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Pauline Lerner

I Love Live Music

February 11, 2010 at 12:11 AM

I know that when small groups, at least small groups of folk musicians, record a piece of music in the studio, they generally don't do it by playing together. One person at a time records his or her track, listening to the other musicians' tracks on headphones. This seemed strange to me, so I asked one performer about it. Her response was a fervent defense of this recording method. She said that you really do sound better when you play this way. She sings and plays the guitar, and she records her singing and her guitar playing separately. I was skeptical about that because I believe that singing and playing flow from the same feelings at the same time. The performer insisted that the results are better when she records voice and guitar separately.

I've heard other opinions on the subject. One time at a folk festival I heard a group of musicians playing live together. I have some of their studio recordings, and I enjoy listening to them, but hearing them in person was more exciting. When the group had finished their set, one of the musicians said, "This has been so much fun. We so rarely get to play together.  We play one at a time in the recording studio." `

Emmylou Harris has commented on the same subject. If you listen hard, you can hear her voice very softly during a break between songs on the recording "Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Vol. 2." She says something like, "Years ago, I was sitting in the living room making music with friends, and I decided that music and making music are what my life is about. I think over the years we've all gotten a little too technical, a little too hung up on playing perfectly, and we've lost the feel of the living room. Right now, I feel we've got the living room back in our music."

By sheer coincidence, the subject of this weekend's vote was live music played by one of today's artists vs. favorite recordings from the past vs. new recordings. Several people, including me, said that we love live concerts, but we are also glad that we have recordings to listen.

Just for fun, I'll show you a performance that I could not possibly have heard live, but that I love hearing on a recording.


From Jeff Terflinger
Posted on February 11, 2010 at 5:32 PM

I personaly think this is the result of  "Record Producers"  It gives the them the chance to play with their toys, and they can control the musicians.

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