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From: Chalkhills <>
Subject: Chalkhills Digest #14-16

         Chalkhills Digest, Volume 14, Number 16

                   Saturday, 3 May 2008


                    Compression and EQ
           I can't believe what I'm hearing...
                  Speaking of Road Trips
                   Re: Uffington tattoo
   "Beating of Hearts" is the MySpace song of the week
                      Amish Country
                   NY doc & Homo Safari
                      Re: A lost gem
                    re: We_Are_Amused


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    The views expressed herein are those of the individual authors.

    Chalkhills is compiled with Digest 3.8f (John Relph <>).

No letting out just what you think.


Date: Sun, 27 Apr 2008 15:40:36 +0100
From: Robert Wood <>
Subject: Compression and EQ
Message-ID: <>

 >> No amount of production trickery or compression or equalization
is going to rescue bad music, or degrade good music. If I think a
record sucks, I think it sucks because the notes-n-lyrics-n-stuff
suck, not because there's a microscopic distortion at a frequency only
my dog can hear. <<

Ah, but this, at least partially, depends on whether you have decent
hi-fi or not. If you're listening in the car or some dreadful iPod or
MP3 player, it's not so marked, but on a decent system compression and
EQ most definitely can seriously degrade the enjoyment of a song.

By the same token, if a record is very well produced it can lift a
record from being good to superb or from brilliant to sublime.

There's a reason so much R&D goes into development of professional audio
equipment: it's because it makes a bloody big difference to the quality
of sound and therefore the enjoyment of the sound. I know lots of people
who enjoy listening to music purely because of its sonic quality.

I think it's akin to that (nonsense) phrase about a good song being a
good song whether it's played on an acoustic guitar or with a full band.
There are numerous examples of songs being ruined by terrible cover
versions and songs being spoiled by bad producers and production.


Date: Sun, 27 Apr 2008 10:08:42 -0700
From: Wayne Klein <>
Subject: I can't believe what I'm hearing...
Message-ID: <BAY108-W47BEBE8F3C0F6165FD16CAF9DF0@phx.gbl>

Harrison wrote:
> No amount of production trickery or compression or equalization> is going
to rescue bad music, or degrade good music. If I think a> record sucks, I
think it sucks because the notes-n-lyrics-n-stuff> suck, not because there's
a microscopic distortion at a frequency only> my dog can hear.>> It's like
complaining about an edition of Shakespeare because you> don't like the
choice of typeface. Are you reading words-words-words,> or are you looking
at 10/12 Garamond Premier under a magnifying glass> and tutting because
Adobe's version skimped on the serifs by a> thousandth of a pica?

Having missed the original post that Harrison was responding this sounds
like a discussion on mp3's, the loudness wars, etc. If not, ignore.

Well Harrison, I'd argue that you're dead wrong. Let's take your analogy a
little further. Suppose it was a DVD edition of
Hitchcock's "Vertigo" where the film is badly scratched, the film has been
blown up from widescreen to full screen focusing on all the wrong action
with the image blown up so large you can barely make out a human head from
the San Francisco landscape and the dialogue is distorted so badly that you
can't hear what the actors are saying and sequences are missing from the
film because they've been altered in the translation from film to DVD. It
damages a great film makes the experience LESS enjoyable and makes you long
for the film in pristine condition where you can actually follow the plot by
listening to the dialogue, seeing the images. You're robbed of the  full
experience the way that Hitchcock intended it nor can you make heads nor
tails of important events because it's painful to listen to as it is
distorted so badly it hurts the ears. The image is been mangled so badly in
the Telecine transfer that you might as well be looking at a moving
impressionist painting (that would be interesting if that's what the
director had intended) destroying any sense of story, time and place.

That is what is happening to music that is transferred with all peaks, no
valleys and no dynamic range. Everything is just a giant mountain with no
top or bottom so you can't even appreciate the scale and beauty. It's not
something minor. It's a major alteration of the artist's vision (so to
speak) and NOT the way it was intended to be heard.

Perhaps you can listen to REM's "Accelerate" and appreciate the sonic gunk
on the album but you have to struggle through the audio jungle of dense
foilage thrown up randomly around the beautiful landscape beyond. It's
annoying, unnecessary and changes the experience something no artist wants
to see happen. If communication becomes so bad on a telephone that you can
only make out every other word is it still the same message? Nope.

You can't divorce the medium from the message completely particularly if the
medium is a badly produced one.


Date: Sun, 27 Apr 2008 18:24:00 +0100
From: "David Smith" <>
Subject: Speaking of Road Trips
Message-ID: <000f01c8a88b$7bd2eb40$4001a8c0@Dave1>

Greetings fellow Chalkers of the Hill, long time no de-lurk.

In #14-15 Belinda wrote thus:

> Hubby and I stopped our lives, left our jobs and are touring around
> USA coast to coast border to border for two months . . .

Sounds to me like you guys just STARTED your lives!

I'm planning something very similar later in the year - maybe I'm a sucker
for detail, but I intend to spend two months purely 'doing' the West Coast.

XTC content: er, nothing really. If they can't be bothered, neither can I.

(It's a joke, goddamit!)

From London.
In Kent.
Still working.
But not for long.


Date: Sun, 27 Apr 2008 17:57:34 -0400
From: "Bill and Bram" <>
Subject: Re: Uffington tattoo
Message-ID: <002701c8a8b1$b2dfd370$020fa8c0@TheOne>

Uffington tattoo?  I go one of those a few years ago.  Come check it out
someday.  I work at Independence National Historical Park.  (You know,
Independence Hall the birthplace of the United States, the Liberty Bell,
etc.)  I used to work at a War of 1812 park, and when I met Andy Partridge
at a record signing in NYC, he knew enough about the battle associated with
that park that we had a nice little history chat.  Very cool!

Thanks for the indulgence.

PS If you come to Independence, ask for Ranger Bill.


Date: Sun, 27 Apr 2008 17:18:31 -0700 (PDT)
From: Todd Bernhardt <>
Subject: "Beating of Hearts" is the MySpace song of the week
Message-ID: <>


Over at the XTCfans MySpace site (, the
song of the week is "Beating of Hearts."

If you want to know which song Andy would use to torture prisoners, or
why The Glitter Band played a pivotal role in this song, check out the
XTCfans blog site at

Dancing us from darkest night is the rhythm of love
Powered on by the beating of hearts



Date: Sun, 27 Apr 2008 22:10:51 -0400
From: Christopher Coolidge <>
Subject: Amish Country
Message-ID: <>

On Apr 27, 2008, at 10:30 AM, Chalkhills wrote:

> Thanks XTC and Paul Wilde and the Forum folk for the friendships that
> were made.
> Belinda, from London UK,  currently in Amish country Pennsylvania!

So how was Intercourse and Bird-in-Hand?

My Internet Radio Station, Guerilla Music


Date: Sun, 27 Apr 2008 23:14:53 -0400
From: Harrison Sherwood <>
Subject: Gedankenexperiment
Message-ID: <>

Allow me to propose a small thought-experiment...

Suppose we had a time machine.

Suppose we had Jimmie Rodgers, the Singing Brakeman, From Whom All
Country Music Flows.

Suppose we recorded Jimmie straight to wax in 1927. Singing, I dunno,
"Blue Yodel No. 1," about a month before the first talking movie, for
Victor Talking Machine Company, "as pre-eminent among phonographs as
the Steinway is pre-eminent among pianos."

Then, we transport Jimmie forward 81 years to today. We plunk him in
front of a mindbogglingly expensive Neumann microphone and have him
sing exactly the same piece of music, into a $900,000 digital system,
replete with the finest plug-ins and ProTools pitch-correction
trickery that Monet can buy.

I challenge my interlocutors: Is it the same piece of music? Are the
same emotions evoked? Is the yodel-lay-hee of 1927 the same yodel-lay-
hee of 2008? Or is the *perfection* of the yodel-lay-hee of 2008
somehow quantitavely or qualitatively different from the yodel-lay-hee
of 1927?

And if so, what makes the difference?

Harrison "We Go Meccanic Dancing'" Sherwood


Date: Sun, 27 Apr 2008 22:37:31 -0700
Subject: NY doc & Homo Safari
Message-ID: <>

Was watching the Ric Burns documentary on the history of New York
(which is a fine series btw) and heard something familiar in the
background - hey, isn't that from Homo Safari? Sure enough..'Frost
Circus' was used as underscoring for a dreamy segment. Nice.

Ian Dahlberg


Date: Mon, 28 Apr 2008 09:40:23 -0400
From: "David Stovall" <>
Subject: Re: A lost gem
Message-ID: <>

> From:
> It was purely by accident that I happened upon Trip Shakespeare, a
> group that had never before shown up on my radar. I can only speak
> for the one CD I was able to find, but it's a real winner. "Lulu" was
> released by A&M back in 1991 and it's stunning from top to bottom. If
> you're a 'hooks and harmonies' fan of well-crafted pop ( sound
> familiar?), this one should definitely find its way to your ears.
> There's solid writing, clean production, a thick and assured
> instrumental underpinning that supports some of the best three part
> harmonies I've heard in ages. Amazon has some available in the 'new
> and used' for under ten dollars. One of the guys, Dan Wilson, has
> gone on to sing lead with Semisonic and has a great solo CD. "Free
> Life."
> Of all the music I've actively championed to the uninitiated over the
> years - They Might Be Giants, Crowded House, Joe Jackson, Mike
> Oldfield and a couple others - - Trip Shakespeare just jumped onto
> the short list.

Just catching up on digests from the past several months, and ran
across this post and had to add a loud "Amen!"  I saw Trip Shakespeare
live in, um, late 1991 or early 1992 (Mabel's, Urbana-Champaign,
Illinois) at the urging of a good friend whose musical tastes I trust,
and they did an absolutely thrilling show.  This was a passionate live
band who really threw themselves into their playing with hands and
heart and heads,....   I was an instant convert, and bought all their
releases I could find.  Some of those discs (along with Lulu, look for
Across the Universe as a high point) are pretty hard to find and will
command high prices on eBay or the like.  There have also been a fair
number (prob'ly a couple dozen of TS and a comparable number of
related acts like Semisonic) of live unofficial recordings make their
way out to the public (and my hard drive) via trading and the
bittorrent trackers like Dimeadozen.



Date: Sat, 3 May 2008 03:33:27 +0000
From: <>
Subject: re: We_Are_Amused
Message-ID: <BAY128-W451A7DDD76B55AB9E10EC0D0D50@phx.gbl>

> It's like complaining about an edition of Shakespeare because you
> don't like the choice of typeface. Are you reading words-words
> words, or are you looking at 10/12 Garamond Premier under a
> magnifying glass and tutting because Adobe's version skimped on the
> serifs by a thousandth of a pica?


Dynamics *are* aural punctuation, and if it is purely talent that makes a
song 'suck' or not, then look me straight in the eye and tell me you'd be
excited to hear an XTC album recorded by Steve Albini.


End of Chalkhills Digest #14-16

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