"Music begins where words end."

I'm thinking a music website is worth a lot of words and hope you enjoy checking out mine! The logical follow-up to the rest of the site is ... the rest of the story back in words, HA! (By the way, if I keep this up you'll notice i love the ellipsis...) What is there for a composer to say and who needs a good talking to?

 

So first, what is there to say? The most elemental questions ambling through my mind at the moment is what is music and what is sound design and what do these things matter? As part of the media world, I believe they matter a lot. Audio is a cornerstone for any media presentataion that isn't a silent movie or MOS (mit out sound) as we used to say. A mentor of mine in this biz, Thom Ferrel, once told me he considered audio to fully be a third of his presentation.

 

So what is music. That's a tough question for me even after being in it over my head all these years. My friend Redhawk turned me on to the concept that there are amazing ideas hidden in plain sight in our everyday language. He disected the word universe as the UNI-VERSE, the one verse.

 

Long before (at least to my limited knowledge) string theory was popular, did somebody seem to indicate that everything we knew of, out to the far reaches of space was just one verse of a song? String theory says nothing that we perceive as solid really is... it's all vibrations!  Ain't that groovy!?!? My version would be everything physical is actually 'composed' of music working together to make the universe one big ass song. It's the penultimate symphony. Can you rap your bippy around that?

 

Now scientists are musing about the multiverse but ... enough of that science stuff for now.

 

When I first heard the term sound design in the 80s, I think it really appealed to me because my first "hands on" experience with music really was in that vein. We had a grand piano because my oldest sister was a music major. I became fascinated with the sounds it made at a very young age. Holding down the sustain pedal and wiggling my fingers on the bass keys sounded like thunder. Glissandos on the black keys sounded like magic. The vibrations of this thing had a wide range of personality and emotion and I liked it. There seemed to be a lot of possibilities. I think I remember someone saying, "The way he's moving his fingers looks like he's really playing." I imagine it didn't sound like I was but I was on my way to piano lessons and figuring out Beatles tunes. Now, these days when my fingers on the keys are triggering sound effects it might not sound like I'm playing music to some folks either.

 

I was also hooked on TV at an early age and had some awareness that music and sound were a very important yet separate part of the TV experience. Cartoons in particular didn't have the same impact if mom turned the sound off for instance. I think because I had my own turntable, with a variety of records from the Nutcracker to Disney's Tomorrow Land fantasy, I had a realization that theater of the mind via audio was a standalone area possibly bigger and more colorful than our black and white TV.

 

I love a Quincy Jones quote I once heard; to paraphrase it "When I hear music, I see pictures, in my head and when I see pictures, I hear music in my head." I have long felt that way.

 

I also discovered many mind blowing, picture making sounds on vinyl at the public library in my teens. Jazz, folk, classical, electronic and even music concrète. There were many ways to vibrate and express one's self through music and sounds and I liked them all.

 

The idea of music concrète is pretty much that all sounds can be musical and can be used in composing. Music concrète was born out of the ability to record sounds and manipulate them. Sound recording and manipulation have come a long way since the 1940s when it began.  Advances along the way have contributed simultaneously to the worlds of music and audio recording. 

 

The same digital technology we have been using to create and/or record music birthed in the mid 80s is also used to create the rest of the audio tracks for media now. Today's nature of recorded music being an illusion, in my opinion, is not unlike many film makers' view that a movie is really created in post. Like a video editor, I am looking for the best take. I can smooth out a rough ending of a great shot with creative editing or a subtle effect. I can re-order the verses and choruses and create new repeating hooks or a new intro from a golden improvised moment or a singular harmony section. I can add new layers to ice the cake.

 

And even in a totally live recording we can enhance and sculpt the sound to taste, "fix" many kinds of imperfections, and certainly only release the best takes. So many illusions to create in the art worlds to get the universe vibrating in just the right way.

 

I still find it difficult to put into words what music really is  to be honest. It's so many things including emotion and feeling but music also relates to physics and math, not to mention learning skills around playing an instrument, composition, and these days learning all about ever evolving recording gear and techniques. I better just get back to work.

 

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"Music begins where words end."

March 3, 2016

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