Thursday, September 21, 2006

Infinity Blues

The musical idioms that can be loosely designated as "The Blues" are staples of the modern musical scene. Many of the early rock 'n roll pioneers were bluesmen, playing variations on that theme.

While working with bar bands in the seventies and eighties, this sound man's lot was a curious one. Blues music demands adherence to a formula. There are a few hundred blues "standards", many more variations on these tunes, and after a while it can all blend into an audio blur. I would get the impression during the 30th or 40th iteration of Messin' With The Kid or You'd Better Think that the band was trapped into playing these chestnuts as part of some grand design to perform every possible version of these songs- or perhaps the musicians had to continue playing the same songs again and again until they got it right? Don't get me wrong, I've nothing against these songs, or this style of music. It's just that I've heard them enough.

The best part of being a sound mixer (a person who actively listens and responds to the arrangements- sort of like being a conductor- at least as far as dynamics and balance goes) is working up an arrangement with multiple instruments and voices, integrating the sound with the environment and audience to create a fantastic musical experience. The worst part of being a sound mixer is the fact that one has to actually listen to the music, good, bad or repetitive. If you love it, you risk being over-exposed to it. If you are indifferent to it, you will become numb. If you hate it, you will want to die.

Not exactly the best set of options.

By Professor Batty


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