title=”MTV Influence in Today’s Popular Music”>MTV Influence in Today’s Popular Music
Great post! I didn’t really know a lot about Stax Records history until now. I think that is pretty amazing how Stax Records in 15 years had the opportunity to have that many songs in the charts of two different genres, pop and R&B. Also, is good to know that Stax Records did not only made music for African Americans, but also gave back to this community that has always been marginalized and oppressed. I think that many other label companies should do the same, especially those that in some way are related to a community or race. For example, Hispanics are also a community that has been marginalized and oppressed during this time. There are Hispanic record label making a lot of money just to show the world what kind of car they’re driving or how much blink-blink they can afford. They should follow Stax Records’ example.
The mixing techniques that we all know or that we’re still learning about, for the most part Phil Spector was responsible of creating them. Today, many producers are still taking as an example many of Spector’s mixing techniques that were used in “Wall of Sound”, which producers still believe that is one of the best example of what a good mix in recording. Many of the productions that we hear today are using many of this techniques without us noticed it. Phil Spector’s techniques might means more work into a production, but the end results it might be worth.
I didn’t really know that much about Phil Spector until now, and honestly, knowing Phil Spector’s discography and having the chance to listen into some of his work is amazing. While listening to his production I can see why Phil Spector is one of the pioneer of what we know about mixing techniques today.
I had the chance to listening several songs before and after Spector’s incursions into music, and let me tell you, there are some very noticeable differences. Songs like “Folsom Prison Blues” or “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” are great, but when we listen to “Proud Mary” or “Unchained Melody” and compared the mix with these other two songs, we can hear huge differences. Phil Spector not only had the talent, but also had a creativity out of this world when all come down into mixing a track.
In order to be at the level of quality of Spector’s mixing style, there has to be a lot of hard work put into it. Is necessary to sit down and listening our tracks for hours over and over, tweaked, panning it, and if necessary, re-do it all over again from the scratch. Also, I’m pretty sure that Phil Spector had a couple of peers to whom he would present his work to in order to get some feedback where he could work on.
Back in Spector’s days, all of the recordings were done on a 3-track machine, so the mixed were created mono. In other words, Spector’s mixing style was not meant to be in stereo; amazing. Many producers wanted a presence of each individual instrument, but Spector didn’t wanted to be this way, he wanted every instrument blended together in only one mix.
Spector’s mixing ideas and techniques might not be everybody’s favorite. Honestly, who wants to do a session to record all the instruments in one track and do the same with vocals? Me personally, I might not do it, but Spector’s shows us that it worked.
The contribution made by Phil Spector into the music industry will always prevail. His mixing techniques and styles are probably the foundation of what we know as modern mixing today.
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Gary Numan definitely took a step further into electronic music, especially if we compare his music and style with Kraftwerk. His album, “The Pleasure Principle” shows more musicality through the melodies and the song structures. Also, “The Pleasure Principle” has another pretty known track, “Metal”. This song is been feature at Numan’s live shows since his very first tour back 1979. Even though the song has a bit less of synthesizer sounds than “Cars”, I still believe that it is a greats song.
Aphex Twin, is a British musician and composer of electronic music. The Guardian, a British newspaper, named him as “the most inventive and influential figure in contemporary electronic music”. Aphex Twin started producing music at the age of 12, and also as a disc jockey. He earned a National Diploma, from Cornwall College, in Sound Engineering. He also took an electronic course at Kingston Polytechnic.
In 1991, Twin released an EP, “Analogue Bubblebath Vol. 1”, under Mighty Force Records. This EP made it into the playist of Kiss FM, a very influential London radio station, which helped this EP to become a success.
Also, in 1991, Twin got together with Wilson-Claridge to create a new label, Rephex Records, which helped to promote Acid – a genre of house music. Between 1991 and 1993, Twin got the opportunity to release “Analogue Bubblebath Vol. 2”, using the alias AFX, and EP under the alias of Bradley Strider, “Bradley’s Beat”. In 1992, Twin was able to record his first full-length album, “Selected Ambient Works 85-92”. This album received high ratings and great critics. He also was able to release “Xylem Tube EP” and “Digeridoo” during this same year. In 1993, he released third volume of “Analogue Bubblebath”. In 1994, Twin released “Selected Ambient Works Vol. 2.”, which based on critics the sound has less beat and melody than the previous volume.
Aphex Twin is known for his great ability making music with computers, especially through the use of software synthesizers, and the use of Digital Signal Processing (DSP) techniques. He also is well known by his abilities on the use of drum machines and analog synthesizer on his productions and live appearance.
Twin has a large variety of ideas when it comes to his composition style, which in my opinion, many of his songs has a lot of influence from the Kraftwerk. However, I didn’t found any source where he have gave credit to them.
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In 1970, Ralf Hutter and Florian Schneider, they both from Dusseldorf, Germany, created Kraftwerk. The music concept for Kraftwerk was mainly influenced by the electronic genre. Their sound was driven by repetitive rhythms, with short, but catchy melodies, and electronic instrumentation. Also, they integrated the use of vocoder or computer-speech software into the lyrics of the songs.
Kraftwerk released a total of 5 albums between 1974 to 1981: Autobahn (1974), Radio-Activity (1975), Trans-Europe (1977), The Man Machine (1978), and Computer World (1981). Out of these 5 albums, Autobahn, which was their first release and the opportunity of Kraftwerk to show their abilities and the influences of electronic music by creating music layering different sounds, noises, and rhythms. Before this production, Hutter and Florian were part of an instrumental jazz band. Later, Kraftwerk, produced Trans Europe Express and Radio Activity, which had some similarities with Autobahn’s theme. Then, the Man Machine, which had a bit of success, but Computer World is known as Kraftwerk’s best album.
Kraftwerk has a trademark in their music, and that’s the use of the vocoder. Many other musicians tried to use the vocoder in the early 30, but only Kraftwerk had it the ability to fully understand the capacities of this amazing tool and use it to its full capacity.
Also, Kraftwerk had another trademark in their music, and that’s their ability of creating a theme for their song. For example, Autobahn was referring to the Germany’s highways, or Trans Europe Express, which refer to Germany’s trains.
As a listener, I think that Kraftwerk won their place into music history by the creativity and originality, and they deserve all the credit for what we know as today’s electronic music. I think that today electronic music has a lack of originality by the excessive use of loops or sound libraries, when in the beginning electronic music was all about creating a sound.
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What a great post! You really digged into Marvin Gaye’s history and the story behind the song “What’s Going On”. I would say that Marvin Gaye’s history it’s kind of inspiring. Honestly speaking, looking into Marvin Gaye’s background, not many people can bounce from depression and even from an attempt of suicide. Marvin Gaye also taught us what is a vision, and how we need to hold on to them until that vision or dream has become a reality; not matter what the circumstances are telling us or showing us at the time. He could just give up the release of “What’s Going On” after what Berry Gordy told him. They’re always going to people around us that may not to see what we see or feel what we feel. The point is how we deal with those kinds of people around us while keeping our eyes on the goal we want to reach.
- Phil Spector, mixing as we know it…
- Kraftwerk – The Beginnings of Electronic Music New Era
- Aphex Twin Post
- “What’s Going On” Malvin Gaye
- The Velvet Underground & Nico… Originality as its best!
2. The Velvet Underground & Nico (AudioBook)
3. Sonic Alchemy (Chapter 6)
- Pet Sounds…
- Revolver, the beginning
Before the great success of Marvin Gaye’s song, “What’s going on?” in 1973, Mr. Gaye already had a pretty strong career as songwriter, musician, and performer. His career started as singer while he was a child at a Pentecostal church where his dad was the preacher. Later on he left the church and jointed the some doo-whop quartet called Bo Diddley. Also, Mr. Gaye was one the many artists that helps Motown Records in the early 1960’s to found and create there own distinctive sound and vibe.
In 1970 Mr. Gaye started writing the lyrics of “What’s going on”. During this time the Vietnam War was occurring, and his brother Frankie was deployed to it. Frankie sent letters to Mr. Gaye while he was at the war telling him horrifying stories of what he was seeing and living in during the war. These letters, the race riots that were occurring across the United States by the time, and even the physical abused induced by his Father when he was a child, helped Mr. Gaye to shape this song.
In 1971, Mr. Gaye approached Berry Gordy, founder of Motown Record, and presented to him with the track “What’s Going On”. Unfortunately, Mr. Gordy was not pleased with the product and told him that the song was “the worst thing I ever heard in my life.” Mr. Gordy also added that the song was too political to be played in radio, and even the Quality Control Department at Motown Record dislike the song. At this point, Mr. Gaye decided not to record anything else for the label until the Mr. Gordy change his mind. After the intervention of Motown sales executive Barney Ales and the executive Harry Balk, the song was released to radio without Mr. Gordy’s knowledge. The song sold 100,000 copies on the release day.
“What’s Going On?” was something completely different from what Marvin Gaye and Motown Record used to bring to the table. This song had a message, message of peace, instead of hate or sex, and musically was more thoughtful music composition by using jazz, gospel, and classical in the orchestration and arrangement.
As a listener and professional, I have to say that “What’s Going On” is a perfect blend between lyrics and music. The music arrangement it’s well balanced and the song has a very meaningful message. Actually, what inspired me the most from this song is the story behind the song. Mr. Gaye didn’t gave up his believe after the negative feedback that came from Mr. Gordy.
Today, the story behind this song should be taking under consideration at any level in our careers as musicians and producers. There are going to be times where some others might not see or feel what we do.