What is the difference between a great song and an iconic recording? In Sonic!, star producer Mark Ronson says — and he’s obsessed with it. The passion took her too far: Ronson sounded the album “Back to Black”, which made Amy Winehouse a legend, recorded the big hit “Uptown Funk” with Bruno Mars, followed by Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus. made hits, and he is successful as a DJ around the world.
“Watch the Sound!”: An Entertaining Interpretation of Music History
In the documentary series “Mark Ronson: Watch the Sound!” He takes viewers on a journey of discovery into the wonderful world of sound production. For example at Capitol Studios in LA, where natural reverberations are created in underground chambers that shaped the sound of famous vocal recordings. Or a vast former diesel storage facility in Scotland believed to have the longest reverb in the world – providing the basis for a digital effect that can be summoned with a computer click.
Along with ex-Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl, Ronson cut out the loudspeakers to test whether ‘fifties guitarist Link Ray’s – rumored to have – produced the legendary distorted sound of “rumble” (result: yes, right). Many other creative sounds in pop history were created by chance or misuse, as Ronson demonstrates.
It was lethal with the Auto-Tune effect around which the first episode revolves. It was created in the nineties with the intention of straightening out crooked singing vocals. But then Cher’s producers pushed the controls further than intended, and the digital program made the radio hit “Believe”‘s uncharacteristically crackling sound far beyond its intended purpose. The song makes it sound to him, as Ronson says in a brilliant sentence, as if Cher had come from the past to warn us about the future.
Music pioneers talk about their past
The series’ six half-hour episodes aren’t that strong in a row. As a result, countless musicians say little more about distortion than a distorted guitar that somehow sounds better.
All the more interesting is the episode about the synthesizer, which honors female music pioneers Delia Derbyshire and Wendy Carlos, and Paul McCartney humorously recounts how he angered impatient Beatles collaborators when he first set out to make “Maxwell”. Experimented with one of the Moog models. “Silver Hammer” elevate it.
The elaborately produced mini-series also lives up to its title claim for presenting the theme of sound in a visually appealing way, including through animation, through countless music video snippets, including Ronson’s own rock star. Friends are included through visits to the great studio. As Josh Homme or Dave Grohl.
Ronson scores with a particular weakness
And visually, of course, it also helps that Mark Ronson not only scrolls with his computer mouse, but also has a penchant for eighties instruments, samples and drum machines. Leading developers like Roger Lynn, musicians like the Beastie Boys and producers like DJ Premier explain how these machines opened up new avenues for creativity, how hip-hop came to be – and how pop music changed. An example: first tinkerer Roger Lynn recorded a snare drum and made the processed sound available on his drum computer – then drummers of the eighties tried to make their original drums sound like this device.
“Mark Ronson: Watch the Sound!” Describes how man and machine continued to develop the sound of pop music together. Without a claim to completeness or linearity, but relevant and quite amusing. Music nerds may feel particularly addressed, but the series is also aimed at anyone who wants to know how the voices we hear every day come to be.
“Mark Ronson: Watch the Sound!” (Apple TV+)
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