Thursday, January 8, 2015

The different timbres of a CD

The most stunning surprise in Buenos Aires milongas was the sound quality. It gave me a feeling that the music was surrounding me in a soft nearly touch-able way. It was so overwhelming that I got tears in my eyes on a milonga where the feeling was strongest. It was nearly that I could feel the music with my skin as strongly as with my ears. The music was not loud but it gave still a kind of bodily sensation.

When I tried to compare it to something else the quality of air comes quite near. At home in Nordic the air doesn't usually give so much of a sensation but on a warm summer evening the air gets thicker and you can sense the air directly on your skin. It is rolling heavily towards me or I feel that I am floating in it. The ordinary air is hardly noticeable.

When I pointed this out to an experienced DJ friend she immediately agreed to it and said that the songs are more powerfull in Buenos Aires (Swedish: maffigare).

In La Viruta I pointed it out to another experienced DJ and he interrupted me and said: Yes! You are right! It's richer, I never heard Biagi as rich as it sounds here! (Swedish: fylligare)

I started to ask around about the possible reasons for this more rich sound in BA vs. at home and got following suggestions:
  • Degree of humidity which carries the sound in different way
  • The old buildings create different/softer echoes and sound
  • The building materials are different
  • The sound systems are different compared back home
  • BA is the center of tango and the mental state creates the difference
However some people were upset and pointed out that the acoustics is quite lousy at many venues and therefore the sound was not so pleasant.

On the other hand I do not think this is about plain acoustics, how the sound is advancing in the venue, but more about the other qualities of the CD in this venue! I do not have any formal education in this area so the thoughts below could be seen as teaser for more able thinkers. But here we go!

In music they have a concept of tone color, timbre. It means that an individual note sounds totally different when it is played/produced with different instruments. When a note comes alive the piano gives you a different sound compared to an oboe or violin or whatever instrument you pick. With other words a note sounds different in different places/instruments and the composers are using this to create different auditory and emotional landscapes in their work.

I think that the very same CD does sound different in different locations, in different circumstances. A CD gives you a deeply different experience based on the venue and the crowd, a difference not only caused by the sound systems. With other words if you would play the CD with the same sound system in different locations the experience can still be deeply different.

I am sure this is not recognized by all dancers but for some this is definitely part of the magic of Buenos Aires milongas. The BA sound gives them a more rich and powerful emotional experience, contributing to the magical experience.

Just think about it and you maybe realize the richness of the BA sound as the DJs above did!

These wikies are adding some more facts to this teaser!


Janis said...

I've been going to Lo de Celia Tango Club for 14 years. The sound system and music are the best in Buenos Aires, in my opinion.

First, a milonga needs a good floor, then a good sound system, and a DJ who can deliver the music. A full floor is a good indication that a milonga has the basics.

LeadingLady said...

I agree with your point and would like to add the personality of the organizer. An easygoing organizer will survive over a personality heavy on rules.