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The Five Most Abused Sounds of All Time

October 25, 2012
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1
The DX7 Rhodes
Remember how the first time you heard it you were astonished by its almost-transcendent sound quality? And how it still sounded great after you’d heard it a few dozen times? And how after hearing it for the 34,554th time on yet another truly horrific new-age album like The Celestial Yoga Dream Faeries of Spirit Bliss, you never, ever wanted to hear it again?

2
Gated Reverb on Drums
Steve Lillywhite and Hugh Padgham didn’t invent gated drum reverb, but hey, we’ll blame them anyway. Why? Because they made hit records with Peter Gabriel highlighting that sound, so copycats concluded that using gated reverb would give them hit records. The fad came to an abrupt end when they realized that being Peter Gabriel would give them hit records. And they weren’t him.

3
The Fairlight Sampled Shakuhachi
It added a cool ethnic flavor at first. But then you heard the same attack every time it played. The same opening flourish. The same breathy sustain. The same inelegant fade in glorious 8-bit fidelity. And that’s when you sadly realized that sampling definitely had its limitations—as did the people who kept using it. Over and over. And over.

4
Vinyl Crackle Samples
There’s an old Hollywood saying: “Above all, you must be sincere. Once you can fake that, you’ve got it made.” So in that spirit, let’s add an air of authenticity with something totally fake! The ultimate irony, of course, is advertising vinyl-crackle samples as “recorded in pristine 24-bit, 96kHz quality.” I must be missing something.

5
The TR-808 Handclap
Hip-hop? Sure! Techno? Yeah, why not. But then the clap started showing up everywhere: Rock music that should have known better. Icelandic whaling songs. Poison’s comeback album of Sinatra ballads. Monistat commercials. Yes, that infectious 808 clap spread like . . . well, you know.

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