1. MUSIC HAS ALWAYS SOUNDED BAD!

    Published August 4th, 2014 under #distortion of sound (1 note)

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    A Response to “The Distortion of Sound”

    by Christopher Coleman

    (Originally posted at Tracksounds.com)

    Many of you reading this would likely agree that there are a few problems within the music world today. Whether you ask the consumer, the critic, or the creator, they’ll all give you a list of things that could be improved … and some that must be improved for the sake of the long-term well-being of the industry. The 2014 documentary, THE DISTORTION OF SOUND, directed by Jacob Rosenberg, written by Michael Abell and Kevin Gentile and featuring interviews by artists like: QUINCY JONES, HANS ZIMMER, and A.R. RAHMAN, deals with the declining quality of sound in the reording industry. Having a high interest in this topic and how the masses consume music today, I was equally keen to see what these artists and documentarians had to say.

    Sadly, I didn’t come out with much new information, hence my own views effected much. If you have been paying attention to the trend in the music economy over the last ten years, you likely won’t find any major revelations in this documentary either. The main point of the DISTORTION OF SOUND was to say to the masses, “Hey. Most of that music you are streaming or downloading and listening to via your phone, tablet and laptops is crap. And we put a lot of hard work into that music, which you aren’t hearing at all.” There was no clear call to action but, most thankfully, there was no pitch to purchase some new piece of HD-audio hardware or service.

    Aside from ultimately wondering what the point of this documentary was, I also felt that, while I may agree with the conclusion that the masses may be missing out on the finer nuances of their music, as original recorded, their arguments were a little weak. Saying that compressed audio through tiny earbuds or cheap, on-board computer speakers, sounds bad compared to the original recordings is true enough, but to suggest that this is something new and that some undeclared action must be taken is disingenuous at best. The fact is that the masses have been listening to comparatively poor sounding music for decades. It’s simply a case of whether the music sounds “good enough.” Consumers weigh this against other factors in their listening experience like: portability, accessibility, and cost. The fact is the masses are saying with their wallets that compressed music is, at most times. good enough.

    While the documentarians make their point quite clearly (a little too extremely perhaps) with the uncompressed versus compressed sound of the same piece of music and while they do take us down musical-memory-lane from the 1960s-vinyl to the 8-track, cassette, and CD, they never deal with the fact that a lot of work has always been put into recorded music that many never heard. From the media available to the means of transmission to the limitations of technology, recorded-music that has sounded comparatively bad has always been made readily available and the masses listened by the millions.

    Let’s see. Remember AM radio? Right. It’s still there, but mostly filled with talk radio. Why? Because music sounds like crap on AM radio. But some of you reading this right now will recall listening to hours and hours of your favorite music via a tiny, one-speaker, hand-held, AM radio and it was fine. Don’t you know you were missing a lot of the amazing detail, atmosphere and dynamics of every song you listened to that way? Back in the 70s, it was the best we had. As long as our 9-volt batteries held out and we could sing along with our favorite songs being squeeked and squelched out of our radio, we were fine with it.


    Magnetic media. Let’s not even deal with 8-tracks and talk about the best selling medium of the 80s, cassette tapes. Do you recall how we’d record and re-record the same tapes over and over? You want to talk “distortion in sound?” By the end of the lifespan of some of my old AMPEX, MAXELL, MEMOREX, or TDK tapes, the quality of sound was worse than a severely warped and scratched vinyl-record. Remember that cassette-album you loved so much? Even if you bought it from the label, brand new, with each successive listen the quality of that experience was diminishing. Did you keep the temperature constant to ensure the long-life of that tape or did you leave it locked up in your car in the blazing heat of summer from time to time? Ever get that tape snagged in your player only to fish it out with a great new set of creases added to the tape? That’s just how it was, but many of us put up with it, because that is all we had for portable music.

    And let’s not slam these headphones and earphones of today too hard. (Ok. We can slam them a little for being so overpriced). Let’s not kid ourselves that the headphones that accompanied our favorite Walkman-clone, were some technological, sonic breakthrough in fidelity. They were cheap, light, and were a perfect match for the convenience those personal cassette players afforded us. And with those cassette players, remember how we were to clean the heads and if you were really hardcore, you’d even de-magnetize them on occasion? What percentage of the masses bothered to do this to keep their music sounding as good as possible? Few bothered … but we kept on listening to those re-re-re-recorded cassettes over and over and over - losing fidelity with every turn of the sprockets. We listened on, because it was all we had.

    I bet I’m not the only one who used to sit in his room or out in the yard with friends and tape record music that was played on the radio! At least it was FM radio, so it was sounding great compared to that monophonic-nightmare of the AM variety. Think about it. Music that might have been recorded and mixed in the finest studios by master musicians, was being pumped over the airwaves rife with countless sources of interference and noise. We then took our little, dirty-headed, boom boxes and inserted that cassette tape we’ve been using and reusing for the last two years. Finally, after holding the pause button for minutes at a time, while those dreaded radio commercials played, putting damaging stresses on our beloved, dynamic, normal bias cassette tape, we finally release the button and our personal recording session of our favorite song begins. Just how pure, detailed, and dynamic must have that song have sounded later as we listened, rewound, and listened again. In truth, it sounded terrible, but we put up with it, because it was all we had.

    At long last the 1990s arrived and the music industry would be changed forever by the digital age. The compact disc entered the scene and our minds were collectively blown as digitally recorded and mastered music was a dream come true. Theoretically, our 1500th listen was a clean and clear as our first. We could take these thin, little discs of joy anywhere. We’d skip songs and repeat others. It was so convenient … and they just happened to, on the whole, sound infinitely better than our cassettes we recorded from our record collections. In some ways, it was the pinnacle of the music industry.

    Artists weren’t complaining that consumers couldn’t hear all of their artistry back then. Consumers loved the convenience and bonus quality. However, there was one thing that consumers weren’t so fond of - the price.

    Paying $20+ for a single CD was commonplace, so, for some of us, purchases were much rarer and much more thought-out. The music business reached its zenith, but the stage was set for the download and streaming revolution of which we are now all a part.

    Those artists that take the stand represented in DISTORTION OF SOUND don’t talk about our tradition of “bad sounding music.” Instead they focus on the most current iteration. The fact is poor quality listening experiences have been around since the dawn of recorded music and from the artists’ point of view, it’s likely to be with us forever. While it was rather intriguing to see the thoughts on compressed music expressed by artists of varying generation and genre, without a strong call to action at the end, the whole point of this video is lost. Perhaps it will somehow educate a few and move them to buy compact discs or vinyl, but enough to make an actual difference?

    The majority of consumers have already spoken. Digital downloads and streaming services provide music quality that is “good enough” for them. The convenience simply outweighs the losses in quality, that many say they can’t even perceive.

    Unless there is some breakthrough in whatever playback technologies the consumers have ready-access it to (something that will expose the deficiencies in the fidelity of their current musical choices), gad sounding music has been with us since the dawn of recorded music and will probably be with us for years to come.

  2. „All great truths begin as blasphemies.“

    — George Bernard Shaw

    Published June 5th, 2014 under #quote #quotation #george bernard shaw (0 notes)

  3. „What is right can never be impossible.“

    — Belle (2014 Film)

    Published May 5th, 2014 under #belle #amma asante (0 notes)

  4. Scientists Discovered the Egyptian Secret to Moving Huge Pyramid Stones

    Published April 30th, 2014 under #egyptians #pyramids #ancient mystery (0 notes)


    The question of just how an ancient civilization—without the help of modern technology—moved the 2.5 ton stones that made up their famed pyramids has long plagued Egyptologists and mechanical engineers alike. But now, a team from the University of Amsterdam believes they’ve figured it out, even though the solution was staring them in the face all along.

  5. Published April 26th, 2014 under #mongolia #eagle huntress #asher svidensky #ashol-pan #photography (14 notes)

    Eagle Huntress of Mongolia.  These amazing photos of thirteen year old, Ashol-Pan, practicing the ages-old, hunting technique with the golden eagle are by Asher Svidensky.  Awe inspiring.

    (Source: bbc.com)

  6. Published March 28th, 2014 under #lord of the rings #hobbit #stain glass (33,114 notes)

    [Beautiful Art] Stain-glass style illustration: The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by Jian Guo ( breathing2004)

    Truly beautiful work that is reminiscent of one of the most beautiful pieces of animations I’ve seen, The Secret of Kells.  Not only is it not 3D, but it showcases the beauty and character that can be found in “flat design.”

    (Source: aide-factory, via beautifulplay)

  7. Published March 27th, 2014 under #movie trailer #filmmakeriq #film history (1 note)

    The History of the Movie Trailer from FilmmakerIQ.com

  8. Published March 18th, 2014 under #peanuts #charlie brown #snoopy #blue sky studio #animation #vince guaraldi (0 notes)

    It’s 3D Animation, Charlie Brown!

    When I first got wind of this classic animated series originated by the great Charles Schultz in 1950 going to 3D animation … I was mortified.

    If there were ever a comic strip/ 2D animated series that was born of pen and ink and live it’s entire life that way … it was Schultz’s Peanuts.  Still, with the great onslaught of remakes, rehashes, re-envisioning, repeats, re-dos, and reboots, I suppose it was only a matter of time before the great, Hollywood machine got a hold of this beloved property.  I did have secret hopes that Chuck, Woodstock, Shroeder, et al would someone be spared this fate.

    So it was with a great deal of remorse that I learned that in 2015 we will get a feature-length animated film of the Peanuts gang from Blue Sky Studios, the fine folks who brought us the ICE AGE franchise, HORTON HEARS A WHO, RIO and the upcoming sequel, RIO 2.   This isn’t to say that I’m concerned with the quality from Blue Sky Studios.  I find some of their work in the ICE AGE series easy to compare with some of Pixar and Dreamworks Animation’s projects.  It’s the thought of seeing all of the charm and personality drained from Schultz’s unforgettable characters in the name of modernization … or perhaps ease of development that bothers me so much. 

    Reboots like Garfield and The Smurfs have proven that they might be able to make a few bucks but definitely tarnish their respective legacies … and neither of these franchises is nowhere near as beloved as Peanuts.   I fear that the young will grow up thinking that 2D, hand-drawn animation is as archaic as cave paintings; possibly dismissing the medium as a whole and missing warm, personable, beauty that most 3D animated projects fail to deliver.

    Clicking the “play” button on the trailer above was one of the most difficult decisions of my week (It’s early yet…only Tuesday morning).  Still, it was pretty tough.  Would this Peanuts trailer be one of those things “you can’t unsee?”  Would it appear to be just a mediocre re-imaged, cash-grab?  Or worse?

    I clicked it.

    I watched it.

    I loved it.

    What immediately jumped out to me was the visual style employed.  Blue Sky did not go for a full, 3D, world as I was expecting, but, to my pleasant surprise, have managed to stay as close to Schultz’s original style as one might dare to hope for.  It’s as if Schultz’s handiwork was given the puffy, Colorform, treatment (Does anyone remember Colorforms? I had a number of Peanuts Colorform play sets in my youth, where you could stick and unstick the characters wherever you desired in the given scene. See below.)

    After the rather cliche use of Richard Strauss’ “Also Sprach Zarathustra,”  the music of the trailer moves right into Vince Guaraldi’s iconic “Linus and Lucy.”  Even more amazingly, what shines through in the balance of the one-minute long trailer is the sort of simple heart that Schultz infused into all of his comic strips and holiday specials.  Without one word spoken, we are shown that the fun-loving mischief of Snoopy is in tact, while Charlie Brown remains the center of misaligned-attention.  And in the end, the two staple characters of the franchise end up in a huge embrace! (I dare anyone not to feel a big, “Awwww.” when they see this.)

    I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that happen in any of the previous strips or specials.  Whether it has or not, I was left with a wonderful, nostalgic dose of the warm fuzzies.  In a matter of a single minute, Blue Sky Studios (and their marketing team) moved me from my expected new Peanut-allergy to being Peanut-butter in their hands.

    I can only hope that the rest of the film keeps this simple tone and continues to use Vince Guaraldi’s established works.  If you want to give the Peanuts gang a bit more depth, that’s fine, but they’ll need to remain sparse on the dialogue and keep Guaraldi’s music or, at the very least, a jazz-trio in his image, in tact.  

    As it stands now, Blue Sky, I’m on board!

  9. Published March 13th, 2014 under #the matrix #trickster #felix joleanes (1 note)

    Trickster by Felix Joleanes is a decent fan-flick set in the world of The Matrix.  Not a whole bunch of story going on here, but decent visuals, sound and music convinced me of one thing:  I am ready for more from The Matrix!

  10. Published February 20th, 2014 under #facebook #social media #social advertising (1 note)

    Facebook Fraud?  As many others have, I’ve long had a variety of suspicions with Facebook (hence my almost total disregard for it personally), but this video is pretty conclusive: paying Facebook for Likes is a complete waste of money.