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April 30, 2017:

COMPRESSION

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, it was a weird old Saturday. I mean, nothing was terribly wrong or nutty, but it was still a weird old Saturday. I did get eight hours of sleep but this allergy season is really bad and it’s really causing me problems – hoping it abates soon. I’m just trying to protect my voice during all this. After I did my morning stuff I had to mosey on over to the Group Rep for our auditions. We had about eight people today, and now we’re going to callbacks. But we have at least five people coming early on callback night to read for the first time, so we’ll see what results we get from that. At this point, I think the problem role is Tony (the Ray Milland role in the film) – the company doesn’t really have anyone who’s the right age for it, so for that role we may have to go outside the company – we shall see what happens during callbacks. We wrapped up around two o’clock.

I then picked up some packages and two nice envelopes, then came home. I did some work on the computer, then picked up an LACC student, had lunch, and came back here so she could do some work I had for her, having to do with the script of Dial ‘M’ for Murder. I have no time to do what needed to be done, so this was the easiest way for it to happen. She was here about five hours and got it all done and will now type it all up into a Word document so I have it right here on the computer. I took her to the subway and that was that.

Whilst she was doing all her work, I did my own work on the computer, as well as listened the new CD release of Stephen Sondheim’s score to Stavisky. The previous CD releases weren’t to my liking, and frankly this one certainly isn’t perfect – whatever elements were used had occasional tape wobble, but nothing terrible. What this release does do is fix what the engineers at CAM did wrong on the previous CD releases – reverse the channels so that the violins were on the right instead of where they belong – so, that’s nice. They also found a bunch of alternate takes, but they’re literally the same or shorter or longer versions of the film takes. Nothing much of interest there unless you just like hearing the same music over and over again, which really isn’t my thing.

I also had read a critical evaluation on Amazon of the Leopold Stowkowski version of the Shostakovich symphony 11, the comment being that the version that I have, which says “from the original session tapes”, is ruined by the engineers, robbed of all dynamics by being mastered and compressed to one basic sound level. Now, that is a tricky slope to navigate – what I hate is when dynamics are so wide that you have to turn up the knob to hear the soft bits and then turn it down to hear the loud bits without breaking your speakers. I simply didn’t believe it, frankly, as I wasn’t so unhappy with the CD I have. So, I bought the original CD release, which can be had for just a few bucks, just to see if this guy was being a jerk. Well, he’s basically right and you know it instantly – the opening five minutes of the first movement are extremely soft and atmospheric – you can absolutely hear the music, but it build quietly and slowly to the louder passages, which gives the music more tension in a way. Then you listen to the new one, and the atmospheric opening right through to the end of the movement are basically one volume, which is what compression does. So, I see his point, for sure. Now, I like to HEAR the music, but it’s also nice to have some dynamics, and the original CD has them and the new CD does not. When the original CD reaches its loud bits it’s the exact same level as the newer CD, so it’s just the quieter bits that suffer. Surely the newer version is in some ways more compelling, but in other ways the newer CD has more clarity occasionally – I do wonder exactly what it was mastered from if not the original session tapes, unless the old one was from a record master, which is certainly possible. I’ll keep them both in the computer, but I think both have strengths and weaknesses, not necessarily in that order.

Then I just relaxed, as I was feeling a bit groggy and fuller than I should have felt, I think. For lunch I had a cup of soup and a Philly cheesesteak sandwich. Then throughout the evening I had a small chips, a Fruity Snacks, and some cashews.

Today, I’ll be up by ten and I’ll go breakfast with Doug Haverty at eleven – we have some stuff to discuss and that seemed like the best time. Then I’ll come home, shave and shower, and then go visit our very own Richard Sherman, which I’m very much looking forward to. After that I’ll come home and relax and watch a motion picture of some sort.

Tomorrow we have our first Kritzerland rehearsal. Then the rest of the week is meetings and meals, callbacks, our second Kritzerland rehearsal, then our stumble-through, and then sound check and show on Sunday.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, breakfast, visit Richard Sherman, and relax. Today’s topic of discussion: It’s free-for-all day, the day in which you dear readers get to make with the topics and we all get to post about them. So, let’s have loads of lovely topics and loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, where I shall hopefully dream with full dynamics and not too much compression.

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