I was visiting my study today (that room with the bathtub in it) and popped open the latest Tape Op magazine and read the Tim Hatfield interview. I don’t recall hearing of Tim Hatfield before, but his credits include a Keith Richards solo album. You get the idea. He’s an engineering robo big boy with numerous outstanding credits.
Here at RecordingReview.com I’m consistently putting a focus on THE MUSIC. The audio engineering is just an aesthetic. It’s just the makeup that goes on top of the face. In this article, Tim really summed it up extremely well.
I hope Tape Op is cool with me quoting their magazine. (If you’ve heard of Tape Op but not subscribed to this free magazine, slap yourself in the face and sign up.)
Tim was referring to Keith Richards and other big boy musicians he’s worked with that like to grab an instrument and just start making stuff up on the spot. We are talking about when the artist says “Oh, I’ve got this idea. I’ve gotta put it down.”
Tim goes on to say “You have to be ready to record. It doesn’t count if you don’t record. Record, because the musicians is playing and the sound will be dealt with later. Maybe the level is not really up, but the whole point is to get the most inspirational performance you can. Don’t stop somebody that’s playing to say, “Wait a minute. I’ve decided I need to move the microphone a half an inch to the left.” Don’t stop the whole band because the high-hat mic has moved.”
There are some major issues that have been hit in this tiny little excerpt. If, in the heat of the moment, mic placement isn’t ideal, so what! Capture music that is worth capturing. Capture music that speaks to you or tells a story or makes you feel something. It seems that if we can just do that, the world doesn’t seem to care too much about what mic placement we used.
Granted, I’m not saying that audio engineering is not important. However, I am saying that audio engineering is there to SERVE the music. It’s certainly not the other way around. I wish recording magazines and websites talked about THE MUSIC more. It seems a bit silly for the typical home recorder to spend so much time thinking about gear and the “right” way to mic an instrument when they should be asking “Does this song tear my heard off?”.
Then again, if a song actually tore your heard off, would you be able to even ask the question? Food for thought.