Sunday, September 18, 2011

It's Hard To Be Quiet

I exist on the Intertunnel. The Intertunnel doesn't like "quiet."

Not much of any form of mass media likes quiet anymore. The first sound you hear at a movie theater is the THX sound -- the idiot love child of Doctor Moreau and Marconi -- all the foul noises in the world compressed into one giant blast of entertainment flatulence. It's a warning that you're not going to be left alone for a moment from here on in.

Everything that comes out of the pop radio has been beaten on with audio spanners until it is uniformly loud at all times, lest you notice for a moment that's it's not very good and hie thee a button away.

On television the programs mumble loudly and the ads scream and it adds up to a sort of commerce raga. You forget sometimes if you're paying to watch Billy Mays sell Oxy Clean or for the entertainment.

Quiet's dangerous. People could hear the sound of fear in your voice when it's quiet. The average person wants a lot of spackle to cover up their cracks. We live in a world of bluster. But then again, some people don't have any fear, and play it half as fast and half as loud as the others. You can't look away, when it's quiet like that.


vanderleun said...

It is the iron law of art in the 21st century: "If it's bad, crank up the volume."

vanderleun said...

As to the "quiet ones" I was in the booth when Glyn Johns was getting Joan Armatrading to record Willow. His largest problem with getting the take was getting Joan to overcome her shyness even in the studio. To "come out from behind the piano, dear," and address the microphone.

This vid might be from that session -- long ago, brain fades -- but it shows how you can shape a song in the quiet:"

SippicanCottage said...

Gerard's suggestion, now with new hyperlink goodness:

Joan Armytraining

shoreacres said...

My mother died in July. Her grandmother clock hasn't run for years, but now it is running, nicely repaired and keeping perfect time. It chimes Westminster quarters, and sounds remarkably like Big Ben when it strikes the hour.

As I told some friends recently, "In a silent house, emptied of television and other bits of modernity, an old-fashioned clock marks an old-fashioned time: a steady and companionable time, time marked out on a human scale, dependable and undemanding, flowing and spreading in eons and instants alike – a time capable of containing all the hours of our days."

You can hear those things if it's quiet.

SippicanCottage said...

Hi Shoreacres- God bless your mom, and thanks for putting that paragraph amidst my mess here.

Shore Acres

Sam L. said...

I have a Benny Goodman CD, and there are a couple places in "Sing, Sing, Sing" where it goes vewy, vewy qwiet. Then Gene Krupa does a couple things and the rest of the band comes in.

arcs said...

Something I misappropriated from somewhere a few weeks ago:

"What is your life about, anyway? Nothing but a struggle to be someone. Nothing but a running from your own silence."
- Rumi

Jonathan Cook said...

Jerry Garcia had a goal that in each concert, usually near the end, he would play a song that was so delicate that it had at least one moment of pure silence in it.

However you feel about his music (for the record: I'm a big fan), that's an admirable goal for any musician.

I understand that some jokes write themselves, so consider the obvious one already made.

In other news, John Cage could not be reached for comment.

PacRim Jim said...

Apropos music, I've found that the talented need little more than a microphone. (Think Sarah Vaughan.)
The mediocre, in contrast, require huge amps, lasers, smoke, bizarre costumes, jarring color schemes, gyrating sluts, etc., to divert attention from their mediocrity. (Think Kiss. On second thought, don't.)

Leslie said...

I grew up in a quiet home. My father worked shifts, and often slept during the day. I try to keep my house quiet..though, others, who grew up differently don't understand. I tell my family to keep the tv low, or it feels as if it is "assaulting me".
-This one is quiet as a mouse, I like to have him in the house.- Dr. Suess