Aphorisms on Recording

I began writing this collection of Aphorisms while living in England working on several King Crimson albums with Robert Fripp. Robert had written a large collection of aphorisms about art and life and I decided to write a collection that focused on recording. -Ronan Chris Murphy

Aphorisms and apparent truths about making records.

(a work in progress by Ronan Chris Murphy)

  • There is no such thing as over-production, only appropriate and inappropriate production.
  • Emulation is always a compromise.
  • The only endearing elements of emulation are found within the artifacts of its failure.
  • The quality of a recording is governed by the performance.
  • Sometimes people who know less than you about making records are right.
  • There is often an inverse relationship between the sound quality of a pop rock mix and the number of times over 2 the drummer strikes the snare drum per bar.
  • The sound of a mix is seldom the most important element.
  • Snare drums that ring are pitched instruments. Just like flutes.
  • The abstention of studio effects is an effect.
  • Guitars over-driven from digital racks or amp emulators will dominate or be submissive to the group. There is seldom a middle ground.
  • Great records are made by great people, not great studios.
  • If you don’t have the answer to a recording dilemma, the music probably does.
  • If the music does not have the answer it is probably not music.
  • What you can throw away is often more important than what you can add.
  • The factual integrity of a recording decreases exponentially with every mic and tape track used
  • There is always a producer(s) on a record.
  • Recording techniques that compromise the quality of the performance are always inferior to those that enhance it.
  • Some of the records you loved when you were younger sound horrible and you never noticed.
  • You are making the soundtrack to some one else’s life.
  • If you require academics to defend your music, you have already lost Music as an ally.
  • Recordings without goals usually go no where. Recordings with goals rarely go where you plan, but they get there.
  • Good “composition” does not always result in good music.
  • Many people mistake “drums sounds” for “production”
  • The fact that the “CD” can hold over 73 minutes of music does not mean that the “album” wants to.
  • The general public thinks records by famous people sound better than those by non-famous people.
  • Perfect recordings seldom make for perfect records.
  • Production and adding effects are not synonymous.
  • Sometimes not participating is the greatest contribution you can make
  • A good producer knows that sometimes going away is a contribution.
  • Appropriate production is bringing to the project what it needs, clearing away what it doesn’t, and not touching the rest.
  • The question “Why?” should be asked before “How?” or “When?”.
  • The music is more important than any one in the studio.
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