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Careful with that MIR, Eugene
Last post Tue, Jul 30 2019 by Macker, 1 replies.
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Posted on Tue, Jul 30 2019 16:52
by Macker
Joined on Tue, Aug 21 2018, London, Posts 94

(Subject title stolen from a '68 Pink Floyd track.)

With reference to my recent post about a 6 decades old TV-recording of a Wiener Phil/Solti/Wagner rehearsal, today's orchestral sounds are significantly different in several respects. For example, it could be argued that today's instrumentalists tend to give more "sterile and exact" renditions, compared to the "sheer uninhibited passionate unbridled and raw playing" we hear in that wonderful old Wiener Phil rehearsal. I'd say it's merely a reflection of what we're like in Europe now, and short of trying to make musicians act out roles that aren't commonplace or familiar nowadays, not much can be done about this cultural sea change.

There's little point in lamenting what can't be immediately undone. Perhaps many generations into the future they'll look back on today and pity that most of us resembled Nietzsche's description of "man, the sick domesticated animal."

One aspect of orchestral sound that we certainly can celebrate these days is the superb audio fidelity of recorded performances. And yet - and I'm as guilty as any - when we set about our synthetic productions using all the technological tricks at our disposal today, all too often we destroy realism by flooding the sound with reverb. And I do mean flood. Our ears know that reverberation is rarely if ever as energetic or powerful as the source sound - and practically never ever more powerful. So why do we tend to crank up our added reverb Fx until the source is, relatively speaking, inundated? I'm not sure why.

If it's true that music models (or at least represents) currents and movements within the ever-changing ocean of our feelings and emotions (to which a very substantial part of the human brain's right hemisphere is devoted), then surely it needs to be heard as somewhat intimately nearby phenomena, rather than as reverberant vestiges of something so far away that it might not even be anything to do with the listener's organic realm.


These days I'm extremely critical of my reverb settings and just recently I've found a recording that I now treat as one of my benchmarks for setting reverb parameters. Here's a link to an exquisitely recorded and mixed, truly superb performance of several pieces of Wagner's Ring cycle, given by the extremely excellent Radio Philharmonisch Orkest (van Nederland), conducted by Markus Stenz, performed in 2016 at the Grote Zaal of the fabulous new TivoliVredenburg in Utrecht. (There isn't a MIR Pro room pack for this concert hall; one day hopefully there will be.) I haven't yet attempted to "deconvolve" the recording in order to determine various authentic reverb parameters, but it's on the agenda.


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