Monday, March 31, 2008

On Being Incorrect

(Delay on new PC, must post...still on old beast)
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One of the things that I lost when my PC crashed was the outline and a few sketchy chapters of an aborted book. I was attempting to examine life using the language of sound as a symbol system...my basic premise was that each individual contains a recording studio within themselves and that the skills, equipment and techniques used to record audio all have counterparts in both the real and philosophical worlds- for example:

Click Track: In recording, a 'click track' is essentially a metronome. It is used to keep musicians playing at a consistent tempo. It steadies the musician-an erratic click track will derail them.

In the real world, we have a number of different 'click tracks' and they tend to play at different tempos: family, art, work, love- these are all 'click tracks'. By deciding which tempo gets assigned to which track, we set our priorities in life.


On a philosophical level, a 'click track' could be viewed as passion or faith. For example, I cannot prove that John Bonham used a click track while Led Zeppelin were recording Physical Graffiti, but my passion for sound causes me to take it as faith that he did- in a way ,this parallels an individual's faith in their religion, the believer accepting as faith the unprovable 'fact' that the Divine Click Track is there and on-time.

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That's a very abbreviated, informal version.

After a few chapters of stuff like that, I bogged down and could go no further and eventually I gave up. When my PC died, I wasn't especially upset over losing my roughs, the whole thing had dead-ended.

Until.

I had a breakthrough.
My approach was incorrect on a very basic level.

We are not 'recording studios'. We are sound itself.
We are waves and energy. Electrical, physical energy.
We are, in the jargon of audio, the source.
The world around us is the recording studio and each person is continually recording their own concept album, a process which invariably requires a lifetime to complete.

Here is a quick look at how I look at working with sound :

The idea is to get the source (usually music) to the destination ( usually a set of speakers, in my case it is sometimes a radio transmitter) as quickly and cleanly as possible. To do this, one must understand signal flow, which is the path that the sound takes as it travels from source to destination.
Sometimes there are obstacles, but there are tools available for dealing with problems as they arise- or preventing them altogether( a chapter about EQ, Compression, Gates and Dynamic Processing to follow)
Once you are comfortable with your signal flow, you can experiment with echo, delay and other Time-Based FX. Usually, you won't need them, but it's fun to know how they work anyway.

If a problem persists, trace the source carefully through every stage of it's signal flow. Do not take any component for granted as 'working', test them all. Eventually, you will find the stage where the sound stops or breaks down.
Once it is identified, you address it by applying whatever repair or replacement is needed.
If the broken element adds nothing, remove it entirely and continue without it.

It's my feeling that this basic audio approach can be applied to real-life situations with very effective results.
For example, I've been dealt a huge number of setbacks over the last several months, any one of which would have, in the past, been a trigger for me to drink and self-punish instead of fixing my signal flow.
Fuck. That.

I'm tracing my path and removing the junk that doesn't work.
My PC crash isn't so much a tragic loss as it is a vital step in the cleansing of my signal flow. If I can learn to accept the loss of things that are precious to me, I should, as a result, be able to let go of things that aren't precious (or even healthy) to me.

If something isn't perfect the first time, record it again and again until it sounds right. It's quite a bit of work, but it's worth it.

After all, it's the song of a lifetime.

10 comments:

Auld Hat said...

Two points:
A - You just blew my mind on multiple frequencies and
2ndly - You, me and Kate Bush and Tesla really need to do coffee in the afterlife some time. Seriously.
Oh and hands off Kate - she's MINE! heh heh

yellowdog granny said...

oh kay..the weirdest thing happened while i was reading your post..i was reading along and everything was making sense and then all of a sudden, it was like you were speaking in an entirely different language..like uh, french or something...and i felt this whoosh as something flew right over my head...
so im going to go use that clicky thing i have and go change the whatchamacallits' so i can watch medium...but always remember...your like music to my ears...

citizen of the world said...

Fantastic - one door shuts and another door opens. Not that I had any idea what you were talking about aside from that.

whimsical brainpan said...

Wonderful allegorical post Allan! This is one of your best.

McRaven said...

I totally, totally got this. After all the crap I've been through this year,I just so totally get this and I am changing channels, frequency or whatever works for the better. :)

billy pilgrim said...

i agree, all the world's a stage and the show must go on. a lot of humans mistakingly think the show depends on them.

McRaven said...

I visited again today...

angel said...

wow... totally mind blowing concept allan! wonderful!!!

yinyang said...

That's deep.

Sling said...

Very well done my friend!
I can feel the harmonic resonance.