Music is an amazing thing. It’s also a silly thing, viewed abstractly. In terms of sound wavelengths, actual difference in makeup of a Childish Gambino track and a Sonic Youth song is small, if you examine closely.
Both are driven by a beat, and that beat is expressed with quick, low sounds mixed with regimented quick, high sounds. Both have a melody line in the bass, both have a human male singing vocal, both contain English words spoken within the frequency range of, say, 300Hz to 6KHz.
I could go on, and I have before in these pages about the very small and subtle differences in music composition and creation resulting in big differences in our reception and classification of the music.
Anyway, random thought. I just think it’s amazing how the subtleties in music command such control over our emotions and thoughts.
Recently, I came across some interesting information about the health benefits of singing in a group. This is specific to choir singing, as the act of singing solo had quite different results in tests.
Rrom the book “When,” by Daniel Pink (Cannongate, 2018): “The research on the benefits of singing in groups is stunning. Choral singing calms heart rates and boosts endorphin levels. It improves lung function. It increases pain threshold and reduces the need for pain medication. It even alleviates symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Group singing — not just performance but also practices — increases the production of immunoglobulin, making it easier to fight infections. In fact, cancer patients who sing in choirs show an improved immune response after just one rehearsal.”
Earlier today, I was testing an old pair of Stax Electrostatic headphones, and I threw on a new favorite audiophile album from a cellist I once recorded for the Colorado Daily in the old Second Story Garage studios back in 2013.
“Arrhythmia” (2012) by Nathaniel Smith is one of the best composed, vividly rich and palpable solo albums I’ve come across in a long time. I’d been listening to it a bit on several stereo systems at work and at home, so I was getting familiar with the rich tone of Nat’s cello, which was recorded flawlessly.
However, today, wearing freshly cleaned vintage Stax “earspeakers,” as they call them, it was like my whole soul was gripped and held still in front of a cascade of three-dimensional music. I could not move.
I just had to stand there and feel. And think. And remember Nat’s unique guitar style of plucking and chopping, and how impressive that was in person.
It’s real. Good audio gear gets us there. It’s a drug that is natural, healthy and involves very little dragon chasing.
More great-sounding audio equipment exists now than ever, and much of it is less expensive than ever. All it takes to activate this health drug is a good recording and a little stereo system know-how.
We continue next week. Shout out to my man Adam Perry, who plays his last show (which has sold out) with the Gasoline Lollipops on Friday night at the Bluebird.