It fills you up.
Hi! It’s Charluxx.
On a grey day, while crossing a waterway this summer, I was reminded how much a ferry’s foghorn is felt as much as it is heard.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this these past few days: How you can feel music, even if you cannot hear it.
I often wear headphones while mixing—my music is really meant to be heard thus—and it always surprises me that I can still feel the bass all the way down to my core, and even my feet. To the point that I often take them off just to confirm that the sound isn’t also coming through the speakers, or a passing vehicle.
Music heard in clubs, or any loud environment, can truly be felt. Specially the bass and the drum. What we musicians call the bottom end.
I love the recent trend, specially in hip-hop, to bring sign language translators on the stage during live performances for the hearing impaired.
Signkid is a deaf performer, and Matt Maxey is the CEO and founder of DEAFinitely Dope interpreting hip-hop music for artists like Chance the Rapper, D.R.A.M., Eminem, Snoop Dog, Kendrick Lamar, to name a few. Just watch this impressive video of sign language interpreter Amber Galloway Gallego keeping up with Twistas Raps!
It makes sense (pun intended) to cater to this seldom thought of aspect of music, the part that is felt rather than conventionally heard.
When you’re on the dance floor or at a live show, you can really feel the music, like a ghost, moving through you.
Vibrations travel at different speeds and affect different parts of your body.
I had the opportunity to experience this a few year ago while suffering from a very nasty bout of ear infection. I lost my hearing for a good two weeks. All I could hear were the sounds coming from inside my body. Showering was intense as I could hear distinctly the water hitting my head, I could feel the sounds in my head.
I was able to determine that bottom end sounds, such as the bass, the drum, the cello, are felt in your guts, in the pit of your stomach.
Midrange sounds, like the average human voice, the piano, the violin, can be felt in your chest.
High pitch sounds, like the guitar, the recorder, cymbals, are felt in your head, between your ears.
As a musician I try to make sure that my songs target theses specific area.
In the mixing phase in the studio, we make sure that each frequency lives on its own so that it is easily differentiated. That way each instrument and voices occupies their own register so that it lives in its own area of the song, the better to be heard... and felt.
This is important to me because my music is meant to be heard loud and danced to.
Mixing is a dark art of compression and layering frequencies so that it sounds good in every possible situation. It’s always about compromise.
According to a 2017 Neilsen report, music is heard on:
- Smartphones (43.5%)
- Computers and laptops (36.6%)
- Television (23%)
- Tablets (20%)
- Headphones (14.8%)
- Wireless speakers (12.5%)
- Radio (8.7%)
When you examine this, it means that roughly 92% of music is being listened to on mono sources, not stereo!
This is alarming for musicians! Mono sources are not as efficient in conveying power, and therefore feelings.
This is my humble opinion, but it seems to me that music, like art, architecture, politics, and pretty much everything else these days seems to be regressing. We are in a slow decline... which is ironic considering how important the notion of progress is in most of our societies.
Listen to music with (preferably “over the ears”) headphones, on a good pair of speakers, or in a club.
That is where music lives, how it is meant to be heard, how it is meant to be sensed.
Stay groovy my friends!
Peace and Love,
The illustration contains graphics from Vecteezy.