This post is a contribution from another reader, who wishes to remain anonymous. It relates to the phenomenon of sound and our perception of sound and music. Enjoy!
Hi music lovers of Earth. This is done to wake up your ears and minds to a more wholesome perception and to create some awareness when it comes to consuming musical produce, which most of us do on a daily basis, often without even questioning what enters the ear and what it can do to your mind if you let it.
Ok, let’s try to give this beast some structure here. My intent is to have maybe three parts altogether, the first part dealing with the basics of sound and human perception of it.
The second part will be about audio recording/reproduction in general and the tweaks made to confine your sense of listening to 2D instead of 4D. (Yep, you heard that wrong 🙂 ).
The third part will be dealing with the musical content itself and the tweaks done to major releases to keep your mind confused, longing for more demonic entities to feast upon your sonically induced fears and negative emotions, shrinking your soul. Hard to stomach at first but that’s what has apparently been going on for many decades. (It’s debatable how far back the intentional conjunction of musical performance and negative ritual goes and if it persists in the same form today. I won’t go into that, at least not in this series, but I am always open to discuss these matters)
I want to make myself clear that during my professional rather small scale “career” in the audio/event business I never directly came in contact with record labels, industry audio facilities such as major label recording/mastering studios and the likes, which in retrospect I don’t regret a tiny bit. My job was more about setting up the different venues for events like concerts, expos, business meetings etc. I have experience in recording and mixing audio. I did come in contact with a major amount of music produce over the decades, be it in the form of canned music (CD,LP,MC,MP3) or in the form of live concerts, mainly of the harder rock/metal kind. And I will talk a bit about the ritual magic that often gets involved in both cases to literally get you spellbound.
I think it would be good for starters to talk about some basic principles of audio reproduction to be able to understand the compromises that have in some instances been intentionally implemented in today’s audio technology to prevent a recording to be played back in a natural way.
Music to me is the force of creation. Everything consists of waves, sound as well as the electromagnetic spectrum. You and everyone and everything around you is vibrating energy. Separation is merely a difference in frequency and resonance, from the atom all the way up to sentient living beings and the universe itself. (To get a good understanding that waves give matter a specific form depending on the frequency/resonance used, please watch a “Chladny Plate” in action on the net, here.)
The sense of hearing is the most primordial human sense there is. A human fetus begins to sonically perceive his/her surroundings 160 days into pregnancy. So there is already interaction going on then. The child can hear the mother and even music that is played back in the same room will get picked up and sometimes be accompanied by movement. (My daughter would get moving regularly inside my girl’s womb when we played music during “our” pregnancy. I just want to mention, that I think excessive ultrasonic healthcare during pregnancy should be considered a crime, that just as a side dish.)
So we have that sense of hearing right from the very beginning. Is it really that surprising then, that the forces who have been controlling humanity for millennia, go to an extreme length keeping that sense under wraps?
Ok, so let’s look to the Greeks for a minute, especially their sonic masterpieces called amphitheaters. The voice of a single speaker standing in this auditorium would be loud enough to reach the highest seats and be perceived by the audience with almost no loss. This was achieved by the shape of the structure obviously, the seat ranks compensating for the loss of sound pressure as the speakers voice travels farther, allowing for a much greater audience than on flat ground. Another thing is the rounded shape of an auditorium, which contributes to the fact that there is virtually no reverb audible (some say hall, which is the same). If the speaker claps his hands the sound is immediately thrown back at him without any sound artifacts that would be caused by a not properly rounded structure. Next to wall corners or in closed rooms this can be a huge problem that has to be accounted for electronically to ensure proper perception for everyone.
I think what we can take away with us from the Greeks, is that they had a proper understanding of handling sound waves in a natural manner. The sound from the stage was perceived equally well by the whole audience, clearly coming from this center stage. No problem, since the place is built around the stage and a single sound always distributes in a radial wave. That’s the most basic principle of sound and this is engraved in our psychoacoustic perception from the very beginning. Perceiving a sound as coming from a single point source, the mind always trying to locate that one source, completely natural thing. It gets interesting when more than two sound sources occur next to each other. If two identical sounds are played back over one loudspeaker at the exact same time (within 30milliseconds), the audible result would be one considerably louder sound (3dB) compared to a single sound, as these two identical sound waves resonate with one another and amplify themselves resulting in a higher amplitude/volume. If you play these two identical sounds more than 30 milliseconds apart they will be perceived as two identical sounds played in a row, no more amplification or perception as one sound. That is to show how delicate our ears and our perception in general really is. Another psychoacoustic feature that is built into every one of us is the natural ability to assign various random sounds to different groups. Say you are out swimming at the lake on a sunny day preferably. You lie down on your towel, eyes closed and you happen to listen to a group of people nearby talking. You might not understand everything but your mind gives you a pretty good picture of how many people are talking for instance. You can separate the boys from the girls because of the pitch, you can even separate the boys and girls from one another. There is a dog present, someone clicks with a glass bottle. The mind quantifies what your ears just presented to it and assigns what I would call subgroups to the sounds perceived, assigning a certain class or bandwidth of perceived sound events to one individual source and so on. This is how powerful our minds are and I am fascinated by that every time I talk about these things. So to conclude this psychoacoustic section I summarize.
A single sound always has a single source. Our mind always wants to resolve the question, where that perceived sound is originating from.
Keep that in mind for the next part where I will explain in necessary detail, why the way you set up your speakers in a closed triangle (speakers tilted towards the listener) is completely against the laws of perception plus more exciting stuff. If you are using two speakers at all these days. If you use more than that you are sonically lost in a 2D listening flat plane. I don’t even have a real stereo at the moment. 🙂
To be continued…