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Author Topic: Walter Murch Read  (Read 985 times)

Eric Rudd

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Walter Murch Read
« on: September 01, 2005, 04:53:49 PM »

A must-read for anyone dealing in mixing audio, especially those who work with sound for picture.

http://transom.org/guests/review/200504.review.murch.html

Eric
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Eric Rudd
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For an engineering discography, please see www.allmusic.com
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bobkatz

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Re: Walter Murch Read
« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2005, 04:36:08 PM »

Eric Rudd wrote on Thu, 01 September 2005 16:53

A must-read for anyone dealing in mixing audio, especially those who work with sound for picture.

http://transom.org/guests/review/200504.review.murch.html

Eric


Murch is a thinker and an artist combined. Great guy, one of my heroes for sure.

I have an approach to putting together successful record albums and musical compositions. I work from the two opposing concepts of "constancy" or "repetitiveness" and "difference" or "variety". A composition or album can have too much constancy or too much variety. Too much "constancy" OR too much "variety" can ruin an album. It may seem funny how too much variety can ruin an album, but it can, because the listener becomes overwhelmed, he needs to revert to familiar ground every so often, the "mantra" or leitmotif of the album.

A record album can become holistically greater than the sum of its parts (songs or themes) by how you put the parts together. The spacing between the songs, the order of the songs, the use of segues if you choose, and the relative volumes of the songs or themes as well as their sonic textures and the creative use of silence contribute to the holistic entity. For example, musically speaking, the ultimate in "constancy" could be the minimalist compositions of Philip Glass. But these compositions do develop, just on a slower pace than many other works. The ultimate in "difference" or "change" might be some highly involved moment in a Frank Zappa work, when the vibraphone is playing frenetically under mile-a-minute poetry and rhythmic elements plus jazzy chords.

When you space out a record album, there may come a moment when you need to put in a longer space for relaxation, or vice-versa suddenly a very tight space to keep the listener on edge so he doesn't begin to get mezmerized by expecting the same thing (e.g. "constancy") over and over again. It's that balance between constancy and change. I just mastered a hip hop album that is more than your average collection of singles; I reached a point where the end of a piece was very ragged. But I left it ragged because I felt it was just the right creative moment to leave the listener hanging, followed by a long space before the next section of the album. "Oh my, that song did end strangely, but I know it did---signalled by that long silence... now that was a satisfying ending!" thinks the listener" I could have simply faded or put a graceful end on the song, but that would have been the wrong thing to do for that moment in the album.

In musical compositions, the bass player knows that the silence between the notes is as important as the notes, and the lines that he plays can vary between the constancy of defining the beat for the rest of the players and the surprises (the changes) that come from throwing in a dynamic sforzando note here and there. Too much of either and the composition becomes boring. Most musicians do this unconsciously, as we all do.

But Walter Murch clearly is an example of a mix engineer who has both the artistic and gut feel under his belt and the intellectual curiosity and capacity to dig deeper and find out WHY the instinctive things that he has done work. Being able to be both an artist and a thinker can advance an engineer's career.
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