As his career grew, Talking Head founder David Byrne went from playing CBGB to Carnegie Hall. In this just released TED Talk video, recorded earlier this year, Byrne asks: Does the venue make the music? From outdoor drumming to arena rock, he explores how context has pushed musical innovation.
Here is my summary/ cheat sheet (don’t cheat)
- CBGB: a lot of crap, uneven walls. Sounded good. One could understand words. rhythm was kept intact
- Africa: open spaces, no reverb. Loud instruments, no amplification
- Gothic cathedral: huge spaces, no change of key, long notes, almost no rhythm
- Bach: smaller churches, acoustics allow change of key, more intricate sounds
- Mozart: even smaller salons, less reverb, ‘thrilly’ (did I hear that right?) music
- La Scala: cozy space. People eating, drinking, talking, yelling to the singer
- Wagner’s Bayreth: smallish, but large orchestra pit for bombastic sound
- Carnegie Hall: bigger, more reverb. Audience kept quiet. More quiet passages, textures, dynamic range, Mahler
Reaching the pop/modern/20th Century:
- Jazz:small clubs, riverboats. People shouting, drinking. Dancing. Improvisation to keep everybody dancing.
- Radio and microphone: crooning, intimacy, Sinatra, Chet Baker
- Distinction of Live vs. Recorded Music
- Discotheque: no need of performers
- Hip Hop: people breakdancing, MCs improvising
- Sport stadiums: worst acoustics. Results in Arena Rock. Mid tempo, social elements. U2.
- Music for cars with big subwoofers
- MP3 players: music detailed, not much dynamics. (Indie?)
via David Byrne’s TED Talk On How Place Drives Music (via hypebot)