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Music unplugged: Bach did not have: 

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  • Music unplugged: Bach did not have: 

    electronic equipment whatsoever, recording engineers, sound engineers or mixers.

    Music was once a purely physical (acoustic) art. The sound science used to be in room or building architecture, not the waves' on an oscilloscope being in or out of phase. Carpets can't be installed in concert halls where symphony orchestras perform for acoustical reasons.

    Classical music still largely avoids high-tech equipment for recording and live performance production. Does it not? In regards to recording church organ music on site, the track heard on the record should sound as close to possible as the live performance in person that was the source for that recording. I call it faithful music reproduction. You certainly don't want to add special effects as distortion, echo chamber, reverb and wah pedal to Toccata and Fugue in D Minor.

    What do you think of all that?

  • #2
    No real 'argument' per se ... however ... just saying, Bach died in 1750. Should anything that happened or did not happen back then inform current opinions, flavors, practices? I say no. Not that it really matters, I have NEVER heard distortion or wah pedal or any other kind of 'effect' applied to ANY commercial recording of a classical organ work. It just doesn't happen.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Leisesturm View Post
      No real 'argument' per se ... however ... just saying, Bach died in 1750. Should anything that happened or did not happen back then inform current opinions, flavors, practices? I say no. Not that it really matters, I have NEVER heard distortion or wah pedal or any other kind of 'effect' applied to ANY commercial recording of a classical organ work. It just doesn't happen.
      I don't even think a mixer would be employed for a commercial recording of a pipe organ performance. A pair of two-channel mics maybe? I could be wrong though. I don't know of any recording studio with a pipe organ.

      Comment


      • myorgan
        myorgan commented
        Editing a comment
        Why wouldn't they use a mixer or a pair of microphones? Most pipe organs are recorded in situ, surely they have something to record the sound. What did you have in mind?

        Michael

    • #4
      Originally posted by jonmyrlebailey View Post
      Classical music still largely avoids high-tech equipment for recording and live performance production. Does it not? In regards to recording church organ music on site, the track heard on the record should sound as close to possible as the live performance in person that was the source for that recording. I call it faithful music reproduction. You certainly don't want to add special effects as distortion, echo chamber, reverb and wah pedal to Toccata and Fugue in D Minor.

      What do you think of all that?
      I think it is a reasonable request, with a caveat.

      Listening to an organ piece «live» — e.g. in a church — will never be the same to listening to it through your HiFi. There are some things which I miss while listening to stuff at home, one of them being that you cannot feel the sound «all around you» but just left and right audio channels; also you cannot feel the vibrations of that Bourdon shaking the whole building and creeping up from the legs to your whole body.

      On the other hand there are things a recording can do better than a “plain” live listening. As an example, while listening live you are limited to your position (which is probably optimal for some registers/frequencies but not so much for others, etc.), while a good sound technician can spread around many microphones to capture every nuance of every frequency. Same with, say, noise reduction etc.


      Now, let us call L «things which are better experienced live» and R «things which are better experienced/done through/with a recording».
      You want an L-experience but you cannot reproduce it in its entirety — just 90%. Now we could be ok with it, bit a skillfull technician could use some of the R-tools to bridge that gap; I for once would be against adding reverb — I hate it when I watch recorder or flute videos on Youtube — but a skillfull mixing (one that wouldn’t be really possible to experience live) would be appreciated as tactful and conveying a fuller and closer-to-L listening experience.

      Comment


      • #5
        Originally posted by fffaaa View Post

        I think it is a reasonable request, with a caveat.

        Listening to an organ piece «live» — e.g. in a church — will never be the same to listening to it through your HiFi. There are some things which I miss while listening to stuff at home, one of them being that you cannot feel the sound «all around you» but just left and right audio channels; also you cannot feel the vibrations of that Bourdon shaking the whole building and creeping up from the legs to your whole body.

        On the other hand there are things a recording can do better than a “plain” live listening. As an example, while listening live you are limited to your position (which is probably optimal for some registers/frequencies but not so much for others, etc.), while a good sound technician can spread around many microphones to capture every nuance of every frequency. Same with, say, noise reduction etc.


        Now, let us call L «things which are better experienced live» and R «things which are better experienced/done through/with a recording».
        You want an L-experience but you cannot reproduce it in its entirety — just 90%. Now we could be ok with it, bit a skillfull technician could use some of the R-tools to bridge that gap; I for once would be against adding reverb — I hate it when I watch recorder or flute videos on Youtube — but a skillfull mixing (one that wouldn’t be really possible to experience live) would be appreciated as tactful and conveying a fuller and closer-to-L listening experience.
        It sounds like a pipe organ could even benefit from pickup mics, amplifiers and loudspeakers strategically placed so people in church pews can hear every register for live listening. The only electricity that existed in Bach's time was static and lightning. Are any pipe organs today enhanced by electronic amplification? I would think organ notes bouncing off walls and nave ceilings would be natural echo or reverb.

        Comment


        • Admin
          Admin commented
          Editing a comment
          The Radio CIty Music Hall Wurlitzer was amplified for many years for its first 30 or 40 years of existence.

      • #6
        So E Power Biggs really did once play Toccata and Fugue in D Minor on "The Mighty Wurlitzer" in that "parish church" Radio City Music Hall! in New York City! There was a Columbia Records special set "A Tribute to E Power Biggs" my mother owned that was copyrighted 1979. Biggs died in 1977. One of the record tracks in that special collection had Mr. Biggs giving a speech at RCMH to the audience and he humorously made that Mighty Wurlitzer quip. The man, aside from being an organ and pedal harpsichord virtuoso, had a great sense of humor. I thought he was joking when he said that Wurlitzer was a real pipe organ on the record. My mother had a Wurlitzer spinet piano and I figured Wurlitzer made small home electric organs at best like a Thomas, Baldwin or a Hammond or something.

        Comment


        • #7
          It seems like our OP hasn't experienced a professional recording session. Many venues are multipurpose due to budget constraints. This often means that a sound engineer and several thousands of dollars worth of equipment are required to produce the best live performances and recordings. Even in dedicated concert halls that do not require any sort of live performance assistance, producing a recording requires a sound engineer (or a team of them), a decent amount of recording equipment, and quite a bit of editing and mixing in an effort to get the recording equipment to disappear. Sure a person and a well placed stereo microphone can do a pretty good job, but it's still going to require some mixing and adjusting to remove the microphone's effects.

          Also, carpet is installed in many venues depending the size and requirements of the space. Some venues even have retractable sound-dampening curtains to allow the concert hall's reverb response to be adjusted depending on the performing ensemble.
          Sam
          Home: Allen ADC-4500 Church: Allen MDS-5
          Files: Allen Tone Card (TC) Database, TC Info, TC Converter, TC Mixer, ADC TC SF2, and MOS TC SF2, ADC TC Cad/Rvt, MOS TC Cad/Rvt, Organ Database, Music Library, etc. PM for unlinked files.

          Comment


          • myorgan
            myorgan commented
            Editing a comment
            Sam,

            Thank you for so eloquently stating it. I tried (but failed) to make the same point in Post #3.1 here.

            Michael

        • #8
          Originally posted by jonmyrlebailey View Post
          ...Classical music still largely avoids high-tech equipment for recording ....
          Go to the big recording companies and tell them that. Actually, even the small recording studio in my city has recording equipment that will boggle your mind.

          Comment


          • #9
            Originally posted by jonmyrlebailey View Post
            I don't know of any recording studio with a pipe organ.
            I do:Any more questions?

            Michael

            P.S. The conductor in the video has a Grammy Award for his work.
            Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
            • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
            • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
            • 9 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 6 Pianos

            Comment


            • #10
              Wow . Yes it's true that THE LORD BACH did not have electronic equipment. But he did make instruments and invent temperaments and write extraordinary music to bring alive what he heard in his mind. A recording is made to give hearers a taste of what they could not expeience themselves. A recording has to change 3 dimensions to two and then fool the ear into hearing 3 dimensions again. All without techs going into the auditors home. From the biography about Bach, I wouldn't put it past him to use a WAH WAH pedal on the d min... he did put a glockenspiel on the pedal keyboard of his church organ.All bow before the Great Bach!!!!! (PS i don't think he would have liked a recording of the Magnificat.. it didn't go so well.)

              Comment


              • #11
                Originally posted by aeolian pat View Post
                and invent temperaments
                Did he? I thought «Well temperament» was a thing before him. (sorry for minor derailing, I agree with the ret of the post!)

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                • #12
                  Correct, too broad a brush.
                  Regards
                  Pat

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