Saturday, May 27, 2006

DruStylus Comment

:: DruStylus Wrote ::
but what happens when a recording transcends what is possible in the physical world?

and what of the temperature of the room, the pheramones floating about and the smell of the neighbor in the environment where the recording is being played back.

don't you feel that the genius of recordings is more in their ability to convey audio in a transient way than they are "reminders". What's the difference between listening to a recording of Lassus motets on your ipod while on the bus (where lots of noise that is not necessarily linked tangibly to the recording in effect bleeds in and merges) and listening to Lassus motets on a state of the art hifi system with acoustic conditioning of the room? The music will hit you in very different ways I believe.

Recordings are portable and timeless and that is their value. When one wants to hear the subtle treatments of counterpoint in a given piece of music live performances come short in being able to guarantee the flawlessness in every repetition. That's why I believe people are more prone to keep a piece in their repertoire when they play it live than they are when they record it. Why keep playing it that way when it already exists in a fixed portable and transient form.

Going back to the original would be very stale and boring were recordings nothing more than "a reminder" - sub bass anyone? show me an acoustic instrument that can produce 30hz frequencies that literally shake the structures that are blocks away.

I think we do ourselves a great disservice when we start to see recordings as storage and not see them as instruments. Speakers produce vibrations in the air the same way a violin does. And all speakers are different...just like a strad is different from a student model...and further the way these instruments interact with their acoustical environment further complicates the equation.

So next time you're picking up some new speakers ask yourself "If I were to translate the price spectrum of a violin to these monitors should I buy the 50$ xbrands or the 2000$ Mackie's?
And for god's sake kids...encode at 192 at least!

:: Christopher Wrote ::
Fine points, but I would bring up the issue of a dj or a synthesizer producing 30hz, live in concert, which is then recorded. Yes they are flawless but only in a Way that assumes music has a right and wrong. For a piece changes its relationship to the world, and while a recording will inherently mix with different ambient sounds and stand in different juxtapositions to the world a performer, with a violin, a guitar, a synthesizer, a record or an mp3 will make subtle adjustments that recontextualize a piece in a new place and time that inherently considers and brings to light something that no person before them could have known, due to them having come before.

The real question I am asking is not what role do recordings play in our society or their value, clearly that is established. But rather, what is a recording? And I have to begin with the reality of it. For instance, my mini disc has 3 settings, 2 are compressed settings for more audio and they compress in 2 different ways, one that is designed to play off of the reality that the human brain will jump to conclusions (ie if you produce say 35 overtones in an overtone series the brain is likely to assume that it is pitch x and therefore there is no need to record the rest of the spectrum, your brain fills it in!) There is also a setting on my minidisc that is supposedly more true to life and will record all that comes in, but in using this one ends up with the acoustics of the recording device shaping what you hear. What I am getting it as that recording is a filter. In the way it is captured, ie the equipment and the compression algorithms and the playback equipment. That all being acknowledged, that is just a picture of the audio that is not recorded. What about the other things that are not present in a recording, the "feeling in the air" the intensity of an audience sitting on their seats, who do not make a sound the entire performance because it is so moving or the feeling of a crowd of thousands dancing in harmony to the boppin beat of a dj or of a band. What is a recording? It is a black and white picture of what happened, but as a picture is in no way the reality, how this filtered record goes on to represent what was (or never was-multitasking etc) that is what would be second order.

:: DruStylus Wrote ::
But see that's what I'm trying to get at. You seem to be equating recording with sedentary reflective listening and I'm saying that recordings are just as much instruments as the ones that they capture. See I think looking at a recording as not being able to exactly copy the sensory reality of a moment and thus is more a documentative tool than anything else (which I really felt your original post was stating) is short changing the power of recordings as a means of making music.

Here is my question, let's say that you have a high quality monitoring system (like thousands of dollars, 8.2 so that you've got a fully ambisonic setup with plenty of power) now you're watching a high quality DVD with audio encoding at 96khz 48 bit (science has shown that this expands the range to twice the human range of hearing and loudness perception) and let's say the DVD is of a great performer, Rubinstein, let's say (because his stage prescence was always so powerful) and you're watching it in this space...would you then argue that somehow this is less of a musical experience than watching some lifeless sack of bricks asian pianist play in a hall where next to you is an old man who keeps dozing off and snoring and a woman on the other side who keeps whispering to her friend setting on her other side? No, but I'm sure you'd argue that this is more humanisticly enriching and maybe I can't argue with that...but to call recordings nothing more than a black and white filtered photograph of an experience is to capitalize on only one of it's powers which at this point may not even be relevant. See I think that the real power in technology is less in documenting and recording and more in making a work portable. Think about how much music has grown from a cultural perspective thanks to recordings. You're looking at it kid. What happens when someone from the boondocks of Alaska hears Bob Cogan on a late night radio show? And how does a music that was generated from an northeast mentality and cultural context merge or fight with a cultural context that is completely different. This perspective beautifies recordings while what I find to be the cliche perspective of calling it a less than acurate representation of reality beautifies reality. I think there is no contest about the fact that recordings truncate reality...for in reality there is no body that can recreate an experience for us other than the human mind because there are more than nuerons involved, there is a whole web of emotions, sensory stimulation and the like.

But if we can't recreate an experience verbatim through recorded media what can we do? That is where my perspective comes in. I feel that recorded media enable us to engage in a similar experience with an array of transient and extremely subjective variants. It is the same discussion people had in synthesis. Synthesis started to really blow up when people stopped trying to stack sine tones on one another to emulate a violin and started experimenting with unnatural filter sweeps, sine tone ratios that are aproportional and suddenly a whole new catalogue of sounds emerged. I feel that that is what recordings do for us. They give us an ability to experience a work in a way that you could NEVER experience it in real life. Everything from bass management, to clean and crisp mix downs, to multi channel renderings create works of art that would not ever exist in the "live" domain that you are talking about.

That's where I'm coming from

:: Christopher Wrote ::
I am in agreement with that sentiment. I apologize for coming off as saying recordings don't match reality, my idea in beginning there was not to differentiate the concert setting from the recording in terms of artistic value or aesthetic value, but rather to look at the differences and in those physical differences discover what it is that we are transporting into these new frontiers.

I agree with you that the mobility is part of the revolution and of modern media. I think that is interesting in several ways though. One, it is as your example suggests, a new setting for the music of Bob Cogan here in Alaska. But secondly, it is a new piece of Bob Cogan, one that is relatively more stagnant than a live performance, which is a strange notion when you consider that his works are folio's that he rarely defines as complete. In looking at the truncation of reality I am interested to see what is removed. The reason I have been dwelling on that is most easily expressed in comparison to photography. A photograph will never replicate a place and a time, rather it personifies a place and a time. That being said, what sort of ways is it truncated and how does our brain deal with that ? Those are my first questions, the second layer of questions is what is the new context and what effect and how can it effect in the new context and more importantly, how can we even further personify an emotional/perceptual state of reality that we experience? translating this, as you know, demands the manipulation of a variety of parameters. If those parameters are defined and manipulated, all the better.

:: DruStylus Wrote :: apologies necessary. I know more or less where you stand. I was just clarifying because I felt like your words could too easily be twisted into supporting an ideology which maintains that recordings are infinitely inferior to live performance...but onto your approach to the issue from a photographic perspective...well see recordings regardless of media aren't and shouldn't be about making a facsimilie of a pre-existent reality, but instead should be about a gateway into a non-existent reality. When you leave your shutter open and set up the tripod on a waterfall the picture that you get is unlike any image you've seen in physical reality. Same thing if you leave the shutter open on a busy highway in the evening. And I'm not a photographer but I'm sure these are only some the many portals into altered and artistic realities. I would see it less within the language of truncation (though I did use that word earlier I admit) and removal and more about the reciprocal adding and outcroppings. Yes, you loose something when you put reality into a snapshot but what do you gain. It seems with questions like this we can still be open to recordings as just another expressive medium (which is why the album of one band could piss all over a later album by the same band with the only element changing in their setup is their producer/engineer)
See it's a diseased perspective, everyone still likes to hold onto the composer as god trope. People really don't realize how lifeless so many of their media "gods" would be if it weren't for all the others...but this gets into the whole perspective of music being made out of collectives more than individuals today as the internet has tangibly opened up this sort of methodology. Anyway, I need to get going. But god damn it, it's good to argumentatively dialogue again. hahahhaa
talk to you soon bro (or actually, probably within a few hours...I'm still used to having three million things to do every day)

:: Christopher Wrote ::
Right on, it just goes to illustrate what my assumptions are when I write and that depending on the audience. it can be read in a variety of ways. Or... maybe I am just inarticulate or somewhere in between the two!


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