Well stated! Good show.
In a message dated 2/12/2008 12:10:19 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
[log in to unmask] writes:
This thread's going to have legs......
I think one reason why people have problems with harpsichord music is
that both the sound and the type of music that's played on it require a
different type of perception to what many people expect to hear. I
describe the sound as "something that you can walk around inside", it
sort of exists in three dimensions. I've met this with chorale music,
especially when the choir is unaccompanied. This stuff is very demanding
to record and reproduce (I use it to evaluate audio equipment), I think
its because its because our ears are very sensitive to any artifacts
caused by the components interacting (intermodulating). Most music
carries a strong tune or, in the case of the clock radio, you know what
you're listening for, so peoples' ears selectively grab just the parts
of the sound that they want to hear which allows them to manage with
less than perfect reproduction.
So put it another way, one man's music is another wife's distortion.
It doesn't help that people have grown up with poor opinions of the
instrument. For example, I have a pianist friend who subscribes to the
Beecham view of harpsichords (something about "two skeletons copulating
on a tin roof") and it took me quite a bit of probing to find out why he
had such a deep loathing for the instrument. I eventually figured out
that its a combination of two things. One is that some harpsichord
recordings from his formative years appear to have been played on
instruments that don't sound right (I've got one from that era which I
describe as "sounding like a demented music box"). The other is that, as
a pianist, he has some expectation of being able to play the thing --
its got keys just like a piano so it should play just like a piano. I've
seen him trying to do it, and the instrument just chews him up and spits
him out. Pianistic technique gets you nowhere on this instrument. Even
if they're able to play the instrument, like another pianist friend who
has used harpsichords in her youth, they often subsist on a diet of
Romantic or later music, grand sounding stuff that makes the material we
like to play sound a bit thin. She and I have had some interesting
conversations about whether Bach sounds better on a piano, its not
really the about the instrument but how the music is interpreted. We
agree to differ.
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