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In the Forum: Playback Listening
In the Thread: The Audio of 21 century: still not there.
Post Subject: Audio historyPosted by rowuk on: 12/29/2019
At the beginning, audio was a scientific event. People like Bell, Marconi, Edison all were interested in playback of audio outside of the original performance. One used a telephone, another radio and yet another a medium in between for storage. I think that we have to examine each transfer medium independentally to judge if something has changed.
Using "telephone" as a proxy for all real time transmission of one event live to another place, there has been no change of purpose, but we do have additional access through things like Berlins Digital Concert Hall or the Met broadcasts (only in regard to live performances). Because we have no "prior knowledge", the sensations are new for each performance. Granted, we have the opportunity to replay, but let's just leave that for now. I would maintain that hearing something for the first time uses a different type of awareness and we are open for surprises. I would say that the "quality" of these live transmissions has improved and become accessible to a larger audience - the sensations are unchanged.

Considering radio, we have a problem. The programming is increasingly worse. Either we have completely automated selection from a playlist with no connection between the playlist items or, we have an announcer who has actually spent some time selecting material but reduces their own announcing to information that NEVER would have found its way to an LP jacket due to low quality. I would say that things have gotten considerably worse for this automated play. Because there is no "programming" we have a chaotic sequence of events that does not tap new incite, rather makes us numb to the possible musical message. I would venture to say that the level of awareness is far lower than ever before. Internet radio is simply too convenient

Stored Media. Today we have many options here, it is the question if we use them. We have LP, tape and CDs where a ceremony for playback is possible and we have computer playback where we only can push the start button. WE make the choices, WE determine the ceremony, WE are responsible for "sensations". On the other hand, we have almost unlimited access to the whole world. We have a network of publications and friends that keep us informed and the ability to get recordings in a very short time. I consider this availability to be an improvement - regardless if we are talking about a new Bamberg/Blomstedt Bruckner live recording or finding a long lost Strauss mens choir recording. This availability gives us the possibility to even be more selective about what gets played when.

There is an additional situation which the internet revolution has made possible: worldwide self distribution of "fringe" audio. Here the industry media machine has no say in what we get. YouTube is a big player here. I cite performers like Anna Maria Hefele with her overtone singing or many "folk" musicians from Scandinavia.

I feel that the technical advances can be leveraged for more and deeper sensations. It really depends on our abilities and opportunities in searching. I do not expect deeper from the recording industry or even science. Deeper will only come from a new generation of musicians that do not get handcuffed into contracts and pre chewed concert tours. I recently found a site in Russia http://leonidandf.comthis group started as a birthday present of a producer (Leonid) to himself. Great musicians just got together for fun. In the mean time they have redefined tunes from the band Chicago, Blood Sweat and Tears or Earth, Wind and Fire. The videos show musicians of all ages actually having fun. It is not the ultimate playback quality, but that joy of playing is missing in a lot of even the finest traditional recordings. There is no visible marketing machine attached.

Certainly an enrichment for my Christmas holidays.

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