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The Silence of the Sound

Having come of age in an era when the quality of sound was everything, I have long focused my life around the eminence of the sound(s) that I hear. For those of us who can remember, or for those of you who can’t, if you look back to the movies of the era you will see that people personally owned things like reel-to-reel players, the speakers were always large, and people really worked to get the sound of the music they played on their home systems as good as it could possibly be. A great movie to watch to witness this is Boogie Nights; especially where Don Cheadle’s character is selling stereo systems and hopes to, and eventually does, own his own stereo shop. People really cared about the quality of their sound.
 
From the standpoint of a musician, this was also true. We all did, (and I think people still do in this arena of life), work to get that perfect sound out of their guitar and other instruments. As a young man, I would save up to buy this guitar, that amp, or a specific effect pedal, that I just knew would provide me with that quality of sound I was trying to obtain. My friends and I would spend hours discussing the realities of sound and how to get the characteristic and excellence of the tones we desired.
 
Certainly, times have changed, and with that the minds of the masses have transformed. Digital altered everything. And yes, everything became so much easier to record and alter with that addition to our lives. But, I think back to the days when I owned one of the first prosumer, 4-Track reel-to-reel decks. I was so happy as I was finally able to record multiple tracks. I remember sitting for hours-upon-hours, sometimes days-upon-days, working to get a song laid down just right. Now, what took me days can happen in a few minutes. But, is the sound the same? No.
 
Then came the 4-Track cassette deck. I bought one of the first ones available in Tokyo, before they ever made it to the States. It was great! Recording on it became so much easier. Sadly, or maybe stupidly, I loaned it to a friend of mine who killed it. Sad, I really loved that deck. I wish I still had it today.
 
Yesterday, I was listing to the radio, as I was driving, and they played a song that the band had recorded on a vintage cassette deck. The sound was a bit gritty, but it really took me back to an era when you actually heard what you were listening to. A time when you (we all) actually listened for the subtleties of the sound.
 
I know a lot of musicians still hope to record on tape but now that has become very expensive. Well, high-functioning recording studios always have been expensive. But now, with so many people recording on their computer in their bedroom… …I don’t know, times have changed…
 
FYI: As I was speaking about RB7 yesterday… All the music for that was recorded on tape as was the music for Samurai Vampire Bikers from Hell, Samurai Ballet, and all my early Zen Films. If you truly listen, yes, there is a difference.
 
So, what is the point of all this blibber-blabber? It’s about you and how you encounter your life. When you listen to a song do you truly listen to it or do you just love or hate it and/or tap your feet to the beat? Really, how do you encounter your life. Do you allow it to be just a thoughtless passing presentation, taking what is given to you, but never studying any of the subtleties? Or, do you delve deeply in the sounds that you hear, the things that you see, the people that you meet, the air that you breathe, and all that you are given the opportunity to feel through your sensory perception?
 
You can live your life in oblivion. Most people do. Or, you can make it a true experiential experience.
 
How are you going to live today? What are actually going to hear? Your choice.