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In my experience the chief pleasure for those with high end equipment is showing it to others.
Very thought-provoking post Jane. You said “sound
is only the sensual representation of music, it isn´t the music itself.” Do you
honestly think music has any meaning divorced from sound? For me it only has
meaning as vibration in the air that resonates with our ears over a passage of
time. Anything else for me is just an intellectual or mathematical exercise. Is
it possible to compose without hearing the music in your head? In the same way
it is impossible to read without hearing the words in your head.
As to your second point, like Tagalie, I
totally agree. Hearing certain pieces for the first time is an experience that
is unrepeatable in the sense of the force and impact it makes on you, and the very
specific sensations it brings. Every
time I listen to a piece of music there is a different texture to how I
experience it. Music is a temporal phenomenon as are we. In every moment of our
lives we are (without wishing to sound too mystical here) in a real sense
different people, because our personal identity like a piece of music is
constantly changing as it unfolds and develops over time. We are everyday a
slightly different cocktail of past and present. Listening to a piece of music
more than once is like meeting the same person more than once, recognisable,
but never identical. Right I´ll stop there before people start thinking I have
been smoking something.
You said “sound is only the sensual representation of music, it isn´t the music itself.” Do you honestly think music has any meaning divorced from sound?
I don't know, dubrob. I said it, but I am not really sure! I will have to think about it........
I suppose what I mean is that each and every performance is only a performance of a particular piece of music. The performances change, but that of which they are performances remains unaltered. So what is that unaltered thing? Beethoven's Ninth is, it seems to me, something distinct from all performances of it, even though it was obviously written to be heard. If i say anymore that that, it will almost certainly be horesh*t of one kind or another, but that is the kind of direction I am taking on this.
Slightly related to this: in the preface to my copy of the Goldberg Variations (Shirmer edition), there is a lovely quote from Thomas Browne's Religio Medici: "There is something in it of Divinity more than the ear discovers: it is an Hierographical and shadowed lesson of the Whole world and creatures of God; such a melody to the ear, as the whole World, well understood, would afford the understanding. In brief, it is a sensible fit of that harmony which intellectually sounds in the ears of God."
I´m with you on the differenece between the score and any particular performance. Something along the lines of what Artur Schnabel said about Beethoven "this music is better than it can be played." I think every performance probably never quite lives up to the score, which I think is how the composer hears it in his or her head, but I think they hear it. Every performance is by definition an act of translation, and as such can only ever be an approximation, as I think anyone who is good at translating languages will freely admit. If you are going to start quoting Thomas Browne at me I shall humbly make my exit.
Music concerns the organisation of sound over time, the key word there being organisation, and since any act of 'hearing' or 'listening' involves patterns of recognition and memory based on what has been/will be sounded in the piece and on a broader grasp of what can or could ever be sounded, along with some kind of historical or historicised grasp of affective purpose and expressive vocabulary, then music is a matter not of any individual act or moment of sounding, not of sound in general, not of score, not surely of the 'ear' which would have no function without the brain, and not of course simply of listening since one may also in some way be making the sounds, but of mind - nothing less.
Music ...is a matter ... of mind.
Music ...is a matter ... of mind.
That's a very long sentence Dmitri! But, I think, spot on.
Relating this to an earlier point, however and wherever we first hear a piece of music that moves us deeply, the subsequent attempt to recapture it is grasping for an emotion not a product of sound. If you are profoundly moved by a piece of music in, say, your car, or through tinny headphones on a train, you wouldn't try to recapture that feeling in the same physical environment, you would want what you think is the best possible medium for it. You might or you might not be able to recapture it, but that pursuit of it, impossible though it might be, is what you spend money trying to achieve.
Agree with all the pertinent points expressed. For me, the beauty of youtube is that I have been able to take part in our listening projects here (both the first one and now the Bach) and then communicate with other people about them via the keyboard and screen.
All those pieces we have listened to, from Vermeulen to Gesualdo and Aho to Taneyev, has made me explore the work of these composers where 25 years ago I had to buy vinyl to make that exploration. And yes, after sampling, I have sometimes ordered a work on disc, such as Aho 9.
Again, at the moment I can enjoy the rich world of the Bach cantatas and then enjoy a quality of dialogue about them here on the forum.
No, the sound quality isn't great, with a pair of headphones plugged into your tower or listening via your PC speakers or whatever, but it serves well enough to hear the work in question.
So, if youtube serves us as a listening community, excellent.
Fraz Jo - disapntd. Bn ringin this grl al week. No ansr...looks lke she changed her mnd. O well...Ldwg...
For me YouTube is a wonderful archive for those classical performances that are not distributed commercially, for example TV programmes about a particular performer or music, something that may have been transmitted 20 years ago and never again, or historic material - you find some historic audio recordings, some of dubious origins (copyright-wise) but invaluable for the music lover. There is so much out there that will never see the light of day "officially" because of contractual issues.
Wow! That goes too far, as I see. So, I cannot resist...
Dmitri, Music is sound; it is not any sound, but it is a concrete series of sounds of notes, chords etc. So, the precise and accurate features and aspects of the notes performed should sound as close as the real thing, in the case of a playback system. Otherwise, we would have had only one unified system to listen (a very democratic, cost-effective and very accessible one).
So, going to the more demanding posts by our Jane, even if sound is "only" a (not the) "sensual representation" (later on, in her next post, it is elevated to sensual "pleasure"), it represents and affects the music itself. I'm sure you care of the actual sonority of a very difficult and vital instrument as the violin or the delicate one of a flute, or the subtlety of a viola. Besides, the heavy and difficult orchestration of so many works, when "squeezed" in less than precise and analytical recordings, undermines the actual understanding of the music and strips the whole experience of its real value.
I am pleased, by the way, by the choice of the word "sensual" (representation or much more importantly pleasure) for the role of sound in music. If we go to some other analogies, sensual pleasure is of vital interest and integral part of questions like love, for instance.
Having said that, I cannot argue that many people might feel absolutely happy with any sort of "accessibility" rather than the difficult access of the actual and as complete as possible picture of the work in question. In any case, as Mr. Norman in his blog very correctly claimed "YouTube is here to stay". So, feel free...You may jump in...It's free...advertisement of the actual product.
As JKH wisely suggested, we've been here before. Krystian Zimerman raises a real ethical problem which shouldn't be ignored, but his words as quoted in Norman's post echo the cry of "Home taping is killing music" from the 80s. This, in short, is really about the proprietary rights of artists, not some grand quasi-aesthetic spasm over What Youtube Does To Classical Music. And I'm sure many will know the 1964 speech in which Britten, accepting the first Aspen Award, deplored the influence of recording and radio ("not part of true musical experience") and their capacity to bring Bach to "any loud roomful of cocktail drinkers at the turn of a switch". Later he conceded he might have "slightly overstated the case. A record is wonderful to have as long as we realise it is a substitute, not the real thing." First it was "the loudspeaker" (Britten), then the audio cassette, now it's Youtube.
A few quick reflections: on the contractual point, I am not a big YouTuber but have in my time been a home taper and frequenter of questionable LP and CD labels - like, I suspect, others on this forum - so I can't throw stones. I've found such "unofficial" sources (often old European radio broadcasts and in-house recordings) essential for less familiar material. The sound quality is nothing special, but as Chris noted most of us grew up struggling with less than ideal conditions in that respect, and the alternative is not hearing the music at all - though as Naupilus said on another thread we're spoilt by comparison with yesteryear, we're still not as spoilt as we could be! I do find YouTube invaluable for brief glimpses of opera productions all over Europe, given that these days I can't travel much.
I do think we should pause to reflect how utterly alien most composers known to us would, from their historical standpoint, have found the idea that a single performance, or edited confection of performances, could be mechanically reproduced and repeated ad infinitum. Such a thing is profoundly artificial, and it's an unusually extreme form of commodity fetishism to imagine that the right true end of music is a "realistically" recorded performance, with every technical means bent towards the illusion of "naturalness" enshrined in a happy little consumer durable. Every time someone talks that way I find I'm thinking back to those Karajan DG recordings from the 70s, and the literally nauseating high-pitched whines that could, once you'd checked the score, be identified as solo violins. Britten was on to something, whether you agree with all of that Aspen Lecture or not.
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