Tissot, Pollock, Eno, Lovers : Sonic Places & Environments

ONE

It’s a bit strange these days in France : the weather’s like summer. I know it’s pretty common in California to wear tee-shirts in October, but NOT in the North of France. My scarf stays in her drawer, though : it’s hot here.

Yesterday I biked to work, and as it’s October, the sun is already low on the horizon. But the air was weirdly warm – like in August’s mornings.

So this sunday morning we did this : I took Isis the cat and put it outside of the bedroom (because she wants to explore gutters and the roof and we don’t want her to do that), I closed the door, opened the window and we stayed in bed bathing in the sun.

We could hear the outside warm autumnic world : a passing car, a quiet wind, a bird, church’s bells (strangely close, like happy sunny), a crying baby very far and… Isis putting her little cat snout meowing her dramadistress : “I wanna come in I wanna sun with youuu meaowwww”.

Delightful quiet sunny sonic place, all these at the same time : bell, wind, birds, cat, baby… and a little moaning (but it’s a secret where it came from).

 

TWO

For no reason, let’s watch this movement between figuration and abstract. It’s a whole thing to study, but today let’s do it in two paintings, Tissot and Pollock :

 

 

Picasso said that abstract art doesn’t even exist, because if you see green things on the canvas “then the subject is the color green” (which is true, right?).

If Tissot’s painting shows a thoughtful lady, Pollock’s a bit more complicated (it’s made of painting drippings). Nevertheless : you’ll watch Pollock work closer and your eyes will immediately look for something which “makes you think of this”, or “looks like that”.

Then, well, it’s called “Autumn Rhythm“, then your mind, guided by these two words, imagine leaves, or movements, I don’t know.

It’s abstraction BUT your brain wants a track, a clue. Or you watch color’s games. Or you ask yourself about the artist’s intentions

Our intelligence is made of analogies. We want to link what we see WITH what we already know.

Here’s a close-up :

 

pollock-autumn-rhythm-No-30-1950-detail

 

THREE

Musics has many forms, from Bach to MGMT, from Miles Davis to Brahms. But it’s always this :

Music is a combination of notes following time.

So : music progresses, moves forward, it goes. You follow, your brain follows. It’s linked to time. It’s like a line, right? Sing along…

Now here’s Brian Eno, who made normal music (and produced David Bowie and U2), but also what he called sonic places.

The idea is simple : to stop “following time”. So instead of having a path to walk your ears on, you have non-chronological sounds, coming and disappearing, like if you opened a door and were in a place where “sounds happen”.

Not a line anymore, but a place, an environment. Somewhere with “no time” (which is so good at times). There’s a good example with this album : Shutov Assembly :

 

In a way, the sounds of life doesn’t or rarely look like music. They look more like Eno’s music, “places” :

…a baby, the quiet wind, a cat, a bird in the distance, a passing car, the leaves of a tree in the breeze, et la respiration de l’amour…

What about Tissot and Pollock? What if this thinking lady was watching a pile of dead trees, her gaze blurred by souvenirs and melancholy, her gaze like Pollock’s Autumn, curved brown movements in the low angled light of the fall’s sun…

 

Have a nice day!

 

young-woman-in-a-boat-1870-james-jacques-tissotarnew

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Eno & U2 : a freezing creative process

Brian Eno produced a few U2’s albums. I read one day in an interview that he had to restrain these guys’ creativity : they have too many ideas, all the time, and it’s exhausting!

Therefore, as the person in charge, he sometimes has to decide a STOP.

This is what he does, then :

As each musician is recorded on his own track, the freedom is total, which leads to infinite choices. At this time of the composition, Eno decides to pre-mix what he has, freezing the whole song in stereo. Instead of having for example 12 tracks you can move, mix and change all the time, he reduces all the pack in 2 tracks, left and right. From there, nobody can touch it anymore – then he trashes the source.

He transforms, this way, the big tree of possibilities into a “this is how it is now” song.

 

Of course you see it’s a tool : what are the consequences of this? Displacing creativity? (what do they do “from this”?). Is closing inventiveness from here allow people to invent elsewhere? Another thing? When do we need, in our work, to stop inventing and move forward? Why? When do we have too many ideas? What to do? What if you remove an element?

When do you need to have a thinker in charge?

You can also read : Fecundity of Limits

Thanks for reading !

Kathryntranquillity_070605_006

 

When a drop becomes a string : REVERB, Part 1

Please listen to this Vangelis “Blade Runner” quiet track :

 

I used to be a composer (a long time ago), and I remember this “Blade Runner” mood : Your track is ready on your Macintosh. It’s the night. You’re alone, quiet. You have a cigarette and you just “hit the spacebar”.

Your pack of “synthétiseurs”, samplers, keyboards and effects is twinkling blinking here and there in your room. And Macintosh plays your music, that’s cool!

“Reverberation, is the persistence of sound after a sound is produced”, says Wikipedia. The page has the good idea to present a simple synth sound with different levels of “reverb”.

You can guess that you have different parameters. The percentage of reverb (you maybe need to keep a part of flat sound) and the length of it. You can guess that a “many seconds” reverb gives you the impression you’re in a cave, or a cathedral.

For my Blade Runner moods I played with 12 seconds reverb, which could never be reached in reality.

In “Against the Sky”, Brian Eno uses the reverb like a character, a ghost of the already reverbed piano. At the end of the track, a quiet golden snake is reverb-floating in the background…

Robert Rich & Steve Roach are like “too much reverb is cool”. Their percs are already like in a cathedral, and they have this pleasure to draw veils of sounds. Yep, New Age music. OK, I let you slowdance a bit…

YouTube their names to check what reverb is 🙂

 

Soil Festivities (Vangelis again) begins with thunder… in reverb. So it’s like you’re sheltered near the entrance of a cave. The whole piece is like a game of sounds (no music seems to really being built here), of creatures evolving in the reverb. Around 6 minutes, listen to the contrast between all notes and the “no reverb” next-to-your-ears bass. He played the same game with choir in the album “Mask”.

I’ll write another article about reverb in pop. Depeche Mode‘s Violator as a perfect example…

Have fun. Have a great 4Th of July!