How a recording-studio mishap shaped '80s music


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Published: 1 year ago
Warning: This is an unapologetic ode to gated reverb drums

Here's a Spotify playlist of some of the best gated reverb songs: http://spoti.fi/2vH7ZZL

Over the past few years a general nostalgia for the 1980s has infiltrated music, film, and television. I deeply love those gated reverb drums of the '80s - you know that punchy percussive sound popularized by Phil Collins and Prince? So for my second episode of Vox Pop’s Earworm I spoke with two Berklee College of Music professors, Susan Rogers and Prince Charles Alexander, to figure out just how that sound came to be, what makes it so damn punchy, and why it’s back. 

Correction: At 2:01, a previous version of the video mistakenly said the noise gate only lets frequencies above a certain threshold pass through. We should’ve said “amplitudes” instead of “frequencies.” The error has been rectified.

At 3:45 we noted that plate reverb boxes were made using aluminum. In fact, they were usually made of steel.

Further reading: http://www.musicradar.com/news/drums/classic-drum-sounds-in-the-air-tonight-590970

Some songs don't just stick in your head, they change the music world forever. Join Estelle Caswell on a musical journey to discover the stories behind your favorite songs.

Check out the entire Vox Earworm playlist here: http://bit.ly/2QCwhMH

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Here's a Spotify playlist full of gated reverb heavy songs from the 80s and today! Let me know which songs you think I should include and I'll pick a few to add: https://open.spotify.com/user/estellecaswell/playlist/5zh0IzdP530nxTKRmarv5q

1 year ago

+PingOverwatch This is their playlist in Google Play with some songs from this video that were not on that list: https://play.google.com/music/playlist/AMaBXymWOyqK2dCDFj1SK2ouSmB5Qh5S6KNmhxsZHKEKtOJqCeTjCrRs1qZo03uJIvE7F_aO8o20sCXVZ-dAbzzyTmV6rGOpWg%3D%3D

23 hours ago

Long live the 80s.😊

1 month ago

Vox you cultural Marxists finally made a good video! I upvoted for once. Hail Trump!

2 months ago

Toto, Africa is pretty much the only 80's pop song that I like

3 months ago

How about a list for those not using spotify ? But probably i know most of the songs.

3 months ago

Is it really coming back if its in a couple albums

1 day ago

This was such a cool video! I want to learn how to make music and mess around with the electronic side of things, but GarageBand and such are for Apple products. I have a Windows PC...any recommendations for good programs?

2 days ago

+The Silence Noise thank you!

1 day ago

If you're looking for something that has that easy feel and comes with a lot of instruments, FL Studio. If you want more of a "power tool" but you can demo it for free (and download many many free instruments), Reaper.

1 day ago

Although all of my songs do not have a reverb in snare drum that's not gated, my songs can bring you back to the 80s.
https://soundcloud.com/grayson-peddie

2 days ago

this is packed knowledge, good!

3 days ago

I titled my 80s playlists Gated Reverb because of this video!

3 days ago

New retro wave! The new genre

5 days ago

Coooool

6 days ago

THIS IS ALMOST ALL MUSIC I LISTEN TO! OMG BLEACHERS, LORDE, TAYLOR, HAIM WTFF. I literally screeched.

1 week ago

I love you

1 week ago

“Pad-jum”, not “Padg-ham”

1 week ago

I arrived here following the previous Radiohead syncopation video and watched every episode left in the series (made me late for work, even). Brilliantly presented with just the right amount of audio terminology to intrigue a layman, without getting too sophisticated that you'd need a degree in music or sound engineering to understand. Excellent series from Estelle Caswell, she's a terrific presenter and her passion for music is genuine. Keeping my ear to the ground for the next series.

1 week ago

yaaas the 80s is coming back .. sorta :/

1 week ago

I swear that I'm not homophobic or misogynistic or anything where one race or gender thinks their superior to the other. I swear that I'm not. I know that's exactly what someone who is homophobic or misogynistic would say, but just believe me when I say that I'm not. Lol

So with that understood, I have to ask. I've seen all the videos that "Vox" has uploaded with this "Earworm" episode title and it's always this girl being he narrator. After all these episode I just have to ask, am I the only one who is pretty confident that she's lesbian? Like, it's obvious and other people think that right?

Nothing against her, she seems like a real dope person. But c'mon, she has to be a lesbian Right?

1 week ago

Yuck, it has its place in pop music but sometimes producers will try to use it in metal....not fun

1 week ago

Very good piece, absolutely hate that sound

1 week ago

* When you want to make fun of someone online but you’re actually a good person in real life *

2 weeks ago

hehe plugins

2 weeks ago

My god I hate that level of reverb. One of the reasons I don't like 80's music.

2 weeks ago

So many songs would be timeless excepot the gated reverb drum sounds make them sound totally dated. Replacements later stuff is a prime example. Everything else is timeless, the drums are 1980's.

2 weeks ago

I was touring in the 1990's. If I heard gated reverb on the radio I would change channels. Made life easy......

2 weeks ago

Very informative video little boy

2 weeks ago

A fun imagining of how gated reverb was stumbled upon, but I seriously doubt that's the truth - although it may be how Padgham and Collins came to the sound.

I created/"invented" this effect in 1976 while in a RIAA recording class at Sugarhill Studios in Houston. And it wasn't an accident, but an exploration or extension of the idea of of using reverb and a keyed gate. I explained the idea to my instructor and fellow classmates and quickly received a studio full of laughter at my dumb idea. But I came back later, on my personal studio time, and explored the concept, and eventually found the gated reverb sound popularized by Collins, et al (and there are many variations of the effect!). And I'm certain I wasn't the first in the world either! It was just a somewhat obvious idea when playing with gates and reverbs, IMO. When I had a chance to show my class and instructor the sound I had previously expressed, everyone loved the sound but couldn't think of a way to use this big, dynamic sound (not a very innovative studio or class, yeehaw).

Anyway, that's how it happened for me, and I suspect many others around that time. Collins and company were just the first to capitalize on the effect. :)

2 weeks ago

I remember when my radio station first got a digital reverb in the early 90's every DJ used too much reverb on every commercial. So much so that we got it taken away from us for 6 months.

2 weeks ago

did anyone feel when I needed u is the perfect sister sequel to cyndi lauper's girl just wanna have fun?

3 weeks ago

3:55 skipped over spring reverb, like found in classic Fender guitar amps.

3 weeks ago

I love 80s music, but somehow if that kind of drum sound is used on modern tracks, it just sounds... off

3 weeks ago

It's wonderful that a person like you, blessed with Youth, appreciates stuff that we did back in the 80's. Thank You! Plus I love the ghetto-blaster visual motif. One thing, I think Hugh Padgham's name has more of a 'j' sound in the middle. Best of luck for a great life in a good future!

3 weeks ago

I bought PG's Melt and that Intruder sound just blew me away big time, it was so massive and so raw! Still one of my fav songs and sounds today

3 weeks ago

Hears "new music", clicks to the next channel on the radio, hears Alice In Chains, stays on the channel and turns it up.

3 weeks ago

A guy who met prince came to my school because I live in North Minneapolis where prince grew up. His name was Terry Jackson and he played guitar for us and drums. And he told us that prince played lots of instruments and he started a band with prince and then showed us a picture of his band..and there he was...7th grade prince. Overall, it was an amazing experience and I thank him for taking the time to come to our school

3 weeks ago

I remember listening to the Intruder album for the first time and what a challenge it was to the ears. The other innovation was the elimination of the cymbals. The clean, uncluttered drum sound really was a sound production game changer.

"Chance favours the prepared mind."

3 weeks ago

I knew the gated drum thing was mostly attributed to Phil, but I didn’t realize it was while working on a PG song. I really enjoy these videos.

3 weeks ago

They don't sound cool.

3 weeks ago

Padjim. Hew Padjim.

3 weeks ago

For those of us who were young in the 80's we knew our music was different and somehow better. Many young people today are just now discovering what the Gen-X er's have known for decades. Thanks so much for the explanation. God bless.

3 weeks ago

i really like pyrocynical on vox.

3 weeks ago

Finally I know what is Wrong with almost every song I've heard since the 1980s.
Give me real drum sounds, NOT an emulation of a stupid mistake!
(If you like the sound described in this video, that's OK --- you can Have it.)

3 weeks ago

No XTC? "English Settlement" was produced by Hugh Padgham in '82, and "Black Sea" was full of gated reverb.

3 weeks ago

Love told us that it was the Beach Boys' engineer at the time, Stephen Desper, who came up with "that really interesting" drum effect heard at the beginning of the track.

3 weeks ago

Do you have to use that awful for want of a better word voice? I just cant listen.

3 weeks ago

So, with the exception of Peter Gabriel, this sound was used on a slew of lame songs to make them more interesting.

3 weeks ago

You should listen to music by the likes of the Small Faces in the 60s to hear innovative drum sounds Pink Floyd as you've already mentioned and a whole host of British rock and blues bands from the 60 had all these drums sounds way before Phill Collins came along and pretended to be the worlds greatest everything

1 month ago

Can we PLEASE give credit where credit is due. PETER GABRIEL is the one who recognized and used this drum sound, not Phil Collins.

1 month ago

gated reverb is the best sound ever!!

1 month ago