On Audiogeekery

I happily embrace the germ audiogeek as a big descriptor of my life. I thought it would therefore be prudent to explain what I mean by it.

First, I align myself with the geek tradition of reclaiming the word geek. No longer, for me, does it signify a nerdy person in school with thick glasses, pocket protectors, and aberrant social skills. In the ascent of information technology from the 70s through the present, technologists have embraced the term “geek” to signify an expert enthusiast, who gets things done.

In this vein, the term audiogeek is applicable to my life. I have been fascinated by audio since I was a child. I remember hanging a microphone, hooked up to my portable cassette recorder, over my Fisher-Price record player to make mix tapes, complete with imitation radio announcer voices. The process of acquiring blank cassettes was enormously exciting for me…. what would I fill them with?

I became interested in recording music as well, learning that tape changes the sound, and the harder you hit the tape (ie, the louder the signal going to the tapeheads), the more it distorts. When you find the sweet spot, it distorts in a dynamic, pleasing way that can add a vibe or a tone to the music it is capturing. This sort of thing is what most people miss when they lament the decline of analog recording technology, such as the resurgence of vinyl and tube amplifiers in both the pro recording world and the audiophile world.

I understand this nostalgia, but personally I’ll take a modern digital setup over an old analog setup any day. The maintenance is better (except once every few years when you have to build a new computer and install all the software, configuring everything to work properly). I don’t have to align or clean tape heads regularly. Perhaps more importantly, with digital I get back exactly what I put into it. I use plugins to replace the missing distortion where applicable, and it sound sounds good to my ear.

And while digital recording opens up a myriad of production possibilities (drums to the grid, Autotune, etc), I remain Old School in the sense that nothing beats skilled musicians grooving together in a room. I love capturing these moments and adding some spit & polish with microphone choices, placements, and room acoustics.

For the past decade I have also begun to help people with room acoustics, designing their spaces to make music in. I do this every day with RealTraps.

As an audiogeek, my job is to help improve people’s experience with music, whether I am recording their music or helping them create musical space for recording or listening.

Elemental Ethos: Earth

I posted my next article on A Sense of Place, continuing a series on the ethos of living with the elements. For this one I focused on Earth. Give it a read if you wish.

One of my aims is to elaborate on own sense of what it means to be spiritual. For me, spirituality is grounded in experience, in the natural world and the ecosystem I am in.

I was reading Derrick Jensen’s Endgame, and early on he is talking about his grounding of an entire philosophical and ethical system based on water, on air. The elements. This triggered my brain, and kicked my philosophical instincts into overdrive, realizing that it was in harmony with these articles I am writing.

More soon….

Comet Lovejoy

I can see Comet Lovejoy with the naked eye from New Gloucester. I mostly followed these instructions. I basically found Aldebaran, then found The Pleaides, then when about the same amount in the opposite direction and found the top right star of Orion. Then I looked south from Aldebaran, until I reached a point where I had made 2 identical right (45-45-90) triangles. Sure enough, there it was.

I was able to see it with the naked eye from my driveway, but I had to use averted vision to see it. It was much more visible through my monocular. Like a round fuzzball of diffuse light. Very pretty.

Of course, it will be in a different place tomorrow, and the next day. Comets move fast. It is basically travelling almost parallel to the line we imagined above, from the Pleaides through Aldebaran to the top right of Orion. It will be visible for the next 2 weeks or so.

Lovejoy last was this close to Earth about 11,500 years ago. The Earth was a very different place then. Interestingly, it will be back again in about 8,000 years. I wonder how different Earth will be then….

Elements of Nature

snowandiceI posted a new piece, The Elements Of Nature, over at the A Sense of Place blog on Patheos. This is my second piece for it, the first one having been By Way Of Introduction. I expect to be writing something every couple of weeks.

Writing about paganism is a tough one for me. I have identified with the term paganism for a long time now, but as time goes on I am less and less comfortable with it. I think one of my motivations for doing the column is so I can better articulate my own conception of what paganism means.