You might be surprised to know that as early as the 1940’s, movie producers were talking about surround sound. The first feature-length movie to specifically use this “surround” technique was Walt Disney’s Fantasia, which used three speakers in front and two in the rear. The system was so expensive that only two theatres actually installed the required equipment: The Broadway Theatre in New York, and the Carthay Circle Theatre in Los Angeles. Now, surround sound is ubiquitous – every movie goer is familiar with the rising pitch testing sound, proving that your movie is going to be using the latest and best technology!
In the 1980’s, surround sound was also highly touted for audiophiles who wanted to get the best sound reproduction at home. 5.1 Dolby digital systems are available for anyone (with the resources) to watch movies immersed in the soundtrack. And although movies have embraced and advanced surround sound technology, surround-recorded music without images has never really become the norm. (Pink Floyd and other pop bands did experiment, but these are the exception.) Many people have these enhanced audio systems at home, but are unable to take advantage of its full capabilities because music is not widely recorded in this way.
Surround sound is audio produced specifically to take advantage of multiple speakers, placed in order to create an immersive 3-dimensional sound stage around the listener. Creating this immersive experience gives you a sense that you’re in the midst of the action; you become a part of the music as it envelops you in its unfolding. The multiple speakers which produce this immersive experience each emit a part of the overall music that you hear. If you turn down all but one speaker, you won’t hear the full range of sound, but only a small section of it. Each speaker carries part of the music, overlapping with the others to amplify and enhance the full spectrum of the music.
Surround sound requires two components: the music must be recorded in a multi-channel format, designed to separate and enhance the component elements, and, in order to hear these features, you must listen to the music with surround sound equipment.
Jesus is always surround sound.
Christ’s active presence in creation sounds on multiple channels, all the time. Sounds of presence and transformation echo from the peaks of mountain tops into deeply carved valleys, across sun-drenched vistas and into dark, lonely back alleys. Sounds of love, inclusion, renewal, and grace flow out of homes, businesses, institutions, schools, and churches, as the Spirit prompts people everywhere to be the hands, feet, and voice of Jesus.
In order to hear his music, you must listen with surround sound equipment! Our equipment includes both built-in components and components that we can add-on. For the past two weeks I have been writing about tuning our ears and our hearts to the key of Jesus; this is a critical part of hearing well. Over the next few weeks I will be writing about other elements that help us develop and enhance our surround sound equipment.
It is difficult to make a playlist of surround sound music – for the reasons mentioned above! However, I think that the best music to illustrate this idea is early choral music. It has multiple voices and is often sung in the grand cathedrals of Europe, echoing off of itself and creating something unique each time it is sung. This is great music no matter how it has been created or whether you have the “right” equipment.