Are you an audiophile or a music lover?

Rexp

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Good sound is a drug
And we pay up to get our fix.
Non audiophile music lovers don't get the same hit as we do. I remember going round to my orchestra leader friends place and enjoying the modest system and vinyl her Dad had left her. Next time I visited, she had literally thrown the old system in a skip and replaced it with a fancy looking cd changer system, sounded awful.
 

Al M.

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But that’s precisely the point I was trying to make. The audiophile in you wants to hear it in the best sound possible. If you were my next-door-neighbor in Massachusetts, my archetype for a music lover, you would be perfectly happy reading the score of the Bruckner symphony. Let’s face it, reading the original score of the Bruckner symphony 4 (one of my favorites) would make you understand his music far better than any audio system possibly could. But, that takes real *work*. And we want to listen to lots of music, in the streaming world, we want to hear millions of tracks. The composers from the 17th and 18th century didn’t face this problem. They wanted to ”hear” music, they read the scores of Bach or whoever else they wanted to learn from. Beethoven, Brahms, and Bruckner went deep into understanding Bach because so much of what they wrote depended on the intricacies of counterpoint.

Bruckner symphony 4 (version 1878/80) is one of my favorites too. I recently wrote about it on this page:


I cannot read music *from* a score, but I can read a score *with* the music. I did so with Bruckner too, but not with the 4th yet. It is very educational indeed. Reading and studying a score does take real work, and so does trying to understand music without a score. I often try to do that. I re-listened to the 4th symphony recently several times, after a hiatus of two decades or so, and I discovered so much more in the structure and details of the music than I had in the past. This requires not just close listening, but going back and forth between passages (just like you would compare passages in a score), the opposite of just "press play". It also requires repeated listening; you cannot grasp all of complex music in one go (unless you're a Mozart, which none of us are). I also used note examples from the Wikipedia article on the symphony, which are quite useful.

One of the details that I discovered which fascinate me: In the Finale of the 4th around 8 min there is a new build-up to what would appear to be a re-statement of the majestic first theme in the brass. Yet instead, the mood and tension dissipate or are changed by some key modulations, aided by a "brightening" appearance of woodwinds, and the build-up instead culminates in a broad brass chorale that is a re-statement of a theme from the second theme group (the Brucknerian "Gesangsthema", "song theme").

This type of wonderful "false" climax is a forerunner to what Bruckner would do in the slow, third movement of the 9th. After the end of the exposition around 9 min, the initial build-up with the "Nonensprung" (interval leap of a ninth) commences again, presumably leading once more to the big brass theme that ends the first theme complex. Yet it doesn't lead to that, and instead the build-up is diverted to other music. Eventually there is another, even more extended and tension-ridden build-up, now to the actual brass theme mentioned, but the delay of its re-appearance is about 4 (!) minutes from where initially it would be expected! It is part of a truly grandiose musical architecture that is one of the greatest ever written (the whole movement lasts for almost half an hour). It has been said that Bruckner's symphonies are like 'cathedrals in music', and for no symphony this holds more than the Ninth. But boy, is the Finale of the Fourth a monumental statement in itself!

The beauty of a good system is that also all the details of every side voice and small parts of the polyphony in complex orchestral music like Bruckner's Fourth are so clearly presented, as they are now on mine. This brings listening to a really good system so much closer to reading a score, but now with your ears, than it would with lesser reproduction. For me this is a good part of what the high end is all about!

***

Yes, I like to listen to lots of music too, but I like to listen more in depth than in breadth. As you now can imagine, I really don't have the desire to listen to millions of songs via streaming. My catalog of physical discs suits me just fine, and I have barely or not at all listened to a good number of them. I am acquiring already too much music, and the richness of music at my disposal is wonderful! You just have to really dive into it deeply to realize the richness.
 
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thedudeabides

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Al,

How would you compare Bruckner to Mahler? I do like both for similar reasons. BTW, I really enjoy in depth music discussions like yours above. I wish WBF had more of this type of personal analysis.
 
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Lee

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Except for conscientiously listening to the stereo for evaluation and testing, I really do play the stereo to listen to my favorite music. I play the stereo once or twice a week. I think of those sessions as events, as alternatives to watching a movie or to being engaged in some other dedicated activity.

In order for me to want to spend two hours or three hours or four hours on those music listening sessions the sound from the stereo has to be pretty darn good.

I listen to my stereo to listen to music. That's the whole point, no?

I do have a couple of friends who only play a small number of audiophile records or CDs. It can be entertaining when a new component comes in but it gets old really fast.
 

Al M.

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Al,

How would you compare Bruckner to Mahler? I do like both for similar reasons. BTW, I really enjoy in depth music discussions like yours above. I wish WBF had more of this type of personal analysis.

Thanks, I appreciate the comment, I am glad you enjoy this.

As for Bruckner vs Mahler:

This may be a bit absolutist, but I do think there is some truth to it. I would say that with Bruckner largely the musical architecture *is* his expression (even though if you want to, you can also read a lot of angst into the dissonant climax of the Adagio of the Ninth, for example).

For Mahler on the other hand, musical architecture is a *vehicle for* personal expression. In Bruckner the romanticism seems largely abstract and mainly contained in the musical colors, subservient to the giant structures of musical architecture, even though straightforward romantic expression can be found as well in some instances. in Mahler, however, the romanticism is everything. Yet while for example the 2nd symphony ("Resurrection") may still be pure romanticism, his later works are rather post-romanticism -- romanticism that is reflective on itself, sometimes even with sarcasm, mockery of itself or otherwise in a (self)-destructive manner.

For example, the first movement of Mahler's Fourth starts quite innocently, but in the development section it takes on a tone that seems a mix of tragedy, disturbance and emotional distortion, even mockery perhaps. Certainly, in this symphony the ending reverts to romantic innocence.

The first movement of the Seventh is beset with turmoil, perhaps in a relatively straightforward manner. The inner movements with their Nachtmusiken (night musics) are highly ambiguous in their expression. The finale though, superficially triumphant as it may seem, is a hellhole of trivial gesture, mockery, subversiveness and parody. And every time true triumph appears near, it is crushed in another wave of mockery or indifferent dissipation. Even the final "triumph", the ending of the movement and symphony, seems hollow and empty of genuinely sincere meaning. Perhaps I am hearing this all wrong, but that has always been my impression of the finale, and continues to be upon each repeated listening.

I could go on, but these examples should suffice for how I see his music -- which is absolutely masterful and fascinating, no doubt.

(Shostakovich, by the way, has learned a lot from Mahler, see for example the empty and suspiciously dissonant "triumph" of the finale of his Fifth Symphony).

I think Mahler was a tragic and ambivalent figure, and it shows in his music.

Bruckner was a tragic figure only in the sense that recognition was withheld from his music during his lifetime (with exceptions, for example the triumphant reception of his Seventh Symphony upon its premiere).
 

godofwealth

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One of my favorite anecdotes about Mozart, which may be apocryphal, is how he visited the Sistine Chapel and heard the famous Allegri Miserere as a 14-year old, and promptly transcribed the notes of the music in his head. He then made it possible for the world to enjoy this fabulous piece of music, which was originally written in 1638, and the Vatican decreed it was never to be performed outside the gates of Vatican. Clearly, none of us on WBF are as gifted as Mozart was. If you remember the movie Amadeus, there is this scene where Mozart visits the Emperor, and Salieri plays a little ditty composed for Mozart. In one listen, Mozart not only memorized the notes, but also improvises a whole set of variations. It’s probably a fake incident, like much of the movie (no, Salieri did not poison Mozart), but it lets you imagine a world of possibilities if we could all be like Mozart and just hear music from scores. The greatest composers and conductors can do that. Lorin Maazel once said the hardest thing about conducting is to sift through the millions of pages of scores in your head to find the ones that you are conducting now this very instant!!

“In 1638, a singer in the Sistine Chapel Choir composed a setting of Psalm 51to be sung there during Holy Week. That singer was Gregorio Allegri, and his setting, now commonly known as Miserere, is one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written.
But not only is the version we sing today significantly different from Allegri’s original manuscript — if it weren’t for one particularly precocious 14-year-old, it may never have been heard outside the Vatican’s walls.”

 

tima

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Couple related threads...



The parents bought me piano lessons early on and we had 'band' in elementary school where I took up clarinet and later received lessons. Playing the piano was one of the most enjoyble and relaxing pastimes of my life. Then I remember sitting with my ear pinned to the speaker of my parent's Silvertone record player trying to understand and write down lyrics from 'High Tide and Green Grass' so the rock band I was in could play covers. That started a desire for better sound. That desire and appreciation of better sound from records and my enjoyment and understanding of music have been with me almost my entire life.

I knew nothing of 'audiophiles' until I read Pearson and Holt pre-Internet. They were writers before being anything else. They invented a vocabulary not for appreciating music but for describing listening to music based on different audio components. This was different from the preceding approach that evaluated audio components almost soley on measurements. What we got was a movement toward subjective evaluation based on analytic decomposition of sonic attributes to which were given special names. The start of audiophile Guild Speak. This began an enterprise that was focused on sound, not music, with the source of that sound being recorded music.

This made for easy access as many can understand sound without understanding music. And well written psycho-acoustic descriptions made plain what could happen in your head with different equipment in different configurations. ("Yes, now I know what he meant by 'soundstage'." Confirming what the writer described, he must be speaking the truth. heh.) You need not understand music beyond music for pleasure to participate in the audiophile enterprise. Change this, get a different sound. Better sound turned on better adherance to the virtues of the audiophile vocabulary handed out by the writers. Certain music recordings were used as examples for gaining access to a sound that embodied the audiophile vocabulary -- think of the huge crush Pearson had on RCA Shaded Dogs. Manufacturers of audio equipment started making gear that lent itself to this direction.

Fast forward,. what - forty to fifty years? Where are we? Asking if we are audiophiles or music lovers? It seems an anquished question. It is inevitable that most will give at least a passing nod to being a music lover -- perhaps ashamed of admitting to only being attracted to the gear and its sound -- there must be more to it than that, eh? Especially given the cost today. You don't rise in the WBF social pecking order based on the music you play. ... Perhaps that is too harsh. There are people here who understand aspects of music beyond music for pleasure (I like it) and sometimes they write interesting contributions about music, musicians, composers, etc. -- a good thing. But people do not come here because of an interest in music -- there are many other forums for that -- the interest here is in what is best for listening to sound made by reproducing music.
 
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PYP

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Most people I know don't care about gear and that seems quite normal to me. But I cannot understand why some people are indifferent to music.
 

Rexp

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Most people I know don't care about gear and that seems quite normal to me. But I cannot understand why some people are indifferent to music.
When is music, music though? Many people don't go to concerts and only listen to poor quality systems or recordings. That album (below) you recommended on the other thread for example I listened at 16/44.1 which sounds like a carracture of what I'm guessing you're hearing.
Screenshot_2024_0111_135325.jpg
 

davidavdavid

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An audiophile or a music lover? I'm a civilian, a bystander, praying with each passing day that I'm not collateral damage.
 
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PYP

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One of the most humorous descriptions of an audiophile was written by the late Art Dudley. He said his wife should be thankful he was an audiophile because she knew that she could always find him in his listening room fiddling with cartridges and the like rather than running after his daughter's kindergarten teacher.

That led me to think the OP should have added another descriptor under Audiophile: Do you like to fiddle with your equipment? But that could be suggestive to some with naughty minds and may provide more heat than light.
 

PYP

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When is music, music though? Many people don't go to concerts and only listen to poor quality systems or recordings. That album (below) you recommended on the other thread for example I listened at 16/44.1 which sounds like a carracture of what I'm guessing you're hearing.
View attachment 123207
hope you enjoyed the music regardless of resolution. That said, the trumpet, with a mute or not, is clearly one of those instruments that are truer to the real sound in well-recorded higher resolution.
 

thedudeabides

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hope you enjoyed the music regardless of resolution.
Wow. What a concept. Enjoying music even if it is not up to one's personal sonic standards. Blasphemy!!!!!!!!!
 
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PYP

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Wow. What a concept. Enjoying music even if it is not up to one's personal sonic standards. Blasphemy!!!!!!!!!
indeed. I can enjoy music while food shopping too. But my wife forbids me from dancing in public so I can only do a little drumming on the cart.

When my setup got to a certain high level of enjoyment, I found that, counterintuitively (to an audiophile), I was more likely to enjoy music everywhere I encountered it.
 

jeffreybehr

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WAY-too-many rules in your definitions.

I LOVE music and attend maybe-thirty live musical events per year.. I also have an expensive, hi-end music-reproduction system; it's for playing music, NOT for dazzling fellow audiofools.
 
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Rexp

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hope you enjoyed the music regardless of resolution. That said, the trumpet, with a mute or not, is clearly one of those instruments that are truer to the real sound in well-recorded higher resolution.
No I didn't, guess I'll have to buy the 24/192 or subscribe to Qobuz.
 

Rexp

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indeed. I can enjoy music while food shopping too. But my wife forbids me from dancing in public so I can only do a little drumming on the cart.

When my setup got to a certain high level of enjoyment, I found that, counterintuitively (to an audiophile), I was more likely to enjoy music everywhere I encountered it.
If I heard it in a supermarket, I might like it.
 

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