Sunday, August 2, 2009

Look In The Mirror

Sometimes it's hard to hear the mistakes I make when I play, especially small ones. I think it works a little bit like looking in the mirror - perhaps you've noticed how your face doesn't really look how you expect when you see photographs of yourself. People have a "mirror face" they put on when they look at themselves, and my own experience is that my brain makes adjustments to what I see to make my mirror image coincide more with my own internal self-image.

I think the same applies when I'm playing the mandolin, and it's hard to stop my brain tweaking the sounds to make them closer to what I want to hear, but a few techniques help to fool it: making videos and recordings helps of course, but you don't get the immediate feedback while you're playing.

One is to go play in a room with different acoustics to my normal practice room. The other is to play into a mic and listen to the sound amplified in some good solid headphones (solid enough to cut out the acoustic sound). This makes just enough difference to let you hear what you're doing in a whole new way. It also helps to tweak the EQ (treble and bass) of the signal through the headphones to change the experience even more.

1 comment:

  1. David - great post here - I experienced the same when recording my little song that I posted on my blog- definitely there is a degree of separation experienced when one plays into a microphone and is listening to the sound through headphones. I didn't connect how it amplifies mistakes, but now I realize that it certainly did.