May 12, 2008

everything you hear is a decision

Andrew Bird has a great post in the Times today about the process of recording music. It’s a great look into the thousands of little decisions that go into making a great record…

We discuss a lot of things to help us get the songs just right — like not hitting cymbals because the crashes can be “cheap thrills.” Instead we favored the dark, walloping sound of the toms. Often times the choice becomes: Do you give the song what it wants? Or do you go against its demands? “Oh No” seemed to be asking for a 1970s Jackson Brown or Fleetwood Mac type of dead snare drum sound. That “everything’s gonna be just fine” sort of beat. The pitfall of approaching it like this is that your song can get hijacked by someone else’s record collection. I personally feel that the world has had its fill of 70s light rock. So we’re forced to be more creative.

The post is a great reminder that everything you hear that comes out of a studio is the result of thousands of little decisions that build on top of one another. And that when the technology affords you the ability to do anything you want, you need a strong vision and sense of purpose to guide what you’re doing.