HMHS 171 - Edginess Central (08/28/09)

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Re: HMHS 171 - Edginess Central (08/28/09)

Post by chckn8r » Wed Sep 02, 2009 1:09 pm

tonyoci wrote:GMH. One more thing. Edge is not big emotion, edge is hard to define and may even be the wrong word. Perhaps spark is the right word, just something in the song that makes in more than mundane.
Yeah, I've been mulling over the "edge" thing trying to nail down what an easy definition might be ... Not to put words in your mouth, but maybe it might be:

Edge ['ej] :noun: performing music so that your interpretation of the emotion of the song is prioritized over technical aspects such as strict adherance to beat and pitch.

Although having said that, I guess there's only really so far you can go with stretching beat and pitch before screwing up those absolutely screws up and negates any emotion you've attempted to infuse...
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Re: HMHS 171 - Edginess Central (08/28/09)

Post by tonyoci » Wed Sep 02, 2009 1:55 pm

It's almost there Dave but there's still something more, creative spark factor. For example a lot of songs meet the criteria you set but are still mundane and lack that spark that can come from any aspect of the song (performance, music, lyrics etc.)

+ the opposite. A song can have perfect pitch and beat but somehow still have an edge to it.
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Re: HMHS 171 - Edginess Central (08/28/09)

Post by ornaith » Wed Sep 02, 2009 4:05 pm

Defining "edge"= complex. As I understand it, what we seem to be getting at is the idea that a piece of music is successful at communicating some emotion or idea. Is it striking? Does it "speak" to the listener? Does it evoke something-- a feeling, a mood? (Some music successfully transmits a message: think of "Solidarity Forever," which is a brilliantly distilled, simplified account of anarchist-socialism; there are of course all too many examples of failure in that respect.) Does it communicate or evoke something quite particular to itself, something genuine and non-generic? Is it, as it were, utterly itself?
Sometimes it's impossible to verbalize what a given piece evokes or communicates-- music can do things that words can't. But it's usually quite clear when it has that quality and when it doesn't.
Music doesn't have to be loud or raw to have edge in this sense, depending on what it is striving to evoke or communicate. If I'm evoking wistfulness, for example, I can do a very edgy recording at home, whispering my vocals. But if I'm trying to get across what the guy from Slint was-- thanks, Zoetrope, for sharing the Youtube link-- it is very hard to get that sort of emotion at home. (It's not impossible in some styles, but for anything "rock" or of the post/math-rock ilk, very hard.)
Thus I wouldn't entirely share Grandma Melonhead's pessimism about serious recording, simply because of my particular style (in a tradition of rather understated indie/d.i.y. guitar pop). Having said that, there are certain songs I've written that I just wouldn't be able to attempt at home for these reasons. (Btw, the "th" in my name is pronounced. Kind of like saying ornithology just without the ology-- long story short, it's irish but an anglicized version, hence the th sound not being silent.)
Re: the Agiles, I started thinking about their LP silverburst because I think silverburst LPs look cool but there is no way I am going to spend the guts of 2 grand on a Gibson one. (Nor do I want to shell out 500 bucks for a copy, albeit an Epiphone and therefore quasi-Gibson one.) Then I started doing some research and the high regard out there in guitar-obsessives-land for these instruments (I'm specifically talking about the $200+ Agile LP copies) is pretty remarkable. I wouldn't usually consider buying before trying, but it seems a good bet for the money.
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Re: HMHS 171 - Edginess Central (08/28/09)

Post by tonyoci » Wed Sep 02, 2009 4:22 pm

You can return Rondo bought guitars
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Re: HMHS 171 - Edginess Central (08/28/09)

Post by chckn8r » Wed Sep 02, 2009 6:05 pm

tonyoci wrote:It's almost there Dave but there's still something more, creative spark factor. For example a lot of songs meet the criteria you set but are still mundane and lack that spark that can come from any aspect of the song (performance, music, lyrics etc.)
Tony, I think we're all getting to the heart of it and what has really been the argument of millions of music listeners over the centuries:

"Your music sucks and mine is awesome because ________".

What gives music an "edge" to one person might make it mundane for another.
ornaith wrote:Defining "edge"= complex. As I understand it, what we seem to be getting at is the idea that a piece of music is successful at communicating some emotion or idea.
Yeah - and going a bit further, emotion is interpreted by each listener differently.

Music being art, is a divergent communication form in that it doesn't really mean the same thing at the same time to any listener. To complicate it all, I'm thinking it's a huge balance of all you've listed (performance, music, lyrics etc.) coupled with the preferences of the listener.

For example, I love hearing Angela Hewitt play Bach, but can't really listen to more than five minutes of Wendy Carlos's rendition of some of the same pieces using Moog synthesizers - to me, it doesn't have the "edge". That's an obvious live performer/accoustic instrument versus old technology comparison.

But on a more live versus live comparison, I was really drawn into the Israel Kamakawiwo'ole rendition of Over the Rainbow (just voice and ukelele) and actually prefer it over Judy Garland's performance. Yeah, Judy has a phenomenal voice and all, but there's something about the simplicity of Israel's performance that got my vote.

And, I know others would disagree with me on both of those points, and that's cool, but it comes down to personal preference huh?

So, yeah, I agree with ya, there's more to add to the "dictionary definition", but I think it gets into the realm of nailing jello to a wall because it starts to get into encompassing personal likes and dislikes...

Nice can of worms you opened. Love the discussion!
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Re: HMHS 171 - Edginess Central (08/28/09)

Post by Dave King » Wed Sep 02, 2009 9:46 pm

Hey,

Just wanted to chime in and say that I really like the Small Boy song. As with many others here, it definitely reminded of Paul Simon while in his Graceland phase. Funny thing, I happened to watch the Graceland episode of Classic Albums on Sunday night. So Graceland was fresh in my mind. I really liked the feel of this tune with the syncopated guitar lines. I'd like to try and do something similar myself sometime. Great job!
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Re: HMHS 171 - Edginess Central (08/28/09)

Post by Gu Djin » Thu Sep 03, 2009 2:27 am

Edgyness again, It is probably indefineable in real terms, but there are some excellent discussions starting here. I think if it could be analysed and "bottled" the big record companies would have copyrighted it by now.

I like Daves example of "Over the Rainbow" - a good song, yet I've heard some dastardly versions over the years, never having heard of "Israel Kamakawwiw'ole version I can't comment - but I picked up Jeff Becks concert version on youtube - Now that has edge.

It takes a good song - an artist who sings and plays as though they mean it - and the right occasion - all that helps in that quality everyone seeks - but only few achieve.

Nice discussion.
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Re: HMHS 171 - Edginess Central (08/28/09)

Post by Grandma Melonhead » Thu Sep 03, 2009 5:49 am

Tony,

When you were first talking about edginess I was interpreting what you meant as "infused with energy" because to me that's what you can miss when recording everything yourself. But maybe youre talking about That Elusive Something Special. Maybe that ties in with what you were saying about how a lot of your own recordings arent interesting you enough to finish. I've been the same way lately. Most of my song germs over the past 2 years, while they have something, ultimately dont have enough to interest me in finishing them. It's pretty elusive trying to figure out why. I think a lot of it comes down to what resonates with you. You say you find it important to start a song with a good idea. Me, I almost never start a song with an idea. I usually just try to find an idea in what I've started. Perhaps thats why my "keeper" rate is so low. Its like I just keep pumping out ideas so that when I do have something to say the canvas is in place. Pre-gessoed.
It's also great fun to create all those little ditties. Its my favourite part of recording, really.

Ornaith,
Yes, I think I agree. If I was recording an acoustic album without drums, I'd be quite happy to do that at home.

----
Hey,
Something I've long been meaning to try in order to get a more felt vocal is to overdub without headphones. I just never could sing well with headphones. Theres a method I've read about that is supposed to work. You switch the phase of one of your monitors (this can be done within your DAW or by simply switching the 2 wires going into one speaker). Ensure that the speakers are equidistant from your cardioid microphone as well as facing the mics deadest spot (some angle to the back). Because your ears dont work like microphones you will be able to hear the music but to the mic it will be largely cancelled. There will be a little "bleed" but faint. Of course, dont monitor the live mic thru the speakers.

Has anyone tried this?
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Re: HMHS 171 - Edginess Central (08/28/09)

Post by chckn8r » Thu Sep 03, 2009 9:21 am

Grandma Melonhead wrote:Theres a method I've read about that is supposed to work. You switch the phase of one of your monitors (this can be done within your DAW or by simply switching the 2 wires going into one speaker). Ensure that the speakers are equidistant from your cardioid microphone as well as facing the mics deadest spot (some angle to the back). Because your ears dont work like microphones you will be able to hear the music but to the mic it will be largely cancelled. There will be a little "bleed" but faint. Of course, dont monitor the live mic thru the speakers.

Has anyone tried this?
I tried it a while back with some limited success. I thought it'd be good to be able to sing/perform along with something and actually "feel" the music too. I'm assuming you need a fairly dead room to do this in as any 1st reflections will re-invert the phase back to normal and combine again (with a bit of delay) to "un-cancel" the original signal.

----- EDIT -----

Oh yeah, forgot that the signal going to each monitor needs to be in mono for it to work.
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Re: HMHS 171 - Edginess Central (08/28/09)

Post by Grandma Melonhead » Thu Sep 03, 2009 3:44 pm

Thanks, chckn8r. I forgot to mention that it needed to be in mono to work. So what was limited about your success? Was it that the signal from the speakers was too loud in your mic, or was it that it wasnt as nice as you thought singing in the room without headphones?
chckn8r wrote: Can't wait for the next GMH tune - love the stuff you do!
Thanks very much!

You wont have to wait long cause I plan to launch my new-song-a-week site later this month.
Details to follow.
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Re: HMHS 171 - Edginess Central (08/28/09)

Post by chckn8r » Thu Sep 03, 2009 4:19 pm

Grandma Melonhead wrote:Thanks, chckn8r. I forgot to mention that it needed to be in mono to work. So what was limited about your success? Was it that the signal from the speakers was too loud in your mic, or was it that it wasnt as nice as you thought singing in the room without headphones?
Yeah - it was really the bleed into the mic that screwed it all up - it was notably softer than if the two speakers were in phase, but it still was significant enough to intrude - at least in my space ... I have a bit of work to actually tame my room for tracking accoustic instruments.

I think it might be a cool technique if you have one mic and a lot of people who need to hear the tracks ... but you don't have enough headphones to go around.
Grandma Melonhead wrote:You wont have to wait long cause I plan to launch my new-song-a-week site later this month.
Details to follow.
Cool! I was entertaining that idea after I read about Jonathan Coulton in EM (I think it was EM). Looking forward to it.
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Re: HMHS 171 - Edginess Central (08/28/09)

Post by ferret » Sat Sep 05, 2009 6:28 am

Interesting discussion about the meaning of edge. I have always equated it with words like:

brittleness
discomfort
menace
jitteriness
fraying nerves
restlessness
spikiness

In fact just how I feel at the end of a week on a wet camp-site with the kids. Should have taken a guitar....

Morrissey does edge in spades. Tarantino makes edgy movies and uses edgy music a lot, such as with his brilliant juxtaposition in Inglourious Basterds of a blonde in a red cocktail dress against a swastika flag backdrop with Putting Out Fire by David Bowie: the purest distillation of edge.
Cheers,
Tim
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Re: HMHS 171 - Edginess Central (08/28/09)

Post by CharlieWardick » Sun Sep 06, 2009 1:37 am

Hello. I have been away from the forum for a long time. Glad the show was not about U2. Came back on a good week. Format of the show seems to have changed bit. Liked the dialog, the songs, but not music comedy thing too much.

Yeah you can polish the edge right out of most things. Turn it right into a boring mundane thing. I don't quantize, pitch correct or ....... well whatever that 3rd thing was I don't do it either. Well hopefully I don't disppear into oblivion again. Got me a new show to go listen too....

Cheers.
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Re: HMHS 171 - Edginess Central (08/28/09)

Post by Kerry Penley » Wed Sep 09, 2009 9:40 pm

Hey, I've been following the show consistantly for about the last dozen shows (since I've graduated from dial-up to high-speed internet).

"Freedom" is a very enjoyable song, has sort of a hippy/meditative vibe to it for me (the vocal made me think Crash Test Dummies a litte bit), there needs to be more baritones in pop music.

"Very Small Boy" I heard the Paul Simon/Graceland similarity also, very impressive all around.

"Tiny Pieces" Thanks for playing the song and the kind words. I've heard the song hundreds of times and never connected the "broken glass" to the "tiny pieces"...I might should have sent in a higher bit rate than 128 kbps (I still have a dial-up mentality), the song seems to be a bit cleaner sounding on soundclick (maybe my imagination). Is there an ideal bitrate in which to send in songs to the show? I did use Cakewalk Pyro 2004 to record the song (from a tape player) into my computer.

Edginess...I can't really add to what has been said. I would probably go with it being in the ear of hearer. I remember someone giving me a Flaming Lips CD to listen to and thinking it was chaos (this was like 10-15 years ago, the CD had the song "She Don't Use Jelly" on it). A song that came up in a conversation recently was "Getchoo" by Weezer, I think it is an "edgy" song, it's very emotional without being overly techniqually sloppy/out of time.

I enjoyed the Tim Hawkins bit and listened to the song on youtube about what you shouldn't say to your wife. I liked the short comedy bits that you used to sprinkle into the show ("I was abuse, musically, as a child")

I'm not sophisticated about guitars at all, I mosty want to just be able to get it in tune.

P.S. I know this is old news now (Sept. 20) but I was disappointed in the sound quality of "Tiny Pieces" ...I've concluded that I'd tweaked it too much (basicaly made the sound quality worse instead of better)... I put up an older "master" version on soundclick.com that sounds cleaner if anyone is interested in hearing it. The artist name is "Twanger"
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