Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Surface of the Sound

This evening a performance of Britten's Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings is taking place in Central Park.  As a college student I used to listen to the recording made by Britten's friend Peter Pears.  I knew it so well I could sing it by heart.

Years later when I heard a live performance I was shocked to realize that I had furnished all the bass sonorities out of my own imagination:  they were so non-present in the pre-stereo-era recording that I had simply made them up.

I wonder how much our sense of music is restricted to the treble?  Even with more sophisticated recording equipment most of our listening is through ear-plugs or in some way confined inside of metal boxes which greatly reduce the range of audibility.