The Importance of Sound Quality
I am a Bose girl. As in I’m a huge fan of their products, not as in I work for them. So don’t run screaming to the hills just yet; this isn’t a sales pitch.
The reason I’m such an adoring fan of anything Bose, (to the point that I bought my car pretty much for the sole fact that it came stock with a Bose sound system), is really quite simple– they have amazing sound quality. I’ve already written about my peculiar method of storytelling through music, so it shouldn’t really come as much of a surprise that sound quality would be important to me. Whether it be writing, art, or demo team choreography, music is the base for all my creativity. And I take that gift very seriously. I guess you could call me a music snob, but only in regards to the quality. I’ll listen to and work with pretty much anything.
Just this past weekend, my husband got to see this side of me in action. He’s a fan of Rammstein; I’m not. But he’s determined to convince me of the merits of this hard-rock, foreign-language band. So he devised a game where he played a song of theirs and I had to guess what it was about. I don’t speak German. Not even a little bit. So I had nothing to go on but the music itself. Surprisingly, I did pretty well, accurately guessing the context of all but two of the songs. Obviously, I didn’t have the exact storyline since I didn’t understand the lyrics, but the emotional context I got right. How? By listening to the way the music made me feel.
There is a lot of info embedded in music that most people don’t pay attention to. On average, when you ask someone why they are drawn to a particular song, you’ll get one of the following responses:
“It has a kick-ass beat!”
“I love the lyrics.”
“I like their voice.”
“I dunno, I just do. It’s catchy.”
What you should notice is that all of these responses, even the non-committal one, focus on only one aspect, one layer. I focus on all of it. The beat, the instruments, the lyrics, it all works as a seamless team to convey the musician’s message. Yes, even those Dubstep songs that have like three lyrics repeated over and over and sound like a dying computer have hidden layers that can be translated into story. Trust me, I’ve done it. 😉
The idea of letting music manipulate your emotions isn’t some off-the-wall thing I’ve concocted to make me sound less crazy. It’s actually a well-known element of film. Every movie or TV show has a score that acts in support of the plot, heightening the tension during a suspenseful sequence, bolstering the drama of a fight, or intensifying the emotional pull of everything from love to loss. And when it’s done well, (not those horribly cheesy moments where the music is nothing but distracting– Leverage, I’m looking at you), you don’t even notice it. You just feel it. My storytelling process simply reverse-engineers this effect, drawing plot from the emotional context of the music, making it the starring role instead of the supporting actor.
Storytelling, in it’s essence, is about conveying emotion. By that definition, musicians are some of the most brilliant storytellers, cramming emotional punch into 3 1/2 minutes of multi-layered awesome. But first you have to be able to hear it. You can’t do that if the sound quality is poor. Muddy, scratchy, low-quality recordings force you to enjoy music on the surface level only. Think about the difference between hearing your favorite song on the radio vs. the privacy of your headphones. It’s a completely different experience. There’s a disconnect between you and the music on the radio that prevents you from really stepping into it, whereas with headphones, there’s nothing but you and your favorite tunes.
This is why I love Bose so much– their products never fail to provide a rich, full, clear sound. There isn’t one layer that dominates the others; they’re perfectly balanced to give you the entire package. That’s what you need to really be able to feel music. When you listen to songs with high sound quality, you can get lost in them. They envelope you and leave you feeling like you’re standing in the middle of an orchestra or next to the lead guitarist in your favorite band. They should give you “Goosies,” as J. Lo called it.
Some people are naturally more sensitive to audio than others, resonating with certain frequencies like dogs reacting to ultrasonic whistles, and will emotionally connect with music without even thinking about it. But, like everything chalked up to “talent,” it’s a skill everyone can learn. I believe it’s more about learning how to listen, to hear past the superficial and really let it reverberate deep in your soul.
Don’t believe me? Give it a try. Put on your favorite song, close your eyes and just listen– really listen. Pay attention to the way the music makes you feel, all the nuances of the different instruments, the cadences of the singer’s voice. Do you feel the story waiting to be discovered? It’s there, if you learn how to listen for it. And if not, well, at least you now have a better appreciation for why you love that song so much. And maybe a reason to invest in some high end audio equipment. 😉