Friday, April 07, 2006

Success Matrix

Often pieces of music are judged to be successful or not so successful. I was driving down the road today thinking about this and about how amazing the mountains are here. And it occurred to me that there are a whole variety of factors that go into a successful piece, do the sounds please the listener, or do the sounds gnaw away in a way that you find interesting (same concept as slowing down look at an accident so we can glimpse the bloody corpse on the road), does it take the listener to a place outside of their daily place, or does it help the listener reinterpret that place that deal with day to day, does the piece provide satisfaction by allowing the listener space to solve the "problem" or does it emphatically suggest a solution, does it take issues that are important and beyond what we want to consider on a daily basis and help the listener to integrate them into their world-view, does it leave the listener fulfilled in any number of ways; intellectually, spiritually, physically, etc, does the piece trace a familiar (universal) pattern that is present in the molecules and the hall that surrounds them. All of these oppositions and the grey area in-between, it reminds me of a mixing board, with a multitude of tracks, only this mixing board has quantifiable variables and while there is no universal "right mix" there is a mix that is better for different groups, possibly the collection of humans that live in the United States in the year 2006, or maybe the humans that live in China in 3010. There are so many componenets that I can quickly see this Matrix Mixer getting out of control, the same way an orchestra seems like way to much to deal with for a small child. That is of course until they understand that there are groups and that an orchestra can be as simple as one or two voices and only seldomly does it become as complex as the 80 to 100 odd musicians that it is comprised of. Which brings up an interesting point, when 16 "first violins" play the same line together, it is not acousticaly similar to the sound of one violin. Rather, the 16 violins sound is grouped together in the ear of the listener (and the brain) producing sort of averaging out of the sounds. And in reality that texture is irreplaceable. So do the various components of a composition get grouped together due to their similarity in say their mood? Which leaves me with the question, what sorts of things are grouped and why by the brain? Not just sounds, but parameters of sound.


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