Monday, February 29, 2016

The Big Stereo

On Saturday morning, my wife and I were talking about music. The boys were away on a school ski trip, so I figured I would fire up the "big stereo" in the living room. It has surround sound and a big, fat bass cabinet. 

After some Ravel, I thought I would give my own classical piano CD a listen on that system; I'd only listened in the car. How a CD sounds on various stereos is, in deed, partly a result of the composition, recording and mixing of the music, but it mostly has to do with the "mastering," which is done in a by a person who specializes in that step. Without it, any recording will sound unprofessional. 

I played a piano piece and then I wanted to try our the lone track with a full orchestration and a vocal. It's my arrangement of the traditional folk song, "Oh, Shenandoah." I loved the way it sounded; the basses (four pizzicato basses in the orchestral section and one jazz-style upright bass layered in for some more sustain) shook the neighborhood and my wife commented that she was blown away -- she'd never heard them like that before. 

She mentioned that because she hears me working on my music all of the time, upstairs, that she sometimes thinks she has really heard the pieces. This listening made her realize that she really hasn't -- not in their most powerfully sonic form. 

And there it is. How we see life depends on the "speakers" we "hear" it on, doesn't it? Dynamic range is everything. We may think we know a thing, but if we don't see it with all of its colors or hear it with its complete sonic qualities, our evaluations and decisions are, unavoidably, ill-informed. Our reactions may be the wrong ones; our impressions incomplete.

Some people, by nature, simply don't possess the proper equipment, either because of deficiency or circumstance. Others won't put the metaphoric CD into a different player and hear is on different speakers. Too much work. 

It can all lead to a lifetime of incomplete impact and half-fueled judgements. 

On a literal level, my musical intentions are made clear on the big stereo. I'm glad to have given Karen the full picture. Her excellent ear deserves the best sound. 

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