Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Final Posting: Last Thoughts on the “StormSound” Concert

First of all, I’d like to thank all of the musicians who took part in this crazy project. Several of you went above and beyond what I’d expected to make the music sound great, and for this I’m grateful. And thank you, Keith, for your insightful review of the concert.

I’ve had a chance to listen to all of the music that was recorded at the concert, and most of it sounds pretty good. My little digital recorder didn’t pick up the bass drum in “Winds of the Sun” very well; there’s the sound of someone dropping something in the middle of “Songbird and Stillness” (probably in the audience); and the prerecorded part of “Consort of Voices” doesn’t really match the “live” music (I suspected that) but these are only small momentary glitches in nine hours of otherwise fantastic music.

I’ve finally had a chance to look at these pictures from the concert too. Sorry they don't come with audio...

Mike (bass) and I in the middle of "Nature Lives in Motion", the first and longest piece in the Cycle.

Neal (guitar), Ivan (clarinet) and Matt (percussion) playing "Songbird and Stillness", the first and shortest trio piece.

Bruce (bass clarinet), Keith and Jay (homemade instruments) playing the nocturnal dreamscape that makes up "Night Signals".

David (piano), Ryan (drums) and Clifford (flute) in the loudest piece, "Day Signals", the point where the instruments start to overshadow the prerecorded sounds.

Clifford (flute), Keith (piano), Matt and Dale (mallet percussion) at the start of their playing in the finale, "Consort of Voices".

One final thing of note. In order to “fill out” the sound of the recorded “StormSound” concert recordings, I’ve been multi-tracking the original prerecorded parts back onto the concert recordings. This makes up for the fact that the speakers during the live performance weren’t aimed at the small mikes of my recorder. However, I’ve noticed something odd: using my computer, I can synch the two recordings within a hundredth of a second – but by the end of the longest pieces (particularly the two-hour-plus “Nature Lives in Motion”) they get ever-so-slightly out of phase, resulting in a strange and unexpected slap-echo effect. I’ve read that Steve Reich discovered phase minimalism by listening to tape loops running on two different reel-to-reel tape recorders at the same time (this technique eventually lead to his classic “Come Out” – there’s a techno remix of that, by the way!); apparently what I’ve discovered is a digital variation on the same phenomenon. However, it takes longer – if Mr. Reich had been using digital technology, “Come Out” would have been twenty hours long.

So that wraps it up. I’m going to retire this blog (although there have been people reading it even though I haven't posted anything for the last month). But, stay in touch, readers… There will be a new one starting up in a couple of weeks: The SoundScroll.