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January 21, 2012


To hear accurate, forceful music filling up a space with great acoustics is a very different experience.

Amen sistah!

instrumental music that has the complexity and structure of Classical, but also has rhythm.

I'm tempted to suggest jazz, but depending on what you are looking for when you say "(the) structure of Classical" it may not suit.

You might like some of the stuff written by / inspired by the late 20th C minimalists - Reich especially, if the combination of rhythm plus structure as a vehicle for meaning are what are of interest.

Big fun.

One of the things that I've been geeking out over in my music lately has to do with the ambient soundspace. I find that, all other musical things being equal, I've really grown to appreciate music, recorded or live, that takes place within a three-dimensional space and is not just two squished channels. Not that I'm listening to 5.1 stereo or a high end quadrophonic system. The mind is really good at picking up nuances of echo delay and frequency that give depth to a good stereo recording. And with the increasing push in pop music towards a compressed, mid-heavy signal that cuts through noise to get the listener's attention I've really started to appreciate music that is patient and confident enough to draw the listener into its own space.

(Of course with some genres of metal there's an aesthetic of lo-fi compression. And while I can appreciate the history and identity preserved in that hollow flatness, it's a cerebral appreciation. I feel the appreciation for a more open, warm recording.)

I think that part of the magic you describe in unamplified live music has less to do with electricity and more to do with how the composite sound emanating from many instruments playing in a spread out space produces a different ambience than those same instruments projecting from a much more compact PA system. I'm sure there's more to it than this, but it's one of the things that I really notice when I'm at a venue. Good sound systems do a better job of filling the space with sound rather than just increasing the volume of the sound so that it carries.

There was a period of several years when I had season tickets to the SF Symphony. It got to the point where I could no longer listen to recordings, I had become so used to listening to music live in Symphony Hall. I vividly recall one performance when the concertmaster was playing a different violin and I could tell it was a different instrument than his usual. It really blew me away.

I love live music, of all sorts. There is a jazz venue in my hometown that has amazing acoustics (it was designed that way)- amplification isn't really necessary and pretty much every seat in the house is a good one. It's where I learned to really love jazz.

Yes, there is something magical about live music. Not only the sound, also the connection between the audience and the performers. This is more vivid in intimate venues (Piedmont Piano in Oakland springs to mind) but even at the SF symphony sometimes you can feel the connection. Or, at least, I imagine so.

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