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Virtual Mixing
Evolution of Recording

A HISTORY OF RECORDING PART 2


OVERDUBBING means adding new parts to pre-recorded ones.  This meant that it was no longer necessary for all musicians to play at the same time.  A band could record one day and the singer could record the next day.  Since the singer was now on a separate track, the singer could continue to re-perform the song and re-record the track until they were satisfied with their performance.

Now that recordings were an artificial combination of sounds rather than capturing a natural music occurrence, you had to MIX the sounds together to simulate either a natural sound environment or even to create a new sound environment.  Normal dynamics that would take place between people performing music together had to be simulated, because now the people were performing at different times, or even in different locations.

Once music was stored on tape, people started to EDIT, which means to cut it up and move whole sections or individual parts around.  Mono tapes were edited long before multi-tracks, but with multi-track recording it became possible for new tracks to be either newly recorded or flown (played from another tape machine) from other performances.

Things moved on fairly the same for a while, recording and overdubbing microphones and sound generating instruments onto individual tracks of Magnetic Tape Recorders and then mixing those tracks through the separate channels of a Mixing Board into a cohesive combined sound.

Then came Digital.

Digital Tape Recorders first looked and operated like Analog Magnetic Tape Recorders, with a Supply Reel, Tape Path, Take Up Reel, etc.  Since DTRs recorded digital information onto the tape rather than actual magnetic signals it was only a matter of time before computer technology allowed you to record without the tape, directly to a computer hard drive.   

ProTools was the first VIRTUAL Digital Tape Recorder (meaning it was tapeless) that existed completely within a computer.  Early ProTools was very limited in quality and capabilities, but with the introduction of NON-DESTRUCTIVE EDITING (see your ProTools notes) music production was changed forever.

Now music could be edited with a click of a mouse instead of a flick of a razor blade.  And you now have UNDO.  That’s right, UNDO in an industry that had always involved PERMANENT decisions with physical tape and razors rather than backed up computer files.

Once Digital audio was in a computer rather than a tape machine, it was easy to start to manipulate it.  Moving, quantizing, replacing and harmonizing sounds became as easy as clicking on a button.  Autotune (an program that fixes out of tune vocals) is responsible for most of the “in tune” vocals heard today.  Before harmonizers and autotune, you actually had to be able to SING in order to be a singer.  Now you only need to LOOK and DANCE well and the music part can be fixed automatically.  Click.

Original ProTools systems cost tens of thousands of dollars.  Now you can get much more powerful systems that actually work well in home computers for hundreds.  In fact, some of the software is actually FREE.

Now everyone with a home computer is an Artist / Musician / Producer / Engineer.  The age of the “Prosumer” is here.