HEY COLDPLAY, WHAT’S WITH THE STRING NOISE?

November 19, 2011 — 2 Comments
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 “Screeeeeetch” on Mylo Xyloto

Before I get started, I must admit that Coldplay is one my favorite bands. Their 2002 release, A Rush of Blood to the Head, is one my favorite albums of all time. I was less enthralled by their last release, Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends (partly due to the Joe Satriani thing, but we won’t go there). I had looked forward to their new album, Mylo Xyloto, especially after seeing them brilliantly perform the third track, Paradise, on David Letterman, a few weeks prior to the release. On October 24, 2011, the release date, I lined up (okay, there wasn’t a line) at my local Best Buy and bought the CD. I still buy CD’s for most releases because I want a better quality sound.

Everything was going fine until I got to the fourth track, Us Against The World (Click the link to listen on YouTube while reading. It’s a good song. I was going to embed the video here but don’t need any copyright issues on my third blog). The song starts off quite beautifully with organ, keyboards, and guitars. That gives way to only Chris Martin and an acoustic guitar. A few bars in, there it was: “Screeeeeetch.” Not once, but many times (check out the one at the 43 second mark). No, this wasn’t coming from inside my head — I double checked — but it was acoustic guitar string noise. This isn’t the only song on the album that has string noise. The ninth track, U.F.O., also has it — possibly even louder. To make matters worse, the better stereo I use, the worse the string noise is. You will notice it less on the YouTube link  depending on the quality of audio system you have.

String noise is normally caused by chord changes involving the top three strings on the guitar, (bottom 3 strings in guitar terms) which are wound. It can easily be picked up by sensitive microphones which are found in most recording studios nowadays. To get around this, guitarists will usually be cognizant and play with lighter chord changes or, dare I say, just play better. Sometimes, it’s an engineering issue where the microphones are placed in the wrong position.

Now back to the new Coldplay CD. I know this will be arguable, but really, do we need guitar string noise left on a track? These are major artists with a large recording budget. I’m sure the budget for the album was hundreds of thousands of dollars plus promotion. They’re not some indie band playing in a basement studio. I’ve done some demo recording, and if I hear string noise from anyone, including myself, then the take is scrapped and redone.

I know Coldplay is trying to make it sound natural, but really, they’re recording with expensive microphones in modern studios. I really can’t believe the producers, engineers, record company people, ( I’m not sure what they’re called today) and the band allowed this to happen.

I’m not asking for my money money back, because I quite enjoy Mylo Xyloto — although not as much as A Rush of Blood to the Head or X&Y — but I hope it’s not a trend among major recording artists. Especially, when the string noise is left in so loud. If it were subtle, I wouldn’t have minded so much. Really, if I want to hear string noise, I’ll play my own Simon & Patrick, or go listen to the guy in front of the local liquor store. “Screeeeeetch.”

What do you think?

About Randall St. Germain

Randall St. Germain, author of Camino de Santiago In 20 Days, is a middle-aged Canadian Boy who is passionate about nature, photography, hiking, music, and self-improvement. After the death of his mother, he chose to walk the famous pilgrimage, the Camino de Santiago, across the north of Spain, despite knowing little about it. He certainly didn’t plan to write a book until the latter days of his Camino. Similar to walking the Camino, writing and publishing a book was a learning experience. It was also very rewarding, and part of his ongoing journey. Please join him as he takes you along on his journey in Camino de Santiago In 20 Days, and on his blog Camino My Way.

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2 responses to HEY COLDPLAY, WHAT’S WITH THE STRING NOISE?

  1. do you consider sharing demo song “suffering” on your blog?

  2. The problem with the current version of “Suffering” is that it is just a demo and not meant for public broadcast. Really, besides my work and the fee for my singer, the costs were nothing. I recorded it in my “home studio” aka the living room. I would also have to ask the singer for clearance.

    My plan is to re-record “Suffering” in a studio with a pro musician and make it sound really good. We will see in 2012. It would be nice to have a song streaming here and available on iTunes.

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