Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Persistence of Sound

Reverb is echo (the repetition of sound) produced by electronic means (such as that produced by the Fender ’65 Twin Reverb Amp, pictured). Echo is to exteriority as reverberation is to interiority (the space of psychedelia). Wikipedia: “If so many reflections arrive at a listener that he is unable to distinguish between them, the proper term is reverberation [rather than echo].” Reverberation is

the persistence of sound in a particular space after the original sound is removed. When sound is produced in a space, a large number of echoes build up and then slowly decay as the sound is absorbed by the walls and air, creating reverberation, or reverb. This is most noticeable when the sound source stops but the reflections continue, decreasing in amplitude, until they can no longer be heard. Large chambers, especially such as cathedrals, gymnasiums, indoor swimming pools, large caves, etc., are examples of spaces where the reverberation time is long and can clearly be heard. Different types of music tend to sound best with reverberation times appropriate to their characteristics.

As Michael Jarrett observes: “Reverb sonically implies the size and shape of imaginary places that hold music” (72). If so, then echo implies the immensity of a large cave or cathedral, while reverberation collapses this immensity into the claustrophobic space inhabited by the cenobitic monk (the cell).

A Few Examples Of Reverb (Space Is The Place):
Dick Dale & His Del-Tones - Pipeline
Bo Diddley – Bo Diddley
Bo Diddley – Mona
Ennio Morricone – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
The O’Jays, For the Love of Money
Quicksilver Messenger Service – Mona
Link Wray – Rumble

The Essential Collection of Psychedelia And Reverb (My Mind's Such A Sweet Thing):
Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era 1965-1968

Thursday, August 21, 2008


According to, citing the Columbia Encyclopedia, obbligato is a musical term embodying a contradiction (an antilogy):

(ŏbləgä'tō) [Ital.,=obligatory], in music, originally a term by which a composer indicated that a certain part was indispensable to the music. Obbligato was thus the direct opposite to ad libitum [Lat.,=at will], which indicated that the part so marked was unessential and might be omitted. Misunderstanding of the term obbligato, however, resulted in a reversal of its meaning; when a violin part, for example, is added to a song it is called a violin obbligato, whereas it may be a superfluous ornament for which ad libitum would be a more precise direction.

In other words, obbligato can mean a part is either essential (indispensable) or superfluous (optional). But according to another source, obbligato is a classical musical term for countermelody:

In a piece whose texture consists clearly of a melody with accompaniment (i.e., a homophonic texture): a countermelody is an accompanying part with distinct, though subordinate, melodic interest. If the melodic interest were not subordinate, the texture would be polyphonic: two or more melodies of more or less equal melodic importance.

A notable instance of obbligato:
Procol Harum – A Whiter Shade of Pale (Matthew Fisher, Hammond organ obbligato)

A notable instance of melody/countermelody:
Billie Holiday (vocal, melody), Lester Young (tenor sax, countermelody) – A Sailboat in the Moonlight

A notable instance of polyphony:
Derek and the Dominos – Layla (Eric Clapton and Duane Allman, guitars)

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Cheerful Insanity of Creation

Previously, in my entries of May 16, May 31, July 1, and July 22, I have discussed at length my experiment of trying to listen to all the rock and R&B albums released in the calendar year 1968 in the order in which they were released. I'll refer readers to my earlier blog entries for the explanation for such an unusual project (and all the inherent pitfalls). Since it is rather late in the month, I've gone ahead posted September's listening schedule, for anyone following along. There are far fewer releases, you'll notice, than in previous months, although the number of releases increases again after September's lull. As I’ve stated many times before, I cannot claim my list is infallible, but I continue to work to improve it. I continue to add to, and modify as needed, each month's list, as you'll notice if you look back and examine each list. Here's the (rather short) list of albums I have put together for September 1968:

Deep Purple, Shades of Deep Purple [UK]
Giles, Giles & Fripp, The Cheerful Insanity of Giles, Giles & Fripp
Jefferson Airplane, Crown of Creation
Steve Miller Band, Children of the Future
Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper, Live Adventures of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper (9/26-28) [1969]
The Who, Magic Bus: The Who on Tour [US]