Perfect Sound

Sigur Ros is the greatest living band. Discuss.

Perfect Sound

Postby Flumm on Wed Jan 09, 2008 1:29 am

I remember an old girlfriend and I coming up with the phrase Perfect Sound, and wondering whether there was anything in the Universe that could live up to it's name. Something that sounded so perfect to the human brainlump/mind/soul that it's effects, whatever they might be, would be instaneous and overwhelming.

(perhaps even make you ezplodezorz? Ahem, I was young...)

What with people's primal, chemical reactions to beats and rythms, the mathematical underpinnings in the nature of music and so on, I remember giving the idea far more thought over the years than it likely deserves...

And so now, many moons, and melodies, later, it's now become a by-word for me. When something, be it someone's voice, an incidental sound of an inanimate something that fits the character of the thing it belongs to, or simply a song - that is as only could it be.

That is to say, to my all too human apprehensions, Perfect.

So, not only is this for music, but for all that could be percieved between the mindphones. What for you, constitues Perfect Sound?

It can be music, a specific piece of music, a specific sound/beat/breath in a piece of music, something of someone you love, a sound you associate with something befitting it's personality, something that reminds you of a time or place, a memory...


Existance is at your disposal.
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Postby burlivesleftnut on Wed Jan 09, 2008 1:46 am

Hmmm, this is a fascinating a personal topic. Good job.

I was 17 or 18 when this was realised, and I was heavily involved with my first boyfriend. Anyway, Richard Marx's "Right Here Waiting" still baffles me with it's magic. The melody, the production... it's like a spell.

Another is Tracy Chapman's "The Promise". I have several sounds that are transportive to me, but these two blow me away like no other.
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Postby Seppuku on Wed Jan 09, 2008 2:03 am

I can imagine Ryuichi Sakamoto's theme to Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence playing over a montage of my memories. (God, I didn't mean for that to sound so emo).

I like Talk Talk, but David Sylvain ruined this song by adding vocals.
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Postby monorail77 on Wed Jan 09, 2008 2:09 am

Excellent topic, Flummage.

Two things immediately jump to mind, though I know I'll be thinking much more on this in the days and months to come. Thanks for that. I look forward to it!

1. The seamless transition from "the singing bit" to the "the instrumental bit" about three-quarters of the way through "The Cinema Show" track from the album "Selling England By The Pound" by Genesis. I just love how there's a tempo and key change and how Phil ramps up the drumming with this awesome, funny, two-and-a-half-beat intensity all of a sudden.

2. This one is more personal - we listened to a tape recording yesterday of my daughter singing and talking when she was 2 (she's 8 now). I'd forgotton just how small she was and cute. I mean, she's still cute, but just in a different way now. And I'd almost completely forgotton about the lazy "R" she used to have, saying her "R"'s like "W"'s, sort of like a tiny, squeaky Elmer Fudd. Too cute and, yes, perfect.
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Postby RaulMonkey on Wed Jan 09, 2008 2:15 am

What a lovely and esoteric idea for a thread, Flumm.

I think the idea of Perfection in music has to do with our perception of Beauty. There can never be one perfect song that renders all other compositions obsolete and the act of composing afterward futile. It's not as though every musician is trying to hit upon that one perfect song to rule them all. It's rather an eternal process of exploring beauty some one, tiny facet at a time. And because beauty is infinite, it can never be wholly expressed in a single composition. So there are pieces of music that I would call perfect--I was just listening to The Five Satins' "In the Still of the Nite," I'm a sucker for the oldies--but I take solace in the fact that perfection can never be quantified.
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Postby bamf on Wed Jan 09, 2008 4:30 am

A couple songs come to mind that I revisit often for this excellent topic. Jimmy Eat World's Goodbye Sky Harbour for one. Its a long one, repetitive, but ends in a completly different place from where it begins. Bloc Party's Modern Love has a pop flair, but builds so beautifully that the tones meld into this transcendent quality. There is one song that for lack of a better word "haunts" me to this day. The Beatles-A day in the life.

As a child growing up on soul, rock, and blues, one album that always stands out in my mind is Sgt Peppers. A day in the life would invoke this spiritual angst in my gut. When the tempo changes, and the orchestra begins building into this crescendo of sound and ambient energy, I would get overwhelmed with a sense of fear as visceral as a unknown noise in the dark. And then the sensation passes as John starts back into his recounting of the day. The song still affects me the same way it did when I was 5 years old. When I see the track on my ipod I always get that sensation of fright. I love that song, and to this day it still feels like standing on a 50 ft sea cliff waiting to jump everytime I hear it.
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Postby Fawst on Wed Jan 09, 2008 9:01 am

Oh man, what a great topic!

There are too many for me to list here. I know exactly what you mean, because there are bits in songs, chord transitions, particular notes, or drum rhythms that just hit me perfectly. There is no physical feeling I get from them, but sort of a spiritual lift.

A few examples are:

The end piece to dredg's The Canyon Behind Her. For me, it's the combo of almost triumphant music, combined with the real downer of beautiful lyrics ("Does anybody feel this way? Does anybody feel like I do? Though half of me is gone, the lonesome part is there. I cannot find the other half") which then blends into an absolutely gorgeous and haunting Gregorian-style chant. I think that song (the whole album of El Cielo, really) was that perfect scenario of "I'm in a dark place in my life, and this echoes my feelings perfectly."

Another one is A Warm Place, by NIN. That CD was part of my long loss of innocence. In a sea of impurity, A Warm Place was just that: a safe place, a beautiful place that I could get lost in, and it made me feel better about everything. One of the best pieces of music Trent has ever written.

Last but not least, I'll give you Pink Floyd's Learning To Fly. Nothing else to say about it, it's just an amazing song.
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Postby TonyWilson on Wed Jan 09, 2008 9:18 am

The final 2 minutes of Climbing Up The Walls, with the wall of violins and guitars and the DJ Shadowesque drums and then the song descends in to primals screams and harsh mettalic screeches - absolute perfection.

And Cold Water Music by AiM is perfect because it sounds exactly like cold water music.

Demon Cleaner by Kyuss as whole track is also pretty damn perfect the drums, guitars and vocals are doing something entirely different but they work perfectly when put together.
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Postby Fried Gold on Wed Jan 09, 2008 11:59 am

If you can find it, there was a Howard Goodall documentary shown on Channel 4 last year called "How Music Works". He explained some of the mechanics behind what constitutes sounds, notes, chords and overall pieces of music which our senses find positive.

As well as the components of: melody, rhythm, harmony and bass, there's actually some hard science and wave physics behind it.
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Postby stereosforgeeks on Wed Jan 09, 2008 12:08 pm

Fried Gold wrote:If you can find it, there was a Howard Goodall documentary shown on Channel 4 last year called "How Music Works". He explained some of the mechanics behind what constitutes sounds, notes, chords and overall pieces of music which our senses find positive.

As well as the components of: melody, rhythm, harmony and bass, there's actually some hard science and wave physics behind it.


Yeah that was a pretty interesting documentary.
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Postby St. Alphonzo on Wed Jan 09, 2008 12:28 pm

The opening vocal phrase of Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come" is one of those musical moments that transports me. As he hits the apex on the word "born" it sends shivers up the spine.
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Postby DennisMM on Wed Jan 09, 2008 12:43 pm

He's a freak and a murderer, but in my life no one's music has ever felt closer to perfection than the best of Phil Spector. The drums and castanets on "Be My Baby" hit as if you were sitting in a night club and Ronnie Spector turned her head, locked eyes and strutted to your table in tap-equipped stiletto heels. Then the strings rise up and Ronnie's young, liquid voice, innocent and torrid, envelops you. The lyrics, lovely as they are, don't really matter.

"Then He Kissed Me" makes me feel warm inside. I first got a good listen when it played underneath the opening credits of Adventures in Babysitting. I'd been a fan of Spector and enjoyed the Crystals, but hearing it while I watched Elisabeth Shue prepared for a date made me recognize its perfection.

It's one of those songs that you love so much you can hear the original recording as you hum or sing to yourself - not just the melody or the lyrics, the entire mix. Except that no one can separate out the instruments to remember where they all fit in this Wall of Sound production. La La Brooks's voice, never strong but always enthusiastic, pushes past its limitations to ride a wave of drums, maracas, bass, strings, piano, guitar, saxophone and gods know what else, some multitracked, and deliver one of the most romantic stories heard on a pop record. In two minutes and thirty-seven seconds.

A record so beloved that KISS sometimes covers it in concert.
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Postby Zarles on Wed Jan 09, 2008 1:12 pm

Music-wise, all I can think of right now is Janes Addiction's 'Three Days'. To me, that song is absolutely perfect.

Non-music-wise, it's the sound that the seismic bombs that Jango Fett drops on Obi-Wan made when they exploded. Like the biggest guitar string in the universe. Not only the sound they made, but also the total absence of sound right before they do so. Gave me chills the first time I heard it.
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Postby stereosforgeeks on Wed Jan 09, 2008 1:41 pm

Moonbabies - Fieldtrip USA. I was baked and lying on my bed and this song came on and I was in pure auditory bliss. One of my favorite pop songs ever.

Beatles - Here, There and Everywhere, Dear Prudence, and Blackbird.

Yo La Tengo's - Damage, Little Eyes, and Today Is the Day.

Hum - The Inuit Promise, and Little Dipper.

Nick Drake - Northern Sky.

Other bands that have some real auditory bliss would be Low, Sonic Youth, and American Analog Set.
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Postby minstrel on Wed Jan 09, 2008 2:45 pm

Ennio Morricone’s main theme for “Once Upon A Time In The Westâ€
"Everybody is equally shitty and wrong." - Ribbons
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