Esperanza Spaulding: Complete Musician
Esperanza Spaulding is a bass player. She is 20 years old. She has the sonic wisdom of someone twice her age. She is also a singer and realizes that both vocals and instruments are separate but related issues. In her interview in the April issue of Bass Player Magazine, she discusses her philosophy on both vocals and instruments and how she feels they are intertwined. When asked by the interviewer about the relationship between singing and playing she said:
“You can think of it like a piano player’s two hands, they generally move independently, and the combination of the two gives you the sound of the chord changes. Singing and playing allows you to be like a pianist in that your aware of how the line of your voice and the line of your bass together form a counterpoint that implies the harmony. The key to creating a good bass line is to remember what was already played and is still hanging in the air. If I play a B in a G chord and I am going to a C7 next, then I want to go back to the B and resolve it up to C because that B is still in the listener’s ears. You have to control how the line resolves into the next harmonic sound: notes are not separate incidents. Great bass players are really in touch with that knowing what was just outlined and what was left unanswered. They only have a single line, but with it they try to weave and sew through all the important notes in the harmonic progression”.
Ms. Spaulding knows the importance of one note played and that same note heard correctly in the room in which it is played. She is big on harmonics and how each note contributes to the overall presentation. Look back at your favorite music. You will see that relationship in a vocal harmony or a guitar break. It is that single note or fretboard slide that causes a resonant frequency inside your body that lets you forget everything else at that particular moment and emotionally connect to the music. We all know that sound. It is that sound that causes goosebumps or as my grandma used to say, “chicken skin”. There is no need to explain the cause and the meaning of the “goosebumps” to others. It is immediately understand by all, with no words or explanation needed.
Esperanza Spaulding: Acoustical Engineer
Musicians like Ms. Spaulding are good role models for acoustic design companies to emulate in their product design parameters and their overall acoustical performance philosophy. Every note is important. Every note must be heard and the room and its acoustical design and treatment must allow for this to occur. Acoustical products must be designed to provide the proper amounts of rates and levels of absorption to minimize the surface reflections but not smother them. Each note is important and all notes that follow that first note must be heard in the room. Bass absorbers must have the correct rates and levels of low frequency absorption to provide for the natural harmonic presentation to come through and to be felt and heard. These acoustical concerns must be taken more seriously.
Acoustical design companies must take more care in designing their products to allow for musicians work to be heard correctly and in the manner the musician wanted. We need more than fiberglass insulation filled panels and foam filled pillows. We need to control the acoustical issues but remember we are dealing with music first and emotion second. We need to spend more time “voicing” the room and getting the reverberation time and sound stage correct. The bass energy must be controlled, so that layers upon layers of bass lines can be heard and more importantly felt. We need to take that extra step with our acoustical technology that musicians like Ms. Spaulding take in their music. We owe it to the musician and without hesitation, we definitely owe it to the music.