I’ve written about David Byrne before. This is a talk he did at TED. the talk starts out showing the club Tootsie’s where the Talking Heads played, and how the sound of the room drove their particular sound (especially the fact you could hear the words).And other halls – like the Walt Disney Concert Hall in LA – he didn’t feel as satisfied with the sound. As if it was not a match. He goes deep on this theme on this talk, worth seeing the whole thing:

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Cathedrals with their long reverb tails support choral music that does not modulate; a smaller room with less reverb supported Bach’s modulation without creating dissonances.

The title is slightly deceiving; Byrne’s point goes beyond architecture, but really to all technology – the turntable created hip hop, the iPod today creating the highly-compressed and elaborate details in pop music.

One can add other examples – the keyboard enabled the ease of modulating across closely-related keys, which Bach defined into the basis of Western harmony for 300 years. Pianos got a whole lot bigger, so Shubert sonatas sound a whole lot more bigger than Mozart sonatas. Valves in brass instruments enabled far more adventurous harmonies and more powerful sounds in the orchestra.

Not to mention 5.1 sound in theater systems, which created a whole genre of Extremely Bassy and Boomy movie trailer music that exploits the LFE speakers to the hilt.

Posted 8 years ago by John Piscitello

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