Too Many Chords
A disease of today's music recordings
Basically, what today’s music suffers from is overproduction and misdirection in what makes for good music.
Too many #$%^ing chords, and they are the wrong type.
Modern Day Music is Overproduced
Today’s sound is not in the hands of the musician who created it. It is totally controlled by the sound engineers and producers who have worked more on getting rid of the external sound modules and the electronic cords that connect them than they have on the musical chords and phrasing that make up the songs melody.
Yes today’s digital audio workstation is removing physical cords and the sound modules are being replaced with virtual instruments that are about as true to form with the original solid, heavy and sometimes not so transportable real counterparts as possible. The sampled-to-death version of the real instrument resides in the computer memory of the digital workstation or an interconnected computer hard drive but it is up to a skillful artist to make that virtual instrument sound like the real one.
True enough, that a lot of these are played by session musicians who indeed have “the chops” necessary to create the right sound but then the sound technicians jump in and can alter any and every aspect of the recording with more computerized adjustments. Some are designed to mimic the equipment of another era like tube-amplifiers and randomization of drum qualities so it doesn’t sound so mechanical.
A Computer Technician is not likely a Creative Musician
But the technician (usually) isn’t a saxophone player, guitar player, vocalist, or drummer and certainly they do not possess the proficiency at their various instrument like the Claptons, Prestons, Charles, Bakers, Knights, Butlers, Perlmans, Robinsons, Atkins, etc. all demonstrated in recordings that were largely just take after take of the analog source onto a solitary track of reel-to-reel tape. And each musician is often recorded in isolation of the others, leaving out the subtleties that can only appear due to the interaction of musicians with slightly different approaches to the melody. Talk to your friendly music store personnel and you will find out that it is highly unlikely that they are extemely computer literate.
That doesn’t mean today’s technology is at fault. By no means, the clarity of sound and flexibility in editing capabilities is a positive benefit of the new methods, but it shouldn’t be overused. Motown greatly benefited from the hands-on production of people like Smokey Robinson but it was more about the performers than it was about the production.
Overdoing the Phrasing of a Song Destroys It
It’s much like watching performers today butchering the American National Anthem. Instead of staying true to the song and adding subtle personal touches, they try to make it into another whole new production and fail miserably. The sound technicians are doing a similar thing to today’s music by tricking, manipulating and altering the original musical sound to something that they only understand as music. It isn’t all like that, of course. Some songs do still stand out, but maybe there should be a limit to the number of tracks and alterations that the engineers perform. It is next to impossible for a lot of the creations to be recreated live without the aid of prerecorded audio since the technicians would not likely be travelling with the recorded performer to their performance dates.
There is an easy way to phrase this simple correction in musical terms—less is more.