Sunday, March 29, 2015

Single Multitracks

I'm starting right to the point with this song, which I've reviewed on here before. I also referenced it as a song in A major. Back when I first found it and listened to it, I had some misconceptions about the song that I wrote down - for example, the descending guitar riff and the 'quiet' guitar is the same guitar. I also pointed out that it sounded nostalgic and that the drums had this neat 'reverb' sound to them. That isn't a product of the recording. It's a product of bad sound quality that hid the true sound and volume of that 'quiet' guitar. That's why I embedded a lyric video version above that has truer sound quality.

Nowadays I liken the song to exuberant happiness at seeing someone, a girl's happiness, and being me, that someone she's happy to see is me thanks to the key and who it makes me think of. This is largely thanks to the guitar sound.

It's probably common knowledge that most artists and bands record by multi-tracking - recording each instrument one at a time, one instrument per track(s). The drums each have their own track and are usually recorded first. Then the bass guitar. And so on. After each instrument and vocal has been recorded and re-recorded, the best take chosen, they are mixed together for dynamics, etc. and committed to a single master track from which the studio takes to the press. The result is a stereo (two channel, so two speaker) single track of all instruments and voice as the completed song.

Due to the way music is distributed, and how the market works, you can't buy a song taken apart with each of its original multi-tracks. And you can't really isolate instruments or vocals in audio programs either - you can extract certain channels in most to remove an instrument or two to hear others better, but you can't literally silence every single other instrument but for the vocals, or isolate only the piano track. The only way to do that is to look online for torrent files of ripped Rockband or Guitar Hero files which have .moggs of the songs used in the games - which themselves are digitally copied or transferred files of the original instrument multi-tracks. You can open them in Audacity, and you get the multi-tracks of a chosen song, giving you the power to take it apart and listen to each actual instrument in a song one at a time.

In searching for a remix I'd found of the song by The Cure awhile ago on YouTube, I stumbled upon a rare greatness. Someone had uploaded each individual track to YouTube - the vocal track, the drum track, the bass guitar track, the guitar, etc.

To hear how each instrument is played with literally no distraction is quite an awesome thing. For me, I get the exact synesthetic reaction to it and see everything as I hear it perfectly, and I also hear things I didn't expect or notice before thanks to the rest of the song.

This instrument track is the reason I like the song virtually at all. And I can tell that this is itself a combination of two or more guitar tracks, because it's obvious it's quite layered. In the song, it's obvious but not nearly as much, and it's relegated to the left channel (left ear/speaker).
The first chord-like picks (A & C sharp) and the second - B & E I reckon - have their own spatial direction, form, and complimentary relationship with each other as one follows the other. With that I get a mixture of happiness, eagerness, anticipation, and reason for it. Then the second two - D & B and D and F sharp (I think) are a further building up of this as well as justification for it and fulfillment of it. The D note combination has that final high to it. All of it is a green/blue and makes me think of that type of face I like, and someone I see now and then. The best parts are not necessarily the main descending riff (which is also great and has a bright blue-white colour to it) but mostly the F sharp-D-A bit that plays instead of the D-F sharp combination (the guitarist is essentially playing a descending D major note-by-note twice).
The guitar's actual sound - achieved probably by a pre-amp or effects board - is a big contributor to how I see it. It's chiming and bright but nice and low at the same time. It's what gives me the colour while the picking and style of picking give me the stylistic form, shape, and direction.

There's still an obvious reverb on the snare drum but it doesn't sound as distant as it did on the original version I would have embedded on here. The drums are probably the only instrument in a song I would not really need to isolate to figure out exactly how they're played. They're always loud enough. However, one thing I did notice is the difference of crash cymbals - the drummer hits a tinkling one and a flat-sounding one. I didn't originally pick up on that first; a lot of 80s songs used that particular flat crash sound. I also confirmed that the bass drum isn't simultaneously struck along with the toms when that common fill comes along. I didn't really think so originally. It's a bad habit I've fallen into when I occasionally play this on my drums.

I have very little to say about this track out of interest. The bass playing got some nice compliments in reviews I saw on the song's Wikipedia page. All I have to say is that it smoothly and correctly follows the song's chosen progression exactly. Otherwise, there is no deviation in it - even in the pattern of the picking. Pick-pick-pickpickpick-pick-pick-pick-pickpickpick...I appreciate songs that have bass lines that don't necessarily have to have difficult progressions, but do something different once or twice. Follow a progression, but add a little style to it, add another complimentary note, alter your playing style slightly. Don't pick a line exactly as you picked it last time. Use the same note an octave higher once or twice. If you wanted to learn how to play this song to the picking style, all you'd have to listen to is the first completion of its progression on the bass, and you're good, except for the F sharp minor - G major bit in the pseudo-chorus.

This is one track I was eager to hear, after the electric guitar track. The rare but very welcome acoustic guitar track, with some added bit of keyboard near the middle. This compliments the right channel in the song while the electric is in the left, and this guitar isn't nearly as easy to listen to over the strings-like keyboard synth. You get it full-on here. I think a 12-string was used, because it sounds dense, and I also think the guitarist didn't bother barring the B minor chord, as I do not hear the deep B note sound, just the higher strings.
Even though this guitar only follows the progression of the song, like the bass does, it's much more interesting to listen to because it simply sounds good thanks to the instrument's tone, the playing style, and the instrument itself. I have no idea how the player was able to energetically strum it so fast over three minutes, constantly. I couldn't go that fast, and not nearly that long. Plus he doesn't strum it exactly the way he did it before on each round of the chord progression, as the bassist does with his pick. Near the end he starts quietly and builds up to a crescendo. It just sounds warm and good. I love how they added this instrument to the song.

This is the track for both the synth keyboard (fake strings) and the piano part that plays over the second verse and the bridge. In the song the "strings" give off a complimentary emotion that makes me visualize the same face and a perceived personality off it (this perception applies to anything else that gives me that face in the song, so it's like a person with a face and personality has come to life via the instruments through synesthesia). On its own, however, it just makes me think of a Star-Trek scenario, space, science fiction, space-like technology, etc. Then there's the piano part, which sounds a lot more computer-based than real. Its echo (which I never noticed/heard on the actual song) and perfect sound give me that impression. Like it was programmed into a computer connected to the keyboard through MIDI and done on it. The piano sounded dreamy in the song. Alone it sounds too processed.

Finally, the vocal track. I'm kind of impressed with it. Despite no song around it, I still can't get exactly what he says once or twice thanks to his vocal tone/inflection, but otherwise he sounds quite emotionally invested in what he's singing. His voice nicely portrays that emotion well. His is a good voice for the song, and you can hear the meaningfulness behind it.

To finish, isolating each instrument's track in a multi-track-recorded song often reveals some good things, some amazing things, and now and then some boring or off-sounding things. I love the electric guitar - it does still sound endearing and happy and layered and beautiful, and works independent of the song - but the keyboard synth alone does not, and the piano was revealed to be way to computer-y to me on its own. The drums didn't reveal anything considering they're naturally loud enough anyway (the only way I'd get messed up in hearing the drums is if a tambourine mixed with the hi-hat, but you don't need to isolate the drum track for that most of the time to figure it out) and the bass turned out to be exactly the same note-for-note, pick-for-pick throughout. The vocals contained raw emotional energy, proving Robert Smith did his job, and well. Finally, the warm, happy, wonderful acoustic addition. I could easily listen to this song for only its guitars, but of course, in the end, the song as a whole is the best product, because every instrument in it is vital to the overall energy, colour, tone, image, and altogether, every instrument sounds awesome. Otherwise the song would only be in one dimension. Without all its clothes on. And of course, knowing now how each instrument sounds on its own exactly, I can notice and hear all of that in the full song now. It sounds better as a result.

If only music could be released that way. I would never tire of having an emotional bliss with that.

Red Cloud

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