“Pick the Quarter Best”, a Quincy Jones pattern

Listening on the radio to old stuff you didn’t hear for years, I fell off my chair with Smooth Criminal (Michael Jackson). Since, I can’t put it out of my mind.

I remember an interview (maybe exaggerated) with Quincy Jones, who produced “Bad”, who said that the team wrote, recorded and produced forty (40) songs, to choose finally 10 of them, the “ten best”, right?

I should find the interview to check numbers, right? But like they say in this John Ford’s movie, let’s print the legend.

 

That’s a tool for workers. An unusual one maybe :

“If you need great stuff, build 4 times more then pick the quarter best”

(hmm is this even English?)

An exhausting/expensive tool, right?

 

Have a great sunday!

 

Listen loud, extract : the bass (sound and holed line), the snare drum games, the voice production, the building in “double stereo stairs” (synth-strings), the up modulation for the chorus.

Annie, are you ok
Will you tell us that you’re ok
There’s a sign at the window

 

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Dunkirk as a MAYA & Strangeization sensorial experience

I remember a scene from this movie, Sex, Lies and Videotapes, which won a Palme d’Or at the 1989 Cannes Film Festival. It was just a dialog between two characters, with a strange sound behind.

One would wonder what was this sound made of. Construction workers in the street behind the closed window, or abstract clinking soundtrack? It was disturbing, diverting and rerouting the whole scene : the dialog, the mood, the meaning of it. And thus… I never forgot it!

 

Yesterday I watched Dunkirk, the 2017 Christopher Nolan war film. Wiki says that the audio mixing team only was made of eight people!

One friend warned it to me before : the film puts you in a stress mode because of the SOUND. The music, textures, sound effects (including the fascinating Shepard_tone – which is an auditory illusion) are different. The stories (we follow three wires : on sea, in air, on earth) are kaleidoscoping. The movie sounds (helmet communication in planes, bullets impacts, bombs) are realistic (therefore you never hear them like that – excepted in Private Ryan). All this build a strong and effective symphony of war and survival. With oddness.

What’s the tool, dear?

STRANGEIZATION

I wrote this article a long time ago to explain strangeization :

Strangeization Tool & Eyebrow Criteria

“Distort some elements to catch back the interest of the audience”

Have a strange punctuation. Use inappropriate music. Add dissonances. The purpose is manipulation, here.

  1. An attentive viewer will have fun.
  2. An inattentive viewer will get your elbowpoke : “Hey, look, it’s different!”. Then he’s dropped into category one!

 

MAYA : most-advanced-yet-acceptable/ …is the secret for success with strangeization. Disturb, but not too much, or you’ll lose your public with avant-garde nausea.

MAYA is here like the restraining operator of Strangeization

Why not using it today? Where? Poetry or Photography? What else?

Have a nice day!

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PS : I would love to add this : My father’s father died in this war. And his grandfather in WWI. He didn’t remember his father, his voice, nothing. Just a coffin. He was too little. In a way, I’ve the consequences of 39-45 in my flesh. And I remember his emotion when he told me about the tall American soldier who jumped from a tank and gave him a chewing-gum tablet. He was a little boy. You guys saved our asses. Thank you.

#ECM, a music label – #Jazz

Wiki says : ECM (Edition of Contemporary Music) is an independent record label founded by Manfred Eicher in Munich in 1969. While ECM is best known for jazz music, the label has released a variety of recordings, and ECM’s artists often refuse to acknowledge boundaries between genres. ECM’s motto is “the Most Beautiful Sound Next to Silence”.

If you don’t know this label (and if you’re an music explorer), it can keep you busy for a quiet evening. It’s interesting in many ways. Sophisticated jazz of course, but also minimalism, quiet worlds, inventions, disturbing surprises and splendid smokes, with a… you’ll see : ECM has a sound.

You can YouTube it. If you like to read, I suggest you Google “ECM Best Albums“. This page is great, for example :

https://gerryco23.wordpress.com/2009/11/29/ecm-40-favourites/

In a way, it’s always interesting to READ about intelligent music, right?

Randomly found 9 sleeves for you.

 

Have a nice day!

Hi-Fi meant “High Fidelity” – What about the sound quality, now?

In the seventies, music became really, really HUGE. We went from mono to stereo, and we heard constantly about Hi-Fi, High Fidelity. Pink Floyd! Dark Side of the Moon were used by stereo demonstrators…

In the eighties, the Compact Disc appeared. Music became cleaner : no more need to clean your vinyl records or your turntable : a better, clearer sound. Digital recordings were the best of the best! People were chasing “DDD” recordings, digitally recorded, mastered, and played… Great sound!

(Ambient musics lovers were in paradise : no more clicks and pops in quiet spaces!

The development of Internet in the nineties and music piracy pushed the mp3. Music was “compressed” (with loss), and weirdly, nobody seemed to care.

If you really listen to music, if you compare, if you have headphones, you notice something though : compressed music is a mess, it’s a DISASTER. You lose sound, textures, dynamics. Help!

Today, people listen to music on Bluetooth devices, in streaming, on mp3, on YouTube. It’s all compressed, crushed, squashed, and if it’s very convenient, it’s… just bad. If you have time, find your best David Bowie track and listen to it in MP3, then 320 MP3, then FLAC, on headphones, and be in a awe. Yep.

If your ears are just a little bit… educated, there are many ways to get good quality. New CDs with better “rates”, like SACD or DVD Audio. Compressed “lossless” music, like APE or FLAC. Vinyl is back for its “warm” sound, too. It’s more complicated, today, consequently, but I think it’s worth thinking about it.

Let’s finish on this paradox :

One day I downloaded a HUGE Flac archive of “Abba 24Bit Vinyl Pack” (each album weighed almost a gigabyte – a CD is mastered in 16 Bits, normally). So I began to listen on my expensive Sennheiser headphones a luxurious lossless compression of Vinyl music, digitalized at an splendid rate…. with a slight wow and flutter, some clicks and pops too, and Oh. My. God. It was fantastic!

But when I was 14 years old, I was in love, I had the LP, and I listened it in loop, every day. So, isn’t the “warmth” of the LP just linked with the memory of the poor sound of this era? I, really, don’t know.

Today I miss the big sleeves, but not much. I don’t miss MP3’s sound. Do you?

Have a nice day!

 

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Art of Noise games – Reverb, part 2

At the beginning of Instruments of Darkness, Art of Noise plays with the reverb (big reverb/no reverb) on the snare drum, as if they were moving the drummer from a small room to a cathedral and vice-versa.

 

I remember their “Moments in Love“, a masterpiece in this “no genre” (where is this music today?).

So : 3 notes, in an infinite loop. This is no music at all, only weaving sounds and reverb. The Fairlight (the whhoo-whhoo sound) in the reverb, the bass very flat, like an anchor.

And they play again with the reverb/no reverb with the “Kling” anvil perc (they begin at 5:14). Just after this, the appearing Beatbox Bass Drum is dry like hell, stuck to your ears. At 6:52, a strange break is flat too, slowly like tempted by reverberations. I love these production games as a thinker. You have to love to analyze and dissect music to do that. But you are, if you’re reading this, right? If you have headphones, you’ll be amazed by the way it’s all “placed” in the sound scene…

There are many levers to activate when you produce music. I really like to do it “visually”, as if there was a music stage in front of you.

 

Thanks for reading !