A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


The Music Of My Imagination
Sunday, November 16, 2008

Much has been written about the impossibility of being able to read all the good books around in one lifetime. Something similar could be written about the time needed to listen to all of Bach's cantatas or Haydn's symphonies. When long-playing records were king, not all (very few) where competently manufactured. Music came with built-in pops. It was then that I learned to use my imagination and I could listen to the sound without the pops. When CDs came out the noises were gone. No matter how many people who told me that these CSs were diminished in warmth I didn't notice it much. I simply put in the warmth with my imagination. At age 66 I have discovered the ultimate sound system. It is the ultimate "green" sound system.

At my age I don't have all that much time to listen to world music or the latest revisionist punk bands. I am settled to liking the music I like. Every once in a while (I lie, much more frequently it is) I go to live baroque concerts where I listen to composers that never existed when A&B Sound was king of the mountain. These almost-long-lost baroque composers are wonderful. They have lived under the shadow of Vivaldi and Bach for too long. It is only recently that I have heard some of their music live and enjoyed the first symphonies of many composers like Beethoven. These first symphonies or first piano sonatas are rarely played. I even attended a performance of that odd (only the number is odd, but not in a mathematical sense) zero symphony by Bruckner!

What is that ultimate sound system? It is my memory. I can sit down with a decent cup of strong tea and play the whole Miles Davis album Kind of Blue in my head. It is free of pops and it is not compressed. The sound is all there. With my imagination I can re-live that magical moment that was the first time I heard Jazz Samba with Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd or the winter largo from Vivaldi's Four Seasons. I can imagine myself driving a Maserati Biturbo while the lights of Seattle pass quickly by as I pass through the partly covered city freeway while listening to London Calling.

There is one exception to this ultimate sound system and that is going to a concert of new music. I did this last night. I will write more about that tomorrow.


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