'As always, it was sheer pleasure to observe Robin Hill's remarkable fluent technique: everything looks easy when he plays it.' Colin Cooper- Classical Guitar Magazine ----- 'Wonderful for their (Hill & Wiltschinsky) precision, touch and clarity of sound... refined virtuosity, the achievement of a long interpretive process.' Il Giornale D'Italia (Rome) ----- 'I loved your CD and thought your technique and performance were fabulous...' Rick Wakeman

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Have We Moved On From The Wax Cylinder?

I've been thinking about the iPod/mp3 debate that is going on around the blogosphere at the moment.
My thoughts were prompted by a post by Ben over on Classical Convert.
Initially Ben took on the mighty ACD about comments he had made on Sounds and Fury regarding iPods. The initial post is here, and this is the update.

Classical Convert's first post has since been revised with many comments that I was going to discuss today.
You can read Ben's update here.

The points I was going to make are these.
Nothing can replace the experience of hearing and seeing music performed live.
A skilled musician not only has to perform well musically, but, also has to be able to relate to and entertain his/her audience. It's all part of the experience and one that generally improves over time as the musician gains more confidence.
For me the best concerts I have seen have always been ones when the artist has obviously engaged well with the audience. It makes it a special occasion for all concerned.
Robin has always maintained that he has the best seat in the house when performing with an orchestra as a soloist.
As he sits before this mighty instrument he relishes the sound - until he remembers why he's there, and how many notes he has to play, in front of a very discerning audience...

It's very difficult to capture the concert experience in its entirety on a recording, as the visual cues are missing, along with any verbal introductions that are made.
Therefore the musician's task is to try to relay the essence and spirit of the piece by their playing alone.

If they manage to capture the energy and expression they want to portray, then this will be heard by the listener, whether it's on mp3s or wax cylinder.
Our ear adjusts to the sound we are hearing and 'allows' for technical development at the time of recording. Within 10 seconds or so we start focusing on the musical content and interpretation rather than the sound.
I'd far sooner hear an early recording of Segovia or Heifetz, complete with crackles and excessive background noise, than not hear them at all.

Whilst we may not like mp3s or their equivalent they are a symbol of our times and one we have to adjust to.
It can be seen in a very positive light though.
It has never been easier to get hold of music than it is today.
Many times Robin would have to give up large chunks of time, travel to the nearest city, Manchester, to try and find a particular recording.
Usually it would have to be ordered which would mean a second trip to collect it.
Only the very keen would bother to go to these lengths.
Now, well, a click of a button and more often than not, you have what you are looking for.
This has got to help with promoting classical music in general which can only be a good thing.

On another subject, we were very sad to hear of the death of 'Mr.Manchester', Tony Wilson.
Whilst our paths didn't cross regularly, back in the late 1970's, Tony Wilson chose one of Robin's songs, 'Celebration', to win a 'Battle of the Bands' competition.
As he gave him the prize he told Robin that the judges also wanted to give him 'Best Guitarist' award, for his performance with 'Force 10', but felt the same person couldn't get both prizes!
Tony Wilson was a huge influence on the music scene and Manchester will miss him.

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