One of the temples I visited in Kyoto this week provided an unintentional reminder of how beautiful feedback can be…. This particular temple has a massive hall/meeting room with a famously painted ceiling….. but the only way to view this ceiling is to take a guided tour…. And when I fronted up for the tour I was advised the tour was ‘Japanese only’ – NO PROBLEM I said & paid my 500 yen.
When we were led into the hall space, the ceiling was indeed beautiful… and our guide proceeded to explain in great detail the back story for the ceiling – or at least I can only presume so, as my slim grasp on Japanese language was not of much use here…. But what was unintentionally beautiful was that she was using a microphone, with speakers feeding/replaying into the large hall chamber….
Every time she paused, the reverb would start to feedback (presumably some compression or limiting was occurring in the PA system) and slowly I started to pay more attention to the feedback, than to what she was saying….
And slowly, it became a concert of slowly evolving reverbant feedback – her voice providing the somewhat relentless input, and the speakers feeding back into the reverbant space providing the beautiful sustained tones…
It made me think