Cold studios, writer’s block, sound science, and SATAN!


Gates of Hades
  • Gates of Hades
Chicago winter is upon us and we're back to scraping snow off our cars and wearing winter coats in our practice spaces; it's not even that cold yet, but my brain has gone into hibernation or some sort of post-holiday food coma . . . and it seems I have a particularly brutal case of writer's block, so I asked my "special friend" for advice on what to write for this episode of band life. Here's what happened in our Gchat:

Dudepants: I think I may need to cut the fingers off some new gloves. It's too fucking cold in the studio . . . It's crazy cold.
me: You can buy fingerless gloves, you know.
Dudepants: Maybe I need to erect some sort of tent where the mixing board, computer and keyboards are. Like, I'll have to leave the tent to play the drums . . . but just the drums.
me: You could build a pyramid. Hey, can you help me?
Dudepants: What do you need help with?
me: I need help figuring out what. The fuck. I'm going to write my blog post about.
Dudepants: hmm
Well . . .
Dudepants: god, I don't know . . .
me: Maybe I should write about how you made a recording of your dishwasher. That's what my brain sounds like right now.
Dudepants: You could write about drones. Or about what it is that makes former rock-types start recording drones instead of rock-type songs, but that's a real can of worms.
me: Maybe I should write about how diminished chords used to be illegal.
Dudepants: Write about the Devil's CHORD!!
me: SATAN!
Dudepants: No, seriously . . . that interval.
me: What is it exactly? A flatted fifth?
Dudepants: The beginning of Purple Haze. It’s a half step between a fourth and a fifth. It was apparently banned for a while from compositions by the Roman Catholic church.
me: Because of SATAN!
Dudepants: Or something like that.
god my fingers are so cold I can barely type
me: Do you know about the brown note?
Dudepants: ha . . .
Next question.
Why don't you do it on iDRUGS!!
me: Do what? Play the brown note? On drugs?
Dudepants: No, the mp3s that make you HIIIIGH
me: Ohhh!! Hmm . . .
Dudepants: It's old news by now: but still interesting.
me: That's a good idea. Maybe I should experiment on myself and write about that?

Dudepants: Well, you could use my experience if you wanted to.
me: What was your experience again? Nothing happened?
Dudepants: I read up on them, found one on youtube,
me: Did you flop around on the floor?
Dudepants: After watching all these middle school-aged kids freaking out and flopping around on their bedroom floors with hands clasped over their headphones, writhing in the throes of God knows what, I listened to one. I think it was called "Gates of Hades" actually.
me: SATAN!
Dudepants: It basically just sounded like what I used to do when I got my first analog synthesizer.
me: Maybe that's your next career move . . .
Dudepants: Making iDrug mp3s?
me: There's a lot of money in that. Or at least . . . there should be?
me: They call it iDosing
Dudepants: Yeah, just saw that.
me: Is this the track that you listen to? On the video, I mean? It just sounds like bad rock music.
Dudepants: No, that was just a soundtrack for the "reaction video." The actual iDrug mp3 is just long monotonous tones. Binaural beats are the result of two very high frequency sounds that are ever so slightly out of tune from one another. It creates a third note, an overtone, in your head. That much is pretty solid science. What that third note does to you . . . that's the great unknown.
me: So the third note makes you go ballswolf?
Dudepants: Well, that's the big question.
me: It looks like an awful experience. Why don't these kids just drop acid and listen to Dark Side of the Moon like normal people?
Well, there is actually science behind it. Research is, supposedly (if you listen to the Art Bell show), being done by the army in the field of sound weapons, under the hypothesis that different frequencies affect different emotional areas of the brain, as the different iDrug mp3's purport to do as well.
me: There's science behind acid.
Dudepants: Sure, but this is somewhat simpler. A natural phenomenon . . . if you consider sound waves to be intrinsically "natural."
me: Has anyone ever died from it? Has anyone ever gotten stuck that way?
Dudepants: Ha. I think it only works that way for people with more virgin ears and minds. It sounded like an endless number of nights spent in the dark fumbling around with my ARP Odyssey or chorus pedal feedback. I mean, it's definitely an interesting phenomenon, and a compelling sound piece in its own right, I suppose.
me: This is from the binaural beats Wikipedia page: "Specifically, women seemed to experience two separate peaks in their ability to perceive binaural beats—peaks possibly correlating with specific points in the menstrual cycle, onset of menstruation and during the luteal phase."
Dudepants: Well, I mean . . . duh
me: Holy shit, this is doing something to me.
Dudepants: hahaha
me: Seriously. I must have my period.
Dudepants: Are you listening under headphones?
me: No . . .
Dudepants: That's the way you're supposed to listen for it to be "fully effective," or so they say.
me: I think I told you about how I fell asleep on an overseas flight while listening to a meditation CD? It played on repeat for 8 hours. It was this:
It programmed me to fall asleep on planes. Now I go into a state of deep relaxation every time I fly.
Dudepants: Lucky you!
me: Sometimes I can hardly hold my head up. Like I'm on drugs! (SATAN!)
. . . I have to stop listening to Gates of Hades. It’s seriously doing something to me.
Dudepants: I need to record something.
me: How about the washing machine?
Dudepants: What about it?
me: You should record it.
Dudepants: Which washing machine?
me: I don't know. Maybe you should research washing machines around the city and find the one with the best drone?
Dudepants: Okay, I'll do that.
Talk to you l8r in a bit or something?
me: See ya.

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