Yeah, people like their music squeezed tightly into a box so to speak. A box with very sharp edges and razor like precision. At least it seems that way.
Unfortunately, these are the conventions of our times. It’s rather sad, because for much of the history of western music, dynamics were a huge part of a composition. In the mid 20th century, dynamics started to go out the window. Then things like melody and harmony started to go out the window, and the emphasis was placed primarily on things like rhythm. Rhythm is key to music, but we start to take away from music’s potential when we ignore the other basic elements.
Of course when trying to compose commercial music, we need to make things sound as consistent as possible, because the music isn’t the primary focus; it is the vehicle that is driving something else, usually an idea or product. So in that regard, compression is a useful tool. But to conform to any convention, useful or not, is not the concern of a true artist. Giving in too much too often starts to wear heavy on one’s heart. There always exists a struggle between commercialization and self-expression within a composer, if he is truly an artist.
But seeing as how we are all on a website trying to produce marketable (if not commercial) music I suppose we have given up some ground. As long as we are doing that, we might as well use every trick available to try and make our sounds appealing and conventional.
Oh well, the general public loves loud stuff and they are the majority!
Unfortunately loudness and extreme compression are often confused for havin a higher standard of quality when in reality you are often loosing more than your achieving. Mainly the dynamic range that makes music come alive. Sad state of affairs for sure. I’ve had this conversation with my fellow in house writers before. Its clear that the client always picks the most bangin track and leaves it’s more quiet counter parts in the dust and why wouldn’t they? What gains their attention is sure to gain the attention of their consumers. It’s an unfortunate spiral we find ourselves in. Fortunately there are individuals who are savvy to the issues and the necessary threads/articles are popping up all over. The times they are a changin? ... Fingers crossed.
“Wanting people to listen, you can’t just tap them on the shoulder anymore. You have to hit them with a sledgehammer, and then you’ll notice you’ve got their strict attention.” -Se7en
Using a compressor to draw attention to something that would otherwise be lost (even if it is silence or noise) can still offer a lifetime of endless creative possibilities. If you have an audience that’s patient, and willing to listen through your silence, I believe you every right to explore the creative use of dynamic range to make those impacts that much more impactful. Do it in a live setting, or during a film, but if you don’t maintain your audience’s attention to begin with, you can’t expect to be able to excite them.