Music

Audio Mastering

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I thought I’d share what I learned in the process of having my Canons album mastered. First of all, what is audio mastering? The credits of almost every album say “mastered by so and so,” but what does that mean? For much of my listening life, I’ve had the vague notion that mastering is about refining the sound of album before you release it. In fact that’s basically right, but there are some important distinctions to make.

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Photography

Storefront Apparitions

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Three images from two walks in Union City, New Jersey, March 10-11, 2017.

Mannequins in storefront windows are a perennial fascination of street photographers, including the present blogger. Mannequins by themselves are eerily intriguing, and combined with street life reflected in window glass, they seem like alien observers of the human world. Though these immobile but well-dressed window-dwellers are an obliging subject, it is not every dayfor me at leastthat an attempt to photograph them succeeds in capturing the full extent of their ghostliness.

To be precise, only the first two images show mannequins; the third shows a praying statuette for sale in a religious supply store.

On the technical front, these images have had some color adjustments but no other editing. The effects are achieved in lens, by shooting with shallow depth of field and focusing on the distant reflected material while blurring the forms on either side of the windowpane.

Music

Searching for “X”

As I was preparing my Canons album for release, the distribution service I’m using asked me to name several famous artists I “sound like.” I listed Bach first (thinking of his canons from the Art of Fugue and the Goldberg Variations), and then Bartok (thinking of his contrapuntal pieces with nonstandard tonalities in Mikrokosmos).

For any musician with an appropriately deep reverence for Bach and any semblance of humility, it would seem outrageously immodest to say that one “sounds like” the master himself. (Similarity to Bartok is not a claim to be made casually either.)

But I was being asked to liken myself to a famous composer—the question had the requirement of self-flattery built into to it—so I complied. My answer prompted me to reflect on what my relationship to Bach actually is, and to what extent sounding like Bach has been a goal in my efforts.

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