Look, if you’re gonna burden your recording with little rules that dictate how it is recorded that’s great. Fine. Whatever. But when you do so please think about what that will mean. Is it helping the songs?
So true. Recording is an artform, but only to you and me. When regular fans and music lovers listen to music, they’re listening to the artists and musicians. If you’re not the artist, your #1 priority should be to allow the artist to express her/himself. That means knowing your gear well enough so that it doesn’t get in the way. And it means conducting yourself so that you don’t get in the way.
Self-imposed limitations can be a constructive part of the creative process. When used like this I think of it as ‘creative focus’, not ‘limitations’. But the limitations don’t make the music. They’re just a tunnel through which you (or the artist) must squeeze. The fact that you made it out the other end isn’t a triumph of the tunnel. It’s a triumph of the resulting creativity.
When you listen to a classic song recorded under “primitive” or “simple” conditions yet the song sounds fantastic, a big part of it is because the performances were so damn good. But it’s never because the technology was limited or the track count was low. Never. Ever. Was.
This is why I think the idea of emulating specific equipment from the past is irrelevant (and why I’m generally dismayed by all the emulations in the audio world – particularly the plugin world). Your music won’t be better because you used a more accurate 1176 clone. Joe Gilder sometimes writes about mixing using nothing but stock ProTools plugins. Great mixes don’t come from great gear. They come from great music and great skills.