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"Bruce's World Of Music"
Old 18th September 2006
  #1
Viking
 
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"Bruce's World Of Music"

Gearslutz All.......

I think a little explanation of how my Music Recording Personality works is in order.... You must admit it's Different!!!



Bruce's World Of Music<

Until comparatively recent times, sound and it's relationship to man has meant that there had to be a functional reason for the production of a sound. For instance, sounds of the forest could only occur in the forest, in other words, in that specific place. Thunder, and rain accompanied highly visable physical events. Sounds were part of the real world and nothing more was possible. Music and dance, as art forms, had specific sounds as part of their occurance. I find it very interesting to see how, now with modern recording techniques, recordings of those real sounds can be used give music more impact and drama. The crack and rumble of a real thunderstorm can set the mood for an introspective love song. An air hammer can be substituted for a snare drum, or added to the sound of a snare drum in a modern dance song. This ability to bring the outside world into the realm of music can be very effective. It is a big part of painting our own individual concept of musical images. I think it is another factor in our desire to veer away from stark reality in popular music.

It's always been important to me to carefully consider placement, left to right, of sound sources in the stereo panorama when recording a piece of new music. Placement and localization of sounds are an extremely important part of the relationship of the sound of music to the listener. I think it goes back to when man would hear a sound, and then instictively turn his head in the direction of that sound. I imagine it was a protective reaction. If a branch cracked under the foot of a tiger in the jungle, it was a conditioned response of primitive man to turn and face the direction of that sound, to see what, and where, the danger was.

I try to make use of that response in myself, when assigning a sound source a position in the stereo panorama. I want to give that sound source a placement with the most drama possible. I try to do this as early in the production of a piece of music as possible to take advantage of my own gut reactions to the sound sources. Once I have been working on a piece for awhile, I find that I have a tendency to cerebralize those values and thusly, to minimize them.

I think for this very reason, when stereophonic music reproduction for the masses became a reality in the late 1950's with the introduction of the stereo disc, recorded music took on a vast new importance in popular culture.

Even if the sounds are not represented with pure stereophonic realism, the placement and localization of these sound sources, from left to right in the stereo reproduction panorama, can be assigned and controlled by the record production team, to maximize the impact of the source. There seems to be little relationship, to me anyway, between real stereophonic images and monophonic point-source sounds in the importance of localization and placement of these sound sources in music. The important thing, I think, is to recognize our instinctive reaction and then capitalize on them. This is true not only of placement and localization of sound sources but balance value judgements in music mixing as well.

I have always thought to myself that music exists in it's own world of sound design. It seems to me that it follows then, that in order to grow musically and sonically, we must continually surround ourselves with our own sounds.

Listening to music, both live and recorded, singing, humming, whistling, and creating sounds and music in some way, all the time, helps us to develope our hearing senses to the fullest.

If we were to look at subjective reaction to recorded audio reproduction quality, I think we will find that we can divide status preference and achievement into various groups. You could say there is a division between "Audiophiles" and "Non-audiophiles". You could also say that there is a division between "Golden Ears" and "Tin Ears". I want to point out, at this point, that I don't think there is a right or wrong group of music listeners and consumers. Differences among the individuals in these groups are, I think, based on statements of self- expression, and the importance to the individual of class status and modernity. Also, common values, skills, and past experience are all features that come to bear on these distinctions. It seems to me that we can divide the prestige catagories of recorded music listeners, and music reproduction equipment consumers, into three basic groups, they are:

A-"Hi-Fi"
B-"Mid-Fi"
C-"Lo-Fi"

More recently we have heard the term "High-End user". This term can take in both catagory "Hi-Fi" and Mid-Fi". These terms, I think, are applied to both the consumer groups and the equipment that these groups purchase. This labeling of these groups seems to fit in with the notion of "Fashion" as an effort to set one group apart from the other. The thought of prestige and value as "Fashion" in music reproduction equipment, in the above groups is quite obvious.

The extent to which the above factions consider sound reproduction quality important, in other words, their standards of excellence, and their ability to purchase the equipment consistant with these standards, will dictate which group they will join.

A- "Hi-Fi"-These individuals will only be satisfied with the very best, state- of-the-art sound. They also have the means to aquire such sound equipment. They are also in a constant state of discontent, waiting for something new to come along to improve their sound system. The individuals within this group value technically superior sound quality above all other criteria.

B- "Mid-Fi-This group will pay approximately $2,000.00 or less, for their sound system.(At this point in time.) They will say that that is "good enough" for them. The very fact that they can say that this system is "good enough" for them, positions them in the "mid-fi" group.

C- "Lo-Fi"-This is, by far and away, the largest group of consumers. They do not, as a rule, listen to music intently, in fact, music and recorded sound is frequently a background sound to "Do-Something-Else-By". The motto of this group could be, "Since we are completely satisfied with the horse and buggy, why should we invent the automobile or the airplane?".

I try to approximate the listening situation of the above groups, in the studio, as I listen to the music that I work on. I always record with three distinct sets of monitor speaker systems to evaluate the music that I am working on. Using these types of systems give me a good idea of the music's dramatic impact on all consumer groups. For the group A-"Hi-Fi", I use the large, ultra high quality, studio monitor speakers that are capable of reproducing the entire human hearing range. For the group B-"Mid-Fi" I use a high-quality, bookshelf type speaker system.

For the group C-"Lo-Fi" I use a small, inexpensive type speaker system. I switch from system to system constantly to evaluate my work. My ultimate goal with any piece of music is to have the music sound excellent on all three group systems. I also listen the the various speakers at volume levels that I have found to be consistent with the individual groups listening levels.

I do feel that perception and preference are two very distinctly different phenomena. I think that perception first takes into account one's own native hearing ability. We cannot assume that high quality sound is more important to persons with better than average hearing.

Perhaps those individuals who are hearing-impaired may consider high-quality sound more important, because with high quality sound intelligibility is improved. Given average, or better-than-average hearing ability, the learning and experience process will determine how acute that hearing skill will become.

I think that an individuals knowledge of how music should sound is a big factor in how he percieves music and sound in the first place. A person with good perception of sound will often be heard to make the comment, of a recording or a performance, that it does, or doesn't, sound "Musical". Such a critique of sound indicates a knowledge of the sound of traditionally accepted forms of musical expression. This can apply to both live performance critical listening, and music reproducing equipment specifications and performance. This perception ability, I think, is a form of musicianship on the part of the listener. We hear with our ears, but we listen to, or evaluate, the sound of music with our experiences.

Preference, to me, is more a matter of musical taste, and of musical "Open-mindedness". Continued contact, by choice, with a particular style of music, will precipitate a preference, in most people, for that particular style of music. Continued contact, by choice, with a certain type of sound equipment will precipitate a preference, in most people, for that particular sound system. A famous symphony orchestra conductor once said "People don't know what they like, they like what they know". The importance of sound, and even music style, to an individual, does not lie in any inherent accoustic characteristic, but in what it signifies to the soul of the listener.

In order to trigger an emotional response in the soul of the listener, music, to me, must be close to the primitive. It should send you a message. It must make facts and emotions known. We must paint a picture, with our music, attempting the real or the un-real. Music is best when it has a story to go with the performance. It should have a feeling of "Au Naturel". It doesn't need to openly teach or educate. It must first, entertain. If it has these elements, it will reach out and touch the soul of the listener.

Here is Duke Ellington's poem "What Is Music?" This work is extremely heavy-duty...

What Is Music?
by Duke Ellington

What is music to you?
What would you be without music?

Music is everything.
Nature is music.(Cicadas in the tropical night)

The sea is music.
The wind is music.
Primitive elements are music, agreeable or discordant.

The rain drumming on the roof.
And the storm raging in the sky are music.

Every country in the world has it's own music.
And the music becomes an ambassador.
The tango in Argentina and calypso in Antilles.

Music is the oldest entity.

A baby is born, and music puts him to sleep.
He can't read, he can't understand a picture,
But he will listen to music.

Music is marriage.

Music is death.

The scope of music is immense and infinite.
It is the "esperanto" of the world.

Music arouses courage and leads you to war.
The Romans used to have drums rolling before they attacked.
warrior.

The Marseillaise has led many generations to victories or revolutions.
It is a chant of wild excitement, and delirium, and pride.

Music is eternal.
Music is divine.

You pray to your God with music.

Music can dictate moods.
It can ennerve or subdue.
Subjugate, exhaust, astound the heart.

Music is a cedar.
An evergreen tree of fragrant, durable wood.

Music is like honor and pride,
Free from defect, damage, or decay.

Without music I may feel blind, atrophied, incomplete, inexistent.


That's pretty much how I feel about music.... If you understand fully the above, you can see why I take offense at being called a Purist!

Bruce Swedien

Old 18th September 2006
  #2
Lives for gear
 
boody's Avatar
 

Thanks!

Dear Bruce,

as a person who values 'why' over 'how' I found this post most inspiring and assuring. Thanks for your words and time, this will help us (me) to reach further and dig deeper into our (my) emotional soul to create this wonderful thing called music.

Thanks for putting your heart and soul into this
Budy Mokoginta
Old 18th September 2006
  #3
LAU
Gear Maniac
 
LAU's Avatar
 

Beautiful Poem....

Mr Swedien, Have You ever heard of Edgar Varese ?
And How About Ianis Xenakis ? Or maybe Pierre schaeffer...?
And If you know those, you probably now a lot more of those experimental composers/inovators.....

Laurens Kagenaar.
Old 19th September 2006
  #4
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joaquin's Avatar
 

Thank You very much Mr. Swedien!!
Your words and Mr. Ellington's, allowed me for a brief second to remember... can not put it on words.
Thanks again.
Old 19th September 2006
  #5
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Sharp11's Avatar
 

Bruce,

It's interesting to note that it was in the production of film music composers and engineers first discovered they could "trick" the ear by close-mic'ing soft instruments so they appeared as loud as "loud" instruments, i.e. bringing a classical guitar (strung with gut strings back in the day) forward in the mix and as loud as the entire orchestra - even if it was played softly.

Back in the late 1800's, French composer Erik Satie experimented with what is often referred to as "musique concrete" or what we call "found sound" that is, incorporating into music sounds that emanate from what's either in nature or caused by machines - exactly what you're talking about.

Seems this has been of interest for musicians for a long, long time.....long before "pop" music.

Ed Dzubak
Old 20th September 2006
  #6
Gear interested
 
Rockastle's Avatar
 

Long live the Viking!

Dear Mr. Swedien,

I feel I can't thank you enough for sharing your thoughts and knowledge with us, the upcoming sound engineers and music producers. Although we don't know each other, I have to say you've been my best master in this discipline I love. Most of all, because you showed me that the best tool we have is our ears, and true love for what we do (well, I'd mention some pieces of gear as well, but there are some other forums that would suit better that topic).
Someday I'll "make music mine" as you did. Seriously, you've earned a place in the Walhala of sound.
My respect and best regards,

Hernan.
Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Old 22nd September 2006
  #7
Viking
 
Bruce Swedien's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Edgard Varese is one of my favorites.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LAU View Post
Beautiful Poem....

Mr Swedien, Have You ever heard of Edgar Varese ?
And How About Ianis Xenakis ? Or maybe Pierre schaeffer...?
And If you know those, you probably now a lot more of those experimental composers/inovators.....

Laurens Kagenaar.
Laurens....

Edgard Varese is one of my favorites. Bob Moog and I talked abut Varese frequently...

I have adapted one of his statements to my own way of life....

It reads - "Rules do not make a work of art. You have the right to record what you want to, when you want to, the way you want to."

Edgard Varese and Bruce Swedien


Isn't that great???

Bruce Swedien


Old 22nd September 2006
  #8
LAU
Gear Maniac
 
LAU's Avatar
 

Varese was a true inovator, and he said many wise and visionary things.

i am a sonologist, i have studies at the institute for sonology, they are the owners of the original tape of poeme elctronique...
http://www.sonology.org/history

Everyone is born with genius, but most people only keep it a few minutes.
Edgard Varese

I dream of instruments obedient to my thought and which with their contribution of a whole new world of unsuspected sounds, will lend themselves to the exigencies of my inner rhythm.
Edgard Varese

I was not influenced by composers as much as by natural objects and physical phenomena.
Edgard Varese

Music is organized sound.
Edgard Varese

Music, which should pulsate with life, needs new means of expression, and science alone can infuse it with youthful vigor.
Edgard Varese

Our musical alphabet is poor and illogical.
Edgard Varese

The present day composer refuses to die!
Edgard Varese

There is an idea, the basis of an internal structure, expanded and split into different shapes or groups of sound constantly changing in shape, direction, and speed, attracted and repulsed by various forces.
Edgard Varese





You also know xenakis ?


greetings,
Laurens Kagenaar
Old 22nd September 2006
  #9
Gear Guru
 
lucey's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Swedien View Post

A- "Hi-Fi"-These individuals will only be satisfied with the very best, state- of-the-art sound. They also have the means to aquire such sound equipment. They are also in a constant state of discontent, waiting for something new to come along to improve their sound system. The individuals within this group value technically superior sound quality above all other criteria.

B- "Mid-Fi-This group will pay approximately $2,000.00 or less, for their sound system.(At this point in time.) They will say that that is "good enough" for them. The very fact that they can say that this system is "good enough" for them, positions them in the "mid-fi" group.

C- "Lo-Fi"-This is, by far and away, the largest group of consumers. They do not, as a rule, listen to music intently, in fact, music and recorded sound is frequently a background sound to "Do-Something-Else-By". The motto of this group could be, "Since we are completely satisfied with the horse and buggy, why should we invent the automobile or the airplane?".

I try to approximate the listening situation of the above groups, in the studio, as I listen to the music that I work on. I always record with three distinct sets of monitor speaker systems to evaluate the music that I am working on.

(edit)

If you understand fully the above, you can see why I take offense at being called a Purist!

Bruce Swedien



well said thumbsup



thank you
Old 23rd September 2006
  #10
Lives for gear
 
picksail's Avatar
 

Nice!!!!

Eric Satie was an example of profound simplicity at it's finest.

On the other side of the fence was Varese....

....Varese was my Elvis.
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