[microsound] diffusion as an art-form

Randolph Jordan randolph at soppybagrecords.net
Fri Jun 12 17:21:31 EDT 2009

One of the key reasons why concerts of pre-recorded music are  
presented in public is so that the music can be heard from a better  
source, on a better sound system, and in a better space than most of  
us have access to at home.  Though created in the studio, much  
electroacoustic music is designed for playback in conditions that do  
not exist in most homes, just as movies are created for the cinema  
rather than the home theatre.  While it is certainly possible to enjoy  
a movie at home, a DVD on even the finest home theatre set-up simply  
cannot even come close to a print projected in a fine cinema house.   
The same is true of music.  Live presentation of recorded works  
affords the public the opportunity to hear pieces presented in formats  
that are not available for the home market; the playback system in a  
good venue is better than what most of us have available at home; and  
a proper concert hall has much better acoustics than even the best  
home listening rooms.  So if you take questions of performance out of  
the equation, there can still be great benefit to hearing recorded  
works presented in a public venue.

Importantly, this is precisely where the work of the diffuser comes  
in.  Regardless of whether or not we respect the diffusion as a  
performance, it is the diffusion that allows for a studio piece  
recorded on a fixed-medium to become a site-specific event.  The  
diffuser translates the original mix into the specific playback system  
and architecture of the concert venue, and allows for a unique  
experience of a recorded work that cannot be replicated in any other  
context.  Sure, there are many crappy venues with poor playback  
systems that won't do justice to the compositional intention behind a  
good piece.  And there are many inadequate diffusers out there too.   
But this is true of live music as well, and I have experienced many  
venues and sound systems poor enough to negate the value of hearing  
the musicians live.  A good many of the live musician concerts I've  
been to have made me wish I could have a recording of that performance  
to listen to at home (which, happily, is often only a couple mouse  
clicks away nowadays).  But given the right conditions, the  
presentation of a recorded work in a public venue with the help of  
good diffusion can, in my opinion, easily equal the uniqueness of any  
event involving live musicians performing music on a stage.  This is  
something you just can't get at home.


On 12-Jun-09, at 4:46 PM, greg g wrote:

> i'd rather just listen to it at home

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