Ethics of Patching Recordings
Hello everyone! I am Jasmine Ong, a student of School of the Arts, Singapore (SOTA). One of my school projects is called a Reflective Project and requires me to research on an ethical topic in my art form. As such, I am investigating the ethics of patching concert recordings before their release labelled as “live”. Patching refers to the use of a clip not from the concert being edited on to the original track.
I hope to collect different viewpoints from the music community such as audiences, performers and music businesses/businessmen. So I’m opening the discussion floor to you, let me know which category you fall under and what are your thoughts on the issue!
And if you feel like it, here are some questions you could help me tackle!
Is it really an issue? Should we really be discussing it?
Should the word “live” be taken as “actually playing an instrument” or “from a concert”?
What is the purpose of a “live” recording?
Is it possible with current technology for anyone to claim they can accurately reproduce a “live” performance in a recording? If not, do you think we should still attempt to do so to the best of our abilities?
Do you think the practice of patching can be likened to that of photoshopping pictures in magazines? Why or why not? Also, are there any differences in how audiences react to the two practices? Again, why or why not?
What percent of audiences do you think are aware of the practice of patching? Should it matter?
[Feel free to request for anonymity! You can also leave a comment but request that it not be used in my research. Also, use of the responses will only be in my research paper which will not be published.]
I know for a fact that this is often done on professional recordings. I was in the audience for the San Francisco Symphony (and combined choruses) third (and final) performance and recording of their Emmy-winning Mahler 8th Symphony. And immediately after the performance the entire audience was asked to remain in place while they replayed to "patch" a measure or two that had been a problem (coughs, etc.) in all three performances/recordings.
Doesn't it depends on how it's marketed?
Patching/lying elevated to an art form:
Ughh internet issues.
I think that your approach to patching might stem from how you view the product you are buying. Are you buying the music for the performance aspect, or are you looking at it as more of a produced work of art, like a painting? Surely, you wouldn't get mad at a painter for not completing the painting in one go, unless you are interested in watching the painter paint.
My understanding is that patching is extensively done in studio recordings to satisfy customers' demand for "perfect performance". My guess is that the "live" recordings go through at least some patching process to beautify the final product. Nobody likes listening to someone's cough during the live performance. Everybody will loathe it if they have to repeatedly listen.
XD yeah him singing made me go crazy.
Following on from Jeewon's post, it's worth looking up "Joyce Hatto" on Wikipedia.
I think editing is an art form in and of itself. With all of the effects and patching techniques available to us now, the possibilities are endless. However, I think the issue lies in that we haven't come up with a term for recorded music to distinguish it from live music. Just as theater is live acting, while film is recorded acting, and painting is live visual art, while animation is recorded to an extent, we have no such distinction for music, and consider it all to fall under the same umbrella regardless.
I suspect that one of the reasons that orchestras sometimes make recordings live now is that it's the only way that they can do it -- they do not otherwise have the budget to record. It makes perfect sense for them to do just enough patching there to avoid unfortunate flaws (like an audience-member coughing).
In my opinion, a live recording is ideally a video recording, which shows the musicians playing and reacting to the music. Perhaps a video can be patched but not as easily as an audio-only recording.
To be absolutely ethical, why not label it "Live, patching only when essential"? or even "Live, with 3 absolutely essential patches"?
I don't have a problem with it but I guess it depends how extensive it is. Patching a soft spot because someone was retching in the front row of the audience or the Principal Second's bridge collapsed (sounds like gunfire, I saw that happen once) just makes sense. Nobody wants to hear those things again and again when they listen to an album.
-_- i don't care :D. I'm young and my English prowess is not the topic here.
Vladimir Horowitz did it too. It doesn't bother me. From a standpoint of ethics and accuracy it would be ideal to say somewhere on the recording that some patching was done.
Ahmed, prithee wilt thou shew us of thy verse in ye olde English tongue?
I believe most live recordings have, in the liner notes, a statement about what dates the recording was made. There are normally several dates given there, which is a subtle way of indicating that splicing was done.
I never noticed that, Lydia, now I will start looking. However, if they pulled a complete movement from one day and another complete movement from a different day, I have no problem with that, and we can't really tell the difference between that and patching if they don't say so explicitly. So, they should fully disclose for the sake of musical ethics.
Can we just work with the premise that all recordings are edited in some way, no matter how small? Even relatively unobtrusive things like normalizing the signal and cleaning up white noise are still considered "editing."
Ethically I think you could do much worse than modify a recording to make it sound better or remove extraneous noises.
There are truly live, unaltered recordings out there -- typically radio broadcast tapes of performances. If you listen to them, at some point in time the mistakes and audio interruptions will probably bother you. They may bother you a lot, over time. My annoyance at these tend to increase the more I hear the recording.
The ethical issue comes with the assumption that "live recording" also means "un-altered", which isn't necessarily true. Conversely does "studio recording" assumes there were alterations?
Even for a studio recording, I think there are ethical issues about editing something so much that it makes a better impression than what you can do on a good day.
I don't know. For my money, there is no greater recording of the Bartok 2nd Violin Concerto than the very much live premiere with Zoltan Szekely, the works dedicatee, playing. There are a couple pretty glaring errors, maybe it's just the beauty of Szekely's playing in general, but I think there is a certain magic to it that I doubt you could capture in the studio. I guess I could see the hiss and a few wrong notes turning people off, but if I listen past that, I get a lot of insight. And this is neither here nor there, but it's almost as if he plays it like beautiful music (an example many modern performances would be good to follow, although maybe the pendulum is swinging back a bit).
My violin teacher is the violinist in a well-established 4-piece folk band (Spiro), which is no stranger to the recording studio, radio and television.
I met a recording engineer who related that a studio recording of a mediochre band had some success, due to mixed-in audiencd noise and applause from a totally unrelated concert!
Although even the best musicians can make mistakes, the difference in recording experienced players and those not as experienced is night and day.I should know, I'm in the second category :-) A violin with mediocre tone, A player who's still learning. That's not a good combination.
"But before we go shock horror at the 50s, what about pre-Romantic husbands publishing their wives' compositions as their own (Something Henry VIII was not guilty of, but Bach might have been - Which one of these is more likely to be in Heaven?)?"
In an amateur performance of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, Dido had a marked tendency to sing sharp. This rendered the final aria inaudible, and when I made cassettes for family or friends from the private LP recording, I simply left out the aria.
Melodyne is pretty much the industry standard right now. I have had great results with it as well.There are others out there, but none so accurate and feature rich.
Earlier comments about a "retake" after a live performance reminds me of a BBC concert recording where we had to ask the audience to bear with us while we redid a passage due to "technical problems".
There is a fantastic disc of cellist Jacqueline Dupré playing the Elgar concerto with Barenboim conducting: It is an assembly from two successive live concerts. Her first disc with Barberololi is magical, but here she sounds like Rostropovich!