Painting pictures

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Authors paint pictures with words, composers with notes, musicians with sound. Watching the terrific PBS series Soundbreaking last night I was inspired by the late George Martin describing how once, producers made every effort to perfectly photograph sound. Thanks to his own ground breaking innovations with the Beatles, first heard on their album Revolver in Lennon's Tomorrow never knows, all that changed. Tape loops, backwards playing concoctions, sped up, sped down, the Fab Four and Martin started painting with sound, as he describes it. Less photo realistic, more impressionistic. What was fascinating to me was his depiction of working a lifetime at perfecting an exacting replica of sound—a practice near and dear to the hearts of Audiophiles—and moving towards sonic brush strokes without reference to reality. We've come to accept the tricks and manipulations of the recording studio as part of recorded music and we ask our systems to deliver a "photographically perfect" reproduction of it, even if it isn't itself real. As Audiophiles we demand clear and unobstructed views of the recorded arts, regardless of the creator's intent on realism.
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Paul McGowan

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