Re: Loud enough??

Subject: Re: Loud enough??
From: Simon Rae (
Date: Tue Mar 02 1999 - 04:30:48 EST

I think there is a point in this. Absolute volume, as opposed to dynamics
does have an aesthetic import. Currently I have two pieces that use
absolute dynamics in a diametrically opposite way - one piece is all low
levels, and intimate textures with the intention of drawing in the
listener, while the other starts with loud volume and full textures in
order to engulf the listener. Without the absolute volume, the second piece
will not work, simply because it will not have the physical presence it

That said though, my measure of too loud is when more than about two or
three people cover their ears. Some people are always going to be very
protective about these things, and if they are musicians, well fair enough.
On the other hand, loud sometimes (and 'sometimes' should be stressed -
loud absolute volumes are overused) is necessary, and for a short period,
in the right frequency range (this is often overlooked) it can be
effective. (Also one should note, that unpleasant, damaging, and painful
are all different things - the first is acceptable, the latter two are not.)

In terms of an absolute aesthetic, criticising loud volumes as
desensitising seems to smack of conservatism. There is a certain image of
the self immolating composer in this which may just be post-pubescent angst
- but this is still part of a composer's relevant experience. Personally,
really quiet sounds, and physically big (rather than loud) sounds are the
ones I really like. The stuff in between I can take or leave.


This archive was generated by hypermail 2b27 : Wed Jun 11 2003 - 13:08:53 EDT