Old 03-27-2010, 09:27 AM   #41
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I guess it may depend on what the term barre-chord means to you or any other individual... I'm betting now you are talking about the barre form of open E or A moved around... the "powerchords"; if so, I'm on board with ya 100%. Gets boring/lame quick.
powerchords: root and fifth, octave optional

barrechords: The A/Am (and variants) and E/Em (and variants) shape moved up the neck with use of a barre

and as far as 60s music, i can find just as many good sounds as I can utterly horrid - haven't found anything in that respect that sets it apart from any other era... just different, is all.
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Old 03-27-2010, 10:01 AM   #42
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Thanks for the reply RHGraham, and I'm sure we agree more than not. It's hard to convey true meaning in the context of a forum post, even more so given that I don't like using emoticons that much. But they really do help.
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Old 03-27-2010, 11:27 AM   #43
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In all seriousness, could we have some examples?

-- snip --

It's hard for me to think of anything in the past ten years or so that I would think of as great recording, in the sense of the kind of thing people will be listening to in 50 years and wondering how they got that sound quality. I'd be curious to hear suggestions.
Well, I have to think a bit more about the last ten years (I might agree with you there ) but if by 'modern recording' we mean post Beatles, Beach boys, etc. then I would say the stuff Trevor Horn did with FGTH, Propaganda and of course The Buggles... and Rupert Hine's albums Immunity, Waving not Drowning and The Wildest Wish to Fly (he did also great things with The Fixx, Saga, Rush)
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Old 03-27-2010, 12:46 PM   #44
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powerchords: root and fifth, octave optional

barrechords: The A/Am (and variants) and E/Em (and variants) shape moved up the neck with use of a barre

and as far as 60s music, i can find just as many good sounds as I can utterly horrid - haven't found anything in that respect that sets it apart from any other era... just different, is all.
Hi Jason

Well, I guess those things all depend on what school of thought you come from.
Really to me a powerchord actually involves a Plexi, 4X12, and full volume.
:0)

And sure, lotsa crap recorded in any decade, to be sure. Especially this last one. I feel that the "good" stuff was less good generally speaking, from the mid-late 80s and on. Always going to be exceptions.
I personally dig the "sound" of the 60's and 70's, and a lot of that was the medium itsself, the vinyl record. It's the era I was coming into my own as well so, you know, there is the nostalgia aspect of course.

Still, in general terms, I don`t have a high opinion of a lot of the recordings I hear these days, for a lot of reasons. It's all personal preferance though, in the end.
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Old 03-27-2010, 01:27 PM   #45
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In all seriousness, could we have some examples?

I have quite a few favorite records from recent years on the one hand, sound quality notwithstanding, and I have a few records of recent release that I think sound pretty good, audio-wise.

But I have a hard time thinking of great songs that really sound great in recent years.
Just off the top of my head... many of the modern movie soundtracks sound very well engineered. I watched a live Michael Buble concert on blu-ray and it sounded fantastic as well. Similarly, a Roy Orbison live (blu-ray) which sounded great. Or the documentary "Standing in the Shadows of Motown", I loved the modern live recreations/recordings of the songs.

You said "great songs". I am not talking about great songs, that's very subjective isn't it? I am talking only about the technical side of things.
I just think (and please correct me) that nowdays it takes a lot more skill to record an orchestra for example, or a jazz band, to the highest quality... We have better technology, more options, less compromises nowdays than we did 30 or 40 years back. It's a consequence of progress... you get more knowledge with it.

This goes very much off topic however and I apologise for that.

This is off-topic however.
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Old 03-27-2010, 08:49 PM   #46
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I dunno if this fits the thread or not, but I'd swear it was simply the reverb of the era.

I was listening top Prarie Home Companion today on some AM radio station, and there was that vintage vibe right there. No idea what their production techniques are, but it seems to me it's reverb that sounds large and deep, but doesn't have "reflectory" sounding tails.

That seems to be true of a lot of 60's vocals. Perhaps vocals of any era. But specifically both Morrison and Bono are coming to mind as I type. Fogerty too. And many others.

But for me it seems to be the sense of space that was part of the "default" reverb of the era.

(Speaking as a complete non-professional, that's been pondering this subject for some time, LOL!)

While I'm thinking about it, anyone know or remember any details about Frijid Pink's version of "House of the Rising Sun". As a kid it was my personal definition of "heavy", LOL!
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Old 03-28-2010, 08:29 PM   #47
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You're right, I'm not a guitar player. I'll rephrase my disclaimer "Yes, good players use capos sometimes, etc.". The etc. means "Yes, good players use capos (and bar chords) sometimes, etc.". I also checked and it looks like you can spell it either way, bar or barre.

You say "All of those players you listed used Barre cords, of many forms, constantly,". That's not my impression, as a recordist or a fan. I see bar chords rarely used, certainly not constantly. I guess less than 5% of the time. Anyway I don't care what a good guitar player does, I'm talking about the use of bar chords by substandard players as a crutch.

I have an old record called Learn Guitar With the Ventures, or something close. I learned one song in there, and it uses bar chords. Imagine how I felt when I saw them playing the real thing. The chords they used were nothing like what I had learned, and they weren't bar chords.

Guitar is totally different from keyboards. And guitar is the hardest instrument to duplicate with samples, besides vocals.

Electric guitar is the most expressive instrument yet invented. A skilled guitar player can produce whispers, howls, screeches, moans, machine-guns, etc, all without touching a knob or setting. In fact, a good guitar player can achieve all of the above on a single "note".

That said, a keyboard player has a massively larger array of musical and tonal options, and far greater theoretical possibilities. In fact, the only thing that a keyboard *can't* do is duplicate a good guitar or vocal part.

Electric guitar has become a killer instrument precisely because the player has so much direct control over the sound. You can be a very good guitar player without necessarily being a good musician, similar to gifted singers.

Capos and "cheater tunings" are the guitar equivalent of midi transpositions. They are shorthands for players who are not good enough to "genuinely" change keys, etc. The proof is always in the pudding: does it sound good, or bad? Do people love it, or want to dance to it, or tell their kids about it?
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Old 03-28-2010, 08:34 PM   #48
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Capos and "cheater tunings" are the guitar equivalent of midi transpositions. They are shorthands for players who are not good enough to "genuinely" change keys, etc. The proof is always in the pudding: does it sound good, or bad? Do people love it, or want to dance to it, or tell their kids about it?
I agree and disagree. I think you haven't gone far enough here - capos and cheater tunings are indeed SIMILAR to midi transposing. However, its not equivalent. By putting a capo on or changing the tuning you also achieve a timbral difference, whereas its not the same with midi transposition. I can now transpose on the fly, I used to be unable as an early musician. However, when i do so i will still choose a capo or "cheater" tuning due to tonal differences. What makes standard tuning not a "cheat" anyway?

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Old 03-28-2010, 08:49 PM   #49
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yeah, those darn cheaters and their crazy tunings and capos and stuff..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vRvRB...eature=channel

:0)
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Old 03-28-2010, 09:00 PM   #50
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I agree and disagree. I think you haven't gone far enough here - capos and cheater tunings are indeed SIMILAR to midi transposing. However, its not equivalent...
As I said:

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The proof is always in the pudding: does it sound good, or bad?
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Old 03-28-2010, 09:01 PM   #51
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yeah, those darn cheaters and their crazy tunings and capos and stuff..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vRvRB...eature=channel

:0)

As I said:

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Old 03-28-2010, 09:03 PM   #52
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Sorry YEP, I was just havin a bit o fun, I knew what you were getting at.

Just couldn't help myself, you know what old guitar players are like..

:0)
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Old 03-28-2010, 09:10 PM   #53
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sorry, too general, imo. I wanted to take it a bit further, is all.

sorry it apparently struck a nerve
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Old 03-28-2010, 10:53 PM   #54
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Probably not the most prestigious recordings of the last 10 years, but when I first heard Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings I thought it was a 60's record that I was listening to. Everything out of that studio. However, I think it's because they actually use nothing but leftover gear.

I don't know that I saw anything about low-passing tracks to help get the sound. Those recordings in question didn't have a freq response of 20k, probably more like 15 or 16 tops. I've messed around with it a bit, and you can get decent results by low-passing the tracks independently, chopping of the air or anything much higher than the resonant sound of the instrument. Same goes for High-pass. Those records didn't report too much above 80hz (or around there).

The other thing for that sound is: arrangement.
Since those guys were going straight to 2 track most of the time, if something conflicted with the melody, or if instruments were walking all over each other (a prominent characteristic of low level work and one-man bands) they would have to cut it. The balance of the song came from the actual instrumentation, instead of massive amounts of post-production.

Anyway, I think it's definitely something that has to be addressed before the recording goes on.
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Old 03-29-2010, 01:52 AM   #55
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Capos are cheating? Get outta here! They are just tools and aids just like open tunings or hell, plectrums and fingerpicks. The standard tuning isn't nothing real, it is just convention that arose from certain school of thought. It works most of the time, but it can't do stuff like DADGAD in folk for example. Music is for listening, not measuring your proverbial dick. That is childish way of looking at instrument playing, IMO. But of course I don't deny that virtuosity can sound amazing (as it should or it wouldn't really be it). And that is only valid reason for virtuosity, to sound spectacular. Music is not a sport event.

Capo is very far from transpose buttons on the MIDI keyboards. Like Jason said, it even changes the tonality completely. Also fingerings are different as frets are closer. It is nice tool. I use it to get musical results, not to fool the audience that I have some monster chops. Didn't that school of guitar playing already went as far as humanly possible in the spandex eighties? Well, I have to admit that at that time I loved Satriani and Vai, but even they weren't just showing off some finger dexterity. It was music.
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Old 03-29-2010, 03:03 PM   #56
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Speaking as a guitarist, don't be shocked if someone's playing something that doesn't look like a "barre chord". It may be the same notes in another fingering. I prefer to think of "moveable chord shapes" rather than "barre chords", because the barre is just one way to get the effect. Look into the "CAGED" approach to guitar, and you'll get more of where I'm coming from.

Personally, I don't like playing full barres at all. I very rarely want to play six-note chords, as I find them muddy and blurry-sounding. Moreover, the strength and extension required to hold a barre reduces my left-hand efficiency moving from one shape to another. And left-hand efficiency is critical to accomplishing a fluid sound on guitar. A sluggish left hand breaks up the rhythms and makes things sound choppy and amateurish.

Two and three-string chords, rather than full strums, sound crisper and are easier to play. Listen to great 60s records, and you'll hear some very clean guitar playing along the lines I'm suggesting here. Let the bass or keys hold down the low end... focus on small middle-string chords farther up the neck.
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Old 03-30-2010, 09:32 AM   #57
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Can you give some examples of such chord shapes? This sounds interesting.
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Old 03-30-2010, 07:17 PM   #58
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Just off the top of my head... the documentary "Standing in the Shadows of Motown", I loved the modern live recreations/recordings of the songs. ...
One of my all-time favorite movies, and a phenomenal soundtrack. But in all seriousness, even setting aside the performances, do those newer, higher-budget recordings really sound BETTER to you than the originals recorded in the cellar? They sure don't to me.
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Old 03-30-2010, 07:35 PM   #59
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RE: all the stuff with capos: capos are a tool, as are auto-tune, fretted instruments, pitch pipes, or anything else.

Some people have used hammers to drive screws. That doesn't make hammers or screws bad.

Lots of great players have used capos to achieve timbral or tonal effects or simply to play hybrid open/closed passages that they could not have played otherwise. And some fine accompanists really only know open chords and use capos to facilitate playing in different keys.

But LOTS of guitar players use capos and "cheater" tunings as a substitute for actually playing something as it is meant to sound. As a sometime audio engineer, capos and "cheater" tunings are often a red flag, a warning sign of a guitar player who has bad sound, and who thinks that it's the job of someone or something else to make it sound right.

If you play with a capo, or with open-E tuning, and it sounds good, then I can grab a good-sounding recording of it. If you play with or without any helpers, and it DOESN'T sound good, then we're both in trouble, unless you have a lot of money.

The player could come in with an open tuning, a drill with a pick on it, and a rubber band that he moves along the frets: if it sounds good, it's good. I have no purity whatsoever. And some players have developed very cool styles that genuinely depend on open tunings or capos-- I've seen some absolutely sick bluegrass virtuosos flip capos along the neck while fingerpicking to make your eyeballs bleed, and doing it all with precision, punch, and metronomic articulation.

But "some" is not "all", and capos and open tunings are often favorites of poor players who fail to change chords on the beat, who articulate poorly, who have poor sensitivity for sonics, aural texture, and dynamics, and who generally fail to deliver a compelling musical story or vision. They are often, though not always, harbingers of sloppy, insensitive, poorly-practiced players.
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Old 03-30-2010, 08:46 PM   #60
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RE: all the stuff with capos: capos are a tool, as are auto-tune, fretted instruments, pitch pipes, or anything else.

Some people have used hammers to drive screws. That doesn't make hammers or screws bad.

Lots of great players have used capos to achieve timbral or tonal effects or simply to play hybrid open/closed passages that they could not have played otherwise. And some fine accompanists really only know open chords and use capos to facilitate playing in different keys.

But LOTS of guitar players use capos and "cheater" tunings as a substitute for actually playing something as it is meant to sound. As a sometime audio engineer, capos and "cheater" tunings are often a red flag, a warning sign of a guitar player who has bad sound, and who thinks that it's the job of someone or something else to make it sound right.

If you play with a capo, or with open-E tuning, and it sounds good, then I can grab a good-sounding recording of it. If you play with or without any helpers, and it DOESN'T sound good, then we're both in trouble, unless you have a lot of money.

The player could come in with an open tuning, a drill with a pick on it, and a rubber band that he moves along the frets: if it sounds good, it's good. I have no purity whatsoever. And some players have developed very cool styles that genuinely depend on open tunings or capos-- I've seen some absolutely sick bluegrass virtuosos flip capos along the neck while fingerpicking to make your eyeballs bleed, and doing it all with precision, punch, and metronomic articulation.

But "some" is not "all", and capos and open tunings are often favorites of poor players who fail to change chords on the beat, who articulate poorly, who have poor sensitivity for sonics, aural texture, and dynamics, and who generally fail to deliver a compelling musical story or vision. They are often, though not always, harbingers of sloppy, insensitive, poorly-practiced players.
There are things that can be done down at the first fret in E, G, A, D, and C using open string forms and adding and subtracting various notes that can't be done at other frets without a capo. It doesn't necessarily have anything to do with open tuning, though it could if one likes. A capo would be needed to do these things in another key.
It's just the nature of the instrument.

Also. open tuning isn't just about 'cheating'. You can get chord forms that would be impossible in standard tuning. Listen to Joni Mitchell. She is a master at this.

Yep, I tend to think that you don't play?

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Old 03-30-2010, 09:20 PM   #61
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Sounds like yep, kludge and I are on the same page. There's nothing inherently wrong with using a capo or bar when it's done for the right reason.
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Old 03-31-2010, 01:04 AM   #62
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Sounds like yep, kludge and I are on the same page. There's nothing inherently wrong with using a capo or bar when it's done for the right reason.
With this I can agree completely!
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Old 03-31-2010, 04:38 AM   #63
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There are things that can be done down at the first fret in E, G, A, D, and C using open string forms and adding and subtracting various notes that can't be done at other frets without a capo. It doesn't necessarily have anything to do with open tuning, though it could if one likes. A capo would be needed to do these things in another key.
It's just the nature of the instrument.

Also. open tuning isn't just about 'cheating'. You can get chord forms that would be impossible in standard tuning. Listen to Joni Mitchell. She is a master at this.

Yep, I tend to think that you don't play?
I think you just miss-understand where yep is coming from, he's not saying "always", he's saying "sometimes", with regards to capos and tunings being an issue, or an indicator of an issue.

I see the same thing around here also, maybe one in 7 or 10 folks I see use a capo and it seems like they are making it do a lot of stuff for them, adding a lot of options and ranges to what they do.
The other 6-9 are using them so they don't have to learn any new (hard) chords.
At the local sunday jams it doesn't matter... when they come in the studio, I agree with yep 100%, I see capos coming out I also have a great deal of concern over what is going to take place after. It's often not good.

And I am a guitar player as well, so for whatever thats worth...
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Old 03-31-2010, 02:42 PM   #64
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OK.
I see your point. Many people don't want to move beyond 1st possition open string chords so they use the capo to move those open string chord forms up the neck.
That turns the capo into a sort of self imposed prison.
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Old 03-31-2010, 05:34 PM   #65
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Back to the original topic, perhaps you should ping Reaper user scalerwave.
This one is simply amazing (and I helped a little).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPnWwpuyBuk
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Old 04-01-2010, 11:12 AM   #66
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Blasphemy: is it worth studying the techniques and tools used back then (other than for historical reasons)? Musicianship+sentimental value aside, I don't find 60s recordings to be anything spectacular. Compared to the technical+human skills we have today. I am a hi-fi person I admit. And comparing apples to apples, the "abbey roads" and "george martins" of today may be a lot more interesting to get into?
You really need to get a copy of Blood Sweat and Tears, 1968 and listen to it on a GOOD system, and then ponder your comment about 60's recordings...
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Old 04-01-2010, 02:42 PM   #67
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Can you give some examples of such chord shapes? This sounds interesting.
For an example, here's one of my favorites... Use your index finger as a short barre across the D-G-B strings. Your fingertip should touch the A string solidly enough to mute it, and the joints should be bent back enough that the flesh of your fingers mutes but does NOT fret the high E string (this is important). You may want to wrap your thumb around to mute the low E as well. When you strum, all you should hear is the D-G-B strings - a second inversion major triad. This is now a moveable shape, up and down the neck, and it requires VERY little muscle effort and sounds great.

Here's where it gets juicy, though... over that barre, play an Am7 shape (fret two up the D string and one up the B string). This should be very easy to do physically. This is a first inversion major triad, a perfect fourth up from the barre! So if you put the barre at the fifth fret, the barre is a C chord, and the Am7 shape is an F chord. Slide it up two frets, and it's a G chord. Now you can play about a zillion songs.

Once you have those shapes, try hammering the shape over the barre, or pulling off from the shape to the barre. This is a very easy, fluid rocking motion with very little muscle or stretching required. Hear it ROCK? Now, start thinking of the Rolling Stones' "Start Me Up", or "Brown Sugar". Next, try "Rockin' the Paradise" by Styx. Hear those riffs just pouring out? That's how the pros do it, man. (to be fair, the Stones go a little farther by adapting this motion to open G tuning, but the principle is there)

The first hit is free here. To really exploit this technique, you need to learn more chord shapes. Start pulling three-note fragments from the open position cowboy chords you already know and play them with these short barres, all over the neck. Learn the common harmonic relationships and motions, because harmonic MOTION is where it's at. Learn every triad inversion on every set of strings, all the way up and down the neck.

The visual relationship between the cowboy chords and these barred fragments? That's CAGED. C-A-G-E-D. Translate C chords, A chords, G chords, E chords, and D chords into moveable shapes. This is SO much more sophisticated and powerful than the basic power "bar chords". It's the jump to voice leading. Once you start doing this, you'll hear how some motions are better than others, and choosing better chords. You'll compose more interesting lines, and fit better with other instruments.

Hope this helps the budding guitarists some! Listen to pop music from the 1960s, and you'll hear exactly this style of chording. It's classic.
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Old 04-01-2010, 07:16 PM   #68
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...
Also. open tuning isn't just about 'cheating'. You can get chord forms that would be impossible in standard tuning. Listen to Joni Mitchell. She is a master at this.

Yep, I tend to think that you don't play?
I don't think you even read the post you quoted. As I said in that very post:

Quote:
Lots of great players have used capos to achieve timbral or tonal effects or simply to play hybrid open/closed passages that they could not have played otherwise.
I feel like this has turned into something I didn't mean: a "capos are bad" vs "capos are good" debate (or alternate tunings, for that matter).

To bring it back to my original point, and to the original topic, a guitar, or a voice, or even a piano, for that matter is not a midi sequencer. It's not something where you just input the right notes and then tweak knobs to make it sound good.

Good piano players absolutely adjust their technique and style of play to the instrument, to the room they're in, to the overall sonic context of the accompaniment and everything else. And that's piano. Even organ, synth players, drummers, whatever. When you get to stuff like horns, strings, and especially electric guitar and vocals, it's not just something where you can sequence the right notes and then just push a bunch of knobs and buttons to make it sound good.

In the days before cheap and easy processing, when instruments and gear were expensive, before easy multi-track demo recording and online transcriptions, loopers, sequencers, what-have-you... in those days, actual bands had to create actual good sound, in a room, with four guys playing four instruments (or eight guys playing eight instruments, whatever). If they could not do that, they were not a good band.

The Beach Boys actually sang those parts. The old Motown recordings were a band in a basement, churning out three, four hit singles a day: they'd work out the changes, write up a chord chart, play two or three takes, then do the same again with a different singer or vocal group. Same with Sun studios: play a couple Johnny Cash songs in the morning, with him singing in the room, then a couple of Elvis songs in the afternoon, with him singing in the room. Those were the records: mixed live, recorded with a handful of mics, and a band that already sounded good.

And yeah, they had really good gear: heavy-duty, hand-wired, bomb-shelter/tank-like equipment with huge power supplies, hand-matched components, solid metal shielding, military/industrial-grade switches and knobs, and so on. But they weren't making it to sound "vintage": they were buying the best components they could buy and building them to pre-computer-era construction standards, back in the days when "obsolescence" of electronic and electrical components was almost unheard-of: this was back when people imagined sci-fi worlds with atomic spaceships guided by room-sized, vaccum-tube computers.

They built quality stuff because the expectation was that it would last for generations. And, remarkably, it has. You can still use the same gear that the Beatles or the Rolling Stones or Elvis recorded on, and plenty of modern bands have. You can even buy plugins and re-issues and knockoffs and so on, and people spend a fortune on those, and a lot of them are very good, often even better than the originals. And you can also buy a $400 computer and $200 worth of software and a $500 interface that a lot of those recording engineers would have given their left nut for.

The old gear *was* built better (although the modern boutique manufacturers tend to build it about as well). But if you're looking for the difference between modern recordings and 60's recordings, to me, it's a bit silly to start with transformers and power supplies, when there are so many bigger and more obvious differences in the material actually being recorded. It seems a bit like trying to analyze paint chemistry to figure out what makes a Jackson Pollock different from a Da Vinci.

And I say all of the above without meaning to imply any value judgments about modern popular music versus "vintage" pop music. It's a different beast, just as the Rolling Stones were different from Tin Pan Alley. But in the same way, you can't make Mick Jagger or Eric Clapton sound like Nat King Cole or Charlie Christian just by buying the right mic and twisting the right knobs.
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Old 04-02-2010, 06:49 AM   #69
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I'll only add that today there is more concentration on gear than ever before. It has been bad enough over the last 30 years, but its even worse now with the advent of plugins and emulation galore. What most people never, ever realize is it is rarely, if ever the gear. It's all in the hands and always has been.
Amen brother...!!!

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Old 04-02-2010, 03:31 PM   #70
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Default 60's sound

I am near 60 years old, and I was there. I can tell you that we were all really, really high most of the time.
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Old 04-03-2010, 01:32 PM   #71
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For an example, here's one of my favorites... Use your index finger as a short barre across the D-G-B strings. Your fingertip should touch the A string solidly enough to mute it, and the joints should be bent back enough that the flesh of your fingers mutes but does NOT fret the high E string (this is important). You may want to wrap your thumb around to mute the low E as well. When you strum, all you should hear is the D-G-B strings - a second inversion major triad. This is now a moveable shape, up and down the neck, and it requires VERY little muscle effort and sounds great.
This is really cool! I'm going to work on it a little once I have a little bit of time on my hands.
I always thought that CGAED simply referred to the barre chords that realte to these basic shapes. If you have more resources on the subject (or feel like making a YouTube video or two ) I'd be happy to see them!
Thanks again!
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Old 04-06-2010, 01:31 PM   #72
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how to get that 60's sound
Hollow-body guitars.

Natural amp distortion, not pedals, and little of that.

Flat-wound strings on the bass

Foam pad stuck near the bridge on the bass to dampen sustain.

Vocal harmonies...

That is enough to get started

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Old 04-08-2010, 02:25 AM   #73
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Default Well...finally..some old guys...like me!

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I am near 60 years old, and I was there. I can tell you that we were all really, really high most of the time.
mlewis17...finally, some old guys like me chime in! Ha!

I AM sixty one! I was laughing reading all the kids speculations here. It's really fun reading all the experts that say "supposedly..." I'm actually pleased about the curiosity and really getting a kick out of it. But...the problem for me being 61, and actually having been there, and done that, is that the memory gets a little clouded. BUT... I'd be happy to answer any questions you young guys 'n gals might have about the "olden times". In the mean time I'm going to let my mind wander and just throw out some old memories and see if any of it sticks. I'll try not to be too long-winded...but no guarantees. (BTW, I have that "Recording the Beatles" Book and it's really amazing and truly right on.

How to get that 60's vintage vibe sound? Let's see...where to begin;
I started playing guitar at the age of 10 and also loved electronics. Got my ham license when I was 12...so...naturally right out of high school I was lucky enough to land a job at Gold Star Recording Studios in Hollywood. I bugged Dave Gold every week begging to work there until he hired me. But all he let me do was sweep floors and unload supply trucks. Anyway, here are some random thoughts about what we did and how we did it. (BTW, I became a recordist there in a couple of months)
The signal path? Well, we used lots of Ribbon mics, and I mean on everything. RCA 44's, 77's, and we used a lot of Sennheiser's, and lots of shure mics but I can't remember the model numbers, thought the 57 looks like it. The large dia. condensers (mostly Telefunkens) where used on vocals a lot too and on over heads (one), and as room mics. We used the big RCA ribbons on Sonny and Cher, the Buffalo Springfield and most vocals of "that type". Our tape machines were all the Ampex 350's in various incarnations (all tube stuff of course). We used a lot of Teletronix, UA comps and such. I do believe the board in Studio A was a Putnam board, but couldn't swear to it. The same as over in United Western studio 3. Verbs? We had one. It was a room in the next building. Dave Gold built it and it was a floating room with hard plastered walls and all the corners were filled in and rounded with plaster so there were no hard edges. To go in there you had to get down on all fours and crawl into a 2X2' opening that was like a small refrigerator door. Our speaker at one end was an Altec 604E and I forget what mic we used for the verb return...but THAT was the Gold Star "sound"...that reverb!

Funny, I remember after a typical session, we'd rush down to the lathe room and cut an acetate disc for the client, then we rush down to Dave's lab where he had a small AM radio transmitter (and compressor) that was on the AM broadcast band. We'd throw the acetate record on the turntable and then we'd all run out to the parking lot and turn on our TUBE AM car radios and tune in the Gold Star frequency! BINGO!!! That's how we learned, and experimented with the mix for the AM radio. Pretty funny huh guys? Ok, I've gone on long enough, but in closing a few fun memories in no particular order;
I actually repaired Jimi Hendrix's gear when I worked at Cal Audio (Burbank, CA). Yep, 30 Sunn Coliseum amps and heads, for a time he was playing Sunn... And all you kids with your racks and racks of gear? Want to know what was in Jimi's effects flight case? Even then I died laughing. There were TWO, and only TWO Fuzz Face pedals in there. And along with them a bunch of very tangled up coil cords. You think anyone ever told him those coiled cords had tons of capacitance and totally killed the top end coming out of his Strat? It sure worked for him though, huh?

Then in January of 1971 I was lucky enough to attend the secret recording session of George Harrison when he recorded Bangladesh. (not the concert version. The 45 RPM single) Done at Wally Heider's unmarked studio #4 on Cahuenga Blvd, in Hollywood. That was the musical highlight of my life!

Well, enough for now, except to say lastly; I'm re-doing my studio again but it's not vintage...it's all new gear but here's my signal path for guitar for example; Fender Strat, or Epi Casino (P-90s w/flatwounds) into Egnater Rebel 20 tube amp, (KK audio cabs) mic'd with a 57 and Fathead II ribbon mic's (Lundahl xfrmers), into a Universal Audio 6176 (UA 610 tube mic pre &1176LN comp in one box), then into Reaper via a RME Fireface 800. For drums/bass warmth (63 Fender P bass, 72 Rickenbacker bass) I come out of Reaper into a pair of Otari MTR-12's mastering tape decks,(half inch three track, track 3 is only SMPTE code for film/video, and the other Otari is a 1/4" two track) and and back into Reaper. Of course I will be able to master to tape also. Yep, no more tape slicing for me. I LOVE Reaper!

On vocals it's the same signal path but with a Mojave MA-200 tube mic. I actually have one of he older models with the tapered body that Dave Royer tweaked... Anyway, I've got tons of memories of Gold Star and my later days as a L.A. Studio bass player, and if you guys have any questions I'll sure try to answer them---foggy memory permitting. BTW, my new Argosy console arrives tomorrow!!!!!! Now THAT makes me feel like a kid again! I've got 12 boxes to open and assemble!
Cheers all! and good night!
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Old 04-09-2010, 09:57 PM   #74
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Verbs? We had one. It was a room in the next building. Dave Gold built it and it was a floating room with hard plastered walls and all the corners were filled in and rounded with plaster so there were no hard edges. To go in there you had to get down on all fours and crawl into a 2X2' opening that was like a small refrigerator door. Our speaker at one end was an Altec 604E and I forget what mic we used for the verb return...but THAT was the Gold Star "sound"...that reverb!
For a lot of young folks, you might actually have to explain how this was a reverb and how you did it. It would be a good thing to know, I think, cause it's something you can do fairly easily in your home if you have a spare good-sized room (or a nice tiled bathroom) and an extra speaker and microphone.

Or maybe I'm dreaming, and the ability to sit on your a** at your computer and dial up hundreds of verbs and chambers and ambiences means no one would ever think of actually trying it.
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Old 04-09-2010, 10:33 PM   #75
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For a lot of young folks, you might actually have to explain how this was a reverb and how you did it. It would be a good thing to know, I think, cause it's something you can do fairly easily in your home if you have a spare good-sized room (or a nice tiled bathroom) and an extra speaker and microphone.

Or maybe I'm dreaming, and the ability to sit on your a** at your computer and dial up hundreds of verbs and chambers and ambiences means no one would ever think of actually trying it.
Speaking out of turn, here, and not hijack Yfoiler's brilliantly entertaining first-hand experience...

If you have a spare room, AND it can support 2,000 pounds of plaster AND you don't care about your home's property value: an old-fashioned reverb chamber is basically just a plaster-built "cave" inside a room. And there is no real "recipe": they all sound different, and there were and are at least as many theories as there are pertaining to plugins and digital reverbs... the good thing is, a sander and more plaster can always change the shape and sound. You just put one or more speakers in the room, and one or more mics in the room, and then buss your reverb sends out to the chamber.

You can also save a lot of plaster and a lot of home equity by simply doing the same in a hard-surfaced room like a bathroom. If you you can get access to a parking garage or church or warehouse or barn or a building stairwell during quiet time, you can also get some interesting effects that way.

On a side note, it's also pretty easy to build a spring or plate reverb: clamp a speaker to one end of a piece of metal (like a slinky or an aluminum pan), and clamp or glue a contact mic to the other end, and there you have it.
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Old 04-09-2010, 11:05 PM   #76
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One of the most elucidating things about hearing from veterans like Yfolier who were in the thick of it is how not that different the fundamental gear and approaches were: the same brands are still in vouge, although we have a lot more inexpensive knockoffs (like the Mojave Audio and Fathead mics he cites).

There's a bit in the movie "Standing in the Shadows of Motown" where one of the Funk Brothers (maybe Joe Hunter, I forget) says something like (I'm paraphrasing from memory): People always wanted to know where that "Motown sound" came from, and they'd say maybe it was the floor, maybe it was the microphones, maybe it was the food, maybe it was the room we played in, but nobody ever said 'Maybe it was the musicians'.

Which illustrates that even back then, there was this sort of nonsensical notion that good sound didn't come from musicians, that it came from floors or rooms or microphones or preamps or some such. I think that syndrome is even worse today: there is this sort of endemic belief that if you play and sing the "right notes" and it doesn't sound good, then the problem must be with the instrument or the mic or the compressor settings or whatever.

All of which flies in the face of historical notions of musicianship: Josef Hofmann's famous treatise on Piano Playing is some 200 pages and it presumes from the outset that the reader is a competent sight-reader-- it's entirely a book about how to practice and manipulate the piano to sound more musical and expressive, entirely about phrasing and technique and pedal work and responding to the room and so on: it takes for granted that the reader is classically trained. Major symphony orchestras conduct auditions where the candidate performs behind a screen and then select members based on the quality of the sound, and they are picking among candidates who have been through the best musical training from childhood, who are playing million-dollar, 300-year-old instruments, where accuracy and perfect sight-reading are taken for granted. And STILL, they select based on the sound created by the musician.

Yet people still somehow think that it's engineering and studio tricks that make bands sound good. And the sick thing is that, as engineers, we CAN make musicians sound a lot different. But it's not the same as simply recording a musician who sounds good in the first place.
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Old 04-09-2010, 11:19 PM   #77
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If I may add my AU$0.02 worth (uh, what's the exhange rate currently?)

IMHO, as a musician and engineer, getting a pleasing result is a combination of ALL aspects from musicianship, skill and feel to engineering skills and equipment. It is a synergy of the entire process from musical inspiration to final master and ALL the links in between.

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Old 04-10-2010, 02:47 AM   #78
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Verbs? We had one. It was a room in the next building. Dave Gold built it and it was a floating room with hard plastered walls and all the corners were filled in and rounded with plaster so there were no hard edges. To go in there you had to get down on all fours and crawl into a 2X2' opening that was like a small refrigerator door. Our speaker at one end was an Altec 604E and I forget what mic we used for the verb return...but THAT was the Gold Star "sound"...that reverb!
I truly believe, other things being held constant, that this is the biggest difference from decade to decade of music when people talk, "The sound of [fill in the era]".

Some engineers I've heard say it another way, "The room is everything".

Just my current belief. Seems to me the ambience applied to the recordings can make or break it.

Won't make or break a great performance (just to be clear) but it can make or break "the sound", so to speak.

I mean consider Sam Phillips use of Slapback, right? (Granted not a real room, but an ambience technique none-the-less.) Practically the definition of "Rockabilly".

And though, Yep and other tend to disagree, this is why I lean a little more toward the "it's the equipment" than the "it's the player" thing.

Or perhaps more accurately, "Assuming a great musician, it's all the equipment from there."

I mean, in trying to "re-engineer" a friend's soundtracks on videos where he and sometimes another are playing guitar and singing... there's nothing I can do to really fix choppily played dead sounding bar chords. But given a clean performance (and multitracks rather than 2 track) I can do a lot more. Which of course is in the realm of "polish".

And most definitely, the ambience treatment has a lot to do with it.
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Old 04-11-2010, 04:26 PM   #79
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...Or perhaps more accurately, "Assuming a great musician, it's all the equipment from there."...
Assuming that "equipment" is also meant to imply a certain amount of engineering skill and acoustical quality, yeah: that's absolutely true. After all, that's really all there is: the musicians and the signal chain.

One of the things I see a lot of though, is musicians who are not quite as good as they think they are, wasting a lot of time and money trying to find a magic box that will make them sound the way they ought to be sounding before the sound ever hits a box. And frankly, if the musician already sounds they way they want to sound, there's not much left to do but stick a decent mic in front of them and hit record.

Moreover, it's actually pretty quick and easy for most technically competent players to become genuinely good-sounding musicians if they direct their practice towards that goal.

If James Earl Jones or Sean Connery called you on the phone, you'd instantly recognize their "sound" even through the crappiest transmission system. A pocket cassette recording of Janis Joplin or Ella Fitzgerald would still sound 100% like that artist. If you walked into a public restroom and Mick Jagger was sitting in one of the stalls singing while he did his business, you'd instantly know it was him.

Better mics and downstream processing can make for a more flattering, more immersive, more satisfying and less distractingly "recorded" sound, but the sound comes from the musician. Playing music is not just a manner of mechanically sounding the right notes in the right sequence: music vastly predates notation and note names. Yet too many musicians seem to think their job begins and ends with mechanical accuracy, and that it's the job of some magic box or something to make them sound like Eric Clapton. They *know* that Eric Clapton still sounds like Eric Clapton, even if he were recorded on a cheap cassette boombox, but somehow there's this disconnect, where we all assume that we're great musicians, and that the problem must be with the mic preamp or whatever.

This phenomenon of gear-blaming might be sympathetic, or at least understandable, if it were not for the fact that most musicians who are unhappy with their sound can achieve the fastest, cheapest, and by far most dramatic improvements simply by practicing their instruments with a focus on sounding better. If all a musician could do was play or sing the right notes, then we'd have to look to the gear for improvement. But that's not the case: a musician has a HUGE amount of control over the sonic texture, dynamics, frequency balance, note duration, ambient qualities, textural consistency, harmonic content, etc.

Playing real instruments is not the same as triggering samples. A piano player has tremendous control over how their instrument sounds, through aftertouch, finger impact, chord phrasing (i.e., how hard or quickly they hit and release different keys), "working" the dynamics and note duration to suit the sound and decay of the specific instrument and room, etc. A drummer, guitar player, or singer has even more control. And if they can play the right notes, then a little bit of working on how they sound goes a long, long way.
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Old 04-13-2010, 03:37 PM   #80
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Assuming that "equipment" is also meant to imply a certain amount of engineering skill and acoustical quality, yeah: that's absolutely true. After all, that's really all there is: the musicians and the signal chain.

One of the things I see a lot of though, is musicians who are not quite as good as they think they are, wasting a lot of time and money trying to find a magic box that will make them sound the way they ought to be sounding before the sound ever hits a box. And frankly, if the musician already sounds they way they want to sound, there's not much left to do but stick a decent mic in front of them and hit record.

Moreover, it's actually pretty quick and easy for most technically competent players to become genuinely good-sounding musicians if they direct their practice towards that goal.

If James Earl Jones or Sean Connery called you on the phone, you'd instantly recognize their "sound" even through the crappiest transmission system. A pocket cassette recording of Janis Joplin or Ella Fitzgerald would still sound 100% like that artist. If you walked into a public restroom and Mick Jagger was sitting in one of the stalls singing while he did his business, you'd instantly know it was him.

Better mics and downstream processing can make for a more flattering, more immersive, more satisfying and less distractingly "recorded" sound, but the sound comes from the musician. Playing music is not just a manner of mechanically sounding the right notes in the right sequence: music vastly predates notation and note names. Yet too many musicians seem to think their job begins and ends with mechanical accuracy, and that it's the job of some magic box or something to make them sound like Eric Clapton. They *know* that Eric Clapton still sounds like Eric Clapton, even if he were recorded on a cheap cassette boombox, but somehow there's this disconnect, where we all assume that we're great musicians, and that the problem must be with the mic preamp or whatever.

This phenomenon of gear-blaming might be sympathetic, or at least understandable, if it were not for the fact that most musicians who are unhappy with their sound can achieve the fastest, cheapest, and by far most dramatic improvements simply by practicing their instruments with a focus on sounding better. If all a musician could do was play or sing the right notes, then we'd have to look to the gear for improvement. But that's not the case: a musician has a HUGE amount of control over the sonic texture, dynamics, frequency balance, note duration, ambient qualities, textural consistency, harmonic content, etc.

Playing real instruments is not the same as triggering samples. A piano player has tremendous control over how their instrument sounds, through aftertouch, finger impact, chord phrasing (i.e., how hard or quickly they hit and release different keys), "working" the dynamics and note duration to suit the sound and decay of the specific instrument and room, etc. A drummer, guitar player, or singer has even more control. And if they can play the right notes, then a little bit of working on how they sound goes a long, long way.

I hear what you are saying and agree, but only up to a point.

Any objective measurement tool would likely show the equipment can have a greater impact on tone, frequency spectrum, etc. than any intentional player technique, even of the greats.

Especially things like electric guitar, which have long been based on electronic artifacts. Consider any ol' fuzzbox, phaser, EQ etc.

I will say that perhaps the "music" may be more effected by player technique, but seems to me the equipment enables the techniques, and the equipment, by design or even deficieny affects the "sound" more. Or so I believe for any measurable aspect of sound.

Have to admit I find it puzzling that anyone who's ever walked down a line of guitars and a row of amps could ever find different.

Best I can figure is there's some communication gap, even if it's between *my* ears LOL!

While I don't subscribe to the "gotta have a boutique preamp" school of thought, I've definitely been though enough guitars and amps to feel confident in this. Everything from Squier Affinities to Vintage Gibson ES-125T's.

Some equipment just doesn't make some sounds, and technique can't always make that difference up. So the equipment, it seems logically, must be the greater part. (Granted one could claim the other... equipment can't level even out playing differences... well maybe it can in some cases these days.)

Again, assuming basic competence of the player. That the player can actually play what he wants. If that's true, then changing the equipment (rather than blaming it) seems logical. Assuming the mistake isn't one I made for years... not realizing that maybe the target sound was two or more tracks! Or other studio techniques. Whick implies the presence of studio equipment.

So again, seems logical to say equipment is the bigger part. Can't double track a part without the availability of tooling to do so.

In any event, yeah, even the greatest amp or plugin in the world won't fix a poorly fretted note.

P.S. You know, I'm not sure about the thing about Mick singing in the stall. Even good Nasville singers I know have vocal processors hidden in the gear. So hard to tell (or eve define) "real" in the entertainment biz.

E.g. they used to say cameras don't lie, but on closer inspection, seems they do nothing but! LOL!



On the point about Clapton, maybe I've finally figured out how to say what I mean here...

Yes, if you recorded Clapton, playing Clapton's rig on a cheap cassette it would sound like Clapton on a cheap cassette. But replace his rig, and maybe not.

But, depends on what you mean by "sound like Clapton". If, like I mean, "the exact tone of the recording of White Room", then nope. If you mean, "like Clapton, but playing the song with soe other sound than the recording", yep.

No pun intended.


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