On Becoming a Rock Musician

By H. Stith Bennett | Go to book overview

Instruments and "the Outside World"

Instruments Traditional musical instruments are constructed according to a design principle by which a part of the human anatomy is brought into contact with an object by the body's musculature, causing the object to vibrate. Ears are set up to receive vibrations in air, and so a musical instrument is not complete until it can turn its object-vibrations into audible air-vibrations. When allowed to vibrate continuously, objects typically create resonant or standing wave patterns in the air around them. A simple example of this is banging a pan lid: The impact of the lid sets up vibrations which are audible as a continuous sound until the vibrations are damped by coming in contact with another object (say, putting the lid on the pan) or by gradual dissipation in the air. Of course standing wave patterns may tend to decay quickly in the case of items that are not specifically designed to be instruments, yet it is the specific quality of a musical pan lid to have some resonant properties, and an auditory selection process could undoubtedly isolate a few excellent gongs from a collection of cookware. For wind instruments, the vibrating object is a particular volume of air which is pressurized by contact with the lungs, and vibrates by virtue of its enclosure in a somewhat closed container which is the physical manifestation of the instrument. For stringed instruments, the vibrating object is the string itself, yet the amount of air that a string alone can move is so small that some sort of resonant material is placed in contact with the string so that its sympathetic vibrations will move enough air to make an audible sound. Traditional musical instruments are designed to operate, that is, to be audible, with

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On Becoming a Rock Musician
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • On Becoming a Rock Musician *
  • Acknowledgments *
  • Contents *
  • Preface *
  • I - Group Dynamics *
  • Introduction *
  • Group Definition and Redefinition *
  • II - Rock Ecology *
  • Instruments and "The Outside World" *
  • Equipment and the Band Van *
  • Gigs *
  • III - Mastering the Technological Component *
  • Technology and the Music *
  • The Realities of Practice *
  • IV - Performance: Aesthetics and the Technological Imperative *
  • Playing *
  • "Other People's Music" *
  • Appendix *
  • Loudness and Equalization *
  • Notes *
  • A Guide for the Reader *
  • Bibliography *
  • Index *
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