Listening With New Ears

Many musicians don't like music theory and as a result avoid trying to learn about it.  We've all heard this rationalized in various ways with statements about rules and breaking them, or about losing the magic...  so I'm not going to talk about that.

I will say, though, that working on music in the studio on the production or mastering end has changed the way I hear and listen to music.  Of course, right?

For me, though, it's not about losing the magic.  Rather, it's totally cool to hear things in a new way and wonder about how they were done.

So here's a blast from my teens in the 80s.  Pretty sure it was Steve Lillywhite on production duties... it certainly has his signature big drum sound.

It starts big and loud and around three minutes in, all the musical sections have happened and there's really no way to build it up anymore.  Or is there?  At around 3:30, there's a drum fill and somebody hits the knob to widen the stereo field (at least I think that's the main thing happening) for the big final chorus/outro.

Techniques like this occur elsewhere.  Radiohead's Let Down being an obvious example and I'm thinking it speaks to a tiny part of the real craft among professional producers and mixers.

Something to think about for my future work.

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