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On CD Credits What is "Programming"?


loumi

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I've always assumed it encompassed everything from developing/customizing synth patches to sequencing (drum parts and otherwise). Lot of it depends on context - a metal band's programmer may simply be throwing enough MIDI'd up synths together to build a wall of sound that can compete with a Marshall stack, while Larry Fast's "programming" means an entirely different order of magnitude of difficulty.
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There are many musicians who know nothing about programming synths, drum machines, sampling, etc. Especially those who stick with piano, organ and electromechanical KBs.

 

So, the label, producer, muso or whoever, will hire folks proficient in MIDI-related gear and that tehnical side of music production.

 

Not much different from the way musos hire an engineer rather than learn how to operate the mixing console and outboard gear in a recording studio. ;)

 

In some form of benevolence, the programmer will actually receive a credit on the record. :):cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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Programming, in my experience, covers the gamut from editing of synth patches (in 99% of situations, it's simply removing the onboard reverb so that the engineer didn't have to fight with it to sound natural in the mix) to full drum track programming.

 

These days programming also entails working with MIDI tracks in whatever DAW is being used to 'fix' performances.

 

It's a catch-all phrase, just like 'Engineering' entails so much more than just twisting dials and adjusting levels. :thu:

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In some form of benevolence, the programmer will actually receive a credit on the record. :):cool:

 

I doubt it's benevolence as much as a union rule.

 

I've seen some "programmers" who played on tracks. I think in certain cases it can be an ego thing if a band has a keyboardist in it. I don't know how often it happens, but I've seen it on a few albums I've done.

 

I don't know where "programmer" falls in the union hierarchy. The term may or may not be covered by the musicians union, I have no idea. If it is not, a "programmer" might not qualify for performing residuals if the song is used in a movie, on TV etc. A "synth player" would be.

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As someone who worked a lot as a programmer for recording artists back in the '90s, I'll add my perspective to the good answers above.

 

Yes, a lot of things are covered under the title of "programmer." As a programmer, here are some of the services I provided:

 

1) Creating synth patches tailored to the needs of the song

 

2) Creating sample libraries for the exclusive use of a recording artist

 

3) Operating a sequencer and editing data while the artist arranges a song

 

4) Creating sequences by playing or step editing into a sequencer

 

5) Editing audio

 

Programming usually occurs during the preproduction process and is not covered by the union, or at least it wasn't back then. Some of the time, programming can lead to arranging, which can lead to songwriting or composing. That's what happened in my case anyway. ;)

 

Best,

 

Geoff

My Blue Someday appears on Apple Music | Spotify | YouTube | Amazon

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In some form of benevolence, the programmer will actually receive a credit on the record. :):cool:

 

I doubt it's benevolence as much as a union rule.

I was partially kidding. Nowadays, everybody seems to get credit including the caterer, tailor and limo driver. :laugh::cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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a misnomer. Puffery.

 

No, you're thinking of "mastering".

 

;):P:wave:

I completely had my eyes opened as to how much of an impact mastering can have after having my last record remastered. I'd be glad to send you a copy of each version...bet you'd be surprised.

 

dB

:snax:

 

:keys:==> David Bryce Music • Funky Young Monks <==:rawk:

 

 

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a misnomer. Puffery.

 

No, you're thinking of "mastering".

 

;):P:wave:

I completely had my eyes opened as to how much of an impact mastering can have after having my last record remastered. I'd be glad to send you a copy of each version...bet you'd be surprised.

 

dB

 

I was being facetious, in case it wasn't evident. ;)

 

(the 'programmer' part of me was a little defensive, too... :evil:)

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I would think that the programmer part of anyone who actually IS a programmer would be highly insenced at the number of people who claim to be 'programmers'. Bulding a drum track is NOT programming. The programmer wrote and designed the program that enables one to build a drum track. I write and play lots of chords on my guitar, that does not make me a luthier. I write and use lots of words, but I am not a neologist. Secretarys are secretarys, they use the word processor, they did not program the word processor.

 

There is an old story that in Tennesse there was a movement by college deducated engineers to prevent anyone else from applying thata term to themselves; I guess in response to all the audio and sound 'engineers' who applied the label to themseves without benefit of training or degrees. Then someone realised that the guy who ran the train was also an engineer...

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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I would think that the programmer part of anyone who actually IS a programmer would be highly insenced at the number of people who claim to be 'programmers'. Bulding a drum track is NOT programming. The programmer wrote and designed the program that enables one to build a drum track.

Okay, but now you're talking about what the most appropriate use of the term is rather than how it's actually used within the industry.

 

The term "engineer" has a wide variety of meanings within different industries as well. Engineering usually means to design and build things. What is it that an audio engineer designs and builds? Maybe Bill Putnam qualifies, but few other engineers do.

 

As far as the topic (On CD Credits What is "Programming"?) is concerned, the person who built the drum track is listed in the credits as a programmer -- and/or possibly as an arranger. The person who wrote and designed the program that enables one to build a drum track gets no recording credit at all.

 

Similarly, the people who engineered -- or designed and built -- the equipment that recording "engineers" track and mix with get no recording credit at all.

 

Best,

 

Geoff

My Blue Someday appears on Apple Music | Spotify | YouTube | Amazon

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"...now you're talking about what the most appropriate use of the term is rather than how it's actually used within the industry."

 

There is no reason to perpetuate or continue using a term when we know that it is wrong. Someone with no clue started the trend, and if we allow ourselves to be considered clueless too, I guess we should follow suit. Otherwise, it makes more sense to create a new, more appropriate term. The OP wanted to know what it was. I answered correctly.

 

As far as 'audio engineer' goes, for over 20 years I called myself a 'sound guy'. Because an Audio Engineer or a Sound Engineer has a degree and has knowledge that is related to but not the same as the knowledge that I have. It was not until I was at CB,I that I found the term 'Engineer' attached to my name and listed on my business cards. I was never comfortable with it, but there ya go.... another case of puffery, or if you will, the company truing to make its employees look more impressive on paper.

 

In sort: if you know that you are NOT a "programmer", why would you claim to BE one?

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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The OP wanted to know what it was. I answered correctly.

You correctly defined programming as it is used outside of the recording industry, not within it. You are ignoring the context of the opening question.

 

In sort: if you know that you are NOT a "programmer", why would you claim to BE one?

Because you are a programmer as the term is used within the recording industry.

 

Our language is rife with bastardized terminology. Would you have American football players refuse to call themselves football players as well?

 

If I were still trying to find work as a programmer in the record industry, I wouldn't invent a new word for it and go around telling everyone they were wrong to call it programming. Not only would I fail to change the practice, I would very likely fail to book any work as well.

 

Best,

 

Geoff

My Blue Someday appears on Apple Music | Spotify | YouTube | Amazon

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Bill, you might find it amusing in a poetic justice sort of way that the Japanese use their equivalent of the term "manipulator" for this position within their recording industry.

 

But in Japan, their word for "manipulator" doesn't carry the negative connotation it has here.

 

Best,

 

Geoff

My Blue Someday appears on Apple Music | Spotify | YouTube | Amazon

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I've often thought of myself as a "drum programmer" without being a "drummer". I have enough skills with a controller & pair of sticks and enough know how of what makes a groove to create an effective drum track... but not enough chops at the instrument to play a track start to finish on an acoustic kit. I consider that drum programming. I don't think that's a misuse of the term programming. I think Geoff's point is valid, that within the industry, we have applied the word to specific functions that we all understand to be different from what they mean outside the industry. Are we wrong to say we're going to "play" or "work" when referring to a gig, since those words have totally different meanings outside the music biz?

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Bill, I think your beef is with the folks at Webster's:

 

Function: noun

Date: circa 1889

: one that programs: as a : a person who prepares and tests programs for devices (as computers) b : one that programs a mechanism c : one that prepares an instructional program d : a person who plans or prepares entertainment programs

 

Item b covers the musical context nicely. :thu:

 

(For the record, I consider myself to be eminently qualified to speak on this subject, given your stated criteria, being both a 'programmer' in the musical/synth sense, as well as by your definition (app development using VB, C, C++, C#, and even Fortran & Cobol if I go back far enough). )

 

 

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here's another one for you..... are you a "professional" because you learned your craft to a sufficient level to be considered such, or because someone pays you?

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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here's another one for you..... are you a "professional" because you learned your craft to a sufficient level to be considered such, or because someone pays you?

 

My thought of the term was anyone who does something as their profession, i.e. "for a living". I know a semi-professional fisherman who makes a good amount of money in fishing tournaments, but not a majority of his income. To confuse matters more, I am an engineer by profession - it's what I do every day for a living. But, a "professional engineer" is someone who is licensed as an engineer, which I am not.

 

One definition from dictionary.com is: "following an occupation as a means of livelihood or for gain: a professional builder."

---------------

To B-3 or not to B-3, that is the question.

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Context is crucial. A bare definition of "professional" as "participating for gain or livelihood in an activity or endeavor often engaged in by amateurs" is far more nuanced depending upon the sphere of conversation.

 

For example, in photography there is a significant nuance distinguishing "professional" and "semi-professional"; the latter is essentially a pejorative. The term by itself with regard to a lady has salacious connotations, carries a particular burden when discussing wrestling, and of course implies a whole set of presuppositions when describing one's behavior in particular trying circumstances, (i.e., "He responded like a true professional").

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