Sunday, November 18, 2007

Mass crowd control...


I am an evil sonic scientist. I think I've found a way to control a crowd!

Actually, I'm not a mad doctor, and perhaps I've just figured out a way to help people.

But regardless, this lesson presented itself many years ago. Some people were over for dinner, and a fellow was giving my brother some advice on drum solos. He said that the best way to get people to listen is to play quiet. They'll lean in to say "what's this guy doing?"

Fast forward a few years to this weekend, on a dark and chilly night in Northwest DC. Halfway thru a solo gig, I was jamming away. The patrons of the venue were very interested in getting their food, and not very intent on the most happenin' guitar playin' on da block (mine!)

I tried to catch folks' ears with volume. They just talked louder. All of a sudden, I stopped playing. Then I played very quietly. People looked up....then went back to talking. Ah ha! A crack in the wall. Their train of thought, and the natural flow of monotony had been broken. Bingo.

I did it again, and while not a dazzling success, it did work. The dinner guest of years gone by knew his stuff, that's for sure.

Here's another way to visualize the concept. If you're at the beach, and the surf's up, you're just gonna holler louder. If Stevie Ray Vaughan came back from the gig in the sky, and stopped the waves suddenly, you'd stop talking, and look up in surprise at the sudden silence on the beach. When the Sea roars louder, so do we. But when it stops, we look up.

And speaking of the Ocean, I hear tell that some of the scariest times on the water, such as before a tsunami, are when the Sea is dead quiet. The calm before the storm.

Playing part of a song with a quiet intensity is a very mind-opening experience. I also find it difficult, but worth it. Try it for yourself, and see what you can come up with.

We seem to adjust for noise, but when it stops, we find our train of thought interrupted. (And, if you're like me, you'd also find the whole restaurant staring at you while you're hollering away in a suddenly quiet room!) Applying these concepts to our music just might help us rule the world with sound. Yeah, man!

In this new use of Dynamics, you might fall on your face a few times. But that's OK. After all, little kids quickly learn how to falling on their face.

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