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Thread: Do you need anything but your ears to appreciate music?

  1. #76
    Senior Member Sid James's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hermastersvoice View Post
    I fear that all this analysis and contextualising somehow ruins the impression of the music. We have become binary thinking individuals when the analysis gets in the way of the enjoyment. As an example, a “repeat’ in modern music making has become a byword for “repetition” - and scholars and critiques can spend time discussing whether “repeats” should be observed - when really what they are discussing is whether a part of the music should be played all over again, or not. This recently grew into a ludicrous discussion as to whether repeats would have existed as a musical means if recorded music had been available. I other words, “repeats” fulfill the function of “replay “, namely a button on the tape recorder! Only in the stuffy world of music would such a discussion gain traction. You have to laugh.
    Recordings have changed the way people listen to music. In terms of repeats, it’s more common to do all (or most) of them in live performance and cut them in recordings. I’ve discovered this myself in concerts of Schubert and Mendelssohn. Live, the pieces I have on disc stretched out to infinity. This is what Schumann meant about heavenly length. Heavenly for some but not for others, I guess.

    A good read on the topic is David Byrne’s How Music Works. I remember his in depth discussion of how Jascha Heifetz totally changed the way we listen to concertos. His near obsession with perfection saw him doing endless takes of the same passages. When we listen to a recording by him, we are in fact hearing many recordings (dozens, maybe hundreds) put together.

    I’ve got Nigel Kennedy’s recording of the Beethoven concerto, and in the notes he says that it was all done in one take. It’s a live performance but that’s not the reason. Many so-called live performances committed to disc are fake. With this recording, Kennedy was trying to bust the mystique of perfection set up by Heifetz, Karajan and others.

    That’s just the editing and splicing, but there’s also other aspects, not the least stereo technology and its creation of a sound stage.

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  3. #77
    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    ^^^^One of the glories of YouTube is seeing and hearing Live, Live!

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  5. #78
    Senior Member Sid James's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange Magic View Post
    ^^^^One of the glories of YouTube is seeing and hearing Live, Live!
    True, and of course its still a recording and we experience it in a different way to a concert. On a screen and usually alone.

    On a side note, I also think that if we went back in time and saw great performers of the past those among us preoccupied with perfection and authenticity would be mortified. One example I can think of is the Russian pianist and composer Anton Rubinstein, who would not so much only play Beethoven sonatas but throw in his own extemporisations at will. At the same time his importance to Russian music can't be understimated, not only in terms of introducing to Russia the music of Beethoven, Chopin and the like but also for his role in music education there.

    Rachmaninov, who was one of those who was nourished by Rubinstein's legacy, predicted that recording technology and radio broadcasts would make listeners feel too comfortable and they would be less likely to make the effort to go to a concert. There is truth to this, as well as how once a performance is on record, its set in stone for all to scrutinise. Rachmaninov was against his concerts done for radio being made available on recordings, which explains the comparatively few recordings we have of him (mostly done in the controlled conditions of a studio).

    He made the wry observation that only critics have the ability to make judgements based on a single hearing. If anything, with the ease of access we have today, things are now more demanding for classical performers. Every Tom, Dick and Harry has seemingly acquired the same previously rare ability.

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  7. #79
    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    One area where a good, live YouTube recording of a concert can exceed physical attendance at the concert itself, is the opportunity to observe and be enchanted by the close-up encounter with individual performers: the soloists of course, but also random members of the orchestra. While one cannot be said to be participating directly in the group dynamics/enthusiasm of the audience in rapport with the performers, yet I find the live concert YouTube experience of music to be a very close second best to being there with a really good seat.

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  9. #80
    Senior Member Sid James's Avatar
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    That’s a good point. Solid production values can only contribute to this. Apart from serving purely entertainment purposes, videos can be informative and become part of historical record.

    I’d add that watching these on television decades ago took a good part in sparking my interest in music. I still remember Herbert von Karajan performing Zarathustra, Ofra Harnoy’s Haydn and Julian Bream in the Aranjuez. Today I mainly listen to music on disc, and only attend a few live concerts per year.

  10. #81
    Senior Member JeffD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange Magic View Post
    While I applaud your closing paragraph, I do think we are interested in how others enjoy something, out of simple human curiosity if no other reason.
    I agree, i just can't understand why.
    How did I become a senior member? I only recently figured out where the restrooms are.

  11. #82
    Senior Member JeffD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hermastersvoice View Post
    I fear that all this analysis and contextualising somehow ruins the impression of the music. We have become binary thinking individuals when the analysis gets in the way of the enjoyment. .
    Nah. I think people just enjoy it differently. But really, what difference does it make to you that someone is into the score and perhaps feels the performance is ruined without the scored repeats being honored. What do you care, you enjoy it your way, that jamoke enjoys it another way. Or doesn't.
    How did I become a senior member? I only recently figured out where the restrooms are.

  12. #83
    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    I agree, i just can't understand why.
    Aren't you interested in what the other monkeys are eating?

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    I'm in the minority, but I find video performances distracting. I thought I would enjoy Digital Concert Hall and subscribed for two years but I gave up my subscription. The camera was way too busy, so I found myself just listening instead of watching the performances - except for some special guests (Argerich, Isabelle Faust & John Williams come to mind).

    The problem as I see it is that the camera close ups force my auditory senses to focus on that particular group of instruments. Consequently, I'm not able to listen to the full orchestra as I normally would. I tried, but the visual aspects of the experience overwhelmed me.

    I also dislike looking at most conductors conduct.

    Again, I know I'm in the minority as verified by youtube statistics.

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