19 March 2010

Distortion in music

So I went for my first jog in like six months last night (pain. my legs were burning and rubbery at the same time.) and my route takes me by a bar called The Tap. It was a beautiful night, so the patio was hopping and they piped music outside on tinny, little speakers. Now, the sound is bad enough on those things, but add a crowd of chatty people plus my moving position and the music was almost unrecognizable as music. Interestingly--as would be expected at your average middle class bar--the music was top 40 pop and was very recognizable despite the distortion. Your brain filters out the non-essential stuff. I forced myself to listen to the sound without filtering and it reminded me very much of how Sparklehorse added distortion to some of his songs. It made me consider that the original intent was to create a musique concrete sound environment where the artist attempts to forced the listener to become aware of the non-musical distortions that are normally elided (as with last night).

Early Frank Zappa--and many, many others--would use similar techniques. This is not, however, what Pink Floyd was trying to accomplish and could be considered the opposite. Their sound environment was more theatrical and intended to pull you into the conceit rather than make the superstructure visible.

[ posted by sstrader on 19 March 2010 at 4:41:53 PM in Music ]