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Painting ... or photograph


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Just remembered something I read that was a great metaphor ...

 

Recording a live performance is like taking a photograph. The recording engineer here is the photographer and he uses all his skills and available equipment to reproduce as close as possible the performance.

 

Recording in the studio is like painting. Here the recording engineer / producer are artists, using their skills and available equipment to produce a recording which is pleasing to the ear, if not 100% accurate to the original sound heard.

 

It's annoying me as I don't recall where I read this - not sure if it was on the internet or was possibly in HiFi+ magazine. Anyway thought it was something that others might like as a metaphor for great music and HiFi.

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

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...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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Eloise, your metaphor reminds me of the great painter Frida Kahlo who was known for doing many self-portraits of herself which depicted her suffering and pain throughout her life. Her portraits are so moving and haunting for me that seeing her in photographs, while very enlightening, don't affect me quite like her paintings. Of course I don't really see the pain in her pictures but I know it's there. The portraits bridge that gap for me.

 

I've often wonder if, at times, I prefer a studio recording instead of the live event. Technically, they're both live events with the main differences being the venue in which the event takes place and the method of capturing the event. I would also imagine that the artist can take more musical liberties in a live event as well but maybe the studio recording (hopefully, a well-done recording) is preferred in more situations. A live event is certainly the standard by which all recorded music is judged but it's fleeting. We can remember what we heard and, just as important I believe, seen at the live event but I think imagining what we "see" by listening to a recording is more "satisfying" in a sense because we can control how we listen to the music. This, in turn, provides a more accurate (or inaccurate) image of the event. I guess recordings bridge the live event for me.

 

Here's an interesting question: If you had to choose between live music events only or a state-of-the-art, audiophile set-up with great recordings only, which would you choose?

 

Randall

 

Sources: iPad Air 3, iPhone 8+, Asus Chromebook C201-PA

DAC/AMP: Hidisz S8, Astell & Kern XB10 Bluetooth module

IEM's: Fiio FA1, Hidisz Seeds, Fiio FH1S, Shouer H27, BGVP KC2, KZ ZS10 Pro's, (and several lesser iem's and earbuds)

Accesories: Various MMCX and 2-pin cables.

-----------------------------------------

Professional pianist, composer - master improvisationist.

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Frida Kahlo's paintings mostly scare me :(

 

Both live and recorded music are great. Very good point that control plays a part in this (isn't there a theme of control in Kahlo's paintings? but I digress). We can switch our recordings on or off, summon them up when we're in the mood, and so on, none of which you could or would dare do at a live performance.

 

I have an alternative metaphor to Audio ELF's, from Ansel Adams, the great American landscape photographer: He said (comparing photography to music) that the scene was the inspiration, the negative was the musical score, and the final print was the performance.

 

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After many years, I am finally getting around to reading "Explorations in Phonography" by Evan Eisenberg. There are some very interesting essays on this and related topics and how pioneers in the field felt about them such as Stokowski, who heavily "enhanced" recordings of his orchestra and Glenn Gould, who decided studio recordings were the only way to go. Also discussed are the twin paradoxes of studio recording, namely that there is no audience when the music is recorded and there are no visable performers when the music is listened to. I'd recommend this book if you like to think about such things.

 

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I see where this metaphor is relevant but I also think this is highly dependent on music genre. The painting analogy is (or should) be less relevant when recording classical music (all acoustic instruments) in a studio. In this case the role of the recording engineer is the same or at least should be very similar to recording a live concert. In both cases the engineer is reproducing the sound produced by the orchestra, singer, or ensemble.

Most electronic music is heavily processed and in this case the studio and the recording engineers play a big role in producing the "right" sound.

 

 

 

 

JRiver MC22 -> Merging+NADAC (8CH) -> Bryston Cubed -> Vivid Giya G2/Vivid C1/4xVivid V1W

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I see your point ... however when recording a classical ensemble, there is always going to be some decisions needed to be made about where in the mix various instruments are placed, etc. adding reverb and other effects to enhance the sound as it would be enhanced by the performance venue when performing live. To be honest I've only a passing knowledge of recording classical music, but don't they usually perform in a venue anyway, the difference being with "live" recording it's a straight through performance where as with a "recording" they perform part, then can perform again to perfect it.

 

Having said all that ... I was really just repeating a metaphor I found interesting that I'd read - wish I could remember where I read it - without passing any judgement on it's validity.

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

Link to comment

Classical artist or groups usually perform in a large venue, especially orchestras. Sometimes, certain venues are chosen because of their specific acoustic properties. Because of that, engineers have their work cut out to capture that event and reproduce it as accurately and faithfully as possible. Much easier said than done! Some engineers prefer to capture the event with a minimalist approach while others prefer to use an arsenal of mixers, editors, etc., to capture the event. I prefer as little editing as possible but I don't know if there's a right or wrong way. It's just a matter of preference I guess.

 

I'm reminded of a story I read some time ago about a classical pianist who just finished a recording in a studio. The pianist was listening to the playback after the engineers had finished editing it and said, "Wow, I can't believe how great this is!" One of the engineers leaned over to the pianist and said in a coy manner, "If you only played as well!" :-)

 

Randall

 

Sources: iPad Air 3, iPhone 8+, Asus Chromebook C201-PA

DAC/AMP: Hidisz S8, Astell & Kern XB10 Bluetooth module

IEM's: Fiio FA1, Hidisz Seeds, Fiio FH1S, Shouer H27, BGVP KC2, KZ ZS10 Pro's, (and several lesser iem's and earbuds)

Accesories: Various MMCX and 2-pin cables.

-----------------------------------------

Professional pianist, composer - master improvisationist.

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This distinction depends on a fallacy about photography that has long been seductive--that it is an index of the real world. It is no more or less so than recording. Both are equally problematic as representations of reality. Both are received symbolically. To wit, grainy black and white is a symbol of "realism."

 

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@usernaim250 ... I think you're trying to examine the metaphor too deeply... The point is that a photograph can be help up next to the scene and you can say - yes it's accurate, or no it's not accurate. Yes many creative photographers "paint with light" to create an image that has nothing much to do with the original, but thats less common than trying to capture the scene.

 

@iamimdoc

Thanks for that link ... Painting Or Photography? by George Reisch • January, 2001. Sterophile Magazine http://stereophile.com/thinkpieces/387/index.html

Thats possibly where the original concept came from, but I'm pretty sure it was a magazine I read in the last couple of weeks so has been repeated more recently.

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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... has to be a metaphor all by itself. Not to mention being an entertaining pastime and excellent brain exercise! :)

 

There's another maxim about photography that goes something like this:

 

"People often say that the camera never lies, but in fact lying is what the camera does best"

 

Like yourself, I'm a little annoyed that I can't remember exactly where I first read this, and exactly what the wording was, but I'm reluctant to resort to google to replace my lost memory. Would feel like cheating or something, I dunno.

 

Usernaim did raise a good point. Many photographers, whether they work in reportage or use photography in a more abstract way, tend to bristle when their profession is used as part of a casual metaphor suggesting that it's a purely mechanical, objective recording of reality. (Not that your metaphor and your reason for quoting it was casual). Being in the right place at the right time, choosing when to click (the 'decisive moment') or picking the frame that, in the photographer's opinion, gives the truest representation of the scene. Yes, but is it art, people ask... and the photographers laugh in a banging your head against a desk sort of way. Think of the famous Robert Capa photograph of a soldier at the moment of being shot during the Spanish Civil War. Clearly not 'art', but neither is it a simple holiday snap or a precise measurement of a historical event. Looking at it, you know it tells a truth, but nobody really knows for sure if the scene was real or staged, there is no reality for you to hold up the picture to compare to.

 

(rambling on as usual... I should really get up and go to work now)

 

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My main point is there is no getting around the parochial, mediated perspective provided by any click of the camera or particular recording setup. No single perspective is a complete representation of a multidimensional relaity, no equipment offers a direct unmediated view of reality, and creating an image or a recording is always highly aestheticized and artful, even if one's aesthetic is "realism"--itself a rather squirrely term.

 

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Whether it's choosing a shutter speed, tweaking a pan pot, mixing a shade of green or adding a reverb effect all are artistic decisions. In some ways the metaphor actually works on a superficial level - i.e. photography is just pointing and clicking ... and also at the detailed level that even when recording "live" events there is artistic flair involved.

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

Link to comment

(strictly for the fun of discussion, not just to try and get the last word in)

 

A photographer tries to work with something given - a scene, light passing through a negative. They (mostly) don't want to interfere with this, but they are very interested in capturing one thing instead of another, emphasising this over that... There is no blank canvas for them, usually the 'canvas' is very crowded and they work like a filter to make something more understandable or more beautiful or whatever. I would argue that this is a very similar art to that of the producer and recording engineer, whether they are in a studio or at a live performance.

 

The muscial equivalent of the painter in the metaphor is the musicians and/or the composer - they're the ones with the blank canvas in front of them to fill up with the sounds they make.

 

Until someone mentions collage, or sampling, or mashups. Then my metaphors go all squirrely (great expression!) again.

 

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