Waking Ideas Publishing - Culture & Critics Corner
Written By Danny Nicolas
With a simple recording method, two microphones are placed 18 cm (7") apart facing away from each other. This method will not create a real binaural recording. The distance and placement roughly approximates the position of an average human's ear canals, but that is not all that is needed. More elaborate techniques exist in pre-packaged forms. A typical binaural recording unit has two high-fidelity microphones mounted in a dummy head, inset in ear-shaped molds to fully capture all of the audio frequency adjustments (known as head-related transfer functions (HRTFs) in the psychoacoustic research community) that happen naturally as sound wraps around the human head and is "shaped" by the form of the outer and inner ear.
Beck is one of my favorite artists. His album Sea Change started a streak of releases without filler, each consecutively better than the last. Last year he released Song Reader, an album worth of music in sheet music form. He encouraged others to record and interpret the songs. Hundreds of versions are available on the website for the project.
I realized early on that the songs would have to be different, definitely. When you write for your own voice, you have certain constraints you become accustomed to; when you’re asking other people to learn songs they’ve never heard, that puts a different kind of pressure on what the songs should be. I thought a lot about whether these songs should be simple singalongs or more esoteric pieces that would make for better reading on the page for non-musicians, whether they should be written in older styles or if that would make them dismissable as a nostalgic whim. Eventually I decided that attempting, in my own limited way, to get to some idea of what songwriting is at heart—attempting to work from that place—would, at least conceptually, help give the songs a direction. Writing for the page puts everything you come up with under a giant microscope. It was a very different sort of discipline than writing for a recorded project.
These songs are meant to be pulled apart and reshaped. The idea of them being played by choirs, brass bands, string ensembles, anything outside of traditional rock-band constructs—it’s interesting because it’s outside of where my songs normally exist. I thought a lot about making these songs playable and approachable, but still musically interesting. I think some of the best covers will reimagine the chord structure, take liberties with the melodies, the phrasing, even the lyrics themselves. There are no rules in interpretation.
His answer to the last question (the last quote above) feels like it's the most important part of making music. Take what you heard in the above performance, Beck's own interpretation of David Bowie's song, Sound and Vision, and compare it to the original version from the album Low:
What Beck did with the song is a new experience. It's a new work of art while still being born and inspired from the core of what David Bowie created. It is music. Expand on the same idea with one of Beck's new songs, "With Eyes That Say 'I Love You'". Different musicians playing and expanding on the core of what Beck created.
Here's another interpretation by group of musicians in Halifax Nova Scotia :
Published on Monday, March 4th, 2013 at 9:00 am | Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.