Mickey Hart, formerly the drummer for the Grateful Dead, is one of many musicians who have remembered Ray Dolby and his impact on the music industry over the past few days. Hart received a Grammy® Lifetime Achievement award in 2007 and was inducted into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame in 2009. A social activist, composer, and author, Hart continues to tour and serves on the board of directors at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.
Here are his memories of the Dolby Laboratories founder:
He had the Spirit of Pythagoras riding shotgun with him. Ray’s process was simple, a miniature of the universe, the cosmos. He made a complex problem easy and efficient. Expand and contract, expand and contract in Rhythm.
“Think of all the music you have heard in your lifetime, all the pleasure and comfort given your ears, your spirit. With clarity, Ray brought the sound that we musicians created to people all around the world. He loved good sound. I think, ‘Good sound, Good life,’ would be his calling card. He always had an ear for the noise, the space between, the silence; the whole soundscape was his playground.
“Before Dolby noise reduction, the tape hiss was as loud as the original source signal. We would have to use extreme techniques to even come close to the sound we wanted. It was simply out of the range and design of the magnetic tape of the day. Until Ray’s vision.
“This expanding and contracting Dolby process was simple enough to not interfere with the sonic intention of the artist. Our sounds could now be heard as never before. Ray’s invention would dramatically reduce the overall hiss generated by the inferior magnetic tape of the day. Prior to Dolby, most music was heard on a very thin piece of Mylar, a cassette. Recreating these powerful signals that were emerging would need a new technology. Enter THE DOLBY. The connection was made. The word ‘Dolby’ has become synonymous with quality sound.
“Today we have Ray Dolby’s earprint in our minds, our spirits, and our feet. We hear it in our cars, our homes, the office, and the theaters of the world. The love, lust, sorrow, and joy we create in our music is now shared and played back by Ray Dolby’s sonic dream.
“You changed the world Ray.
“Bon voyage, my friend.”