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Old 11-08-2011, 05:34 PM
moblues moblues is offline
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Default "over produced"

I see this term used on recording forums. I understand it means over-the-top production, but not sure what that means at more understandable level.

What in layman's terms, does this mean?

Is there a popular album or song that would be an example of this term?

For the home hobbyist recording person, what to avoid so my output isn't "over produced"!

What separates "Dark Side Of the Moon", often referred to as genius, from "over produced" other material?

Thanks,

JB
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Old 11-08-2011, 05:42 PM
RRuskin RRuskin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moblues View Post
I see this term used on recording forums. I understand it means over-the-top production, but not sure what that means at more understandable level.

What in layman's terms, does this mean?

Is there a popular album or song that would be an example of this term?

For the home hobbyist recording person, what to avoid so my output isn't "over produced"!

What separates "Dark Side Of the Moon", often referred to as genius, from "over produced" other material?

Thanks,

JB
If you strip away the production and the song cannot stand on it's own, it's over produced. Cases in point for me: "MacArthur Park" and almost anything by Cher.
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Old 11-08-2011, 06:22 PM
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I think terms like this are value judgments, that basically mean "I don't like it" :-) You'd pretty much have to ask the person making the statement what they mean. Rick's examples seem reasonable, tho I'd also use that term to mean a good basic song that was ruined by too much crap piled on top. The Beatles Let It Be is an example a lot of people have called overproduced. Compare the Let It Be Naked album, which shows some simple songs with a certain amount of raw charm with the original with Phil Spectre's strings and piles of reverb. But it's just opinion, someone might call the Naked release "underproduced". I'm sure Spectre didn't think what he did was "over"
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Old 11-08-2011, 06:44 PM
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"Over-produced" is definitely a personal taste and opinion, although there can be a consensus of opinion in listeners. In my opinion, any item that is added to a mix that doesn't add to the development of the song contributes instead to over-production. Therein lies the subjectivity of the term.

I can give you examples of over-production:
People tell others to double their acoustic rhythm guitar parts and pan then outboard for more complexity and richness. That works very well, but ONLY if the second part is carefully and exactly matched to the first in rhythm. When you let one get out of time from the other, they fight one another.

Some folks built up multiple copies of the exact same instrument performance and pan them all to the same location. This can contribute to sludge and a build-up of energy in one frequency range.

Some producers want to fill every minute of every song with tension-increasing elements. This contributes to a situation where there is no tension structure - no rise and fall of complexity or emotion that allows the audience to engage and relax. I call it "toggle-switch" production: You switch on the tension and it stays on until you switch it off at the end of the song. At some point the audience simply checks out.

But, as David St. Hubbins of Spinal Tap said, "It's such a fine line between stupid and clever, isn't it?"

Bob
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Old 11-08-2011, 08:00 PM
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Could be a description of the caloric intake for the US
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Old 11-08-2011, 11:38 PM
RRuskin RRuskin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Womack View Post
"Over-produced" is definitely a personal taste and opinion, although there can be a consensus of opinion in listeners. In my opinion, any item that is added to a mix that doesn't add to the development of the song contributes instead to over-production. Therein lies the subjectivity of the term.

I can give you examples of over-production:
People tell others to double their acoustic rhythm guitar parts and pan then outboard for more complexity and richness. That works very well, but ONLY if the second part is carefully and exactly matched to the first in rhythm. When you let one get out of time from the other, they fight one another.

Some folks built up multiple copies of the exact same instrument performance and pan them all to the same location. This can contribute to sludge and a build-up of energy in one frequency range.

Some producers want to fill every minute of every song with tension-increasing elements. This contributes to a situation where there is no tension structure - no rise and fall of complexity or emotion that allows the audience to engage and relax. I call it "toggle-switch" production: You switch on the tension and it stays on until you switch it off at the end of the song. At some point the audience simply checks out.

But, as David St. Hubbins of Spinal Tap said, "It's such a fine line between stupid and clever, isn't it?"

Bob
"Tomorrow, we overdub the Sherman Tank!" (Los Angeles producer who wishes to remain anonymous)
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Old 11-09-2011, 03:17 AM
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It means too much crap in the recording that the musician's can't/wouldn't/wouldn't even want to do in a live performance.
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Old 11-09-2011, 06:47 AM
Ty Ford Ty Ford is offline
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Agreeing with all of this.

A&R (Artists and Repertoire) Department says, "It's not commercial enough. We need to shore this thing up. Let's add strings!" There's a Jesse Colin Young release, with him on a bear skin on the cover. I don't think the strings work to his advantage on that CD. OTOH, I really think they fit on John Sebastian's "Darlin' Be Home Soon."

I think the Church overdid the reverb on "Under The Milky Way", even though the opening line, "Sometimes this place get kind of empty" seems t allow it. That may not constitute "over production", exactly.

"MacArthur Park" was a special case; a novelty song, if you will; an audio movie, but considering the time in history, 1968. I never heard Waylon Jennings' version, but may have to seek it out. Spike Jones songs were also novelty songs, but without the clap-trap, I don't think they'd work.

I totally agree that adding extra guitar tracks to the detriment of a song is over producing. I have done it and am really careful not to now. I think that falls into the "rookie mistake" category. I think it stems from not being happy with a single track due to flaws or a lack of self confidence. In a micro sort of way, any guitar player with a pedal board can also be accused of over production.

Queen, almost any Phil Spector production, Springsteen's "Born To Run." If you can make it work, it's OK. If you can't it ain't.

Regards,

Ty Ford
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Old 11-09-2011, 08:10 AM
zabdart zabdart is offline
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"Over-production" first became a big issue in the wake of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band." Suddenly, all kinds of people starting adding string sections and symphony orchestras to their songs where it just wasn't appropriate, because the Beatles (and George Martin) had done it so successfully.
There are a lot of things a good producer can add to a song or an album which actually enhance the performance. Conversely, there a lot of things he can do which simply add to the cost of the project. The trick is not only to find a producer who is sympathetic to your musical vision, but to communicate with him honestly.
Now that a lot of Miles Davis outtakes are becoming available, we are finally beginning to realize the genius of Teo Macero, Miles' long-time producer at Columbia Records... and he didn't do much at all (but what he did was significant).
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Old 11-09-2011, 08:24 AM
RogerC RogerC is offline
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For me, the concept of over-production falls into the category of sterilizing the music through the use of various effects/gadgets/tricks (the discussion on compression also fits in nicely here). I like my music to have a somewhat raw quality, so when so many devices are used that it removes the life from a song, I don't like it.
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Old 11-09-2011, 02:38 PM
zabdart zabdart is offline
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I think the "over-produced" discussion is a good example of one of my primary bugbears about recorded music, in general. I can understand the desire to "clean things up" and produce a record which shows your performance at its best, but I also feel that if you can't do it in front of an audience, you shouldn't try for it in the studio. That's just my opinion.
The late Sergiu Celibidache was opposed to making records for an altogether different reason. For him, music was something alive in the moment it was created. One's thoughts and approaches to a given piece of music should evolve over time with the individual. Records, therefore, are like photographs. They fix an image in a given moment of time... but may have very little to do with the individual before you now, at this moment in time.
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Old 11-09-2011, 03:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zabdart View Post
I think the "over-produced" discussion is a good example of one of my primary bugbears about recorded music, in general. I can understand the desire to "clean things up" and produce a record which shows your performance at its best, but I also feel that if you can't do it in front of an audience, you shouldn't try for it in the studio. .
I think that all depends on your goals. Nothing wrong with trying to capture "reality", but there are other approaches that are valid as well. Even trying to capture raw reality is pretty tricky, because a recording can't capture the look of the room, the smells, the feel of being part of the audience. So I think you have to look at recording as a different art form. When you perform live, you try to give people a good experience, when you record, you also want the listener to have have a good experience, but they're in a totally different environment, physically and mentally, so you may have to produce something different just to have the effect be the same. And that's without even getting into "the studio as an instrument" type of approach, which is also valid. Some people's art involves unretouched photographs, others involve painting abstract things that don't even exist in the real world. It's all art.

That's why I say "over produced" is just an opinion. The artist tries to create something, presumably (other than maybe some blatant commercial attempts to take advantage of some trend in the pop market) they think what they created was good, so they release it. Some people will like it, others will say "why did you make the picture so blue?" or whatever.
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Old 11-09-2011, 06:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zabdart View Post
I think the "over-produced" discussion is a good example of one of my primary bugbears about recorded music, in general. I can understand the desire to "clean things up" and produce a record which shows your performance at its best, but I also feel that if you can't do it in front of an audience, you shouldn't try for it in the studio. That's just my opinion.
Well, now. That's an opinion, for sure. However, long ago in another land, a band of four guys undertook some creative experimentation that might just have unchained us from that restriction. What was their name? Ah, yes. The Beatles.
Quote:
The late Sergiu Celibidache was opposed to making records for an altogether different reason. For him, music was something alive in the moment it was created. One's thoughts and approaches to a given piece of music should evolve over time with the individual. Records, therefore, are like photographs. They fix an image in a given moment of time... but may have very little to do with the individual before you now, at this moment in time.
However, before recording, music was chained to the moment by the fact that it only occurred live with a performer. Recording has unchained music from that and allowed the equivalent of a painting, where the artists are able to choose and tweak not only the subject (in painting its the items in the scene, in music, the notes) but the medium (in painting its the pigment types and substance they are applied to, in music it is the recording method and tools) and freeze them into a self-contained entity that may be regarded separately from the artist and enjoyed at will. It frees the listener from being at the whim of the artist and frees the artist from the stress of creating before and audience and frees the work of art from being lost each time the artist puts down his bow, drum sticks, or pick. And when you think about it, a great challenge for us of this age is figuring out exactly what the music artist of previous ages were trying to do with their music and how they presented it because their recording method, static notation on sheet, only provides the bare bones of the original art work.

Bob
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Old 11-09-2011, 09:30 PM
zabdart zabdart is offline
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Well, the late, great Canadian pianist Glenn Gould quit giving concerts because he felt that the recording studio afforded him the only environment where he could control "the product" to his satisfaction. I suppose when you get to that level of ability, you have a right to determine such things for yourself.
But I also feel that you have an obligation to produce it in person, in front of an audience, in a live setting. Otherwise, you're just another Milli Vanilli.
This gets complicated. There are lots of angles to it, and nobody's opinion is thoroughly right. Records are a good thing, but they lead listeners to expect a certain song or piece to be performed in a certain way... always, and that's bad. As an artist, you should have a certain sense of professionalism, and a standard of performance below which you will not fall. But I also think you have an obligation to discover something new about the music and yourself as often as you can.
One of the great joys of listening to Duke Ellington, for example, is the way Duke and Strayhorn constantly rearranged their old hits over the years. Like Russell Procope said: "It was like giving water to a vase of flowers."
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Old 11-09-2011, 10:50 PM
BusterBFan BusterBFan is offline
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I'd say the quintessential example of an overproduced song is Townes Van Zandt's original cut of "Waiting Around To Die".

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbsMn476T2U

Most of the garbage you hear- martial drum beats, wonky sound effects, choral backing, etc- was added in post to 'gussy it up' for commercial appeal (circa 69). The producer has said he really regretted doing that. It's just totally contrary to what Townes music was all about.

Last edited by BusterBFan; 11-09-2011 at 10:56 PM.
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