My History with Music and Sound, Part 2

After blogging a couple days ago about weird things I did with recording technology while growing up, I keep thinking of more that I forgot to mention:

  • A friend and I played some of the weirder parts of a Marilyn Manson CD into the (teensy, tinny) built-in mic on my dad’s old Windows 95 laptop. Sound Recorder had/has a play-backwards function that actually helped us make some discoveries about what Manson was trying to subliminally tell us. (I don’t, of course, remember what the backward messages were. Something about chickens?)
  • We also borrowed (er, took) my brother’s Yak Back for more backwards-sound hilarity: we would say something into it, push the button, and listen carefully to our phrase backward. Then we would attempt to copy the backward sounds with our voices, recording them again into the Yak Back. It would play our jibberish backward, and, when lucky, it would sound like a bizarre version of the original phrase. In other words, we were trying to teach ourselves to actually speak backward. Our quest was a phrase that sounded the same forward and backward–the closest we got was something like “You’ve got a fruit.” Can’t remember…
  • My friends and I would sometimes start Nerf arrow fights with my brothers, defending the honor of my bedroom door to the death. Once, we strung a lapel mic under my door and into the hallway so we could hear and record everything they said out there. One brother once repeated, “Attacking the Japanese!” (because one of my friends was American Indian, and, to my brother, must have looked Japanese). We played that tape over and over.
  • I hooked up my parents’ tape recorder to the TV and made a tape of all my favorite NES and TV show theme songs. Later, I did the same to record every song I could from Final Fantasy VI, complete with manual fade-outs.

There’s more, of course, but these are the best.

What I’d really like to know is what I might have said if present-day-me had shown up with my scholar hat on, asking all kinds of questions about my “composition practices.”

“Young Kyle, tell me about your method of composing these bizarre tapes, and your opinions on using sound that you found v. using sound that you created, and what you think about intellectual property, and in what ways you are or aren’t ‘remixing.'”

[Silence.] “Old Kyle, it’s not like that. We just play around, and when something sounds cool we go with it.”

“But surely . . .”

“No, we just play.”


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