Monthly Archives: December 2015

Essay on the sound of buildings in and around New York City.

During the Middle Ages, smell was the unspoken plague of cities. Today it is sound. Streets, public spaces, bars, offices, even apartments and private houses can be painfully noisy, grim and enervating. And we seek respite. The architects of the High Line did not focus especially on the sound of that popular elevated park.

But a good deal of the pleasure of walking along it — and of a visitor’s sense of escaping the city while being in the middle of it — derives from its height, some 30 feet above the street, and the corresponding change in the sonic environment. The rumble of traffic below the High Line physically assaults pedestrians at street level.

The article has Vine-like videos demonstrating sound environments around NYC. Listen to the contrast between Grand Central Terminal (a giant space) and Penn Station (with low ceilings).

My favorite locale is the Lafayette Bistro in Manhattan. It sounds…warm.

Posted 1 year ago by John Piscitello

While I haven’t seen Ryan Coogler’s Creed yet, it made me want to find the Rocky theme “Gonna Fly Now” on YouTube.

If you search you will find two versions of it – the original 1976 Bill Conti song, and a remix from the 2006 release of Rocky Balboa. It’s fascinating to hear them back to back.

The original 1976 release is familiar, but if you’re critiquing it by today’s mix standards, it’s a bit bass heavy and lacks sparkle. The trumpets rush the opening fanfare a little bit. The drum fills are indistinct and buried.

The 2006 version is faithful to the original, but clear, bright and well-balanced. Definitely a needed refresh for 2006 cinema sound systems. But one thing bugs me in the remix: the opening trumpet fanfare sounds like a sample library. It’s suspiciously buzzy-sounding. Also, the rushing of the beat has been edited away. And I think that rushing was very important to how listeners responded to the original track.

So maybe the 1976 mix is a little outdated stylistically. Dull and leaden at the start, with a hi-hat that sticks out and a too-obvious vibrato in the singers. But it evolves. By the time those disco strings rise to their climax, the track catches magic.

I can’t explain it, but the cleaned-up 2006 remix is sort of like a Photoshopped oil-on-canvas painting. I suppose too much processing of music has the same effect as on food. It’s not that you won’t eat it, but the fresh stuff is best. That 1976 recording is nothing short of thrilling. Try it, below:

 

1976:

 

2006:

 

Creed trailer 2015:

 

Posted 1 year ago by John Piscitello