The Sweet Spot

Welcome to my new blog, which I hope will provide some compelling insights into human potential, and personal and communal development, through a wide variety of resources and angles of perception. Some metaphorical imagery that was my inspiration in conceiving this blog along with my loyal friends and colleagues who’ve been so instrumental in helping to bring it to realization…

The sweet spot is a term used to describe a vocalist’s ideal musical range, “which is supported by the strong presence of lower and higher overtones. Notes in the sweet spot allow the singer to effortlessly articulate the sound.” It is also used by audiophiles and recording engineers to describe the focal point between two sources of sound, where an individual is fully capable of hearing the audio mix the way it was intended to be heard by the musicians. Sound engineers also refer to the sweet spot of any sound-producing body that may be captured with a microphone. Every individual instrument and voice has its own sweet spot, the perfect location to place the microphone or microphones in order to obtain the best sound.

In tennis, baseball, or cricket, a given swing will result in a more powerful impact if the ball strikes the racquet or bat on the sweet spot, where a combination of factors results in a maximum response for a given amount of effort. The actual sweet spot on a racquet or bat is a very small area, where dispersing vibrations and spin are canceled out, resulting in a perfect contact point between incoming and outgoing energies. The term is also used among elite surfers and even in fountain penmanship.

As a start, here’s an excellent example of the sweet spot in the above definitions, as well as others implied, and the opening song from my last retreat. The lyrics, as well as the range of qualities in the music, express much of what I’ll be exploring here (to be listened to with good quality earphones or headphones to be “fully capable of hearing the audio mix the way it was intended to be heard”):

I look forward to further conversations, and your comments (“the strong presence of lower and higher overtones”) are more than welcome, as they will be a guiding force in finding sweet spots.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Jade Wood says:

    To begin, I had no idea that such a term existed for this perfect alignment. And if I understand well, the sweet spot exists in pretty much everything, sport, art, etc . As a singer I can tell that I know enough my voice to know my « vocalist’s ideal musical range », it’s when I don’t push too much my voice, I don’t go too high, or too low, but I didn’t know this had a name.

    I find all your articles interesting, because I learn a lot with your work of course, but also because most of it are things we do know, we do practice in everyday life, but thanks to your articles we have precise descriptions of it. We lean in every subject with a subtle angle. I find it really interesting to have such a knowledge in things we don’t really discuss in everyday conversation.

    Thank you for this subtle angle.

    Also, this Deezer session of Agnes Obel is so gracious, and most of it is the song’s sequence and transitions. Thank you for reminding me of the existence of this Deezer session !

  2. I agree with you, Jade, about the grace especially in the sequencing and transitions of the song. What’s also cool is how she just ever so slightly shifts the position of her mouth toward or up from the microphone at certain moments to intensify or soften the sound, or to drag out the length of a diminishing trail of a word, searching for the perfect sweet spot.

    And yes, of course, a sweet spot can be found in all activities, no matter how small. It’s a lovely, poetic phrase, too.

    Here’s another version of a sweet spot you might enjoy…not as subtle with the microphone but remarkable for the larger sweet spot of presence, voice, place, song and meaning into a perfectly aligned whole, not unlike the photo of that surfer on the left…

    I will stroll the merry way
    And jump the hedges first
    I will drink the clear
    Clean water for to quench my thirst
    I’ll watch the ferry-boats
    And I’ll get high
    On a bluer ocean
    Against tomorrow’s sky
    I will walk and talk
    In gardens all wet with rain
    And I will never grow so old again

    Oh, good God, you’re a sweet thing
    Oh, good God, you’re a sweet thing

    I shall drive my chariot
    Down your streets and cry
    ‘Hey, it’s me, I’m dynamite
    And I don’t know why’
    You shall take me strongly
    In your arms again
    And I will not remember
    That I even felt the pain
    We shall walk and talk
    In gardens all misty wet with rain
    And I will never, ever
    Grow so old again

    Oh, good God, you’re a sweet thing
    Oh, good God, you’re a sweet thing

    I shall raise my hands up
    To the night sky
    And count the stars
    That are shining in your eye
    Just to dig it all and not to wonder
    That would be just fine
    And I’ll be satisfied
    Not to read in between the lines

    Oh, good God, you’re a sweet thing

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