Paul Simon - Diamonds on the... Music Analysis

Discussion in 'Music and Recordings' started by purr1n, Mar 3, 2017.

  1. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    5,258
    Dislikes Received:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    India
    How would you know? I'd say two things. One is that you weren't there at the time, and two is that the resultant sound is the end product of a creative process.

    I've listened to the songs, but haven't given this album any thought for... well, since way back then. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that quite a lot of it is multitracked and mixed with collaboration from artists around the world. Whilst that's hardly synthesiser, it is also a long way away from a live recording of, say, a classical solo violin. With that, even though you still wouldn't have been there at the time, it might be just a shade more valid to compare it to your scale of what a violin should sound like.
     
  2. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

    Friend
    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2016
    Likes Received:
    5,022
    Dislikes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    The production style is completely in line with soukous music from the period.
     
    Kunlun likes this.
  3. MRC01

    MRC01 Rando

    Executed
    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2018
    Likes Received:
    15
    Dislikes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Earth
    How would I know? It's a fair question. I have listened to Ladysmith Black Mambazo perform live in a small venue, good front seating. I also have their Liph' Iquiniso album; its tonality and voicing is more natural than the Graceland recording. It sounds like they're right there in front of you performing their wonderful music, as opposed to Graceland which sounds like, "this studio engineer's caricature of what hi-fi sound should be: detailed and dynamic but unnatural". As an amateur musician with others in my family too I also hear the real thing every day and attend live acoustic music events. I know what natural voices & instruments sound like in the real world.

    I realize some audiophiles don't get out and listen to real music often, but I'm not one of them.

    I agree with your point about live solo violin. There's an absolute reference for what that should sound like, though even that sounds different depending on the room it's in and how far away you are. The violin sounds completely different sitting next to the player in rehearsal, than it does in the 1st row of seats, versus the 8th row back. This absolute reference for natural acoustic music, however varied it is, doesn't exist for rock, pop or electronic.

    I try not to be too picky. If a classical music recording resembles any variant of those different natural sounds, I'm happy, forget about the audio and enjoy the music. But if it sounds like none of these, that artificiality gets in the way of enjoyment.

    Now that particular track on the Graceland album has some a capella, and the other track "Homeless" is pure a capella and has the same artificial voicing, so it seems fair to apply this reference to them, if not to other tracks on that album. Given that the tracks were recorded in different places, you could say kudos to the engineers for making it sound consistent and detailed, if unnatural. I was really just wondering if there's a standard audio term for that sound. It's not veiled, it's not compressed to death (at least my original master isn't), it's some kind of tonality or voicing issue, but an FFT doesn't show any glaring frequency suck-out. I've spent paragraphs describing it but there's probably a single term for it.
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2018
    Thad E Ginathom likes this.
  4. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    5,258
    Dislikes Received:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    India
    Actually, only yesterday, I was having a "how can violins sound so different in the hands of different players" conversation! :D
    So have I. They were wonderful! :) Gosh, that was a long time ago.

    Ultimately, whilst there are probably certain things like compression removing dynamics, which we might, as music lovers, call objectively technically undesirable, I guess it is hard to draw the line between that and artistic intention that we, personally do not like. And we are entitled not to like it.

    It's been a while since I listened to that album with decent hearing. I remember it as being fairly sharp and bright... but I am not arguing with your perception, doubtless with better present-day hearing, and I am not arguing with your artistic interpretation, to which you are absolutely entitled.

    In the most general terms, though, I belong to that school that says that High Fidelity means fidelity to the media being played, because that is all we have got. We depend on the chain that led to that media to determine whether or not it is true to the performance.

    The state of my ears has taken away quite a lot (but not by any means all) of my pleasure in recorded music. I do, however, attend many concerts. My chosen genre of music is actually acoustic, but still, it is usually amplified, and even there, I do experience technicians getting in the way of the sound, occasionally even to the point where I can't even stay and listen! :(

    Yes, a lot of audiophiles should "get out more!" But hey, each to their own :)
     
    pavi and Jinxy245 like this.
  5. DigMe

    DigMe Needs a baby bottle

    Friend
    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2016
    Likes Received:
    5,359
    Dislikes Received:
    7
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Aja
    I don’t really hear the negative aspects being spoken of but there’s no telling what went on in recording because Simon’s recording engineer, Roy Halee, is a major experimenter and sound tinkerer.
     
    Thad E Ginathom likes this.
  6. james444

    james444 Mad IEM modding wizard level 99

    Friend IEMW
    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2016
    Likes Received:
    1,047
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Vienna, Austria
    There's an episode of the BBC series "Classic Albums" about "Graceland", in which Paul Simon talks about some of the sound tricks they used. Here's just a short excerpt on YouTube, there's probably the whole episode out there somewhere, but I couldn't find it.

     
  7. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    45,042
    Dislikes Received:
    70
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Antarctica
    You are so full of shit here. Knowing how "natural voices and & instrument sound like in the real world" is not your exclusive domain. Every other person and their grandma is an opera singer or uses Stradivari instruments.

    My composer uncle writes modern music and heads up an orchestra, I've met famous violinists, I've met famous pop stars, in a prior life, I was a roadie setting up gear, doing microphone checks, and sitting behind the console fighting with the guitarists by turning them down. I used to play piano and bass, and now I play beats on a makeshift box. I attended the brown bag lunch concerts and every other free concert when I was at Davis. None of this means anything. My kids, who have limited concert experience, know natural voices and instruments sound like.

    Banned for six months.
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2018
    Kunlun, Thad E Ginathom and Josh83 like this.
  8. Josh83

    Josh83 Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2017
    Likes Received:
    357
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Charlottesville
    Everyone is allowed to prefer one style of production to others, but this comment’s premise seems to be that the only goal of audio production is to recreate the live experience and sound. Needless to say, audio production has moved beyond that, since at least Les Paul.

    That doesn’t mean you can’t use the album as a demo yardstick. You just need to know what that album is supposed to sound like. It’ll still deviate from that ideal on bad equipment.

    That said, I agree that lots of ‘80s albums have an ‘80s sheen to them that was considered popular at the time. With Graceland, I just view it as part of the album. It’s of its time, just as the murk places the first Velvet Undergound album in a specific time and place sonically. Roll with it and enjoy the music.
     
    Thad E Ginathom, purr1n and Jinxy245 like this.
  9. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    45,042
    Dislikes Received:
    70
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Antarctica
    Different production styles and trends with pop music. They did funky stuff in the studio. The intent wasn't to recreate a real concert. The intent was to interpret a performance.
     
    Jinxy245 likes this.
  10. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    5,258
    Dislikes Received:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    India
    <Memory cell goes ping!>

    Whoa! Any chance this guy is posting from Italy? From underneath his grand piano, maybe?
     
    Kunlun likes this.
  11. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    5,258
    Dislikes Received:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    India
    Thanks, very interesting. I'd like to see the whole program.
     
  12. james444

    james444 Mad IEM modding wizard level 99

    Friend IEMW
    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2016
    Likes Received:
    1,047
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Vienna, Austria
    YGPM

    One of the most interesting and educational episodes is the one about Steely Dan's "Aja" album:
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2018
    Thad E Ginathom and Josh83 like this.
  13. Josh83

    Josh83 Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2017
    Likes Received:
    357
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Charlottesville
    Totally agree @james444. The Aja Classic Albums episode is one of the best.
     
  14. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

    Friend
    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2016
    Likes Received:
    5,022
    Dislikes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    The Aja episode is so good. When they reveal all the different guitar parts they recorded for “Peg” and didn’t use, I was rolling.
     
    rtaylor76 likes this.
  15. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    45,042
    Dislikes Received:
    70
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Antarctica
    The bandwidth is pretty good with Aja, a record I must have listened to many many times since I was a teen - yet upon a recent listen, I now realize that the reverb is quite unrealistic with a resultant tonality and timbre nothing at all like the super exclusive live chamber music events (atonal modern music of course) that I used to attend (as a VIP) in Palo Alto when I lived up the Bay Area. I realize that many of you don't have such luxuries, to be able to fully understand and appreciate live music performed by the world's highest caliber musicians in the most intimate of settings, but not I. Surely not I.
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2018
  16. DigMe

    DigMe Needs a baby bottle

    Friend
    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2016
    Likes Received:
    5,359
    Dislikes Received:
    7
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Aja
    *spits out coffee*
     
    Thad E Ginathom, Jinxy245 and purr1n like this.
  17. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    5,258
    Dislikes Received:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    India
    Yep. It must be tough for those poor, deprived folk! Can't imagine it.

    Although my highest-calibre musicians are in a rather tiny subset of world's music genres. Still, it was great to be having lunch with one the other day. And seeing another sing this evening.

    :sail:
     
    Jinxy245 likes this.
  18. westermac

    westermac Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2016
    Likes Received:
    1,932
    Dislikes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Milly-wau-kay
    Wish I had come across this before I picked up a re-pressing...

    The only version I had listened to previously was the remaster (not sure which), so I didn't notice anything was amiss until I picked up the 1986 CD. The remaster seems pretty ham-fisted and bombastic now in comparison. The extra compression is fine for the poppier drum and bass passages, but the flattening is noticeable in more nuanced sections (especially those featuring LBM) and takes away some magic.
     

Share This Page