Well, there is a valid argument here, I believe, for the creation of a
central electronic library of the room sounds of various locations often
used for recordings. Theoretically you may even be able to reconstruct the
ambience of a hall that has been demolished if you could gain access to the
floor plans. Naturally you would have to figure in an algorhythm for what
the room would sound like filled up versus empty.

David N. Lewis
Assistant Classical Editor, All Music Guide
1168 Oak Valley Dr.
Ann Arbor, MI 48108

"Tallis is dead, and music dies." - William Byrd, 1585

-----Original Message-----
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Jerry Young
Sent: Wednesday, February 23, 2005 10:29 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] analyzing room acoustics to identify recording

--- Matthew Barton <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Not long ago I heard an engineer complain that the
> problem with current
> recordings is that "they're all made in the same
> room, and that room is
> called Pro Tools."

Likewise, Malcolm Bilson laments on how pianos now
sound pretty much the same, at least compared to when
pianos were a new thing, For 19th-century pianists,
there was a risky pleasure in having to come to terms
with very different instruments from town to town. Now
we seem to have one basic piano, the Steinway, which
is the model from which other piano builders can't
stray too far.  Franchised, reliable/predictable,
generic (and like Karl says, sterile) like Holiday
Inns, Big Macs, Krispy Kreme donuts, the same in
Vermont as in New Mexico. Without accent,  received

Electric guitarists have an enviable luxury of choices
by compariosn.

For me this topic touches on Steven Austin and Steven
Barr's exchange about recordings versus living
traditions. I often wonder if the recording has
skewed not only our notion of how a piece of music
should be played, but for "classical" music, that
first aural snapshot of classical music seems to have
frozen for us an image of what classical music should
be, all but killing off once and for all its
improvisational qualities.

When I hear something like "Hot Time" on and old
recording, or even moreso, the stiff overenunciaton of
say Vernon Dalhart's Edison records, I think that I am
not so much hearing how Dalhart really sounded, but
how he sounded when he was being recorded. Not that
much different from 19th century photographs that show
our gggrandparents not so much as they were, but as
they were when they were getting their pictures taken.
Stiff, supporting that superstition I hear about in
some "primitive" cultures that the photograph steals
the soul. It may, at least while the picture is being

So when I see those early staged movies Edison made of
commonplace events, his wife waving goodbye on the
porch, they are a little hard to watch. What I can't
get enough of is when he stuck a movie camera on a
horse-drawn cart and drove around the city at a time
when people had no idea that it was a cameral; no one
comes up to it to make faces. The first candid moving
images. (Although I like to imagine Edison constantly
tugging on his eyebrow and loudly reciting "Mary had a
little lamb..." You'd sure be able to tell when he was

Or the famous photo of Brahms sitting in front of a
window. I can't keep from trying to make out what you
can see through the window.

Scott Phillips <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Not a thing wrong at all with using one's ears, I
> agree. The ear/brain
> is much more sensitive than test equipment, or the
> impossibility (as
> yet) of creating more than a pale imitation on a
> digital reverb of a
> real room. We humans like 'hard' facts, but in a
> contest between ears
> and test gear, I vote for the ears.

I agree that the ears can be more sensitive, but for
my task, I need hard, quantifiable evidence that a
recording wasn't made where it was supposed to have
been. Voiceprint-like data. Thanks to all for the