Routine and ritual

November 6, 2022
 by Paul McGowan

Routines are often helpful patterns we use to repeat tasks in such a way as to make sure they are done correctly. A couple of quick examples might include shutting down a computer or washing one's hands after going to the bathroom.

Rituals, on the other hand, are often unnecessary routines we practice to feel good: checking in the mirror the state of one's hair before exiting the car, throwing salt over your shoulder, or patting your back pocket to make sure your wallet's still there.

As Audiophiles, we often are routine and ritual bound when it comes to the playback of music. When I relied upon a turntable as my main music source it was rare I didn't clean the needle and coat it with a brush full of Last even if it didn't need it.

When I am recording at Octave Records it is routines that make life easier. You only have to forget to arm the record buttons once to miss out capturing the beginning of the track (and potentially f'ing up the session).

I haven't been around the recording studio long enough to have developed much in the way of rituals but I suspect they won't be too long in coming.

In the early stages of any new project or endeavor, it is learned routines that bring stability to an often chaotic new experience.

Once the routines morph into rituals you know you've mastered the new.

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18 comments on “Routine and ritual”

  1. I think Paul is talking about what is necessary, what is good practise and what is superstition. For the first two, most times it is a matter of formal trading before let loose at the controls. You don’t learn to drive a car by trial and error about what has to be done and when to do it.

  2. Paul,
    As far as the 'Octave Records' studio goes, I'm pretty sure that Gus Skinas
    can teach you some invaluable routines & rituals so that you can avoid any,
    'Ooops...I don't think that I should've done that' moments 😉

    **OFF TOPIC**
    I just found out that Taiwan manufactures 90%
    of the world's computer chips...think about
    that when you spend your money in China.

  3. I’m a little late to the party today …. Had to take the time to look up the routine / ritual difference.

    Found this. “ The difference between a daily ritual and a routine is how you think about it. It’s how you perceive your actions.” Of course the difference is subjective(!), just like most anything associated with audio. What a surprise…

    So not enabling the record button of a recording session is akin to sitting down to listen and not pressing the play button or dropping the tone arm 😀

    Is reading and responding here a routine, a ritual, or just a habit…..

    There’s a reason explicit directions and check off lists are often given…. Oops I forgot which one armed before I test launched that missle.

  4. Posting for anyone that has a spare 27 minutes on this misty Sunday morning, which is likely no one. Hopefully will provide a happy memory for some.

    Is this the best of ‘Tales’ four songs?

    I just hope Rafael Nadal doesn’t have a hi-fi system. With all his extensive rituals it could be a long time before he got to the music.

  5. I could swear we’ve all talked about this before, but I like repeat posts because it gathers new answers and possibly comments from new members.

    I do a lot of the simplistic things like, clean my discs, turn on /Off my sound chain in an orderly fashion, turn down the amplifier volume when cable swapping or headphone changing and I allow a decent time for my equipment to warm up before playback.

    Next. I get my comfort zone ready and then I hit play and I’m gone, baby! 🙂

    1. My young adult, age 22, returned from abroad for a few days, and accepted the procedure as sufficiently swift: download Roon on phone, select audio zone, select music, press play. The main audio system takes about 10 seconds to turn on and produce sound, the others are pretty much instant.

      He spends a lot longer checking his hair, probably longer than Paul.

  6. As a frequent long-distance driver I learned that driving with your wallet in your back pocket throws your spine out of alignment, so I would keep it in the console until I exited the vehicle. The same holds true for long listening sessions, so I toss it on the side table next to the chair. At audio shows I carry it in my front pocket as the seats are often hard. Over time, I've learned that not keeping your wallet in your back pocket avoids that light wear-outline on your jeans caused by your wallet, as well ask keeping your spine comfortable. Of course, being an audiophile, I tend to have a rather thick wallet. 😎

    1. I'm with you on the wallet in the console when I drive . However, I got pulled once for not signalling a lane change. When the policeman asked for my license I told him my wallet was in the console and I had to open it to get my wallet. He said OK, but had his hand on his gun the entire time it took me to open the console and produce my wallet. I did not like it. 😮

      1. On the other hand, with my wallet in my back pocket, I would have needed to unbuckle my belt and exit the car to extract the wallet. Police officers don’t want you to do that, either. Pick your poison.
        It’s a good thing you told him it was in the console before you reached for it. Otherwise, his gun might have been in your face when you turned around. The good news is, you’re still with us, Tony. 😎

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