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On The Absence of Something

The absence of something can be greater than the presence of it. This is seen most notably with music. Notice how the gaps in notes produce the entire effect. However, the former example is not the best to go by in the modern year of 2021 and beyond: it seems sort of obsolete. Sound engineering is a very tricky thing, even more so with electronic music, which is sometimes regarded as inferior to classic works, but I digress.

Have you ever played a song and it seems like the different instruments are clashing together, making your speakers crackle? Maybe the gain is a bit too high or the cymbal wasn’t tweaked to keep the mid ranges from clashing with the vocals and guitar. This is an opposite example of what I am about to talk about.

This morning, I listened to a song called Beast Mode by Figure featuring Del The Funky Homosapien ( known for work in Gorillaz ). While the song is rather hard hitting and may or may not raise your blood pressure, the appreciation for the song isn’t what I’m referencing here. Some of Del’s lyrics include something like “We’re gonna wil’ out ’til the speakers blow”, is the opposite of what the sound engineering qualities present.

WARNING: If your speakers are already weakened, I would advise presenting a different set to play this through, because I won’t be held responsible for busting them.

WARNING: Extremely heavy dubstep, but no profaneness that I remember. Figure can be classified as scary or monster dubstep. A full frequency response range is recommended for listening, a.k.a ear buds are not recommended.

I won’t go into any more details about what a marvel this song is in modern sound engineering techniques, except for the fact that this level of sound wouldn’t be possible without cutting very small sections of the individual instrument tracks where the frequency ranges might clash than if the absence of very small ( way > one second ) sections in each individual instrumental track: bass lines, drums, etc. were all completely there. It’s meta-sound engineering.

In turn, we have an even more excellent example of how the absence of something can have great strength than the constant, immediate presence of it. Class dismissed.

Guys, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley.

By S.D. McKinley

S.D. McKinley lives in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. He was born in the first half of the 1980's and grew up in Wisconsin as a young boy, then moved to Georgia when he turned exactly twelve years old. During teenage years, he raced dirt track go karts and played guitar. He discovered his current love for all kinds of art after his mid-life crisis at 25 years old. S.D. McKinley began writing books in 2017.

9 replies on “On The Absence of Something”

At first I thought this was going to be about the absence of the presence of God, but your post shows that this principle applies in many contexts. I don’t know much about sound engineering, but my husband does, and noises where they shouldn’t be really bother him, as does poor sound quality.

Although not knowing much about sound engineering, I do have the tendency to get overstimulated by too much speech, sound, visuals, emotions … I get exhausted by parties. The book The Highly Sensitive Person describes how everyone has an optimal level of stimulation, and they will be bored below this threshold and overstimulated above it.

I’ll bet someone could write an entire book about how the judicious absence of things is important to our ability to enjoy them.

I understand that! I think you might be onto something with the book . . . 😎 Referring it as judicious, that’s interesting.

Now that I think about it, what I’m referring to in the article is actually a thing called “throat”, where they apply a filter to the sound to emulate a voice, as if vocal cords, but this seems a bit more methodical, just based off of vicarious, non-technical analysis. If you have a smart phone you can see what yours looks like by downloading a spectrum analyzer, they’ll be like 4 or 5 different waves of sound:

Ha, ha. Now I’m wondering how I wake up every morning so technical. 🙃 Anyways, I really appreciate you continuing to stick by and have some good talks.


shrugs Your post was interesting, what can I say?

Back in the day, when I took linguistics, we got to look at graphs of vowels and even words. The waves or blurs at different frequencies were called “formants.” If you were practiced, you could recognize a vowel by its formants.

Never knew about the formants. Interesting. 🤠

As a side note, I’ve always wanted to learn music theory. It sounds like these newer electronic genres have somewhat merged the voice pitch bends with the notes. There’s some better examples of the specifics with voice theory merging with music theory out there than this song.

This is off topic, but…..

If you still need help with the comments, ask MurderbyDeath ( ) about it. She’s self-hosted and I helped her test out all her settings until things were settled. I’m sure she’d be glad to answer what questions she could. Toss my name out so she doesn’t think you are some weirdo stalker, hahahahahaa 😉

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