Monday, January 27, 2014

The Distortionist

A distortionist is simply one who introduces, practices, or administers distortion. It is one who distorts.

What is distortion?

Distortion (or warping) is the alteration of the original shape (or other characteristic) of something, such as an object, image, sound or waveform. Distortion is usually unwanted, and so engineers strive to eliminate distortion, or minimize it. In some situations, however, distortion may be desirable.


Why would anyone be interested in something distorted? Doesn't that make it inferior...a regression from something's original state?

Well, it is true that distorted things tend to hold negative connotations. A quick internet search elaborates on the subject:

1. To twist out of a proper or natural relation of parts; misshape.
2. To give a false or misleading account of; misrepresent.
3. To cause to work in a twisted or disorderly manner. 

I was first introduced to the concept of distortion through music (as many of us unknowingly are). Turn on the radio to any pop station and chances are the guitar you are hearing is distorted to some extent. In guitarist lingo, it is adding some "dirt" to a clean signal. Increasing the "drive" or "gain", not necessarily the volume.

The most amazing thing about musical distortion is that, despite the layman's concept derived from generic textbook definitions, it almost singlehandedly invents the last 4 words of wikipedia's description.

In a sea of twisting, misleading, deforming, falsifying, and disfiguring significations, musical distortion is the exception. It takes a largely unwelcome concept and turns it on its head. There is no rocket science or black hole, time-warping physics going on here. It is just the realization of a different angle...a different approach to something that on first notice appears distasteful, but with a tilt of the head becomes magical.

It is this type of distortion, the kind witnessed in overdriven guitar tones, and the unique significance that it represents, a warrior surrounded by his enemies, that is the basis of this blog. It is distortion that will set the tone, and I that will be the conductor, the inflictor, the distortionist.

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