Bob Belden: Jazz Adventurer

Jeff Dayton-Johnson By

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Bob Belden is a jazz renaissance man: a flutist and saxophonist who began his career with Woody Herman's big band. He's also a composer and arranger, who has orchestrated jazz treatments of Puccini's opera Turandot as well as the music of The Beatles, Sting and Prince. His pair of tributes to trumpeter Miles DavisMiles from India (Times Square, 2008) and Miles Español: New Sketches From Spain (Entertainment One, 2011)- -are conceptually and sonically rich high points in a crowded discography as arranger- impresario.

As a producer, moreover, he has led the compilation and reissue of several milestone jazz recordings and box sets for Sony/Columbia records, including trumpeter Miles Davis' The Cellar Door Sessions 1970 (Sony/Legacy, 2005) and The Complete On The Corner Sessions (Sony/Legacy, 2007), as well as pianist Herbie Hancock's Sextant (Columbia, 1973)—and many, many others. This work has garnered Belden three Grammy Awards, and few musicians have drawn as creatively from these masterpieces of 1970s fusion as Belden.

Perhaps what is most distinctive about Belden is his capacity to craft music in a cinematic or novelistic way. His albums, his concerts, tell multidimensional stories. In his conversation with All About Jazz, Belden points out that pianist/bandleader/composer Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, bassist/bandleader/composer Charles Mingus and keyboardist Joe Zawinul also created this kind of complex Total Art. But the group of such musicians is a small one. And, as his remarks demonstrate, Belden is thinking bigger and bigger all the time, marrying technology and creativity to transcend current notions of "jazz performance." Indeed, he prefers "adventures" to "projects."

Belden's Animation band has released three records on the RareNoise label, the most recent being Transparent Heart, an aural movie about New York City, recorded with an all-new lineup of musicians.

All About Jazz: Tell us a little about your band, Animation.

Bob Belden: Animation essentially started in 1993 as part of a recording session for EMI-Japan (PrinceJazz, EMI Japan, 1993). I had a concept of reducing the big band texture to three keyboards and a guitar, plus trumpet, sax, bass and drums. It was a sextet with only [trumpeter Tim Hagans, myself, Scott Kinsey [on synthesizers], [bassist David] Dyson, [drummer Billy Kilson and [turntablist] DJ Kingsize by 1999, when we recorded Animation: Imagination (Blue Note, 1999) and Re: Animation LIVE! (Blue Note, 2000). By then we had established an exclusive sound in the jazz world, being the first jazz band to successfully incorporate drum and bass and electronica influences into the music (with two Grammy nominations to prove it).

From 2001-2006, the band was in semi-hiatus, doing a few gigs and an unissued recording session. We used Zach Danzinger and KJ Sawka (currently the drummer with the pop band Pendulum) on drums during that period and DJ Logic joined the band in 2006. We went into Merkin Hall in late 2006 with Hagans, myself, Kinsey, Matthew Garrison on bass, Guy Licata on drums (who I met on a Bill Laswell gig at the Stone) and DJ Logic to perform [Miles Davis'] Bitches Brew (Columbia, 1970). This was recorded by a UK production company called Something Else and the show ended up on the BBC. I also put the concert up on YouTube, where it has been viewed about 300,000 times.

Animation—Transparent HeartIt was through this video that Mr. Giacomo Bruzzo from RareNoise Records entered the picture. Giacomo thought the concert was strong enough to release and then implement a plan to try to find work for that band. The main problem was that all of the band members from 2006 had gone on their own by 2010, with personal commitments that overrode Animation. So in a very unique business move, Giacomo approved of resetting the band from scratch. He understood that Animation was not a one-off event, it was a line of thinking, a sound-creation methodology that he was familiar with and knew of the artistic potential. We made a deal to begin anew and on that basis, with the desire to embrace the future, and RareNoise released Asiento in 2011 and Agemo in 2012 to begin the idea of Animation being alive and well. A continuum was established. Transparent Heart was issued in October of 2012.

AAJ: Transparent Heart features a new lineup for Animation. Tell us a little about these musicians. How did you find them?

BB: Music and life evolve. And adapt. And grow.

The musicians were assembled through [bassist] Jacob Smith over a year leading up to the recording in December of 2011. I had heard Jacob on a recording and liked the vibe so I contacted him and we discussed a lot of things and eventually we had a band. The members of the band all attended, graduated or are still attending the University of North Texas. It's a serious music school and has a fantastic jazz department. Denton, Texas itself has a vibrant local club scene and lots of jazz going. A hidden treasure of live music. [Guitarist/vocalist] Jimi Tunnell was also involved in the development of the band, as he had played with all of the guys. His enthusiasm for them before we had played a note made me excited to work with them. They are natural musicians and fantastic human beings. They were friends and had many music adventures together before becoming a part of Animation. This makes it easier to enjoy every moment. It's life and music at the same time, the best of all worlds.

What you hear on the CD is the pure version of the band. This was the initial performance with the current lineup. [Drummer] Matt Young and Jacob both came to the session with clear ideas as to how the drums and bass were going to interact and they provide a unique counterpoint to the legato aspects of the saxophone and trumpet. Matt uses rhythms and textures that are in tune with the times, and are completely original at the highest level of drumming and musicianship.

Jacob has a wonderful sense of what the electric bass can do, inventing a new dialogue language with Matt. With his orchestration and arranging skills, Jacob is going to push the potential of the electric bass into a different sonic and harmonic world. With [trumpeter] Pete Clagett, he knows how to play through the music and get right to the energy. And [Clagett's] development of the electronic side of the trumpet is something that will take the instrument into a more open vibe, becoming as much an orchestrator as a soloist. [Keyboardist] Roberto Verastegui is a marvel to behold; each solo on the recording is etched in a larger concept and on live gigs his solos are inspiring. He also understands this elusive concept of improvised orchestration, where one can shift the texture and ambiance at a moment's notice so that the music can go unimpeded into unknown territory. And what makes this special is that Roberto was making his performance and recording début with the band. Again, I emphasize that these musicians are intuitive with tremendous natural abilities in many of the more refined aspects of contemporary musicianship. And most important, they are curious.

AAJ: The music on Transparent Heart recalls (very favorably) the early-to-mid-70s electric jazz of Miles Davis and pianist Herbie Hancock. This is music you know particularly well. What do you draw from Davis and Hancock?

BB: When I was a lowly 16-year-old freshman in college in 1973, I was told in no uncertain terms by my dorm neighbor Mike Winter that if I could not figure out Bitches Brew by the time I was a senior that I would be an idiot. So I purchased all the available Miles Davis LPs that were in the catalog at the time. They were list priced at $1.99. [Davis'] In Concert (Columbia, 1973), was fresh, so I listened to it right away. Being an impressionable kid with the threat of long-term idiocy, I assumed that In Concert was what jazz was supposed to be.

With Miles Davis—and, through Miles, Herbie Hancock, [keyboardist] Chick Corea, Joe Zawinul and [saxophonist] Wayne Shorter—it is, to me in part, a matter of an elegance of harmony that is both romantic and impressionistic and a real strong feeling for a groove. Using this as a template, the idea is to develop a sense of subtle elegance and also, within the framework of expressionism, have the overall texture of romanticism exist as an equal. What is in some instances referred to as something that "sounds good" is really, in my mind, a transference of a sound into an expected and accepted cultural norm of elegance or romanticism via personal taste.

There was this other side of the same coin that Miles Davis was incorporating into his recorded and live performances during the '70s: that of a larger form and focused structure pieces, symphonic and operatic in design and unique in modern jazz history. It was a mix of ambient orchestration (the total sound of the combined mass of instruments within an ambient sound field) and intuitive structure and form-based songs and improvised songs with a strong groove. Miles Davis used volume and density just as he would use chord changes and instrumentation.

With Herbie, Chick and Joe, it's about how to place your band in the midst of an evolving world. To be able to insert your band, your vehicle, into whatever surroundings come up. In this way, Animation has always embedded itself within other sonic templates, be it an orchestra or an Ambisonic live concert. Or even a big band; the core sound has to travel so the center expands and you develop a textual universe beyond a quintet. The history of Animation is filled with recordings that embedded the core members within a commercial or artistic endeavor, from Strawberry Fields (Blue Note, 1996) to The Four Seasons [unissued] to Animation: Imagination to Black Dahia (Blue Note, 2001) to Asiento. The core sound was there but embellished with conceptual narratives, colors and textures that were not part of the basic aspects of a traditional hard-bop jazz quintet.

If you listen to any body of work you will hear not only evolution but refinement, a narrowing of choices that defines a particular style. Transparent Heart is a refined composition, if the entire CD is to be construed as a complete work. In the same way that Miles Davis would edit harmony and form on songs to get the bare essence, many of the songs on Transparent Heart went through the editing process over years until the right sound was developed to capture the essence and heartbeat of the music. It was when the band was finally formed in the studio, with Roberto making his debut with the band at that moment, that the final editing process was set into motion. This way all of the "editing" could be done live in the studio using intuition and a sense of adventure.

AAJ: Transparent Heart is a musical suite. The experience of listening to it is like reading a novel by Dickens or Balzac, in which London or Paris is the central character, and a broad cast of characters tell a multitude of stories. Tell us a little about the "novel" at the heart of Transparent Heart.

BB: A better analogy would be Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness with subways.

My first CD on Sunnyside Records, Treasure Island (1996), contained a suite ("Treasure Island Suite") that was fashioned to accompany a ballet along the lines of Walter Piston's The Incredible Flutist. I recorded Turandot for Blue Note Records in 1992, and this was a full-scale project that followed the narrative of the opera closely. This was when I began to incorporate the idea of "human orchestration" into my thought process, where you can put a person's instrumental (or vocal) characteristics inside a larger ensemble cast, just like opera or film. It's Duke Ellington, expanded. But when you add the character into a flowing dramatic narrative the idea embellishes Ellington in the best way possible.

These projects led me into focusing on the similarities between novelization, film and jazz aesthetics. There were some parallels that made things easier to make the move into this narrative form of jazz composing. With Turandot, I was able to artfully manipulate the musicians into performing to the exact emotional level of the Puccini opera as well as transform the sound of an instrument (as a character in the opera) via personality and texture. I would apply the knowledge of an individual's music DNA and match that to the development of the character in the opera.

With Transparent Heart, there were some literary models, mostly The Power Broker (Vintage, 1975) [the biography of New York City "master builder" Robert Moses], by Robert A. Caro, The Decline and Fall of the British Empire (Vintage, 2010), by Piers Brendan, and, most importantly, The Looming Tower (Knopf, 2006) [the Pulitzer Prize-winning account of the rise of al-Qaeda], by Lawrence Wright. The film models would be Taxi Driver (1976) [directed by Martin Scorsese] and the documentary Limelight (2011) [directed by Billy Corben].

I came to Manhattan in the time of Caro and Taxi Driver and the track "Terra Incognito" was just how I felt about the city at the time. I had a "chapter one," so to speak. And to tell a story all you need is a beginning and humanity fills in the rest of the story for you. You have to observe. Balzac witnessed the death of royal lineage and the emergence of France from democracy into dictatorship, and Dickens the horrors of the Industrial Revolution in Great Britain and the emergence of the middle class, both highly significant to the development of the human race. So yes, there is some connection in that way. With Caro and Taxi Driver, I had Robert Moses and Travis Bickle [protagonist of Taxi Driver] as the embodiments of what it was like to be in Manhattan and New York City in general. Today a new person entering Manhattan has two contrasting iconic figures, [Mayor] Michael Bloomberg being the ghost of Robert Moses and the shadowy terrorist being the ghost of Travis Bickle.

There is that old model for any writer: "write what you know." So, rather than try to explain Indian or Spanish music via a Western cultural icon, I chose a story that I was a part of, a story that I lived and kept a music diary of that existence. And the world lives in Manhattan so there is a very personal global connection in this narrative.

AAJ: Your capacity to create a jazz record that resembles a mural, or a film, or a novel in its story-telling coherence, is rare: maybe Duke, maybe bassist Charles Mingus, maybe arranger Gil Evans did something like that, sometimes. Black Dahlia has that same kind of ambition; your Miles albums, too. How would you characterize what you do when you envision and carry out a project like Transparent Heart, or Black Dahlia, and how does it differ from what your contemporaries in jazz are doing?

BB: Modeling music along the lines of film narrative (not film music) should be a logical evolution of the jazz composer mindset. Sadly, we happen to be in an era of absolute music, music that does not tell a story other than that of "hard work becoming a musician in a practice room." It's a shift in jazz towards the player and not the conceptual artist. The player mindset evokes a strong empathy with the self-conscious hero. The conceptual artist uses the player as a character or object in a grand design. Music can inspire the imagination to create an imaginary world but it has to develop from the conceptual mind.

In jazz music, some artists prefer a no-drama or a scripted drama approach to their music. This is the most popular form of jazz today: predetermined. Since musicians have to be method actors as well, playing the part of the "jazz musician," it's only fitting that the music tends to be flat and predictable, directed and mildly contrived. Consider the emphasis on Ellington and Mingus in our contemporary jazz canon; rarely mentioned in the same context is basic humanity, nor are the films, filmmakers, actors, playwrights, novelists, painters, etc., who surrounded these two artists' cultural universe. The music, the musicians, the personalities are all taken out of context, leaving out a connectivity to the full nature of art/life that is described in some manner as Total Art. In Total Art, we find our true selves. "Jazz" as it is practiced contemporaneously is limited and suffocating to the imagination. It's an Incomplete Art.

Black Dahlia was in part re-imagined from two books, one Fiction—James Elroy's Black Dahlia (Grand Central, 1987)—and one non-fiction—Otto Freidrich's City of Nets (University of California, 1986). The dark music of romanticism and expressionism came from listening to Alban Berg's operas Lulu (1937) and Wozzeck (1925). Watching and listening to Roman Polanski's Chinatown (1974) with Jerry Goldsmith's score as a model for ambience and texture and the sepia- tones of Polanski and his director of photography John Alonzo transformed oneself into another era.

The underlying stories in both Transparent Heart and Black Dahlia are obvious but there are some deeper conceptual elements that come into play. For instance, there is a connection between my earlier recordings Treasure Island and Turandot in that the idée fixe of eternal love and happiness creates a common thread between these recordings (Black Dahlia, Turandot, Treasure Island). In all three recordings, there is a narrative about the quest for a true and pure form of love and what one will do to find this state of mind. And in each of these recordings, there is a subtext, in that with love comes the pathway. In these pathways come fate and that is eventually how darkness will prevail. The pathways of Treasure Island, Turandot and Black Dahlia led to the fates of madness, suicide and murder, respectively. So you have extreme contrasting emotional and psychological elements, and this constant triangulation is at the heart of the tension of romanticism, expressionism and narrative. Keep in mind that until recently, Manhattan was a bachelor's paradise, so the hope of finding eternal love and happiness was always in the air. But so was the shadow of madness.

There is a focused connectivity between Black Dahlia and Transparent Heart. They portray specific environments, urban environments filled with life, energy, love and sadness, light, shadow, sound and voices. One is set in Los Angeles during the late 40s and one is set in Manhattan post-Taxi Driver. With Black Dahlia, I could imagine a world that existed and with Transparent Heart, I could shape a world that not only existed but a world that I was a part of in my lifetime. Because of the electronic nature of Transparent Heart, we could incorporate audio samples into the music that would push the limits of perceptible reality within the borders of a jazz recording. With Transparent Heart, you will find no real love, only sadness. Love is gone from the city. It has been replaced by a plastic-collar sense of heartless sympathies and benign neglect.

Transparent Heart uses documentary film concepts with narrative film concepts and this is embedded within a jazz performance that is abstract in nature.

Duke Ellington was a portrait artist, both literally and musically. In many of his compositions he told of people, events, pop culture and these pieces would be considered short stories of some kind. Duke was comfortable to base his larger works on existing or imitative texts, being more theatrical, symphonic and operatic in form and construct, Black, Brown and Beige (Columbia, 1958) being one of the most magnificent.

Charles Mingus was a literalist and also a social re-engineer, commenting on the world surrounding and confronting him. The world of Mingus was immediate and unsympathetic and in many ways, a mix of noir expressionism and a dark personal inner narrative that exploded into the music at any given time. Mr. Mingus did dream of better places but his very difficult life made glimmers of sunshine shaded in hues of blue. I always considered Mingus' Black Saint and the Sinner Lady (Impulse!, 1963) a chamber jazz ensemble LP and Epitaph (Columbia, 1989) [posthumously premiered], his large-scale composition that is very deep and confessional, to be perfect narrative constructs.

With Gil, the closest he got to programmatic music was Miles Ahead (Columbia, 1957) with Miles Davis. Although the LP is programmatic, there is no narrative. Porgy and Bess (Columbia, 1958) was based on a novel, an opera, a Broadway show and a film by the time Miles and Gil recorded it. So I would say that these three musicians were portrait artists as opposed to filmmakers.

There are other musicians you forgot to mention (out of hundreds): Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, [saxophonist] John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter and Joe Zawinul. All are narrative composers when they desire. With Chick, he created Now He Sings, Now He Sobs {Blue Note, 1968) and Return to Forever (ECM, 1972) as poetic narratives. Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy (Polydor, 1973) and the other Return to Forever recordings of that time frame were dramatic episodic constructs.

A Love Supreme (Impulse!, 1964). Om (Impulse!, 1965). Meditations (Impulse!, 1965). All narrative recordings by John Coltrane.

And with Joe Zawinul, most of his songs are portraits, postcards, human conditions, adventure, exotic perspectives. His two great narrative recordings, Stories of the Danube (Philips/Polygram, 1996) and My People (Tone Center, 1996), really take Ellington into the modern era. Joe and I used to talk a lot about the need to tell stories in music. Even Herbie Hancock's Empyrean Isles (Blue Note, 1964) and Maiden Voyage (Blue Note, 1965) are descriptive narrative recordings based more on Nora Kelly's prose and less with a leitmotif concept of inter- connective musical elements. Wayne Shorter needs no explanation.

As far as contemporaries, I am not sure who thinks along these exact lines. If I "named names," I am sure I would leave out many. I do find inspiration in life observed and imagined and, within Animation, realized.

AAJ: You are touring with Animation now. How are audiences responding to this material in concert?

BB: To my great surprise, we seem to have found a spot in the sound spectrum that the modern jazz audience has rarely heard before. We are expanding a very specific jazz language known only to the hip cognoscenti. You know when you get to the right spot inside the minds of the audience when they don't know when one solo ends and another begins. The focus of the audience on what we do onstage is incredible. It's a real match between the minds of the musicians and the audience. We are creating a new universe and it unfolds to an audience that wants to go to this other place and trusts you to get them there and back. The energy and intensity of our live gigs has grown so far beyond what was recorded on the CD that there is no reference to the original music anymore. There is a seamless nature to what we do onstage that mesmerizes the audience.

We have a lot of footage up on YouTube and this documents the development of the band as it happens. You can hear how the band owns the music from the moment the sound begins and once you own it, you can do anything.

We performed a concert at London's Tabernacle (July 3, 2012). The concert was meant to introduce a refined live presentation concept that builds on what is already going on in the pop music world but we are taking the idea to a new and different level. Joining us that night were Serafino DiRosario, a magical live audio visionary, and Brandy Alexander, a live video projection team. What we did on that night was an Ambisonic concert. Ambisonic is about using the entire aural space of a venue and making that space part of the presentation of the sound. The Ambisonic engineer becomes part of the band, mixing us in and out of the sound canvas. This live mixing allowed the band to not only improvise to the song but to the texture of the projected sound and the imagery that was being projected into the band. In some cases, the layering of the band image within the projection suggested a potential for 3-D simulated visualizations. As Ambisonic would also be considered part of an aural 3-D spectrum there is a lot of room for connected creativity and narrative.

What this opens the door to is to be able to create a live movie experience along the lines of an IMAX theater using improvised music and specifically created videos to tell as story and using the Ambisonic surround audio elements to enhance the total experience for the audience. In this format, the narrative concept of em>Transparent Heart comes alive as you can see and hear the sounds of the city in a larger aural field, and the enhancement of the songs "Seven Towers" and "Occupy!" using surround sound and video push the performances into a truly unique environment. For instance, on "Seven Towers," we use video footage I took during the actual 9/11 terrorist attack—I was a block away when plane number two hit the south tower—and manipulated this imagery. So you mix that with the sounds of military and police radio broadcasts during that time frame and you have a narrative within the music that goes way beyond the notes into a very visceral and surreal world where sound and light merge into a convergence of a new way of thinking about "jazz" and how to perform the music. It updates the basic theatrical aspects of Orson Welles' version of The War of the Worlds from a radio play to a realist documentary in mixed media form.

What we are doing is raising the creative and production bar by applying extreme imagination to all of the tools available within a tailored vision. This will hopefully render music in an indefinable spot that the totality of the concept could be metaphysically rationalized as an experience and not by a two-dimensional segregated style or generic performance. You would come to an Animation concert knowing that you are involved in something special and in the moment that we live, unpredictable.

None of these ideas would even be considered nor produced by any recording company other than RareNoise. Giacomo Bruzzo and RareNoise in many ways will own the future of jazz.

AAJ: Are there any plans to go back into the studio with Animation?

BB: That is up to Mr. Bruzzo. We do record every gig (video and audio) so there is plenty of music in the can. And Animation has a few unissued CDs as well to put into the mix if needed. I have an idea for a follow-up to Transparent Heart and the complexity will be far greater than any jazz project undertaken. The complexity is not about the cost or logistics but of the interconnectivity between sound, motion and light within an improvised context. I am not thinking in the traditional term of composition, but of framing: more a film aesthetic. To frame music you have to include the perspective— meaning, in my mind, the complete spatial, aural and visual environment that would be part of the sound narrative. Visual, but on what level? 3-D? Holographic? Multi-panel projections? The sound on what level? Ambisonic? Dolby surround? Directional surround sound? What is the live sound/constructed sound ratio? Then how will the music from the band embed into this landscape?

I am, in essence, "composing" a feature film. My method is simple. I imagine a complete performance in my head. I think, rethink and replay, and adjust in my imagination until I feel that it's correct and then I make actual demos or write down what it is that I hear. I can actually hear every note played by any instrument my imagination puts into my virtual playback system. Sometimes I will sit at a dinner table and then grab a napkin and furiously scribble forms, chords and directions of something that just got refined in my head.

AAJ: Any follow-up to the excellent Miles from India or Miles Español?

BB: Transparent Heart is a follow-up to those recordings.

AAJ: What other projects do you have coming up?

BB: I can only focus on Animation. The word "project" implies a procedure. I prefer to create adventures. I have done so many "projects" that they have no meaning to me anymore. Most offers I get these days are from desperate musicians who realize that they have no career, no rationale for living and have no ideas of their own so they try to con me into coming up with some fantastic ideas for a mega-project but when you start talking costs, suddenly the wind appears. It does illustrate that musicians are more con artist than artist, and it goes from a mediocre tenor saxophonist from Kansas to a college professor at a conservatory. And this shows up in the music. The sound of connivance. Deception. Avarice.

I have a lot of adventures in the works but too abstract to discuss. After all, who really wants to hear about gravitational physics and surround sound?

Selected Discography

Animation, Transparent Heart (RareNoise, 2012)

Animation, Agemo (RareNoise, 2012)

Animation, Asiento (RareNoise, 2011)

Various Artists, Miles Español: New Sketches From Spain (Entertainment One, 2011)

Various Artists, Miles from India (Times Square, 2008)

Bob Belden, Black Dahlia (Blue Note, 2001)

Tim Hagans & Bob Belden, Re: Animation Live! (Blue Note, 1999)

Tim Hagans, Animation: Imagination (Blue Note, 1999)

Bob Belden, Treasure Island (Sunnyside, 1996)

Bob Belden, Strawberry Fields (Blue Note, 1996)

Bob Belden, When the Doves Cry: The Music of Prince (Blue Note, 1994)

Bob Belden, PrinceJazz (EMI Japan, 1993)

Bob Belden, Turandot (Blue Note, 1992)

Photo Credit

Courtesy of Bob Belden

[Addendum: For those really do want to hear about gravitational physics and surround sound:

First, you have to create an analog using the light spectrum and then measure the effects of light in a particular gravitational field and create a program to do the same to a sine wave. A beam of light is the analog to a pure sine wave. If gravity distorts the mass of light then a sine wave can be distorted as well. This is a summation of gravity and light as an analog to sound.

There are a couple of options. Let me explain the light thing, You remember those coordinate systems they drew in math class? Basically picture space as a bunch of little cubes all the same size stacked up filling the room. This is "normal" space. Gravity doesn't actually bend light. It bends space. The light still travels in a straight line, but since space is now curved, its path appears curved.

OK, to envision this, look at our room full of cubes from the side, and we have a wall of squares. Say in the middle of the wall, on the floor, we put an object having gravity. The lines bend. It doesn't matter which way they bend, for simplicity we're going to say the former vertical lines all get their tails pulled to the object. You now have a series of rays, radiating in a cone from the object. The horizontal lines bend too. So your former squares are now the cone with a series of arcs where the horizontal lines were.

Want your brain to really hurt? Picture this shit in 3-D. Whew. Never knew bending space could be so tuff. Now imagine a line. In original space it might go from x=1, y=2, x=2, y=2, x=3, y=2 etc. You have a straight line 2 squares up marching to the right one square at a time. Now imagine this in our curved space. With the same coordinates, you get not a line, but a curve along one of the horizontal arcs, because the reference points have moved.

Now here's the cool part. All of our little cubes, no matter how distorted, have the same amount of space in 'em. It's just more dense. And therein lies our solution. Another way to think of it is the speed of light varies with the density of the medium, which is true. It's slower in denser media.

Now lets go to sound. Sound isn't just a sine wave, it is the summation of many harmonics (sine waves) and produces a wave front expanding in an exponential cone. Don't worry about the exponential, it's just a cone. However, with a sound wave, just like light, the speed varies with density. When they calculate Mach number for an aircraft (hence the speed of sound) they have to take density, humidity, temperature and a lot of other shit into consideration.

So in order to bend the wave, the wave front has to go through a medium with a continually varying density from one side to the other. The wave will "bend" toward the side with the least density.

I can think of 4 possible ways to do this.

1-Plexiglas (or other substance) with varying continual density to which a transducer is attached. (Bigger the difference greater the bend, but that applies to all of these.)

2-Air chamber with ports or some other way to vary the temperature continuously from cold to warmer from side to side.]

3-Series of sound points from one side to another with an infinitesimally small delay between each, to which the same signal is fed. First signal reaches target before next, etc., providing same effect as a bent wave front. If this works, it's probably the most technically do-able.

4-Spinning centrifuge. Air on outside wall will be more dense than air on inside wall.

To illustrate the last one, take a helium balloon and go for a ride in your car. Let the balloon float in the middle of the car, widows up of course. Go around a sharp smooth curve. The air in the car becomes more dense on the outside of the turn, and the balloon will float to the inside radius of the turn. It's counterintuitive. (Special thanks to Elliot Baker at the DoD.)]

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