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What are the different techniques in the processes behind the production of hip hop music compared to modern heavy metal music?


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#1
IngridWolff

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My name is Ingrid, and I am a year 12 student at Faith Lutheran College in Tanunda, South Australia.
My school, with the rest of the state are now doing a compulsory research project,
and I have chosen to do mine on audio engineering and the processes behind it as my project.
I am trying to find out the difference between the techniques used behind the
processes of producing a hip hop song vs modern heavy metal, if there are any differences.
I also would like to know what are the effects and purpose of each individual process in the producing of audio.
I plan to continue into this line of study, and hopefully further into work when I finish year 12
and I believe this project will improve my understanding and knowledge of audio engineering immensely.

Thank you,
Ingrid Wolff

#2
Cheyne

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Hi Ingrid!

Welcome to SoundPunk, great to hear high school students getting into audio engineering.

Im sure you'll get the answers you need from our members here soon.

I would say hip hop music is going to be very sequencer based, lots of drum machines, MPC's, 808's, 909's and less of a live element to it. Music created in a studio.
Heavy metal will be more expressive, most likely created in someones basement until its ready to be refined and then its brought into the studio to be mixed and compressed into something more complete.

They'll both end up in the studio but the techniques will vary. Obviously heavy metal will have the distorted guitars and acoustic drum kits so there will be a big focus on mixing these so they sit in their own space, and from my own experience with heavy distorted guitar, this seems to be one of the bigger challenges as it always seems to override everything else.

You can imagine that a heavy metal band wants that more fuzzy, warmer, heavier sound, and so those crisp, clean and tight mixes you hear on hip hop and R&B tracks are not desired, where as that seems to be the holy grail with lots of hip hop and R&B.

Think about a track from the Black Keys, and now think about a track produced by Timbaland. They both have very very different sounds. Timbaland is all about the super clean and crispy mixes, where as the Black Keys prefer the lofi grainy warmth sounds. You could imagine songs by these two artists being mixed and recorded in very different ways, using very different equipment. Digital vs Analoge. Live Accoustic vs Sequenced etc etc

Someone with some more experience in this field feel free to chime in here

#3
mark.addison

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Heavy metal will use almost exclusively live players, using acoustic instruments such as electric guitar/bass, drums etc. These will be recorded with microphones as a rule, though guitar/bass may be DI'd (direct injection 'box') straight into the desk/interface whatever. Um, along with that will be eq, compression, noise reduction etc for each track.

Hip-hop may/probably will use pre-recorded drum loops, synth based instruments which are almost always DI'd, samples from other songs/artists which will be imported as a file, and the only acoustic instrument that will need to to be recorded with a mic would arguably be the vocals. The only track that would receive any serious eq/compression/processing would probably be the vocals, from my limited experience, the others maybe only requiring minor 'tweaking' in the final mixdown phase.

Certain shared instruments will be/will have been recorded for very different sounds, kick drums and snare drums are eq'd differently depending on the genre, a heavy metal kik drum requiring a good amount of 'click'. and scooped mids with not so much relative bottom end, the hip hop one being more 'rounded' with tons of low end for example. The metal snare having lots of 'crack' and not much lower-mid, where the hip hop being more rounded again and 'full bodied'. Also note the hip hop kick drum is probably computer generated, while having said that I've heard of people on a recording replacing certain individual acoustic drums in a kit with pre-recorded samples as they just sound great more 'right' for that genre, and maybe the track is un-usable or badly recorded? (When I say track I mean one of ?? on a multi-track recorder/DAW etc). For example replacing every bass drum 'hit' with a sampled bass drum hit using a computer which is just so easy nowadays.

As far as mastering, as Cheyne said they go for different sounds. I'd say Hip Hop lean towards a 'scooped' overall frequency response, with accenuated high/lows and attenuated mids ie. The 'smiley face' eq curve. Whereas metal are more 'middy', with not so much emphasis on the extreme highs/lows.

Hope that helps a bit and isn't too much of a ramble ;). Looking forward to seeing some other perspectives too

Edited by mark.addison, 16 March 2012 - 09:30 PM.


#4
Jester_Fu

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I wouldn't go down the squencer based path to distinguish the two - Nine in Nails, Ministry, KMFDM, Marylin Manson, Fear Factory etc. all use sequencing, sampling, overdubbing and other production techniques you'd also find used in Hip Hop.

Hip Hop has a focus on base lines and a 4:4 time. I think the easiest places for you to draw distinctions will be researching early pioneers in the genre's and seeing what they started out with. Hip Hop started, IMO, with more of a DJ and street focus where Metal was always more a focus on having players (instrumentatists). Hip Hop based it's early life around sampling, looping, cutting up and re-using other sounds and music in a new way to create a new format. It's in the origin of the genre's you'll most easily find difference in production techniques - Hip Hop starting in bedrooms and small studios, Metal requiring bigger studio's, more micing and more channels on a desk due to the more live nature of the recordings. Consdier where they started - the lines were much more clear in the beginning.

The other thing i think may be helpful in distinguishing the specific production techniques will be to consider what the two types of music are trying to convey. The production technique used in any music is about capturing the 'message' (yeah, i'm not going to debate how meaningful some of the crap from both genre's isn't theses days...) and emotion of the composer. You wont find people overdubbing classical music, but you will find sensative mic's placed strategically to pick up room noise. In Metal, they use mics with more intenisty and often lower sensativity on instruments to create a certain more muddy and dark sound. A lot of Hip Hop, on the other hand, seems to achieve more clarity in recordings and focuses on using less distrotion type effects.

Probably another good thing to consider is what are the typical effects used in production of the styles. Again, it's rare in metal you'll find the use of vocoders and auto tune but it's prevelant in Hip Hop both as an effect and cover up. In hip hop, it's more rare to find the use of distortion and dropped tuning but it's a common effect in metal to achieve the dark, dirtier lo-fi sound a lot of the bands are looking for.

Use of compression also varies - particularly on drum sounds. Even sampled drum sounds have compression applied and as already suggested metal has more of a focus on short attack and decay times where hip hop has a tendancy toward longer delay times in particular both compression wise and on the sounds themselves. Have a listen to some groups from each genre as well and you'll notice different volumes between recordings as well as different volumes for elements in the track - you might find in hip-hop the bass and vocals stand out more in the mix where in metal you may find that the guitar and drum have more of a focus depending on the sub-genre. Your ears will point you to some of the difference in fundamental mix structure or you could use spectrum analysis (more scientific) to see the difference in frequency use between different genre's and artists.

These days, the lines are far more blurred. You'll find a lot of effects and techniques are used in both but in varying depths and with varying intenisty. IMO you best to start at the grass roots level of the music and move into more modern stuff if you have the inclination.

There's 10 types of people who understand Binary. Those that do, and those that don't...


#5
mark.addison

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I wouldn't go down the squencer based path to distinguish the two - Nine in Nails, Ministry, KMFDM, Marylin Manson, Fear Factory etc. all use sequencing, sampling, overdubbing and other production techniques you'd also find used in Hip Hop.


Good point I never thought of that, so the lines are blurred even more!. It's a tough one to pin down

#6
freak-guitar

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I think in both there tend to be a lot of sample replacement used. This is generally speaking of course. In similar ways that Hip Hop uses sample beats with sampled kicks, snares, etc. Heavy Metal will do the same. However, usually they will get a drummer to play the beat or song and add samples within the mix either layering it with the drummers own kit or replacing the hit all together with a new pre-recorded sample. It all depends on the dynamics of the instrument, the sound of the instrument captured and the sound of the room, etc. comes into play.

There are a lot of metal type bands also using fully programmable drum machines on the computer to program their beats. These obviously use samples of pre-recorded drum hits or even full drum kits such as Superior Drummer 2.0 or even Big Fat Drums 2. It all comes down to money, time and what you want your record to sound like. Way too many choices if you ask me! Hahaha! I hope this helps? :)

#7
rhythmboy

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Just watched Metallica's 'some kind of monster' for the 5th time or so on the weekend, aside from being a pretty funny jaunt through the high's and low's of being the biggest metal band on the planet and their $40K per month therapist :blink: , there's a lot of good footage of the guys in the studio practicing and recording. Lots of shots of the venerable Pro Tools, lots of James Hetfield vocal takes, some production discussions with Bob Rock (uber-producer of all things rock and metal), Lars discussing drum editing, etc.

Worth renting for a weekend.



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