Editing Pop Music (1)

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The Music Telegraph
Text 2022-11-23


Editing Pop Music (1)


In the hands of the skilled engineer, incredibly creative things can be done to improve a song's acceptability. Everything from changing the length of the song to altering the form to eliminate errors can be done with careful editing techniques. Today's pop music product relies heavily on the engineer's ability to rearrange the structure of a song, move sections of a song to other places, open up a song and insert something else. The work can be very demanding of technical and musical skill or it can be relatively easy to do. The more "organic" the production is (e.g. live musicians playing at the same time, polyrhythmic patterns, changing tempos, etc.) the more difficult the editing becomes. For this reason, I picked something rather simple for your attention. It's "Ain't No Half-Steppin" by Daddy Kane. 






The production "Ain't No Half-Steppin" was recorded with either a click track or a drum machine (or both). A click track is simply a metronome or quantized click pulse that musicians listen to while they play. It helps them stay in time with the beat. Music is certainly not always performed this way, but it is a technique that is common to most pop productions.


A drum machine is often programmed to play quantized rhythms or metronomically perfect rhythms. As with the click track, if musicians play along with this drum machine their performances will be more or less perfectly in time. (We have to be careful with that word 'perfect'.) As unmusical as it may sound, there is some skill to doing this. Just listening to a click does not gurantee a good rhythm track.


The important point for you the editor to know is that because this music track was played to a click track, you will have an easier time of cutting and pasting regions in time. Simple, regular and repeated rhythms are much easier to edit than music that has changing tempo or meter, like complex classical music, bebop jazz or "Lark's Tongues in Aspic" by King Crimson, for example.








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