THE STONE OF TONE
Be a Beacon
NATURAL MUSICAL TONE AFFECTS THE BRAIN IN EXACTLY THE SAME WAY
THEY ARE EXOGENOUS NEURAL EXCITANTS, AND BECAUSE ONLY TUBES
CAN CREATE NATURAL MUSICAL TONE WE GET A POWERFUL MUSICAL HIGH
While studying the highest of the high, the "Moses" of the audio arts Harry Olsen's, 1952 book, Music, Physics and Engineering, , on the potty twenty five years ago, I discovered .THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT ATTRIBUTE OF MUSIC IS TONE a notion that Olsen glommed from thousands of years of music pedagogy. So what did I do? I glommed Olsen's idea and it become my compass in the audio storm.
This means that if you don't have righteous tone, you have nada, zip, zilch. If you have the widest stereo image, have woodifying micro-dynamics, and whopper size bass none of this matters, if you don't have natural tone.
Do you get it? Get tone right first, even if you have to sacrifice other values which explains why Japanese audiomaniac culture obsesses over tone, their "compass in the audio storm, and I subtitled my first book about tube circuits "Natural Harmonics Audio".
Here is, my beloved bros', a beautiful Haykoo* poem I wrote in your honor:
TONE IS TO MUSIC
PASSION IS TO LOVE
TRUTH IS TO BEAUTY
THE HOLE IS TO A BAGEL
Now let's take a trip and discover why tube audio came to dominate the highest echelon of the audio arts in spite of the heap of solid state hype .ride on and just follow the yellow brick road
CAN A PLANT BE RESPONSIBLE FOR A SHIFT IN MUSIC CONSCIOUSNESS?
60 MINUTES REPORT
A recent segment on America's highest rated program "60 Minutes" was all about "America's Number One Cash Crop: Marijuana", and it was shot on location down South. The program explored the revitalization of many farming communities that were on the brink of bankruptcy, because they shifted from "looser crops" and were now cultivating a very profitable crop, with the 'support' of their community. Marijuana farmers, who couldn't make it a competing with agricultural imports , were now competing and winning in the competition with the billions of dollars chasing imported marijuana from Mexico.
Compare the street price of a pound of marijuana to a pound of beans. These American ex-bean farmers now had enough cash to support the election of politicians who would look the other way. The program explored the fact that not only were these towns prospering, but the crime rate was down, because there was less theft, and higher employment and no failed bank loans. Any Federal agents coming into these community were guaranteed of zero cooperation.
The American entrepreneurial spirit knows no limitation and when Willie Nelson launched his series of FARM AID CONCERT, farmers who attended got the message when they noticed that the audience was in a cloud of marijuana smoke.
At the beginning of the twentieth century a new science was invented, just as the agricultural revolution hit big time in America: ethnobotany, the scientific investigation of the effects that plants have on culture and human history .like how the Irish potato famine changed the course of Irish and American history.
Or how the British used, in the 19th century opium plant grown and processes in their Indian colonies and then exported to China to get political control of large tracts of China with the natural result THE OPIUM WARS.
Soon it was discovered that every indigenous native culture had an extremely sophisticated understanding of plants that far exceeded industrial man's understanding because their survival depended on plants not only for food, but for medicine and as an essential aspect of their religion. Knowledge of plants was essential for survival.
The Andean culture was dependent on chewing the cocoa leaf, without which living at high altitudes and the construction of their magnificent stone building would have been impossible.
The American Indian tribes were so sophisticated in their understanding of plant cultivation that their favorite plant crops; the ones that they developed over thousands of years, when exported, literally saved the 17th century European culture from collapse due to famine. Beans, potatoes, melons, squash, corn, exported to Europe became the agricultural foundation of the 19th centuries Industrial revolution. But the American Indians also knew how to use plants as medicines, and their sacred plant , the tobacco plant, which was taxed by Britain became the irritant that sparked the American revolution. But there was an even deeper understanding of plant's power and it was central to these tribes religion: mind altering plants that were used in trance like meditations were essential ingredient in vision quests. The peyote plant is now only legally used by American Indian tribes.
The question that still baffles most Westerners is .."How did the Egyptian culture accomplish their extraordinary feats without the aid of the wheel? On another level the question is often asked "Why is the Egyptian mind so completely unique in human history". Ethnobotanists point out that the Egyptians were a hemp based culture and marijuana smoking was as common in Egypt as cocoa leaf chewing was common in Andean culture and probably explains how the Pyramids were built, and the Egyptian's unique vision of the cosmos, and their hippie clothing.
I have often suggested that from Moses to the other "heroes" of the Old Testament, they were all doing what was common in Semitic cultures priest used mind altering plants to make clearer contact with the spirits. I remind you of the ancient Turnkey opium cultivation, and the use of opium by troops, as an explanation of why the "infidels" were able to beat the Christian Crusaders.
Or, consider the most common human impulse to alter our mind with "nectar" plants in the form of alcoholic beverages. How does one alter the mind with these beverages? The answer is with plants because all alcoholic beverages, from the crudest Egyptian barley beer to the most sophisticated wines are based on the fermentation or distillation of plants. No wonder ancient man thought that plants had magic power and they do..to sustain life and to induce altered states of mind, which make contact with "higher powers" much easier. Why are spirits called spirits? Now you know the connection between alcohol and God..in what ever form it takes from snake to Avenger.
Recently ethnobotanists have asked how plants affected the development of human consciousness.
What about this truly pragmatic notion, because human evolution is all about pragmatism: those humans who could identify plants that sharpened their senses and made them better hunters by improving their hearing, sight and hearing gained a competitive advantage? What if the consumption of certain types of plants improved our ability to create language? Isn't language a powerful tool of survival making our clan more effective in performing work? Is it possible that certain plants affect the brain and stimulate the beginning of symbolic thought which is the beginning of thinking?
Let's walk into a modern rock and roll recording session. What is that strange smell of burning rope the same smell that permeates rock concerts? Is it possible that the development of multi-track recording and the completely new multi-dimensional aural matrix that was created flowed from a music mind altered by plant alkaloids? Is it possible that modern musicians from Louis Armstrong to the Beatles are doing nothing more than imitating the ancient wisdom of Wholey men?
A HILARIOUS HILL OF SOLID STATE HYPE
The reason that I have asserted, so many times, that the audio industry has the unique distinction of being the lowest IQ of all male tool industries is because it is the only to use PERFECT when describing its products, which is an insult to any intelligent man because there is no such thing when it comes to machines not even the $5 billion Hubbell space telescope.
In the late 1960s the hype began .0000000001% distortion, with actual claims of "PERFECT SOUND", so consumers naturally chucked their tube gear in favor of transistors and it was small and powerful and MODERN and POWERFUL, and what man can resist the pressure from his wife for neater and smaller? The recording arts when Gah, Gah, because transistors had lower noise figures and solid state gear never needed maintenance or adjustment. What difference did it make how it sounded?
What a thrill to own a stereo receiver that had NO DISTORTION and 100 watts per channel for only $369!
THREE SHOCKS TO MY SENSUAL META-CONTENTS:
GRASS AS AN EXOGENOUS NEURAL EXCITANT
I declared that dope smoking was wrong, and maintained that position, and my virginity until I was twenty six, until a women took advantage of me, and told me that she wouldn't have sex with me unless I took at least four drags of her joint. We were in my apartment listening to my solid state stereo to candlelight and I gave in.
You may not believe this but I discovered that marijuana changed my brain and (1) made sex feel better, (2) the music was a much more intensely pleasureful experience, boarding on the fucking mysterious, and (3) ice cream became ambrosia.
All of a sudden all of my LPs sounded completely different .I was not listening to the music, I was swimming in the music, and I couldn't get enough of this deep music pleasure just like tens of millions of others who were now surfing on a wave of sex, drugs and rock and roll .and the music business exploded.
I stepped back and looked around and I reached the conclusion, based on my own uptight Ivy League education and uptight suburban upbringing that a sensual revolution was going on in the same way it happened in the 1920s when the radio and the record, coupling with JAZZ/BOOZE was liberating the American soul. Now it was the ROCK/DOPE sensual revolution, and for good reason. I remind you that this perfectly synchronized with the availability of the birth control pill. This was the one two punch that knocked out America's last vestige of Puritanism, men in suits, and women who wore girdles.
Because millions of Americans were now exactly recreating a most ancient ritual ..using music and sacred plants to experience higher dimensions of reality . There was a major shift in musical consciousness on many level all expressed through the technology. Our hearing was much more sensitive and with the release from our aural repression a rebellious virus soon emerged and started to plague all across America: TUBES SOUND BETTER THAN SOLID STATE. Something didn't seem right about this at first because tubes were the old fashioned gear that we just chucked in favor of PERFECT solid state.
Who can we trust? Yet, every rock and roll guitarist used a tube amp. It only took one taste under the influence to hear the big gaping gap between tubes and transistors. After we heard this big sound gap, and we weren't stoned, we could still hear the big sound gap, and we were confused .but our ears were telling us a profound truth.
Am I suggesting that the tube audio rebellion in America is now accelerating because three decades ago rock and roll musicmaniacs, who were smoking dope, discovered a lie told a million times is still a lie? Yup, and even before the Internet made musicmaniac contact so easy, it was easy to discover that all around the world, from Europe to Asia, we were all discovering the same truth..with or without dope smoking: TUBES RULE.
I suggest that dope smoking had a big impact on the American music culture because of the bursting power of the dialectic America was such a repressive/violent culture, we had to create our own dialectic, or be destroyed and PEACE, LOVE AND BAN THE BOMB, emerged from the marijuana altered rock and roll mind as the primal savior of America's soul.
This was also the mind that created a small community of musicmaniacs that rebelled against solid state hype because MUSIC QUALITY MATTERS and the rest is history.
I often make the allusion to my experience in the fashion industry with polyester, which is the analog of transistors. After billions of dollars of hype, and years of effort to convince the American public that FAUX IS BETTER consumers rejected polyester because humans care about sensuality and transistors and polyester don't feel natural.
How much money was spent promoting tube gear? Have you ever heard a radio commercial or seen a television commercial for tube gear? Have you ever seen an ad in a major magazine selling tube gear?
WHARTON BUSINESS MODEL
It appears that hundreds of billions of dollars are spent every year in America on marijuana, creating a very large illegal industry supplying American's need to expand their mind. Much of this illegal activity is directly connected to enhancing the experience of music because music at concerts and in the home is so mediocre.
For thousands of years, and in all cultures, humans used mind altering substances, to get out of their normal mind, and into a higher sense of reality, and no government policy is going to change that ancient human pursuit.
Consider the answer to this question from a Wharton School of Business point of view: How much do Americans spend every year to alter their minds include in your calculation all of the prescribed drugs from tranquilizers, mood alteration, anti-depressants, et. al, to all of the illegal substances, from marijuana, to cocaine, to Ecstasy, including all of the alcoholic beverages and tobacco products..and what ever else you can think of? The answer is that it is over $1 trillion and very profitable.
TONE AS AN EXOGENOUS NEURAL EXCITANT
I am not suggesting marijuana smoking is the strategy to determine what audio electronics are best for you, because it is a waste of money, and could get you arrested. There is a better path to take you the high place you aspire to just listen to music with tube electronics because it will affect your mind exactly the same way because only tube circuits can create natural tone. Only tube electronics can alter your mind in the right way.
Now let me give you the world's quickest pedagogic insight about why tonal quality is so critical, and it is purely pragmatic and empirical: Tone is the most important musical attribute because tone it is the elixir, the stimulant of musical ecstasy. It is well documented that the right combination of even and odd order harmonics, which determine tonal quality, stimulates our brain to secrete endorphins, dopamine, and other exotic brain juices, which induces a very pleasureful "high" out of body experiences. Harmonics are an exogenous neural excitant: harmonics are an external stimulant that excites the nerve endings of our brain..like sex, the smell of barbecued steak, or the vibrations of a V-8 motor and makes the brain juices of ecstasy flow.
I have now explained why we invented music 150,000 years ago. If you have any doubt about this phenomenon, check out what happens to your body when you scratch glass with a sharp metal object, thereby producing a great deal of high order, odd order harmonics the type of harmonics that never appear in music.
One more time for the newbie to tone: Tone does to our body, what the smell of a barbecued steak does to our body it makes us salivate and bark like a dog. Tone does to our brain what plant alkaloids do to our brain. Or..If music soothes our savage breast, it is because the tone/harmonics of music causes our glandular system to secrete the juices of ecstasy and this process begins while we are in our mother's womb, swimming in the tone of her heartbeat.
Why has plastic never replaced wood in stringed instruments? Why hasn't plastic replaced brass, or silver, in wind instruments? There are three answers: tone, tone, tone. I don't have to remind you about the direct relationship between the value of a musical instrument and its tonal quality. Just try and buy a Stradivarius or vintage Fender or Gibson guitar.
Shall I say this another way? The best way to explain the power of tube audio is that it gets us musically high in the same way as a mind altering plant, because tube are available to produce the natural tone of music and that task is impossible for transistors.
MARK LEVINSON'S TONAL ASCENSION
How powerful is the tide of tube consciousness? It is powerful enough to sweep up one of the Grand Priests of the Solid State, Mark Levinson, and convert him to tubes. After twenty five years of preaching the superiority of transistors Mark has seen the light; he is a convert to tubes, and for a good reason musical consciousness demands it. His new company Red Rose Music, only sells tube electronics. Get the message?
Never ever feel ashamed about your need to get musically high it is what makes you such a special man.
Haykoo is a poetic form first created by the American master poet Orville Redenbacher, and then imitated by the Japanese. This form of poetry is especially profound when it is written or read while eating popcorn.