Where is the Magic?

A number of musicians are crossing over into engineering and production these days partly due to the reduced barrier of entry into recording. There are some truly horrific outcomes when poorly developed musical talent meets poorly developed engineering and production skills. What happens, though, when good talent and good engineering and production skills fail to capture the magic of a musical performance?

I reviewed a CD project that a friend of mine had recently produced. The studio that was used in the production is fairly typical of more advanced project studios these days: good to excellent microphones, good to excellent preamps, good to excellent recording back-ends, good to excellent processors. The musicians were all first/second call calibre. The material covers top hits spanning pop and jazz standards. And yet, the presentation was surprisingly disappointing. The vocal performances were very flat and uninspired. The arrangements, although well executed, lacked energy. The concept of the project seemed lost as there was no original material and the cover songs were disconnected ranging from piano-centred jazz standards to guitar-oriented pop. The featured artist is female and yet, for some inexplicable reason, several of the songs use male vocal treatments exclusively.

I believe that it is way too easy these days to create technically perfect recordings and completely miss the essence of an inspired performance.


Still struggling with backlog in the studio. I have two projects that need to get finished by end of August to make room for new projects coming online in the fall. It looks to me right now that I won’t have both projects done before September which means delaying new work. I do fall into that category of producer/engineer/musician and sometimes using all three facets of that category creates a huge demand on time. Being a perfectionist doesn’t help either.

Changes Afoot

I had been hosting this blog off the whisperwoodstudios.com domain and I recently broke down and set up a distinct domain for the blog at richardcleaver.com. I will be making some substantial design changes over the next few weeks and I will be putting more focus into content as well. The net impact is that I have not been as consistent on blogging. Too much time spent on site transfers and setups.

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