06 March 2008
Most instances of overdubbing that I've run across have been effective, but there's one pitfall that I've noticed quite a few times. What makes it unusually obvious that something was overdubbed is when a player's individual quirks are apparent in all of the overdubbed parts (usually it's vibrato or articulation, but it can also just be their sound). It seems to me to be the musical equivalent of cloning (or perhaps incest). In each case, it raises the question of whether the goal really is to give the impression of different people playing together, or whether the player's artistic vision includes the intent to present copies of themselves (or perhaps the intent to not hire any additional musicians for the session). There's nothing perverse about either of these cases; the technology is now old hat. Nonetheless, I cringe a little bit each time I hear an overdub of a player with a distinctive instrumental style. This attribute is elusive for many, and is becoming ever more highly valued in today's musical environment, where many complain of not being able to tell one young saxophone player from the next. Those that possess it, however, may want to think twice about cloning themselves.