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Recordings – Blessing or Bane?
December 22nd, 2009 by Andrew Kraus

Is the use of recording technology a blessing or bane?

The answer is “yes”, or so this writer asserts. It depends on which side of the very sharp sword you’re holding at any given point in time.

On the blessing side, e.g., as a working accompanist, when I am learning something new, or want to see or hear a performance by a particular artist or artists, I can go to YouTube or to iTunes or Amazon’s mp3 site. I don’t have to travel to a library as I would have just a few years ago, or wait for a local performance as I would have 100 years ago. Pretty cool, eh? And then there are performances only possible on recordings – does the work of Enya come to mind for you?

On the bane side, among other, perhaps more serious considerations, people have gotten into the habit of talking (with their mouths or by texting) while listening to music, not paying for performances (that’s a really tough one), and in many ways, the most baneful of all, have come to expect the sort of perfection most often achieved after many hours of skillful work by performer and recording engineer in the studio as what a live performance should be.

From The GMU Gazette:

“Recordings have conditioned audiences to expect note-perfect performances,” [David] Sternbach says. “As a result, critical standards for live performances have become unreasonable and excessive.”

Your thoughts?


One Response  
  • Kenneth Moulton writes:
    December 23rd, 2009 at 10:11 am

    All that Andrew has said is true, on both sides of the sword. However, in addition I would like to add something that was published in a newspaper review of the Mantovani Orchestra performance in Guangzhou, China (of which Andrew was a featured artist): despite any of the flaws that are inherent in live performance “live performances allow the listener to experience a sonic and ambient environment which is simply unavailable from recordings.” For collections, a good CD; for Art’s true experience, a live performance “in the moment”!


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