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RARB/CASA Forums • View topic - The Madison Project - Late Night Drive Thru

The Madison Project - Late Night Drive Thru

All things Recorded A Cappella Review Board.

The Madison Project - Late Night Drive Thru

Postby pujo » Fri Sep 26, 2008 7:41 am

Paul "Pujo" "Puck" Puckett
The Madison Project
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Postby Ed Boyer » Fri Sep 26, 2008 8:31 am

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Postby dr00bles » Fri Sep 26, 2008 8:48 am

Andrew DiMartino
Music Director, UNC Achordants 2005-2008
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Postby Nick Lyons » Fri Sep 26, 2008 9:17 am

Nick Lyons

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Postby colton » Fri Sep 26, 2008 11:26 am

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Postby pujo » Fri Sep 26, 2008 12:15 pm

Paul "Pujo" "Puck" Puckett
The Madison Project
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Postby MPJackV » Fri Sep 26, 2008 12:50 pm

I don't really understand how it's possible to give an objective score if all of the reviewers aren't on the same page of what they consider quality recording.

I'm sure it'd be pretty cliche for me to go into the heavy production vs. natural sound debate, but put this into perspective.

Let's say that two a cappella groups create a CD of similar quality (both leaning towards the very produced style of recording). When they both submit their albums to RARB, what happens if group A gets three reviewers that prefer a natural style of recording, while group B gets 3 reviewers who love that more produced sound? Even though the CDs are comparably just as good, one group will get a lower score and people will get the impression that their CD is subpar when that's not really the case.

I know that I've used a pretty extreme example, but what I'm trying to say is that it seems that a group's score has more to do with them being fortunate enough to have reviewers that like their style of recording, as opposed to receiving a systematic grade.

Personally, I don't really care about what our CD scores, because I think it's a good CD regardless of what it got (although I am pretty stoked that the CD scored pretty well) and I care more about our live performance. I just feel that I've heard so many complaints about RARB's scoring that people are going to stop taking your scores seriously if you don't provide them with a more objective basis for grading.

I realize that truly objective scoring is impossible, but at the same time it would nice if every a cappella group that RARB reviewed was held to the same standard of judging.

Anyway, that's my schpeel. I'm a new a cappella kid, so I hope I didn't come off as too naive and/or ignorant. And for the record, I'm obsessed with RARB reviews. Your website thoroughly entertains me and I thank you for that.

Jack V
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Postby dr00bles » Fri Sep 26, 2008 1:06 pm

Jack -

Your point is well taken. However, let me try to articulate again that it is not my preference of natural-sounding recordings that resulted in this album getting a 3. I cannot stress enough that it is what this aggressive production RESULTS in that leads me to my opinions. I am not bitter about aggressive production, but when it leads to problems in the final mix, I feel it necessary to call out.

Production debates aside, it's always to some degree about how "fortunate" a group is with what reviewers they get. There are albums on RARB whose reviews span from 5 to 2, so clearly differing opinions are not uncommon. That's why they have multiple reviewers. If you regulate the criteria too much, then there's no point in having 3 people write abotu the same album. Three reviewers, three opinions, three fresh takes.
Andrew DiMartino
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Postby matthewnym » Fri Sep 26, 2008 1:19 pm

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The Pitchforks of Duke University '05-'09
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Postby pujo » Fri Sep 26, 2008 1:37 pm

Paul "Pujo" "Puck" Puckett
The Madison Project
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Postby dr00bles » Fri Sep 26, 2008 2:39 pm

Andrew DiMartino
Music Director, UNC Achordants 2005-2008
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Postby seth » Fri Sep 26, 2008 3:41 pm

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Postby Ed Boyer » Fri Sep 26, 2008 9:29 pm

I hear what everyone is saying about the impossibility of standardizing scores (it's not something I think should be done) and about everyone having a right to his/her own opinion (who would argue that?). I also agree with everyone who's said that reviews should be taken with a grain of salt. But something's still off, and I hope I can explain it.

I'll try an analogy...

If one were reviewing movies for TV or a newspaper, he or she would be expected to judge those movies in terms of their genre, and, to some extent, put aside his/her personal preferences for the sake of servicing the readers/audience.

That said, while character films strive for one thing and action films strive for another, there are some things that ALL movies need to be great (good acting and directing, interesting plot, blah, blah, blah). If the reviewer believes that a production trick interferes with one if those key elements (let's say, for example, that an interaction between a CGI character and a human actor seems unbelievable because the CGI is poorly done) the reviewer should absolutely point that out. That's basically what Andrew is doing when he says he thinks over-compression deprives the recording of its expressiveness. That's all good.

The problem starts when he says he would probably never give a good review to an album with heavy compression or a bass octave. That's like a movie critic saying he would never give a good review to a movie that uses any CGI whatsoever. Or an art critic who, on principal, won't give a good review to anything that isn't representational. Or a political analyst saying Obama/McCain sucks because he is a Democrat/Republican. It's a really fast way to lose credibility and seem like just a dude with an agenda.
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Postby dr00bles » Sat Sep 27, 2008 7:46 am

Andrew DiMartino
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Postby jthelegend » Sat Sep 27, 2008 9:14 am

this is going to come out wrong i'm sure...but, it seems that each time you try to defend yourself mr. martino, you open up yet another hole in your logic/argument and insert your foot further down your throat. really not trying to be mean here, but just saying that maybe it would be best to a) wait 'til the hoopla dies a bit before posting and b) really think through your arguments a bit more fully....

again, just trying to help because to the outside reader it looks like you're being rightfully torn apart, and it's hard to give the benefit of the doubt when you keep casting more doubts upon yourself. hope that makes sense. (editing post and continuing below with something a bit more coherent)

------------------------------------------------------------------------
it's more that your comments, at least in my opinion, aren't doing much to show that you *can* separate your beliefs and biases (even if only somewhat) from the content and scoring of your reviews, and frankly, if i were in a college group right now and submitted an album to RARB; i would feel really uncomfortable if your name came up on the review list, and that's where the biggest issue is for me. it feels like you're laying out your hand and exposing all your biases, but not in a manner that is making people feel comfortable in your abilities to separate your personal viewpoints from the realities of the collegiate a cappella reviewing situation.

case & point: if the podunk state university podunkatones were to submit an album to rarb with a few rap covers on it and saw colton's name on the review list...they might worry that he'd say something about his dislike for the medium of expression that is rap music, BUT, would hopefully at least feel comfortable in his ability to give it a numerical score that does not reflect his disdain for the music (as he has shown in his reviews thus far), which is something that, at this juncture, i am not really able to say for you given the content of your reviews.
[not trying to beat a dead horse, but it really doesn't seem as if you're *really* grasping precisely WHAT about your reviews people tend to take issue with, so much as merely paying them lip service in an attempt to quiet them]

lastly, though you love dynamic range...it's pretty much gone in pop records these days. not saying that's a great thing, but it's something to consider when the fact is that most of these groups are covering what they hear on the radio. although, it's cool to have all those *a cappella-y* dynamics in collegiate a cappella recordings...the reality of the situation is that the kids WANT to sound like the songs they're emulating (which are badly compressed, have little to no dynamic range, and ARE tuned within an inch of their lives), so i don't see how actively taking away points for utilizing tools that help them achieve the sound that they wish to achieve [which obviously doesn't prescribe to your notions of what constitutes "a cappella"] is helpful to critiquing their particular artistic vision in any manner.

i would even go in so far as to say that it is unfair and wrong of you to feel you have the right to "impose" your viewpoint upon them by utilizing the inherent power of your scores that you give in RARB reviews to further your naturalistic agenda. i will admit that with this point i'm being a wee bit extreme, but...

again, not trying to unabashedly attack your viewpoint, but i tend to agree with the posters above (boyer, h.f., and a few others) in saying that your reviews to tend to read more as the rants of a pissed off teenage boy than as an actual review of the material presented to you in the light that it's being presented. basically, your job, when you review something, is to review only that which is presented before you and not what you wish was there.
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