In a sharp 1993 essay on the Milli Vanilli controversy, Ted Friedman writes that the record producer is becoming far more like a film director than an arranger of musicians:
Pop music-making in the 1990s has more to do with filmmaking than jamming in a garage: every song is a collection of tracks laid down by assorted musicians, edited together by producers, and fronted by charismatic performers. But while most viewers recognize the complex division of labor in moviemaking--nobody gets upset that actors don't do their own stunts--pop music hangs on to the folk-era image of the individual artist communicating directly to her or his listeners. Milli Vanilli became martyrs to this myth of authenticity. They were the recording industry's sacrifice meant to prove the integrity of the rest of their product--as if the music marketed under the names U2 or Janet Jackson WEREN'T every bit as constructed and mediated, just because the voices on the records matched the faces in the videos.
As I learn more and more the skills of PC-based home recording, I realize just how much Friedman was right. I was recently fooling around with a short segment of music on the Sonar PC recording program. I laid down a short Acid Loop for a background track, and then found some Acid loops of a drum machine and bass part to accompany it. I plugged in my trusty Les Paul Custom and made four passes at solos, and then edited it them down to one part.
Inventing a New Solo
In the past, I haven't done a whole lot of real comping of vocals or solos. Having begun recording in the 1980s during the "golden age of the four-track", I'm used to punching in when there's an error, as opposed to playing lots of stuff and comping it down to one track. But this past week, I had a friend sing on a tune, and we comped her three or four vocals into one really first class vocal. I figured I'd try the same thing on guitar.
The solo sounded OK, but the climax wasn't very strong. So I took the last bit I played, which was a fast 16th note run, repeated it, and then converted the last note, a sustained bent note, into a loop itself, which I then pitched down two semitones.
The rest of the solo sounded like my playing at its cleanest and most concise, because I could pick and choose the strongest bits and paste them together. But that last part was truly inventing something that didn't exist before.