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Playback Listening
Topic: How to make a music person to “get” Audio?

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Posted by Romy the Cat on 05-25-2012
It is know that many music people do not get audio. The subject was zillion times discussed among all imaginary people and different people offer different explanation of the phenomena. I do not find that any “phenomena” exists in all but  you do not want to hear me as I also do consider that many even audio people do not “get” audio.  I do have my vision why many music people do not “get” audio but this is not the reason why I started this thread. What interests me is to find a mechanism that would explain to a music person my vision of what audio does and how audio might be used.

For a few months I deal with a lady who is trained classical musician and her reliance on audio is negligible. Over the whole our relationship I did not make a single effort to explain/demonstrate to her what audio is and how audio might be used. We listen my playback but from what I observe she takes absolutely no advantage of my playback capacity.  Last night we were listening Mahler 2 by MTT and BSO from last year and the complexity of my playback imaging I think did “get” her. During scherzo BSO had some remarkable interworking across sections and it grabbed her. She did played M2 but sitting at her stand, or sitting at most of sits of concert halls out there, no one get that “purely conductor perspective” - the listening perspective that live FM broadcast can offer. So, I think I did witnessed in here a feeling that audio can supplement “something” in realm of listening experiences and I was hugely gratified witnessed it.

Well, the folks who do audio “fulltime” do understand that it was an illustration of minor benefit of a properly-rendered playback imaging and that there are SO MUCH MORE to it.  So, I very much would like this girl to be able to speak on the language of audio sensations and audio expectation. I thought about it a lot as our relationship started but I did not want to inflict on her my vision of audio and I would like her to develop her own realization what audio might be.  Still, the event of the last nigh did advise me that with proper exhibition the audio-culturing might be ….expiated.

So, my question to the folks who dealt with classical musicians and who were successful to introduce them to audio: what techniques did you use to do so?

Romy The Cat

Posted by Paul S on 05-25-2012

Thinking back, I was never consciously in a position to "introduce the subject" as you seem to wish to, for a variety of reasons.  In my case, the musician either had his/her own ideas about "audio" already, or it seemed utterly remote as a topic of conversation, even when we listened to recorded playback.  But now that you frame it exactly as you do, it might be that a mutual interest in the music and/or performance itself could lead to "expositions" with a system that can actually make such explication, and this MIGHT in turn lead to the musician connecting the system "benefits" with musically relevant experience and/or insight.

My own thoughts also strayed to the funny quasi-related "truth" that few "sound professionals" treat/use hi-fi like "we" do, either.

Best regards,
Paul S

Posted by Jorge on 05-25-2012
I used to have a few musician friends and played a little myself, but they were never really interested in audio, they did have a system but no intention to sit in the sweetspot or anything of the sort,  we used to go to concerts and they would carry with them the partiture of the concert playing and they would be reading it through the concert, they were every time pissed becuase they missed a couple of notes or the expression was
My point is; not even in the concert hall were they into sitting and listening to the music, but mainly hearing the interpretation note by note.
Playing music is so much more involving it would be like watching porn instead of having great sex!

I do have a friend who is into audio and is a musician, he claims his hearing is very bad after 20 years of playing between the trumpets and the kettledrums!  But in my opinion he does listen pretty well...

Now about woman and audio, IME they dont mix,  when I started living with my now wife, I would turn my system on and sit down in the sweetspot and she would come over and sit on the couch and chat!  I had to very bluntly tell her:  I am listening to music please shut up!  She was just trying to be nice and thought I put the music so we can talk and was probably expecting a cocktail... Later she realized it was so important for me she would try to listen and give her opinions, but when she knew I was caught, forgto all about it. These days she watches House on the TV and leaves me my own space for audio, and I think its better this way. 

If she really knew about audio and gear I think it would be a tragedy!  "So you did went a bought the the EM Labs 45 tubes,  what happened to the vintage RCA that you loooved so much last week?  So they are just gonna stay in that box with the other 5 pairs of $ 500 bucks tubes?  As if money grew out of the trees!!!"   Where did that Koetsu Urushi came from?  And dont tell me one of your audio buddies lent it you, I know nobody in their right mind will lend cartridges, y told I wanted the Lyra but you had to do what you want!"  :-)

Posted by Romy the Cat on 05-26-2012
Jorge, I am not out of my mind to let her know about audio gear. My interest not to educate her about audio methods but rather to educate her about the opportunities and benefits that “properly structured audio” might offer. The “properly structured audio” is a loaded statement as it does imply not as much technical aspect but rather usability aspect. Anyhow, I have absolutely no interest to breed a new audio friend. I would like to “use” here in the very same way as she is but I do feel that it might be beneficial if she “get” audio as “a valuable solution providing method”.

Posted by rowuk on 07-12-2012
Most of my colleagues are more interested in HOW the recorded music was performed than how it was recorded or played back. When I listen to music, even my cheap iPhone speaker gives me a respresentation of the players "soul".

Add that to the pain in the ass recording sessions where the sound engineers are always in the way - always a danger for our instruments because they drag mic stands and cables with no regard for us.

Add to that our perspective from the orchestra. Imaging like in hi fi loudspeakers does not exist on stage, even if you sit next to the other players. The representation in the recording, the geometry of stage and hall is almost always wrong. There is plenty of left right but no vertical. The sound of the violin, viola, tuba and flute is very vertical. The only instrument that has pinpoint imaging is the trumpet. Remember, we hear our instruments next to our head and attached to our bodies. Musical performance is "tactile" not only audio.

For clarinet players, the recorded sound is almost always wrong. The Clarinet sound is very difficult because it is played without vibrato, has a unique harmonic structure based on a 12th instead of an octave and that makes phase critical because of multi microphone idiot recording. Trumpets are very directional, but the audio engineers seek a broader, softer representation.

I remember a good tuba player friend from the radio symphony in Berlin. He used Klipschhorns. He said that they reproduced the sound of an asshole conductor walking off stage and slamming the door behind him better than anything else............... ;-)

Posted by Romy the Cat on 09-24-2012
Interesting, the last night I made a first attempt to teach Amy something about audio. We live together for 6 month and I never made any attempt to bring her aboard to audio world. She love my playback idea but and I love to cruise around her brain on the subject of music. We had many wonderful listening expresses together, live music and recorded music, but we did not spend any time together in the realm of audio world.

Last night we were listening together a broadcast of Isaac Perlman (as a conductor) leading BSO with Beethoven 7. During the last allegro movement I asked Amy if she would like to learn something about my audio. She said “yes”. I put her in the sweet spot, asked her do not sit straight and not like a monkey on the tree (something that she always does), listen the music and let me know what she would like to change. I did not mean what is wrong with sound. I rather mint her to pretend that she is a conductor, that she stay on the podium and I would like to hear what she would like to change in the sound of the orchestra and in the interpretation of the B7. Who told me that we would like to have and I was trying to use my audio methods to administer the requested changes.

She was not too forceful with her demands. When I sit in front to playback I immediately deliver a laundry list of what changes that I would like to have in sound/music, regardless if it was playback or live event. Amy not accustomed to be in driving sit of sound but I think I will be slowly work with he and she might get there.

The result of the session was that she told me “it is nice to have our playback back”. She did not realized that she said to me the sexiest thing that evening…

The Cat

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