Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's BĂȘte Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Friday, May 07, 2004


I've long suspected Seattle's (commercial) classical radio station of laying on a thick spread of artificial reverb over everything they broadcast. Last night driving home from work I think I heard the proof.

They were playing Mozart's charming (and charmingly titled) "Eine Kleine Nacht Musik" ("A Little Night Music"). It starts with the little lick Salieri plays for the priest at the beginning of that lurid movie "Amadeus" -- DAA da DAA da da da da da DAA (silence). During that momentary rest in the music, I heard the echoing reverb.

Reverb is an effect of acoustical space; natural reverb reflects the space in which one is hearing or in which one recorded the music. Big stone churches have natural reverb. Some new music guys (names escape me at the moment) record in places that have several seconds of natural reverb.

It's unlikely that anyone would record Mozart in such a space, because the reverb tends to blur over the music's detail and filigree. In this instance, the violins sounded screamingly close-miked. Placing the mikes hard up on the instruments would seriously cut into the natural reverb of any space in which one was recording. And I can't imagine a standard classical record producer adding the reverb electronically afterwards. The radio station was doing it.

It sounded bad but I liked it. So weird. Most people listen to the station as a higher-class muzak (not excluding me), and the station's honchos must have figured out that when the music is competing with the noise of traffic and the kitchen and the workplace anyway (though I've never heard it on a construction site -- only NPR cuts into classic rock's traditional market dominance there in Seattle) -- the honchos must have figured that the reverb sweetens the pot for more listeners than it annoys.

Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?