Author Topic: Why do Artist list the instruments used on a CD?  (Read 5243 times)

Julio Di Benedetto

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Why do Artist list the instruments used on a CD?
« on: September 23, 2011, 05:47:24 PM »
This was a question posted by a forum member somewhere here regarding the long list of modular synthesizers used by Parallel Worlds....it was asked with a tone of frustrated annoyance because it seemed unnecessary to this person.  It struck me as an interesting question.  There are many reasons I believe and I have a few ideas of my own but Im curious if ambient/electronic music fans here care what was used to create the sounds we so love to hear.  Does it matter to the listener?  To musicians its a forgone conclusion...we will always want to know what was involved in the production.



Bill Binkelman

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Re: Why do Artist list the instruments used on a CD?
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2011, 08:51:33 PM »
As a reviewer, I find the listing of instruments used in the making of a CD to be HIGHLY important, esp. when it comes to this genre. More than once when the instruments are not mentioned, I have erred in stating something in a review which was untrue. There's only so much one can figure out based solely on one's hearing - and since I am not nor never have been a musician, I would prefer to know, even in ambiguous terms (e.g. "synthesizer," "electronic keyboards" etc.) what was used. But I don't need to know too many specifics, e.g. I don't need to know the brand of synth or which model.
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hdibrell

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Re: Why do Artist list the instruments used on a CD?
« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2011, 09:27:01 PM »
  To musicians its a forgone conclusion...we will always want to know what was involved in the production.
Yes! Like a magician, we want to know how you did that "illusion".
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sraymar

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Re: Why do Artist list the instruments used on a CD?
« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2011, 10:46:08 PM »
The artists care, some more than others. Its a different mentality, after all we spend alot of time reading reviews and trying out lots of equipment we'll never buy, or worse buy and sell off for more.  Its kind of an addictive disease, an illusion of power and control. For some its an endless journey, and even worse if you're a multi-instrumentalist. Plus you might have spare instruments if you're on tour, or extra equipment around if you have musical friends that come over to jam or create.

Regular people listen to ambient music to get the samadhi which is where we all start from. Maybe that's why mp3s and other digital audio are more popular than CDs - no mention of the equipment involved!
Ambient isn't just for technicians!

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Julio Di Benedetto

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Re: Why do Artist list the instruments used on a CD?
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2011, 04:18:09 AM »
I would prefer to know, even in ambiguous terms (e.g. "synthesizer," "electronic keyboards" etc.) what was used. But I don't need to know too many specifics, e.g. I don't need to know the brand of synth or which model.

I think the inclusion of synthesizer brands has a historical element to it that started with the Berlin School, perhaps even earlier as names like Moog & ARP were responsible for the unique sound that was produced.  They are still instruments that need to be played by the musician but because they gave birth to electronic music these instruments were given credit on the ablums.  Thats how I like to look at it and part of that still continues to this day.

With so much audio processing and manipulation going on in ambient/electronic music where a violin, oboe, and say a flute are recorded, processed & stretched into beautiful shimmering sonic timbres it is important as Bill mentioned that these instruments be listed so we can get an idea of the artistic process.  Would it matter if say the violin was a Stradivarius?


Regular people listen to ambient music to get the samadhi which is where we all start from. Maybe that's why mp3s and other digital audio are more popular than CDs - no mention of the equipment involved!


As our listening habits today are built around convenience, production notes and equipment certainly have no billing today and perhaps this ended generally with the demise of the  vinyl.  As a kid I remember sitting in my room with headphones on looking and reading those 12" double record covers, lyrics printed on the sleeves, studio shots or live performance pictures and quite often instruments listed with brand names.   

ffcal

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Re: Why do Artist list the instruments used on a CD?
« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2011, 07:34:06 AM »

I think the inclusion of synthesizer brands has a historical element to it that started with the Berlin School, perhaps even earlier as names like Moog & ARP were responsible for the unique sound that was produced.  They are still instruments that need to be played by the musician but because they gave birth to electronic music these instruments were given credit on the ablums.  Thats how I like to look at it and part of that still continues to this day.


I'd add to that the listing of instruments on progressive rock albums.  When I was teenager, the long list of instruments was tantalizing.  I have a vivid memory of Rick Wakeman's long list of keyboards on the inside gatefold of his Six Wives of Henry VIII album.  The pictures of the keyboards (like the ultracool Mellotron) in a live action photo helped, too.  I credit Kit Watkins' long list of gear on one of his early solo albums for influencing me to pick up a pair of AKG-EB351 microphones.

Although I think listeners may be split on the importance of listing instruments, I try to do it on most of my projects, so that the instruments used get some credit.

Forrest

Paul Vnuk (Ma Ja Le)

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Re: Why do Artist list the instruments used on a CD?
« Reply #6 on: September 24, 2011, 08:14:54 AM »
I am also a fan of knowing what instruments or equipment was used in the making of an album, especially if it went beyond the norm and helped shape the album, not just in the electronic genre but overall. For instance I was fascinated to know that the latest Foo Fighter's record used absolutely no computers at all for tracking or editing. It made me want to hear the album and see how it worked out, or that Lenny Kravitz plays almost everything him self and tracks with vintage guitars and a cool vintage synth on almost every track.

Perhaps one push back against the listing of instruments is how many times on an electronica album do we need to read, "Was tracked in my dorm room with a crack of ableton live, reason and omnisphere"  ;D

Anyway joking aside, back to more examples and lest you think I am anti-digital synths, I like that a few years ago Richard Barbieri (arguably one of THE greatest synth masters of our time) decided to forgo his vast collection of vintage analog synths and do an all digital album.

For me its really not about just the instruments, its the whole idea and reasoning behind liner notes, I love to know every what, where, how and WHY? of an album, but thats just how I am wired.

Paul
"I liken good ambient to good poetry ... enjoyable, often powerful, and usually unpopular" APK

Julio Di Benedetto

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Re: Why do Artist list the instruments used on a CD?
« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2011, 12:04:16 PM »
Yes like you Paul, all of those sorts of production side notes are very interesting to me.  When I see that an entire performance was recorded direct to 2 track 1/4" tape, this will make me sit up and want to listen even more! 

You make an interesting point about the dorm room scenario......my girlfriends 20 year old son cuts and pastes pre arranged samples and beats into garageband and snubs his nose at my decently appointed studio.  Good or unique instruments do not make great music...our ears have to be the judge of that but if I read that an artist made a recording with a modular synthesizer brand X, right out of the gate I already have a seen that this music was crafted, patched, call it what you will...a lot of time and effort has gone into the making of the music.  For me its sort of a flag that catches my attention before I actually hear the music.

Seren

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Re: Why do Artist list the instruments used on a CD?
« Reply #8 on: September 24, 2011, 12:06:42 PM »
For me its really not about just the instruments, its the whole idea and reasoning behind liner notes, I love to know every what, where, how and WHY? of an album, but thats just how I am wired.

I agree - For me music always tells a story and anything that the artists puts on the cover/liner notes adds to that story.

My listening habits are not built around convenience and I may enjoy much music without any information whatsoever, but I like to listen, think, consider, learn - not consume....

Julio Di Benedetto

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Re: Why do Artist list the instruments used on a CD?
« Reply #9 on: September 24, 2011, 05:25:03 PM »
I credit Kit Watkins' long list of gear on one of his early solo albums for influencing me to pick up a pair of AKG-EB351 microphones.
Forrest

When the notion of a Serge modular Synth got struck in my head I purchased or sorted out  all types of recordings that used the instrument, such as......Michael Stearns "Planetary Unfolding,  Kevin Breheny's recordings,  Telomere's  Serge works & John Duval's Fist of God recordings.  If that roster doesnt inspire ......!

Recent Steve Roach Quite Music 3 CD re issue lists an Oberheim System, DX7 and a Roland JX3P.....

But this is digressing.....we have a a group of Hypnos Artist and other musicians doing what we love to do, chat about gear.  I placed this topic here because I hoped Hypnos forum members might contribute instead of a bunch of "Gearslutz"  and I use that term lightly with no malcontent.  So come on...silence can be the biggest negative when it comes to opinion and the most unconstructive form of criticism

Peace

sraymar

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Re: Why do Artist list the instruments used on a CD?
« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2011, 04:21:32 AM »
I think non-musicians are more interested in the artwork on a CD, then after that any philisophical mention as to what the music is about, after that any mention of other musicians to see if they can recongize their sound(and that's a maybe), after that any mention of equipment sounds like shop talk gibberish for musicians and basically gets ignored.
Ambient isn't just for technicians!

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jkn

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Re: Why do Artist list the instruments used on a CD?
« Reply #11 on: September 26, 2011, 06:02:59 AM »
I love liner notes...  one of my favorites and I couldn't find an image of it - is an 80's Mute label release for a band called "I Start Counting" - where not only is gear listed, but lists and lists and lists of stuff.  It's so over the top it's hilarious.

As a musician - yes - love to see what people use.   As a fan - I also love to see things like influences, shout outs, and oddities.   But then - yeah - I'm a musician so I probably enjoy liner notes more than the average person.
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Seren

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Re: Why do Artist list the instruments used on a CD?
« Reply #12 on: September 26, 2011, 08:04:14 AM »
I wanted to know what instruments were used on an album long before I got it together to start using any myself.


ffcal

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Re: Why do Artist list the instruments used on a CD?
« Reply #13 on: September 26, 2011, 08:17:29 AM »
I wanted to know what instruments were used on an album long before I got it together to start using any myself.

Same with me.  My interest in liner notes long predates any interest I had in making music.  The history of liner notes at least dates back to days of 50s jazz albums.  Any generalizations about this kind of thing tend not be accurate or reflect one's own biases.

Forrest

APK

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Re: Why do Artist list the instruments used on a CD?
« Reply #14 on: September 26, 2011, 08:23:49 AM »
I've seen some posts about instruments used on a new album that go on longer than any information about the music itself ... as though because these particular instruments were used the music must be good. Crazy

Doesn't interest me very much to know what instruments were used unless the album is deliberately showcasing some out of the ordinary gear.

I may well be interested in knowing how some sounds are produced/created on a CD, but the artist can put this on a web site easily enough and not load the CD with technical stuff.

In the end its all about how much I enjoy the music.
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hdibrell

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Re: Why do Artist list the instruments used on a CD?
« Reply #15 on: September 26, 2011, 08:34:10 AM »
I enjoy liner notes of all kinds. Any information the artist wants to give about the release is appreciated by me. As a musician and admitted gear fiend, I do like to see gear lists. It doesn't affect my enjoyment of the music, though. I can enjoy something without any notes just as easily. I have found that to be true now that I have started downloading music. I guess I look at it as a bonus if the artist does want to tell me something about his or her work.
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Re: Why do Artist list the instruments used on a CD?
« Reply #16 on: September 26, 2011, 09:48:30 AM »
I agree with APK. Some electronic musicians are so in love with their gear, they want to list everything in their studio in their liner notes, including instruments and effects they didn't even use on the album. This is more akin to bragging about their collection than providing information about how the album was made.

I do find details about how a given piece of music was assembled can be interesting, sometimes. Not all processes or instruments are interesting in and of themselves. I mean, simply saying "I used these five synths and these two reverbs and recorded it using this multitrack recorder" isn't necessarily going to give me insight into how the artist created their work.

Sometimes it's interesting to find that what sound like a wall of synths is actually an acoustic instrument, or an electric guitar, and some kind of looping or delay device. I think a big part of what intrigued me (and other listeners) about Jeff Pearce, for example, was this angle. Same thing with David Tollefson, or Tom Heasley. Or even my own album The Pulse Meditations... most people knew me for making synth & sample collages, and I made an album with live improvisations using bass guitar, delay and reverb.
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ffcal

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Re: Why do Artist list the instruments used on a CD?
« Reply #17 on: September 26, 2011, 10:40:20 AM »
Yes, I agree, an exhaustive list of gear can seem like little more than chest puffing.  It also raises the level of expectation, at least in me (with all this gear, this better sound good!).  At the other extreme, it can be annoying when the liner notes say nothing at all, much less where and when the music was recorded.

Forrest

El culto

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Re: Why do Artist list the instruments used on a CD?
« Reply #18 on: September 26, 2011, 10:44:58 AM »
Totally agree with APK and Mike here...well, not a surprise since i was the complainer mentioned in the starting post  ;D

Some electronic musicians are so in love with their gear, they want to list everything in their studio in their liner notes, including instruments and effects they didn't even use on the album.

LOL - this is actually the best of all

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Julio Di Benedetto

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Re: Why do Artist list the instruments used on a CD?
« Reply #19 on: September 26, 2011, 11:28:53 AM »
I may well be interested in knowing how some sounds are produced/created on a CD, but the artist can put this on a web site easily enough and not load the CD with technical stuff.

I think this is a good point, websites & blogs can be the digital equivalent of old school vinyl sleeves and all.......cd info kept to necessary details and then expanded if desired in the www.

Seems to me when I was a kid, fans  knew alot about the the music they loved  (this my be more applicable to rock music).  Personal details of band members etc.  I first discovered the the sound of a Minimoog and Oberheim synths form early Rush albums long before I was personally interested in synthesizers.  My fellow Rush Fans knew exactly what a Rickenbacker bass was and its distinctive sound.  We were not musicians, just fans or were we just fanatics.  Maybe.  Neil Peart was a huge inspiration and was why I started playing the drums.  Are ambient fans so different or are there just so few of us?