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January 2014
Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine
Your Music Enjoyment
Appetizer or main course?
Article By Craig Allison of PAtH

 

PAtH (Pure Audio to Health)    We hear so much about change these days, from climate change to the changes in the public's music listening habits, that it is wise to remember the famous phrase ,"The more things change, the more they stay the same." The music of Beethoven, Miles Davis, the Beatles or Rolling Stones, you name it, has not changed one iota. It's capable of as much profundity as ever. How often has someone said: "The first time I heard ______ , my life changed forever."

Yes, on the surface it appears as if the public's love affair with an I-Pod playing data-reduced files through tiny headphones, or MP-3 tracks from a PC, represents a big shift, but does it really mean that things have changed that much?

Almost regardless of age or era, we all began our love of music from a little portable device. My (boomer) generation held transistor radios up to our ears in the 1950's, and the magic began. But those were just the first step up the playback quality/ music enjoyment ladder. Soon after that, the little mono, fold down phonograph set arrived in my room. Finally, at age 14, I sold ice cream on Broadway in NYC, saved up my money, walked into the world's # 1 snob audio salon, and bought a killer used stereo for $250. Yes, and 47 years later, it has been a life in music, and everyone says they can't believe I am almost 62; all that musical energy that has flowed through me as both a gigging and recording musician combined with a 31 year high-end audio career must have something to do with it. I can say with certainty that you get out of music what you put into it.

But early in my hi-fi career, the public traded quality for convenience decades before today's scenario. Does anyone but me remember the enormous popularity of the cassette medium? Directly analogous to the questionable practice of buying a cheap USB turntable to rip righteous vinyl LP's, folks would purchase an expensive, high quality turntable from us at our shop, and simultaneously buy a pricey tape deck so that they could record the vinyl and instead play the not quite as good-sounding tapes so as to "preserve" their records. Today, people rip CD's to a computer without ever having owned a player that would actually let them hear all the music on their CD's, at a time when CD has reached maturity and players are at the zenith of development. The billions and billions of discs in homes are not going to go away. Craig's 5th law of hi-fi: "Always improve what you have been doing before you move onto the new thing." This is yet another unchanging truism that the public frequently misses as the hype for half-baked new technology assaults them through every communications medium.

It may be my postulate, but I'm willing to go on the record as a veteran career observer of listening habits. Today's portable music devices commonly used with low-end 'phones are largely being used to 'screen out' the rest of the world as opposed to taking anything in deeply. That's fine, but I'm absolutely, scientifically sure that this music application can't begin to provide the full rewards that are waiting for you.

I recently explained much of this to a group of 'under 35' folks; that we all started out with some portable device glued to our ear; my sexy radio said "five transistors" on it, and today yours says iPod. That very same never-exposed group responded enthusiastically when I asked them to turn off their phones, take a deep breath in and out, assume a relaxed posture, and just listen for five minutes. Result: They melted and were moved in a way they had never known was available from music listening.

Not much change there either, really. It is all about exposure to the real experience that can be had from even a modest good stereo. If you feed someone organic food for two weeks, they're not likely to go home and open up the can! In both cases, we begin by essentially consuming "the appetizer," music-wise, imagining all the rest of the music that our little devices left out. But the appetizer is only supposed to whet your appetite for "the main course," not replace it. Would you be content to eat only 'appetizers' for the rest of your life?

Given the many variables of live performance, including the fact that no one ever remembers 12 notes in a row that they just heard, it is fair to position listening to music as a sole activity through a fine stereo system in the comfort of your home as the single most rewarding and beneficial way to enjoy the universe of music; the main course. This is where and when the music truly sinks in to your body and soul, almost welding itself into your life. This deep musical access not only provides vastly more pure emotional and sonic pleasure, but also significant medically acknowledged wellness benefits, starting with lower blood pressure and the calming of the multi-tasking-driven "racing mind" syndrome. If that wasn't enough, pain relief/ distraction, improved sleep and digestion, the list goes on and on. Today more than ever, we need to "get back to where we once belong" to be the happiest and healthiest people we can be.

Given the chaos and stress this era has generated, a fine stereo and a return to listening as a sole activity can and should be recognized as the "free lunch" of wellness. Encore: the more you give to music listening, the more you will get out of it. This too will never change.

www.path-pureaudiotohealth.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
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