similar to a "producer" not quite being a producer-without-quotes? Or am I woefully off track?
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Re: Recording Jargon

Postby Midnight » Wed Oct 20, 2010 5:07 am UTC

Similar, yeah. I can paint. I've painted. There are paintings of mine in my house.
But I'm not a painter and I don't call myself a painter.

By the same token, Thom Yorke has said that he can't read music. Doesn't make him not-a-musician... he'd just be a pretty bad session musician. You wouldn't hire him to do backing guitar on your jazz record. You would, however, ask him to do lead everything on your Radiohead record.
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Re: Recording Jargon

Postby psykx » Wed Oct 20, 2010 9:24 am UTC

I've had a similar discussion about climbing, at what point do you become a "climber" rather than "someone who climbs" the consensus was it was when you let it become a major driving force of your life, rather than the amount of time you spend doing it. Also from my perspective a producer is someone who produces electronic music (hiphop, techno whatever), a mix engineer is who you meet in a studio who mix's your tracks. On the (awesome) forum gearslutz a whole lot of professionals use the latter term.
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Re: Recording Jargon

Postby Dream » Wed Oct 20, 2010 3:46 pm UTC

I think it's up to individuals to add any qualifications necessary to self descriptive terms they use. If someone calls themselves a cyclist, it's not for me to decide if they fit the stereotype of a commuter better than a downhill mountain biker or a long haul holiday tourist. My little brother is a guitarist, in the serious sense of the word. I don't know if he would fit many descriptions of a cyclist, but he cycled from Dublin to Budapest once, and commutes by bike. He's welcome to call himself a cyclist and pay no attention to someone who tries to exclude him from the definition by raising the bar of admittance. The corollary to that is if he's in the company of racing cyclists, he should probably make clear that that's not what he means if he calls himself a cyclist. But he doesn't lose the use of hte term just because there are others to whom it means something else.
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Re: Recording Jargon

Postby Роберт » Wed Oct 20, 2010 4:44 pm UTC

And if a bunch of people call themselves cyclists if they know how to ride a bicycle, then people who want to distinguish that they actually own one and use it often will probably want to start using another word. Similar to how producers probably will want to elaborate what they do (unless they don't do anything that sounds good).

So basically, I agree with Dream, but I see how it could be irritating to someone.
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