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Here's the thing.  You can't pull apart the quality of the performance from
the quality of the recording so easily.  These things are intertwined.  If
you listen to something in fine sound and then in lousy sound, the lousy
one is definitely going to impact how you perceive the quality of the
performance.  It's just human nature.  It's just like trying to pick a demo
recording for your stereo.  If you play an adequate recording of a great
performance, that will almost always impress people more than a great
recording of a mediocre performance.  Again, human nature at work.

A critic isn't just a casual listener--he/she is charged with evaluating
the quality of what is being reviewed.  There is some responsibility
involved in that task for anyone who gives a cr*p about what he/she is
doing.  For the NY Times woman to thumb her nose at that responsibility is
really shocking.  If there were some way to give grades to critics, she
just got an F.

As for record companies handing out lossy formats for review, that's just
another sad indicator of the sad state of the recording world these days.
That is true foolishness and stupid cost-cutting.  Obviously, in those
instances, whoever is making the decision to do that just doesn't care much
about reviews.  I think that carries over to not caring much about the
artists being presented.

Like I said, somebody somewhere really has to draw the line on standards.
Frankly, I think ARSC ought to be right there (my personal view).  As for
reviewing audio quality as well as content, sure, ARSC Journal does that.
I always encourage it.  It is an important part of what readers need to
know--remember that we are often reviewing reissues of recordings that were
originally released years ago.  The question that often comes up in a
reader's mind is, so how does it sound now?

Best,
John Haley




On Mon, Mar 30, 2015 at 12:43 PM, Stewart Gooderman <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> John, I don’t necessarily disagree with anything you’ve written here. But
> there are two parts to this story: the performance itself and the quality
> of the recording. Should a music critic be critiquing both? Is it their
> responsibility to *be* critiquing both?
>
> Tom Fine has put forth that most music labels are sending lossy format
> files to be critiqued. If this is what the label is sending to be
> critiqued, should it be the duty of the critic to say that they will not
> base their judgement on what the label is sending them? When labels were
> pressing lousy Lp’s, did critics go to the label and insist on a
> reel-to-reel taped version if it was available?
>
> These same type of questions haunted the drama critics as well. Should a
> critique be based on a preview performance or an opening night performance?
>
> Am I just being au contraire?
>
> DrG
>
> > On Mar 30, 2015, at 9:07 AM, John Haley <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> >
> > Hi, Stewart.  I'm not buying that heavy metal rap music requires less
> > fidelity.  There is probably more actual high frequent content in such
> > music (a lot of it is electronic) than in a classical recording.  As long
> > as recording studios are not recording to i-tune format (thank God we
> > haven't sunk to that level already), and recordings are issued in
> non-lossy
> > formats, they should be reviewed in the best format in which they are
> > issued, because that's how you can hear what they really sound like.
> >
> > All this dumbing down is a terrible thing.  And shameful for a so-called
> > music critic.  I would agree with you if I-tunes is the only format in
> > which something is released.
> >
> > Somebod,y somewhere really has to have some kind of standards about all
> > this.  If a so-called, "self-identified" music critic admittedly has
> none,
> > he/she really ought to be doing something else for a living.
> >
> > Best, John
>