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David Byrne’s TED Talk On How Place Drives Music

As his career grew, Talking Head founder David Byrne went from playing CBGB to Carnegie Hall. In this just released TED Talk video, recorded earlier this year, Byrne asks: Does the venue make the music? From outdoor drumming to arena rock, he explores how context has pushed musical innovation.

Here is my summary/ cheat sheet (don’t cheat)

  • CBGB: a lot of crap, uneven walls. Sounded good. One could understand words. rhythm was kept intact
  • Africa: open spaces, no reverb. Loud instruments, no amplification
  • Gothic cathedral: huge spaces, no change of key, long notes, almost no rhythm
  • Bach: smaller churches, acoustics allow change of key, more intricate sounds
  • Mozart: even smaller salons, less reverb, ‘thrilly’ (did I hear that right?) music
  • La Scala: cozy space. People eating, drinking, talking, yelling to the singer
  • Wagner’s Bayreth: smallish, but large orchestra pit for bombastic sound
  • Carnegie Hall: bigger, more reverb. Audience kept quiet. More quiet passages, textures, dynamic range, Mahler

Reaching the pop/modern/20th Century:

  • Jazz:small clubs, riverboats. People shouting, drinking. Dancing. Improvisation to keep everybody dancing.
  • Radio and microphone: crooning, intimacy, Sinatra, Chet Baker
  • Distinction of Live vs. Recorded Music
  • Discotheque: no need of performers
  • Hip Hop: people breakdancing, MCs improvising
  • Sport stadiums: worst acoustics. Results in Arena Rock. Mid tempo, social elements. U2.
  • Music for cars with big subwoofers
  • MP3 players: music detailed, not much dynamics. (Indie?)

via David Byrne’s TED Talk On How Place Drives Music (via hypebot)

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