This post is in the Self Observation category

Dear Reader

This is just horrible. I am watching the playback of video I recorded in the studio with Eric and Emma. It’s painful and embarrassing and I’m glad I’m alone. The particular section concerns a discussion about Emma’s singing technique- she’s flat at the top of the chorus. I encourage her to approach high notes from above for better pitching. The body language looks a bit wrong but I can’t put my finger on it – I don’t think that’s the problem anyway. The words spoken are nothing special either – I’ve given the same advice to so many singers in the studio, but I’m feeling quite sick.

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I began to transcribe the section and discovered that I really hate the process. Getting the words is OK but the body language is causing problems. I can see and describe the movement, the body positions and gaze direction but I became really stuck in the tiniest aspects and I’m racking my brains to find the meaning – is that a raised eyebrow? I can certainly see some issues; Emma turns her body away, crosses her arms, looks down. I interpret that as defensive thanks to all those books I read way back when. On the video it looks like I have not noticed this, and I certainly don’t recall doing so. Eric doesn’t look right either. He is not facing the camera so I can’t see his face, but he stops what he is doing during this section of the conversation and remains very still. So the conversation seems to be making two of the three people present uncomfortable – guess who’s the odd one out. I kept winding back to the beginning of the section, watching over and over.

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I have come back to the Emma and Eric vision. I read the transcript and then watch it again. And again. The vision still makes me uncomfortable, but somehow the transcript does not. I skip to an earlier section – nothing interesting, talking about song structure, everyone seems to be on the same wavelength. I let the vision play through to the troublesome section and suddenly it hits me. It is not the conversation itself – that small exchange of words and gestures – that is odd, it is the way it happens.There is no transition, no warning. There is a sudden leap of topic and of context. One moment we are discussing the guitar part and how Eric might add his own personality to it and the next I’m critiquing the quality of the demo vocal. I realise why I feel so bad watching it. This is a conversation I would normally have with a singer in private – during the recording, when she is in front of a mic, when we’re both thinking about pitch and time and expression. Here it is out of the blue and in an inappropriate context, in front of a musician she has just met. I have simply voiced my thoughts without filtering or considering the context. No wonder the poor girl looks defensive. Shit, what an idiot!

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I’ve reviewed a lot more of the videos now and decided I’m not going to transcribe the interactions except perhaps for small sections. The transcription process really gets in the way of understanding the issues, which seem to be more about context than content. The meaning is coming to me from reviewing the interactions as complete, rather than a few seconds or minutes. There are certainly individual examples of missed body language or literal vs figurative misinterpretations, but most of the “odd bits” seem to be related to the transitions from one activity or topic to the next. In essence, my transitions are out of step with the others in the interaction.

I think the interviews might be more useful to transcribe because they are language based and I’m asking for quite specific feedback. The interactions are words with actions, not actions with words. Does that make sense? I guess what I’m thinking is that in the complex interactions there is a larger thing to look at – a gestalt – and I know that gestalt is likely to be an aspie weakness as it is an executive functioning issue. The context in an interview is artificial from the beginning and the conversation is encapsulated – self-contained and restricted. Non-verbal language is reduced and there are no other distractions. The interviews are interesting because of what people were prepared to tell me of their perceptions of me and the music. I suspect that there might still be some interesting shifts of topic, but at least the context remains relatively stable.

Dear reader, I’ll let you know how it goes …

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