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Playback Listening
Topic: Do we count intentions?

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Posted by Romy the Cat on 10-05-2013
It made me to think. Another day I went to a concert that was very bad in my view. The semi-amateur orchestra spent a lot of efforts to play with fewer mistakes and as they more or less did. As the mistakes were filtered then the primitivism of general interpretation and the entire orchestral became very annoying and made the hall listening experience poisoned. Anyhow, the concert was not good in my view.

After the concert I met a person, let call her X, who began to go over herself explaining to me how wonderful the performance was. He was clueless.
Then, telling the event to Amy and highlighting how uninformed that persons was and how low her reference point were Amy asked me an interesting question that bothers me. She said:

“You have very high standards and that perverts you to have pleasure from mediocre concerts. The person X has very low standards and that makes her to have obtained pleasure form bad performances. So, if to correlate the X’s pleasure and my pleasure then how approach delivers more satisfaction? “

That is an interesting take and that kind of stumbled me.  I can go over many think that suggest that with higher reference points and rising level of infirmity the depth of pleasure also rise significantly. However, I also might argue for the very opposite point of view….

Posted by Paul S on 10-05-2013
This is an old saw.  But how does one "forget what one knows"?  Perhaps, once the awareness and critical faculties are developed beyond a certain "point of no return", it requires a sort of personal discipline to simply let go when one is best served to do so.

Another point of view is that there are many points of view.  It may be that the "person with low standards" is actually responding favorably to factors "imbedded" in the evening/performance/experience that you are less concerned with.  For many people, just being part of a group is sufficient, and their perception of "events" might spring from their general sense of satisfaction, the proverbial rose-colored glasses.

Best regards,
Paul S

Posted by steverino on 10-06-2013
We don't know enough about the person X to assess the situation. I might say something similar if I went to a local semiprofessional orchestra, paid a few bucks and heard them play better than I expected. If I had paid $100 and spent an hour each way traveling then I might not be so amused. It's called equity theory. But let's assume that the performance was not even good in equity terms. We would have to see whether their behavior matches their verbal sentiments. In other words, if they have a chance to see one of two free performances, one with that semi pro orch and the other with a professional orchestra do they flip a coin? Just from general experience, when people are offered a choice they tend to choose better quality. Not the best quality necessarily, but better quality. The more experience a person has in making these comparisons the more expert they become at perceiving and evaluating differences. Even the not typically brilliant monarchs of old could become connoisseurs that way.

As for happiness in becoming more expert, intelligence never evolved because it made little animals happy; it evolved because it made them survive better. It's just that people apply their intelligence to subjects which have no real survival value when their own survival is not at stake. If a person had experience with "superhuman" orchestras they would be even more dismayed than you at listening to the BSO. You are satisfied with what you perceive as a great performance of Bruckner. But if a conductor and orchestra came along that were noticeably superior then that same performance would seem rather deficient.

Posted by tuga on 10-08-2013
Many people I know don't really have an active, critical approach, they are just looking for entertainment when they read a book or watch a film, attend a music concert or a ballet.
I think that it all depends on what you are looking for.

But as Amy mentioned, having the will and ability to dig deep into the layers that stand below the surface, to involve oneself emotioanlly and rationally in the subject can be an impediment, a barrier that prevents us from enjoying the moment, even when it's mediocre from an intelectual point of view.


Posted by rowuk on 02-12-2020
The issue here is that quality and enjoyment are 2 different things. The former is absolute and the latter relative. Quality is a parameter, that in this case belongs to the orchestra. It can be defined by using measuring units of intonation, synchronization, dynamics, ensemble sound and artistic impression. This is a standard method for artistic competitions worldwide. There are piano, violin, trumpet, ensemble competitions, where we even have a fixed set of rules to „judge“ everything from school level to world class performances.
Now, every instrument player starts building their audience from their first notes. At first it is the mother or an aunt. As they progress, their teachers and friends join in, later, they get critical acclaim from external institutions like newspapers, critics.

Actually, the quality only is what it is. Only enjoyment can be poisoned if we are not the intended target audience. I experience this when I adjudicate competitions (mostly at school or college level). Some judges judge absolutely - which means that the intent of the competition (promote children playing musical instruments) is not upheld. I find that often this type of judge is a frustrated player that never got their own chance. By criticizing others, they raise their self esteem. Others try to be friends of the performers being overly positive about everything and conveying a false view of what the performer did. Yet others give a score but no justification.

So, getting back to your semi professional event. Is the problem a group of 80 musicians trying as hard as they can, having fun while doing so or is the problem that we went to the concert in hope of better? I play with professional and semi professional ensembles. My measure is: on the trip home if I ask why I even said yes to the gig, then I do not do so again in the future. It is MY JOB to test the waters before jumping in. After a while, the performer either has a lot of quality gigs - or none...

Posted by Romy the Cat on 02-13-2020
I think to a degree we misguided with our expectations as we feel that the answer is in directly heard sound. We attributed to sound some properties and we evaluating the properties are trying to make judgments about sound. I am taking now strictly about targeting audio listening. Any deviations from the understood properties we recognizes as “imperfections” and it a certain degree we are correct. There is however much more to it as “heard sound” does not cover all aspect of sonic sensations, and I am not taking about some esoteric properties that I do not necessary disagree with. 
Let take foe instance my solutions with the delay channels that I proposed above. As musicians plays the reverberation time is very much factored into the musicians decision when to stared, how long hold, chose of tempo, meanings of legatos and many other factors. It is not the they “think” about it is it juts human mind feels the acoustics of the performing environment and an musician make the acoustics room a prat of own performance. There is nothing new in this, it is very understandable. How, the event was recorded and played in acoustic environment with reverberation time 20-30 time shorter. The recordings still has longer delays but the physical feedback in the listening room contradicts the heard delay from recording. This creates distortion of perception and in my estimate this type of the distortion impact listener much more then harmonic distortions of directly heard sound as this is not distortion of expression but the distortion of intentions. 
Many thing in audio is evaluated not because it is necessary for sound but because it is easy sell to public. Like advantage of amplitude over the phase and many other foolish things that has no relation to the actual listening benefits. The distortion of intentions is one of them.

Posted by rowuk on 02-13-2020
I would maintain that much of the music available is intended for "informed audiences". This is true if we are listening to Stockhausen, Stravinsky - or mediocre concerts by amateurs or "semi professionals".
The level of our preparation makes it easier to sort the sonic events (live or recorded) when listening for the first time. With playback, the target changes once we start listening a second time. We know what is coming. With live, preparation can prepare our expectations.

Posted by Romy the Cat on 02-13-2020
 rowuk wrote:
I would maintain that much of the music available is intended for "informed audiences". This is true if we are listening to Stockhausen, Stravinsky - or mediocre concerts by amateurs or "semi professionals".
The level of our preparation makes it easier to sort the sonic events (live or recorded) when listening for the first time. With playback, the target changes once we start listening a second time. We know what is coming. With live, preparation can prepare our expectations.
I actually very much disagree with it. It might be that much of the music available is intended for "informed audiences" when we are taking about musical culture but it is very much not the case when we are taking about audio culture. The audio audiences might be comfortable to recognize the musical payload of the audio event but they are very little informed what purely audio infliction they are exposed during listening. I mean audio people think that they have control over audio language and expressive tools but in reality I insist that they most do not. Just an example. When an classically trained audio person hear sound that he feel is not correct then he can give with the precision of coupe dBs the deviation of response from amplitude flatness. The irony is that the amplitude deviation is although registerable but completely irrelevant for quality of listening. Practically no one classically trained audio person understand how to acknowledge phase deviations and it is the only thing that is important. The same way no one classically trained audio person understand how to make bass that would impersonate long LF decay  in listening room, it is not even recognized as objective in audio. However, all of it has very direct relation to our inner us react to sound and how our brain processes the heard sound. I do not want to sound that I know how all of it works. I just point out at some directions that you might explore yourself and to see if getting control of some of the less obvious audio expressive methods you will get closer to where you would like to be.  

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