the LEVNET zone, part 2

Posted: 7/31/2009 11:41:43 AM

From: Escondido, CA

Joined: 2/6/2008

it needs more cowbell ... (just kidding!)

There is something to be said about interference of sound waves from a large assembly of multiples of the same instrument ... whether it be voices or orchestral instruments. Even if they are dead-on perfect pitch, subtle differences in the players' techniques will interfere either constructively or destructively.

It is interesting to listen to what happens when my wife sets the placement of singers in her chorus. Moving one woman over in back of another just one person over can change the whole character of the chorus' sound. Sometimes it is just the better singer, singing in the ears of those in front of her, forces them to stay on pitch. But other times the placement has a filtering effect that brings out certain qualities in the overall sound.

Posted: 7/31/2009 11:50:46 AM

From: Eastleigh, Hampshire, U.K. ................................... Fred Mundell. ................................... Electronics Engineer. (Primarily Analogue) .. CV Synths 1974-1980 .. Theremin developer 2007 to present .. soon to be Developing / Trading as . ...................................

Joined: 12/7/2007


I had a look at your channel - You have done an astounding job of collating all those videos, and organising it so brilliantly.. It must have taken enormous amounts of time and effort!

I also looked at your performances - and this has re-inforced my feelings about my position on this topic.. It would, in my opinion, be tragic if anyone or any suggestion were to discourage you from posting.

Again, in my opinion, you have absolutely no reason to feel any shame or embarassment about putting your performances on youtube.. I know you are only posting so as to get helpful feedback, and not for self glorification.. But I actually think you would be justified in feeling some pride over some of your performances!

Unfortunately, I cannot give you any helpful feedback - You are way ahead of me.. But I may turn to you for some help when I really start playing the Theremin!
Posted: 7/31/2009 2:35:57 PM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

Gordon wrote:

Ex: She was FLAT you dunderhead!
Me: Ah, thank you. So that's "flat." Now I know what Aunt Florrie does wrong.

(These days I know what flat sounds like.)


It's always comfortable to be able to attribute our dislike of some great work of art to a shortcoming on the part of a performer rather than to the fact that we don't like the creator or the genre (an admission that could be seen as a lack of culture and sophistication).

Had Aunt Florrie sung on key, would you have liked the performance? I doubt it.

If Jessye Norman had sung on key, would FredM have liked the performance? I doubt that too. And WHY do I doubt it? Because he was unfamiliar with the work in spite of the fact that it is considered one of the great classics of English music from one of Britain's greatest composers. If he had been an aficionado of the genre he would most certainly have known this - so I assume it just isn't the kind of thing he enjoys. There's certainly nothing wrong with that.

Here is a superb vintage performance by Dame Janet Baker done more than 30 years ago of the same piece - DIDO'S LAMENT. Do you think this will send delicious shivers of delight up and down Fred's spine?

It sure sent them up and down mine!

Gordon, you claim that "These days I know what flat sounds like". How do you know that? I my experience, we are not always the best judges of our own ability to identify pitch.

It's a "Catch-22". In order to know whether or not you have a good sense of pitch, you need a good sense of pitch.

Do you know, for instance, the minimum degree of flatness or sharpness you are able to identify? Are you more sensitive to one than you are to the other? Tests that we set up ourselves using computer software can be misleading. You can't create your own test and then feel vindicated when you pass with flying colors.

Posted: 7/31/2009 3:13:58 PM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

How do I know if something is flat?

Peter, you have been teaching me!

Whenever I see a youtube link appear on levnet I go and watch it before I read the accompanying email, and make my own mind up about it.

Then I see if our assessments concur.

More often than not, they do, these days.

I recognise flat by listening to hear if it blends comfortably into the rest of the music. If it does then it is close enough for me to find it harmonious.

If it does not, then there are three possibilities. If I like it then it is inside my comfort zone, which is a tiny bit off key - for instance I prefer the Hoffman recording of TDTESS to the Sheen recording because Sheen is too on-key for me, she lacks that feeling of alienness and dislocation, of being separate from the orchestra that I love about the theremin. This may also be related to the different timbres of the instruments used in the two recordings.

If I start to feel the makings of a headache around my temples and the top of my head then it's too flat for me, and if it sets my teeth on edge then it's sharp. Jessye Norman was in the headache zone.

I am not able to quantify this in terms of cents. Do you know of a good online test that someone else has set up?

Sadly, when my fictional Aunt Florrie sings as well as being painfully flat she has all the other flaws I suggested. I don't mind admitting I'm not a fan of her style of singing at the best of times. Jessye Norman likewise.

I rather liked your recording of Dido's Lament, and found it harmonious. It is not convenient for me to visit the youtube link you suggested for Dame Janet Baker just at the moment.
Posted: 7/31/2009 3:59:48 PM

From: Eastleigh, Hampshire, U.K. ................................... Fred Mundell. ................................... Electronics Engineer. (Primarily Analogue) .. CV Synths 1974-1980 .. Theremin developer 2007 to present .. soon to be Developing / Trading as . ...................................

Joined: 12/7/2007

[i]"Do you think this will send delicious shivers of delight up and down Fred's spine?" -Coalport [/i]

No - it didnt.. But I would be more than happy to hear this many times - not from you-tube, but played from a CD as the whole piece..

One of the other things I know I dislike (but, again, dont really know why) is snippets of music taken out of context or pasted together into a compilation.. I like LONG pieces, or shorter pieces in an album where they fit together well - "Best off" albums usually irritate the hell out of me.. I think this is particularly true of classical music.. Sure, snippets may be lovely, but they leave me with a feeling of discontinuity - Like I get when I hear "Morning" from Peer Gynt, and it stops - and some snippet of another great work is started.. I must go and get the CD's and play the whole thing from start to end.. Likewise with Wagner - (who I tend to avoid because the length of an entire work is often impractical) .. This principle applies almost equally to many non-clasical albums.. I MUCH prefer to listen to the whole, original "Sgnt Pepper" album, than to have a "best of the Beatles" which may have the same tracks in it.. Likewise with the Beach boys "pet Sounds" or (particularly) any of the Pink Floyd albums.

I bought a large collection of classical CD's second hand, and have sorted these to remove the "compilation" albums, because I hate them! - I know the composers I definately like ( Prokofiev, Rachmaninov, Liszt, Wagner and Grieg are probably my favorites).. and those I am not inspired by - and here I show what a barbarian I really am.. Bach, Mozart, Beethoven ! :-)
Posted: 7/31/2009 5:53:25 PM

From: UK

Joined: 4/15/2008

Thanks Fred. Yes, organizing all those videos and playlists was a lengthy job ... but it's relatively simple to keep them updated now. Thanks also for saying nice things about my playing. I wasn't fishing for compliments - but they're always appreciated.

During my first several months of learning I did get some extremely discouraging input at YT, and, at one stage, almost gave up completely. My theremin was packed away, and remained out of action for several weeks, as I felt too demoralised to struggle on in the face of harsh negativity. This is why I get upset when I see other beginners getting discouragement. A few kind words can help them press on with renewed enthusiasm. And if a person can't say anything nice, then it's best to say nothing at all!

I doubt I'll respond to negativity that way again; I still lack confidence, but am now so attached to my theremins I couldn't possibly give up playing!
Posted: 7/31/2009 5:56:31 PM

From: Santa Rosa, California USA

Joined: 7/25/2005

Holy Huncke! That Janet Baker piece really did send shivers down my spine. I cried, too.

She seems to use every part of her body, throat, face, mouth, lips in shaping the sound, and she knows how to let her sound emerge from silence and merge back into silence seamlessly--almost as if she had Thierry's volume circuit mod, yes?

Wonderful. Thanks for the link.

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