The nature of music is…perplexing, in its apprehension, in modern times. I’m listening at the moment to Anthony Braxton’s Opus 82, a piece scored for FOUR 39-piece ensembles. The density of the sound would seem to demand/require a live performance to even attempt a proper hearing. Even my worthy Munro Eggs, putting out fine sound, struggle with plenty of areas, most indeed — I’m not sure it’s possible to hear what may be unhearable? This is confusing to me. What is the threshold for music’s audition, location and conditions included? Of course we can get thrilling goose-pimpling results from an AM radio coming in mostly static from a station 500 hundred miles away on a handheld transistor in 1962. And the same could have been said for a gramophone a hundred years ago. It depends on what you can hear. The size and clarity of the ensemble are not insignificant. A trio. A solo voice with just the buzz of backers. Art Tatum on the piano. But using actual orchestras contrapuntally, well, it just depends on the music. Sometimes I can hear, sometimes I cannot. But in toto is the music getting a fair shake? Obviously Braxton submitted and warranted the idea of putting the work on wax to begin with, so he’s on board. I’m not sure I am.
[It goes without saying, which is why I’m saying it, that limiting your music, no matter what its intentions, to live performance, is to limit your audience to the size of those still listening to the ancient hymns to Apollo.]
[It also goes without saying that some of the equipment and room treatments that exist in the pages of The Absolute Sound could make a much better attempt than I’m making even with my Eggs.]