Chicago Mixer!  On the road in the American Northwest.

A Mechanical Movement of Air!

On the way to Fargo, North Dakota, I stopped in Chicago
to change trains. Using the opportunity to wander about
the city a bit, I rested in a park under the shade of a small
Linden tree and listened for a while to jazz-rock band

Pictured above is a sound technician adjusting the loudness
levels of the singer, guitar, bass guitar and even the drummer.
I'm always struck by this show of mechanical sophistication,
with its ability to seemingly effortlessly move streams of sound
to the left, center or right, or push them into the fore- or
background. After all, isn't this also a part of what a good
orchestral conductor does? And yet, I can't quite help
thinking how utterly primitive it all is, musically speaking.
Wpouldn't it be better to liberate oneself from outside control
knobs altogether, and have the musicians themselves adjust
'on the fly,' so to speak, their relative volumes.

I suppose to some this may seem like a minor difference.
But to me, with all due respect to the band members and
sound technician, I feel that when we really look at it,
the need for an external mixer reveals to us in sharp relief
the difference between real musical intelligence and merely
a (loud) mechanical movement of air!

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Photograph by Cliff Crego © 2007
(created: VIII.18.2007)