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Skratch Lessons: Four Principles of Sound

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All right, what's up?
We got a very special guest in the house.
Dana Leong, the illest cello player in the
Carnegie Hall, all that.
And anyway, today we're gonna talk about
>> Sorry.
>> Four principles of sound right?
So let's start with one, amplitude.
What does that mean?
>> So, you, there's basically four ways
that you can affect
sound or that make up any sound that you
hear, whether it's on a turntable,
it's a voice that you're singing, or it's
a sound out there in the world.
So first one we're talking about is
and it's just a fancy way of saying
So when you, when you affect amplitude,
you're, when you look at it on
scientifically, you're looking at the size
of a sound wave.
The bigger it is, the bigger the
amplitude, the larger the volume.
So you could demonstrate that, just with
right here.
>> Sure, sure, this is just straight-up
volume here.
All right, so about the amplitude.
>> Yup, the more you're pushing that fader
up, the more you're pushing that wave,
more electricity goes through the, the
cables, and you're,
you're beefing up that amplitude.
>> All right, that one's easy.
What is frequency?
>> So second way you can effect something,
is by changing the frequency of sound.
And with your voice, the easiest way is
going way up high, or way down low.
>> Okay, okay.
>> It's changing.
Or the, you know the, the simple way of
saying it is changing the pitch.
Right, right, so that would be like
>> Go high and low.
>> Exactly.
>> Okay.
>> Or even when you play it back.
>> Go real slow.
>> Something like that.
>> So that would be pitch and all that, so
what is this one, that is weird,
distance, what does that mean?
>> Distance, distance is how the sound
effects you,
depending on where you are, your
With the microphone, it's really obvious,
but if I start stepping away,
I am not changing the volume of my voice,
but as I start to step
away from your microphone, you know, off
the camera I start to sound more distant.
Where if I come up and talk right on your
breast, it's like I'm right there, baby.
You know, what I mean?
Like you feel it, like the distance makes
an impact on the color of the sound and
the character of the sound.
And also just like, sometimes it can
change the punchiness of the sound, or
if it's a voice.
>> Uh-huh.
>> It can change the intention of how
things are, are felt and and
interpreted even.
>> But how, how would that.
>> Right?
I mean if I'm gonna talk loud.
>> Yeah.
>> And I'm this far away from you,
you're cool.
>> Yeah.
>> But if I start coming this close, and
I'm still talking the same volume then.
>> Oof!
You need a mint.
>> You know what I mean?
>> Yeah.
>> Exactly. [LAUGH].
>> You know what I mean?
That's good enough [CROSSTALK] too
personal you know what I mean?
More personal.
>> Now how,
how would that apply to scratching though?
>> Well with electronics, a lot of times
you have to synthesize that
because you can't pull the needle further
and further away from the record.
Otherwise, well you could.
As you pull further away from the record
you get less and less sound.
>> Yeah.
>> Maybe you can crunch in and dig the
needle in further and
maybe something crazy that you've never
heard happens.
I don't want to try it on your stuff but
>> Right, right, right, right, right.
>> But another way is synthetically with
>> Reverb.
>> When you add a reverb,
>> Mm-hm.
>> it creates the simulation of a
>> Mm-hm.
>> Right, cuz it sounds like you're in
a big, echo cavern.
It's like, huge and like, like-
>> Diss, yeah, sure.
Yeah, that makes sense.
Yeah, I get it now.
>> Yep.
>> Okay so maybe like echoing like.
Something like that or-
>> Well, it's also-
>> What would that be?
>> That actually-
>> Like an echo.
>> Is a fourth category.
>> Oh, okay.
>> Which is time.
Which is, when you hear something.
>> Uh-huh.
>> And how many times you hear it.
>> Okay.
>> So just now you were creating an echo.
>> Uh-huh.
>> So we hear the same sound, but
we hear it over and over again.
>> Mm, right, right.
>> Right, but we heard it in a certain
>> Mm.
>> Sometimes,
you know you could hear something, and it
could be in a staggering rhythm.
Maybe it's not even a constant rhythm.
>> Uh-huh.
>> Like if I'm like la.
la la la.
la la.
la la.
la la la la la la.
>> Mm-hm.
>> That's just like, just random.
>> So rhythm would be in this area, right,
>> Rhythm is in there.
>> Uh-huh. Okay. >> As far as time.
And how many times you hear it, right?
>> Mm-hm.
>> Sometimes,
you have to emphasize a point.
>> Mm.
I like that.
>> And then you got, you're like hitting
>> That's sick.
>> Like you hear it multiple times.
Or sometimes, you know, if you say
something too cr,
you know, too many times in a row you
start to sound crazy.
>> Yeah.
>> Crazy, crazy.
>> Mm-hm.
>> Cr, cra, crazy.
>> Crazy.
Cr, crazy.
Now what about.
>> Crazy.
>> Like you said, accents.
Where would accents be here?
>> Crazy.
[LAUGH] Accents.
>> Yeah.
>> Would be a combination.
That's when you get into a combination of
>> Combination oh, nice, nice.
>> Right?
Because accent
would be when you hear something.
>> Uh-huh.
>> But also how hard you're,
how hard you're enunciating, or how much,
how much how much stress you're giving.
How much importance you're putting on
that, or
if you're pushing a fader on just one
specific cut or one specific, you know,
note that's, you know, that's an accent of
volume, but it's also a specific time.
>> Oh wow, that's awesome.
Now what about feeling.
Where, where would that be?
>> That's where we sort off get off the
board, right?
Because feeling is something that you
don't necessarily hear.
>> You don't hear feeling, huh?
>> Right.
You, you don't necessarily see it either.
And you don't even have to have sound to
have feeling right.
Because everybody has got feeling all day,
>> Yeah.
>> And it's not necessarily for
music or for whatever.
It's your life, you know, projects
But when you inject that into the music,
it then, you know.
>> Effects all of them.
>> It navigates through all of these.
>> woah.
>> Simultaneously.
>> That's awesome.
How about color what was we're talking
about color, what is, what is that.
>> Think we were yeah we're talking about
color falling under, under frequency.
>> Now what exactly does color mean, cause
some people say like oh, yeah, you,
your scratch has a lot of color, but what
does that exactly mean?
>> Yeah, I think they mean they're,
they're trying to be nice that they don't
necessarily wanna hear that anymore.
No I'm just [LAUGH].
>> Right [LAUGH] like oh man too much
That's their way of saying oh no, no, no
I'm just kidding.
>> Yeah.
>> But
actually what they mean by color is the
amount of frequencies in it.
>> Mm-hm.
>> The amount of over tones.
It's like kinda like when you mix paints.
>> Okay.
>> If you mix
all the colors together you get black.
So for you to play everything all at once.
All your EQs
>> Yeah.
>> And everything just boosted up all your
faders up.
Then you would just get noise.
And that would be the equivalent of white
>> Uh-huh.
>> Or black
just black all over the canvas.
But the color, comes from, how much of
each frequency is mixed in.
Kinda like how some people have a raspy
>> Oh, yeah, yeah.
>> Or some people just whisper.
>> Mm.
>> You know, or some people have a really
high squeaky voice.
>> Mm-hm.
>> And all those things contribute to the
It's almost like, I mean, you can, you can
make, you can make a, a correlation.
>> Mm-hm.
>> With anything any of your senses.
>> Yeah.
>> Color to the eye.
There's flavor to the mouth.
>> There's color to the ear or tamber.
>> Oh.
>> That's what they actually call it.
>> Tamber.
What does tamber mean?
>> Tamber is the color.
>> So, so.
>> It means the quality or
the the characteristic.
>> So, maybe like a, a film and like an
old film with grainy.
It looks all grainy, would that be a
different thing of color?
Is that what that means?
>> Yeah, I guess so
>> Like something, somethings rough or
>> Right, right or the touch.
If it feels rough to the touch that's a
different texture.
>> Texture.
>> Sound has
>> Sound has color as well.
>> Mm-hm.
So that falls under what category?
Color and texture.
>> We were stood, yeah I think we were
saying under here.
>> Nice, nice, nice.
>> Because by by changing from, by you
EQing and changing the presence of
different frequencies.
>> Right.
>> You change the flavor.
Kind of like you're cooking and
you just put more salt or more sugar
>> Mm-hm.
>> You're changing the basic chemical
structure, of which there's tasting.
Right, it's more spicy or salty or sweet
or whatever it is, you know?
>> So, so what about let's see, what else
is there?
What other parts of music is there?
There, let's see so temple, of course
would be time.
>> Right.
>> Let's see yeah, I think that's,
that covers it all.
That's amazing.
Those four.
>> Yeah.
>> Principles of sound.
>> It's pretty, it's pretty crazy.
>> Cuz anything you see out there, there's
so many, you know.
I like, I like what you, how you take this
Because you, you work strictly from
straight vinyl, no computers.
All the sound is literally the texture of
the vinyl rubbing the needle, right?
So, you, you don't buy in to all the neg,
all the, the current propaganda of what is
out there, because anybody that tells you
that this is a brand new sound effect, or
this has never been done before, is
probably hyping something up to you,
because it's really just a combination of
these four things.
>> That's amazing, that's amazing.
>> That you just rebrand and put in a new
It's got to come from here, because that
is the basic.
>> What would vibrato be then, in here?
>> Vibrato is changing the frequency of a
pitch, usually you have a pitch that is
straight tone, but if you have somebody
like an opera singer,
that's just changing the frequency up and
Right above the pitch, at the pitch, below
the pitch, and then back over.
>> Ooh, that's tight.
>> You know, they're just, they're surfing
over and under that pitch there.
>> That's awesome, that's awesome.
>> You know, yeah.
>> How about, when you play sound
What would that be?
>> When you play a sound backwards, you're
dealing with, here down with time.
>> Time, yeah, okay that makes sense.
>> Yeah definitely.
>> What else is there?
>> When you hear it.
Instead of hearing it one,
two, three, four, five.
>> Mm-hm.
>> You're hearing it five, four,
three, two, one.
>> Wow.
>> Right?
>> What about.
>> I know it all boils down, I mean.
>> How about funkiness or something or
That would be here, right?
Time right?
>> Funkiness.
>> Funkiness, yeah, it's, it's you can't
really put that chemical process together.
Some people are just funky, and some
>> Right, right, right.
>> It does have to do with the simple,
structure of having a good sense of time
where you fit into it.
>> Right right right.
>> Yeah, and
I think that covers everything.
What is, [CROSSTALK] what is the last one?
>> The last one probably, then,
a lot of musicians would be curious about
>> Yeah.
>> Ask me, you know,
a lot of people ask me questions.
It's about distortion.
>> Oh. Okay. >> And distortion actually
happened, historically it happened that,
>> That's color, too, though right?
>> It isn't color.
But it's also something scientifically
that happens to the waves
if you look at sound waves, those of you
that use Logic or ProTools, or anything,
Sonar, or even Cerato, you see the sound
>> Sure, sure.
>> And you these, they're called
transients, the high points and
the low points.
What happens scientifically with
distortion is that you're chopping off
the top and the bottom, so you longer have
you no longer have
this shape here of, I'll just go here in
between these two guys here.
>> Okay.
>> Of, if you chopped off the top and
the bottom, here's the top and chop off
the bottom.
>> Whoa.
>> Then you have a chopped up wave that's
>> Uh-huh.
>> It's not constanated anymore.
>> That's a trip.
>> So it gets distorted.
So there's different ways of doing that in
digitally they'll just boost the sound
until the frequency threshold is beyond
what the, what the, you know,
mechanism can hold but actually it was
discovered accidentally by a guy
named Les Paul who's a guitar player.
>> Yeah, he invented a lot of stuff, yeah.
>> Yeah, he actually was playing guitar in
the studio so
loud that the speaker cone ripped.
And it just started to distort.
>> Yeah.
>> Kind of like when you
lose your voice,
>> Yeah.
>> And you start, like, getting hoarse.
>> Sure, sure, sure.
>> So that's what happened.
>> Whoa!
>> To the speaker.
And [CROSSTALK] before they knew what.
>> He'd like to do it.
>> Happened scientifically,
they were like, oh, let's just keep
And then it became, you know, the sound of
Rock and Roll.
>> [CROSSTALK] That's amazing.
>> And so essentially that falls under
amplitude, because you're just ripping
past the threshold
of what can be contained, sonically, in
sound waves.
That is amazing.
>> Yeah.
>> Tude, frequency, distance, and time.