Dick's Picks Volume Thirty-six

A Live Recording from September 21, 1972 at The Spectrum in Philadelphia

Released: 2005

Tracks

Promised Land [3:50]
Bird Song [13:40]
El Paso [5:06]
China Cat Sunflower [5:28]
I Know You Rider [6:49]
Black-Throated Wind [6:47]
Big Railroad Blues [4:10]
Jack Straw [4:52]
Loser [7:12]
Big River [4:42]

Ramble On Rose [6:34]
Cumberland Blues [7:40]
Playin' In the Band [16:47]
He's Gone [14:18]
Truckin' [11:15]
Black Peter [9:39]
Mexicali Blues [3:26]

Dark Star [37:08]
Morning Dew [12:10]
Beat It On Down the Line [3:34]
Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo [10:02]
Sugar Magnolia [8:30]
Friend of the Devil [3:37]

Not Fade Away [5:57]
Goin' Down the Road Feelin' Bad [7:26]
Not Fade Away [3:31]
One More Saturday Night [4:56]
He's Gone [10:30]
The Other One [28:57]
Wharf Rat [10:16]


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Liner Notes:

Notes: On Sound, My Theories and My Techniques

I have never worked in a studio, nor made any multitrack recordings of any sort, live or otherwise. The only reason you are able to listen to this album (and most likely any live two-track of the Dead or other bands) is a result of my early idea that keeping a diary or 'sonic journal' of my work at each show (and many soundchecks and rehearsals as well) would be dead simple--just plug in a tape machine to the output of my Front-of-House mixing desk. I figured the mix was there, already done, so why waste the opportunity? For some time in the early days, we all (band, crew and I) would listen to the tapes after each show, and this helped the band, who could hear the things they were doing (just as the audience heard them) and in addition, they learned to use dynamics, something most electric bands never learn.

I have never used EQ in my PA (some was necessary for the monitors/foldback). I feel it damages the integrity of the sound, and if the sound is not 'right,' then the source needs attention--by changing to a different type of mic, or moving it around. I also use the leakage most mixers try to eliminate by close mic'ing--I call this 'constructive leakage' and found it adds a great sense of space. The fewer mics used, the cleaner and more transparent the sounds--this show used only 12 mics onstage and there were 22 added into the tape machine (bass and lead guitar) for presence.

During the two-drummer era, the two drum kits had only two mics each--one overhead and one on kick, on the beater side and near the floor toms. This helps the clarity, tonality and definition of the drums. A drum head vibrates in a complex manner, and the sound is not integrated until it reaches a distance of twice the diameter of the drum head, so the overhead mic should be near the drummer's head to hear what he hears. Kick is one which must be near-mic'ed, so the impulse is in time; I don't like the sound of a kick drum with a hole in the front head, or no head or with padding inside--most of these things will make the drum sound like a big spoon hitting wet cardboard. I put each of the two overheads separately in one channel along with the kick of the other drum kit--this gives a nice stereo sound/space and permits the individual drums to sound clear without masking each other. Each of the other sources, such as guitars and bass, were captured by mics set in places which produced a stereo image of two sources due to leakage. The only thing I was unable to provide in separate sources in two channels was the vocals, which are centered, and cause a slight deterioration in the clarity of the stereo imaging.

My philosophy in setting speakers is to try to put them as close together as possible, but in those days I was not able to set them this way, so I tried to be sure they pointed frontward--I feel that it is a mistake to try to make each speaker array cover every seat--sound propagates everywhere and thus all the sounds are heard no matter in which direction they begin. By pointing them frontward, a larger area is free of multiple direct sources with differing arrival times--although it does little or nothing for the chaos of the reflected sounds.

The human ear and brain process sound in a unique manner due to our evolution. We began as hunters working in cooperative groups. It was important for us to be able to hear and understand each other in very noisy, confused circumstances. So the human brain has developed an ability to 'filter' out the noise in the environment if presented with sounds which have only one point of origin, no matter what that sonic environment is like. A single speaker/array in the worst trash-can of an arena will sound pristine-clear so long as it is flat, and has not been EQed to 'correct' for the venue's storage modes ('ring frequencies'). I have found that almost no other soundmen seem to understand this principle and thus will make the sound lousy by "pink noising" the hall and taking energy out of the system at the very frequencies the hall stores energy (the peaks seen on a spectrum analyzer when the room is fed pink noise). This means that as soon as the audience comes in, and the band plays, all add energy to the hall separately from the PA, filling all the storage modes, burying the sound at the ringing frequencies. As a result the PA has less energy at the very point it may need a bit of boost (not a cut). The storage modes, or ringing frequencies of a hall have only a limited capacity to store energy, and so long as the PA is not reduced at those critical frequencies it will override any energy in storage--sometimes a slight boost at the ring frequency is needed--the exact opposite of general practice.

So long as large systems are set with two arrays separated by the width of the stage, usually from 60 to as much as 120 feet, the system will always be unintelligible in most of the hall due to the arrival times of the two sources of sound--especially where the same mic is panned into both channels. This is simple physics. Sound travels through air at a speed of one foot/millisecond, and human ears are set 1/2 foot apart, giving us a discrimination of 1/2 millisecond max in arrival of sound in each ear. It is this sense for arrival time (phase/delay) which is used to determine direction. In addition--any delay in the single sound of more than 10 milliseconds will be perceived as 'reverb,' turning into 'echo' at about 20 milliseconds. Thus, arrival times of 60 to 100 milliseconds produces a sense of utterly confused sound--muddy and unintelligible. Thus, the ideal of any large system is to be set as a single cluster in the room, ideally as a centered cluster, but works equally well on one side or the other of the stage. This way all the sound emanating from the PA is in perfect time, allowing our inbred ability to filter out the extraneous sounds of the hall to function as they naturally can.

To sum up this philosophy--ideally each musical 'voice' should have a separate and unique source for each channel, the center of stereo PA speaker arrays need to be separated by no more than 10 feet, large systems therefore must be in contact, and set so they act as a single multi-channel source. It is not necessary to point each channel towards every seat, they can go off in opposite directions, even. Coherent sound in a space acts something like the vibrations in a gel, and are perceived in their proper relationship--trust me on this, I have tested it many times and find it works that way whether my terms of explanation are technically correct or not.

It is also best to avoid any kind of EQ, in the chain of amplification: with a single exception, Meyer Sound's CP-10, all EQ circuits insert phase changes as well as amplitude changes, thus damaging the integrity of the sound. Choosing a mixing desk with as few amplifying stages as possible also will give a clearer, better sound.

I hope all this chatter is of some interest--or better, use--to you, the reader of these notes. I also hope you enjoy this album.

Cheers,
Bear
9/26/05

 

Credits:

Jerry Garcia - Lead Guitar, Vocals
Keith Godchaux - Keyboards
Donna Jean Godchaux - Vocals
Bill Kreutzmann - Drums
Phil Lesh - Electric Bass, Vocals
Bob Weir - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals

Original Recordings Produced by Owsley Stanley
Tape Archivist: David Lemieux
CD Mastering by Jeffrey Norman
Archival Research: Eileen Law/Grateful Dead Archives
Liner Notes: Bear
Cover Art and Package Design: Bob Minkin www.minkindesign.com/photo/
Photography: Brian Blauser; Deb Trist; Jim Thrower; Grateful Dead Archives
Special Thanks: Tony Dwyer

 

 



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This album was released in November 2005.



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