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Is there a golden period for recording and instrument sound?

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  • Is there a golden period for recording and instrument sound?

    Edit: added link to the previous, related thread.

    This is similar to a previous thread of mine, "do you have a favorite year or period". This time however, in addition to the artistic and creative merits of the music in question, I wonder whether you thing similarly about certain years having a sound unparallelled before or after. The most obvious reason being the analogue recording technique, and its accompanying vinyl culture. To me, especially the late 1960s and early 1970s, and maybe 1960s and 1970s in a wider sense, have countless instruments I love that are mainly tied to that period. Interestingly, this seems to fall together with greater creativity in the recording industry as well! Certain organs, certain guitars, Fender Rhodes, wah-wah pedal, etc. Mysteriously the percussion also sounds better than before or ever after. I have noticed that I'm more tolerant of less inspiring or exciting music if the general sound is right. Some Easy Listening already sounded cheap from 1975 onwards, in fusion fake strings appeared about 1974, but other albums still sounded great in 1977, even though less frequently. Fittingly, I think the early 1970s Fender Rhodes is superior to the mid- to late-1970s one, the latter sounding a little bit higher and a little bit more artificial. After that, however, things went rapidly downhill in my opinion. Friends and acquaintances could never grasp why I'm positively glued to this period, having something of a second live there, including other aspects of popular culture.

    What's your own view on this?

    Below, I'm gonna give you some examples of high and low points. Note that I only want to stress the instrumental / recording sound in this context, even though it's also good music. Please reload the page, as I'm going to add more sound examples to this top post for better cohesion ;-)



    1977. The sound at the beginning... OMG... Could have been early 1970s, if you ask me. Absolutely flawless. Pure killah.




    Great guitar at 1:06. Appeared in recordings around 1968.




    Other great guitar at 1:05. Appeared in the early 1970s?




    Many Easy Listening albums sounded already cheap by 1979.
    Last edited by digdeeper; 19-08-2016, 10:42 PM.
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  • #2
    The Barbara Moore brings to mind her vocals on this De Wolfe from 1976, starting from about 1:30. I'm yet to hear another massed vocal so clearly recorded, though this may be partly from her talent in shaping tone.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCeDJtUvb0k

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    • #3
      A short and rather glib answer, but taste is age and exposure-related surely? It surely follows that any discussion of a 'golden period' of sound is relative and inevitably linked to experience.

      YouTube comments on the soundtracks to old Nintento / PlayStation games supports this. People admit to being tearful hearing the isolated soundtracks of games they played as children.

      Kind of related: Sean Street's - Memory of Sound (2015) is a fascinating read on the relationship between sound and memory, and has just been published in paperback. I can't recall the exact details off the top of my head, but he recounts a story about war veterans being taken out of their nursing homes for a day in Bournenouth to see an air show and how one veteran had to be whisked away sharpish when the sound of a particular aircraft from a fly past emotionally demolished him....
      <<Soul Strut 100>>Collectable CDs 1 Forumusic: April 2014 Collectable CDs 2<<'95 WOF>>

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      • #4
        I'll hazard a guess from the clips you've posted that you are aged between 45 and 55?
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        • #5
          Up until recently I hated digital recreations of classic keyboard sounds and I still do to a point but there are some synth sounds digital synth sounds from top line synths from the 80's I recently reassessed and appreciate more albeit I hated them at the time. I'm a child of the 80's so I love 8-bit sounds through to early 16 bit GM sounds. Some sounds are just timeless in my opinion like the Fender Rhodes, Hohner Clavinet, Hammond B3 the almost toy like sound of a Farfisa or Wurlitzer Organ but I reckon Ian is right it is an age thing.

          I've only in the last few years begun to appreciate a good string arrangement but that's probably down to my tastes straying to times beyond 1965. Worth bearing in mind production is constantly changing you often hear about everything being overly compressed these days but in the eighties everyone was talking about gated reverb on drums in the 90's listening back to some albums they sound weak in terms of punch to me now although at the time I thought they were great. The money isn't there these days to put the time and effort into producing an album. I'm not a fan but I listened to a documentary on Radio 4 about the making of 'Bat out of Hell' and the production of it is mind blowing in the amount of things that have gone into making that album sound as it does.

          As Ian alludes people 5 years older than me will be nostalgic for the sounds of the Playstation and XBOX one. I once had a discussion with someone about a jazz musician using a Kawai of some form to recreate a classic Hammond sound his argument was that times move on that's what he's doing now, he's evolving, accept it, that's how things should be. I was rather taken aback and disagreed quite vehemently at the time, why not bring on a Hammond B3 was my opinion. I look back and think I was wrong and he was right. No Nord Electro then which would have done a much better job of recreating that sound but I listen now and think actually you know it is what it is and as it dates it sounds better to my ears.
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          • #6
            Anytime that Enoch Light was making and producing records.
            SPIRIT DUPLICATOR Est 2015.

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            • #7
              Thinking about string arrangements the last album that blew me away in that respect was 'Oscar Peterson - Motions and Emotions'. Claus Ogerman did the strings and they sound lush, quick look up shows its 1969. Then I think of something later that I've known for years 'Mahavishnu Orchestra - Apocalyspse' produced by George Martin 1974 or 1975 maybe later I forget but man could he produce an orchestra, clear as crystal.
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              • #8
                My father-in-law did classical and orchestral recording and broadcasting from the early 60s through to the 2000s for the BBC, Deutsche, Phillips etc. He'd insist 65-75 was the golden age of recorded sound, in terms of faithful reproduction although he was mostly working with voice and acoustic instruments. He's tech-savvy and surprisingly with it when it comes to modern kit but he's adamant that the equipment and techniques developed back haven't been bettered.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Diskos View Post


                  Many Easy Listening albums sounded already cheap by 1979.
                  Frank is unwittingly playing his own death knell.

                  Manilow's masterful arrangement blended cabaret cha-cha sounds with disco elements, cleverly echoing the Copacabana's descent from live music venue where Lola would merengue to a disco, avoided by Lola who stays at home mourning her looks, her Tony AND. HER. MIND.

                  Disco itself developed slicker, synthier, sparser arrangements, which is where i feel most at home. about 79-83
                  Vardy.....¬°¬°¬°PELIGRO!!!

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Ian Townsend View Post
                    I'll hazard a guess from the clips you've posted that you are aged between 45 and 55?
                    I think I can disprove your theory on my part... I'm 31 and I only started listening regularly to this period from 2000 by the earliest... To me, pre-1960 sounded ah... clanking? clattering? like an old phonograph, not technically enough, not smooth enough. From the late 1970s onwards starts the Plastic Age with synthesizers and stuff, later Computer Age with a sound too clean, too exact compared to the period we're talking about here. It's not a 100% rule of course, but I wanted to make myself as clear as possible.

                    Originally posted by peretti View Post
                    My father-in-law did classical and orchestral recording and broadcasting from the early 60s through to the 2000s for the BBC, Deutsche, Phillips etc. He'd insist 65-75 was the golden age of recorded sound, in terms of faithful reproduction although he was mostly working with voice and acoustic instruments. He's tech-savvy and surprisingly with it when it comes to modern kit but he's adamant that the equipment and techniques developed back haven't been bettered.
                    Exactly!
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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by amidar View Post
                      Thinking about string arrangements the last album that blew me away in that respect was 'Oscar Peterson - Motions and Emotions'. Claus Ogerman did the strings and they sound lush, quick look up shows its 1969.
                      One of my favourite albums... Made a lot of jazz purist cringe. The great string arrangements are no surprise, with MPS' meticulous sound engineer Hans Georg Brunner-Schwer together with string legend Claus Ogerman (both Germans, by the way).
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                      • #12
                        Very happy to be wrong!
                        Your assessment of 'golden period' is clearly 100% based on aesthetics rather than subliminal memory or nostalgia.
                        I'm going to have to check out that Oscar Peterson....love MPS productions and Claus Ogerman's work too.
                        <<Soul Strut 100>>Collectable CDs 1 Forumusic: April 2014 Collectable CDs 2<<'95 WOF>>

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                        • #13


                          Interesting side note: stats of my Easy Sounds channel, 1960s and 1970s Easy Listening, concentrating on late 1960s and early 1970s.
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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Ian Townsend View Post
                            Very happy to be wrong!
                            Your assessment of 'golden period' is clearly 100% based on aesthetics rather than subliminal memory or nostalgia.
                            I'm going to have to check out that Oscar Peterson....love MPS productions and Claus Ogerman's work too.
                            My musical preferences have always been very individual, having very little to do with outside influences. I have always loved (pop) jazz, which was nowhere to be found on the radio, in my school orchestra, at home... Starting from 2000 and Napster, I finally began finding the stuff I would have loved listening to in the first place.
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                            • #15
                              For me it's often a case of air, or the space around the music. These days it's often a case of seeing how much of the space you can fill up and when you do that, for me, the human element gets lost. Something I particularly like is that awful 80's drum sound with the thumping bass drum which, thanks to Amidar, I now know is called 'gated reverb'. The modern bane is auto tune.
                              "You don't want to kill the cash donkey"

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