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Matt C

Recording "live" vs. separate recording sessions

20 posts in this topic

I don't if that topic is clear enough, but if it's not, the discussion thread is whether recording the entire orchestra together is better or whether having separate sections works better. We all know composers like Shore, Williams, Giacchino, Desplat, Tyler and Debney like the "live" approach. (Williams is very fond of recording the choir and orchestra together too.) Other composers like Zimmer, Powell, and Ottman prefer to record the instruments separately and then edit it together during post-production.

What do you guys think? Is there a noticeable difference between the two for you?

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I think in general it's better to do it live if possible. Ensembles use other ensembles to know how to play--how to adjust intonation, ensure consistent phrasing of a line, etc. For instance, the marimba is tuned to 444 Hz instead of 440 like other instruments, so if there's an exposed marimba part playing with a brass ensemble, the brass would want to adjust upwards.

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I have leaked Tintin sessions with no string and brass section

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The Woodwinds and percussion only session? Those are great!

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Good question. A lot of the playing on JW's film scores is sloppy which makes it more interesting to me. It's a good thing. Some say JW is a bad conductor but I like the imperfection.

I also like the bad edits when they splice takes. It just adds a flavor that I have always liked, even when I didn't realize they were bad.

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For instance, the marimba is tuned to 444 Hz instead of 440 like other instruments.

440 Hz? Where?

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JW's film scores have sloppy recordings?

That's the first time I hear this

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I generally prefer any kind of music to be as "live" as possible. Obviously, if you have electronics, or post production effects, or you're a 4 person band playing a dozen instruments altogether, you need overdubs. But especially with works written for ensembles (orchestra, choir), the group dynamics are an important part in making the result organic.

Also, writing music with that in mind ensures that it can be performed live later on - at least to a degree. Miking and amplification can still be an issue, of course; just look at how difficult it is to perform Shore's LOTR scores in a concert hall - most solos plus the choir are amplified, and half of the time the whole affair still runs a high risk of being off balance.

Still, if a composer writes a piece intending it to be performed in one setting, at least a basic "performability" is built in from the start.

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Good question. A lot of the playing on JW's film scores is sloppy which makes it more interesting to me. It's a good thing. Some say JW is a bad conductor but I like the imperfection.

Uhhhm....where did you get that from? Williams conducting and sloppy recording don't go together....DOES NOT COMPUTE

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For instance, the marimba is tuned to 444 Hz instead of 440 like other instruments.

440 Hz? Where?

In America. In fact I think the reason the marimba is tuned to 444 is because of European influence. Which is problematic for film music since most film scores are recorded in America.

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Fascinating. I had to google that and learned that it used to be 440 but nowdays 442 is very common also there.

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In America. In fact I think the reason the marimba is tuned to 444 is because of European influence. Which is problematic for film music since most film scores are recorded in America.

I read only 30% of film scores today are recorded in L.A.. The other 70% are nonunion musicians in Seattle, Europe, Russia, Australia...

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From a geeky point of view, I think it's preferable for everything to be recorded together. Because then they can't fiddle with the mix for the film vs OST.

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Good question. A lot of the playing on JW's film scores is sloppy which makes it more interesting to me. It's a good thing. Some say JW is a bad conductor but I like the imperfection.

I also like the bad edits when they splice takes. It just adds a flavor that I have always liked, even when I didn't realize they were bad.

99% of conductors who conduct John's music they make his compositions sound boring, dull and sloppy, John is an exeptionally great conductor. He has a unic feel and phrasing which breaths life into his music.

His recordings aren't sloppy, they are 'human'. In my eyes are perfect.

And to get to the point of this thread, recording individually is a crap idea. The process sucks out the life of orchestral recordings. Here is an idea, producers should get their finger out and pay proper orchestras to record their scores instead of opting out for nightmare orchestras so they can save money.

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Good question. A lot of the playing on JW's film scores is sloppy which makes it more interesting to me. It's a good thing. Some say JW is a bad conductor but I like the imperfection.

I also like the bad edits when they splice takes. It just adds a flavor that I have always liked, even when I didn't realize they were bad.

99% of conductors who conduct John's music they make his compositions sound boring, dull and sloppy, John is an exeptionally great conductor. He has a unic feel and phrasing which breaths life into his music.

His recordings aren't sloppy, they are 'human'. In my eyes are perfect.

And to get to the point of this thread, recording individually is a crap idea. The process sucks out the life of orchestral recordings. Here is an idea, producers should get their finger out and pay proper orchestras to record their scores instead of opting out for nightmare orchestras so they can save money.

Pretty much sums up my whole opinion on the issues addressed by this post :D

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Its called "Striping" in the industry. And we will see more and more of it. It is especially useful for music using samples and for especially dense sections. It also allows the Brass and Percussion to play out full and not hold back, which really allows the music to compete with the epic soundtracks being delivered from the sound fx team.

In my opinion it is also a musical shortcut, since things which can happen in striping sessions, cannot happen in non striping sessions.

In closing it is an evolutionary move to recording becoming more like sequencing. Some composers just need to have control over everything. Powell being the best example, and it certainly delivers.

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It also allows the Brass and Percussion to play out full and not hold back, which really allows the music to compete with the epic soundtracks being delivered from the sound fx team.

Dynamic compression done live...

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I don't see what difference it would make for well trained musicians. And it would certainly give the composer a better control of the sound of his score if all the elements were recorded separately.

It's film music, it's not concert music.

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I don't see what difference it would make for well trained musicians.

1) Playing solo vs playing with an ensemble is a completely different experience. Trained or not, there's a lot of emotion and group dynamics involved in a live performance. You can't really simulate that.

2) Re InTheCity's comment above, playing at full volume and playing pianissimo isn't just a matter of volume but mainly a matter of character. A good orchestration should allow the instruments to play the way they're meant to.

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