Ambient sound.

I was speaking yesterday with someone who works a bit with sound engineering, mixing, and so forth.  It made me think about the elements of recordings that I notice and don't.  And how important it has become to have a "clean" record.  I get it... it's like a neatly typed up paper or story.  You don't want to send something to the presses that has smudges or errors.


... in listening to Art Tatum on my 1931 Victrola a few nights ago, my friends and I concluded that the sound from that gramophone was the sound of 1931.  What we heard was essentially untouched from that moment of Tatum sitting at his instrument.  The recording directly cut to the disc.  Any "mistakes" were preserved there, and yet, we don't listen to them... maybe we don't even hear them.  We hear masterwork.

Some of my favorite recordings are live, from inside a tavern, or on someone's front porch.  You hear the ambient sounds of glasses clinking, old men chuckling (you can see their large bellies bouncing up and down), maybe an "olé, olé" every now and then accompanied with a small crowd's palmas.  It's only with these recordings that you can really slip into the moment of that artist at that time.  The sounds are all descriptions of the environment, and you need nothing more to conjure the atmosphere.

You may have noticed, if you've listened to even only one of these improvs, that I don't attempt to mask the ambient noise.  First of all, there's no way that I possibly could.  Sometimes I turn off the ceiling fan so that it doesn't flick the sound of the music too much.  But other than that, in the summer you hear all the street noise, all the twang from a piano in too much humidity, my little cat whining, and the thin book of music I throw at her to get her to stop.  In the winter, you hear the pipes rattling, and a little more clarity from having the windows closed, plus the dryness in the air, which helps my particular piano settle into tune.

But secondly, I think it draws you into my space.  You're in my apartment.  You're hearing exactly what I hear, and you're hearing the moment.  Every one of the improvs has a slightly different sound quality, and you can feel what the day was by the elements of the backdrop.  In fact, listening to an improv from last August (I think it may have been Day 2,) brings me to the exact feeling I had as I recorded it, because of the density of the humid air that passed by outside, which in turn caused the sound waves to slow down slightly.  I know it's a little strange, but I think I might like all of these recordings more because of this.

Anyway, on to today's pre-park improv.

Here we go, Day 322: