Sound

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paulyg
Posts: 21
Joined: Thu May 17, 2018 12:30 pm

Sound

Post by paulyg » Fri Jun 15, 2018 6:24 pm

It's been said (rightly) that talking about music is like dancing about art... so let's write about it!

I'd like people to do their best to describe their sound concept in this thread. I'll go first.

I almost exclusively play classical/"""""""legit"""""""" music, so my sound concept is informed by my teachers and players of that genre. I have found it really difficult to create a concept of this sound that holds for both live performances and recordings. Ultimately what I've settled on is this. The classical trombone player's forte should sound like a solar eclipse looks. A core of darkness that both defies explanation and indicates presence rather than absence, and a fringe of blinding golden brightness. Recordings tend to favor one aspect or the other. Listening to truly great players and sections live, the analogy becomes more apparent. Let's hear thoughts!

Paul Gilles
Aerospace Engineer & Trombone Player
imsevimse
Posts: 182
Joined: Sun Apr 29, 2018 10:43 am
Location: Sweden

Re: Sound

Post by imsevimse » Sun Jun 17, 2018 6:43 am

This is a really annoying subject.

A good live sound and to sound good on a live recording is not always the same sound. I have not solved that puzzle.

To my experience in certain circumstances someone's dissonant live sound can be changed in a recording to be much more present and alive compared to a more balanced live sound.

The good balanced live sound is then picked up as a shadow behind the other sound. The latter more present sound has in the recording become deeper and has therefore been improved by the recording. The balanced sound on the other hand has lost most of its presence. What changes this outcome of what is a best sound?

It is a puzzle and I have no clue what to do about it and it happens especially in live recordings. The problem comes naturally from the fact that the players do not blend very well in the live situation in the first place. This might naturally be what to try to solve to make things better.

The problem I have with the recordings where this happend is the unexpected result. The sound with 90% body and 10% aura, like in your picture, is hidden and the sound with a 10% body and 90% aura becomes the better sound.

Is it the technician in the control room who does his magic, or is it a function built into the recording equipment? Maybe a mic cuts the edge of the dissonant sound automaticly just as much it needs, and then the result is picked up as better recorded than live. I have played with both trumpet players, sax players and trombone players who come out as better players on recordings soundwise and others with good sounds that comes out as pale in the same live recordings.

Just a thought on live and recorded sounds.

To keep to the subject in this thread:
My best sound is the sound where I can hear a strong fifth as an overtone (actually an octave and a fifth above the note played). I also want at least some sparkles high above that, like a golden crown that sits on the core and make my sound shine like in your beautiful picture. In another tune I want the crown to be enclosed by a rainy cloud to help me make a more sentimental sound. Vibrato helps.

/Tom
"Do your best and then do better" ttf_watermailonman
paulyg
Posts: 21
Joined: Thu May 17, 2018 12:30 pm

Re: Sound

Post by paulyg » Mon Jun 18, 2018 12:13 pm

I've had similar frustrations when trying to judge how anything will show up on a recording. I read an article recently that there is a massive difference between classical recording engineering and everything else. Classical recording is traditionally hands-off. Depending on the system, three to six ribbon mics at the front of an orchestra, and balance is usually done to emphasize the group over the hall's feedback or visa-versa. This is obviously not how film scoring is done these days.

Going for a sound that is big enough for others to 'fit inside' is, in my opinion, the best option for someone playing in a live group. The power is still there, but the detail of the other parts can also come through. Pretty much an "us with them" philosophy as opposed to "us versus them." You can still play quite loud, it's just different (and more difficult) than laser-beaming sound to some poor schmuck sitting in the balcony. It's up to recording engineers to capture that as best they can.
Paul Gilles
Aerospace Engineer & Trombone Player
hyperbolica
Posts: 241
Joined: Fri Mar 23, 2018 7:31 am
Location: east coast

Re: Sound

Post by hyperbolica » Mon Jun 18, 2018 3:05 pm

I agree with the dancing about art thing. I don't think you can describe sound accurately with words - metaphorically maybe, but that has no need or concept of "accuracy". Sound can be described accurately by a wave form that shows relative strengths of frequencies for a given slice of time, but that's not something we can understand any way but aurally. Music can be described by science and mathematics. That is, after all, how recorded sound works, and even stuff like voice recognition. But I'm guessing this is not what the OP is asking.

The way I would describe sound would be a visualization method to reach it on particular equipment. But since my physiology is different from yours, it still won't be accurate.

I would describe my sound as a luge run going down the side of a mountain in a track with a U shaped cross section. Think of that U as an upside down bell curve, and I'm always striving for the fat part of that curve. As you go down the track, the combination of forces (momentum, gravity, and the changes of direction of the track/mountain) push you and your sled higher up one side, or settle down into the bottom of the U. To make the luge go faster, you have to find the most natural line using all of the parameters you can control. This takes a lot of practice, and knowing what that sound is once you hit it. If the sound in your head doesn't match what your parameters can produce (hardware, physiology, etc.) you're not going to be successful. That is, if the sound in your head is a saxophone, you won't be able to produce it on trombone.

I generally aim for the center line of that U, where the apparatus of "luge-ing" what ever that is offers the least resistance. Sometimes I have to push up on one side or the other to change some characteristic, like make a brighter tone, a higher pitch, or a louder sound. This means I rely mostly on hardware for a good sound, and I don't like fighting bad hardware. Most trombone players fall into this range of "characteristic sound", although there is some room for personal variability.
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