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The Music Column

Music Sounded Out

Now, you know I am indulging myself when I think of the nominated topic and come up with examples that are all piano recordings!  That’s a limitation within a limitation, and I admit it.  And I am also aware that when we talk about sound, I am supposed to make noises like a hi-fi buff, and that I never was.

No, when I mention music and sound, I am thinking about music’s physicalization or manifestation or realization through specific vibrations.  Sometimes such a rendition can be a highly specific sound, and on rare occasions, that sound can be, or seem to be, the sound for which the music was conceived; or if not that, then nevertheless, the sound that has captured our aural imagination, or at least mine.

So let me add before I cite a familiar example that I am not necessarily thinking about the engineering of recordings, but rather more something like the preparation of the instrument: the adjustments of the pedals, the mechanism of the keyboard, the voicing of the registers, which add up to a sound image that may become a sound ideal.  And I do concede up front that an element of aural fetishism may be creeping in, as far as the older recordings go.  Their very historical nature and even defects may be part of the sound image.

So then let me put some cards on the table.  A big hit recording of 45 years ago foregrounds exactly what I am thinking about.  I refer...

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