Sunday, August 16, 2009

"Guitar Hero"
Les Paul Passes

Another music legend passed this week. On August 13, 2009, Guitar virtuoso and music visionary Les Paul died at the age of 94. Famous for his duets with Mary Ford and, of course, inventing the solid body electric guitar, Les Paul also changed the way music is recorded and listened to by pioneering the use of multitrack recording. This was the first step in the evolution of music being created in the studio rather than just being captured by a recording device. When electronic recording technology was originally made possible by the Western Electric Company's invention of the microphone, the idea was to replicate the sound of a live performance. Now digital technology, with sampling and audio cut and pasting, has evolved to the point that there is no live performance and musicians performing live strive to duplicate music created in the studio rather than the recording process duplicating the sound of a live performance.

There has been a bit of a backlash to the digital music manufacturing. More and more venues insist on seeing a band perform live, or at least reviewing a live audio or video performance, before booking to be sure they are going to get the performance they want and expect. There is also a movement known as "Real Stereo"  promoting the use of recording music using a "live" 2 mic true stereo process.

So far all of The Homegrown String Band's CDs have been recorded "live" in the studio. We record one or two takes of each song with all of us playing at the same time, but recorded on separate tracks so that the volume and EQ can be adjust to optimize the sound of each instrument. Basically what a good sound man would do at a live performance. In the end I think we usually sound better live than on our recordings because we are more spontaneous and we can feed of the energy of the audience and bounce off each other. There is also less pressure to get it "right," which ironically means we are much more likely to get it right.

However you look at it, Les Paul's innovations have had a huge and lasting impact on the way music is performed and preserved.

Vaya con Dios mi amigo!

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