“With Rings On Her Fingers And Bells On Her Toes, She Shall Have Music Wherever She Goes...
....and thatʼs problem. She canʼt escape it! We are swamped with sound in restaurants, elevators, and shopping malls and now on our phones. The continual din has numbed the senses. Cast your mind back to 1790. In the days of Haydn and Mozart the loudest sounds would be the rattle of cart wheels. Contrasting that with the sound of a symphony would be delightful. The dynamic swings would be glorious indeed. The compressed recordings of to-day have none of the quiet passages to contrast with the loud ones. The sparrows are now as loud as the cannons.
A few years ago a small jazz group appeared at the now gone, Ben Wicks Tavern in Toronto. They were about to set up their PA system when mercifully the circuit breakers popped for the A.C. The group soldiered on sans amplification. Every one of the patrons commented on the performance. They were astonished at the sound of the clarinet, trombone, bass, banjo, and coronet un-amplified. Most had never heard the instruments this way. This seems to be a common problem to-day.
The world of audio seems to have painted itself into a corner. Early recordings of monaural or stereo were by and large trying to recreate the illusion of musicians playing in your listening room. Simple microphone techniques and minimal tinkering with the signal resulted in some tremendous recordings. Nowadays the recordings try to reflect the experience of bone crushing decibel levels heard at rock concerts. Even the attempts to capture more intimate works in smaller venues are a disaster. They still bugger it up. They canʼt help it. They have a trunk full of microphones and mixing boards. Some of these idiots even get special awards for totally f##king up the sound. The audio junkie follows the herd of course since he never attends live un-amplified events. Since he has no reference point he ends up throwing money at the wrong thing. Magic cables, pucks, pointy things, lotions, potions, balms, salves and a tin foil hat to complete the picture.Some of the worst sounding systems are cobbled together by the equipment freak.Time to stop. Think. Attend a few live un-amplified events before spending another nickel.