MUSIC, DONT JUST LISTEN TO IT, EAT IT
A JOGULATION OF YOUR AUDIO METACONTEXT
I receiving an increasing number of emails that start this way...Dr. Gizmo, I am just a beginning my search for musical ecstasy and would you please explain.(fill in the blank)........
The dilemma of devoting the Triode Guild web site to the cream of the cream of the audio arts is that beginners will enter and not have a clue about what we are jiving about. We must appear to be crazy, and we are. Clearly we need more young men who are gifted listeners to join our tribe, so I am this sections for young music braves....those who love music, are into their equipment and want to develop their artistic expressive abilities. Young men one day wake up and notice they have a music woody and then they know they must start their quest for the Music Holy Grail, and it is no accident that they are hanging out at the Triode Guild web site, where the eternal mythological quests collides with Mr. Hi-IQ gifted listener.
WARNING: WHAT YOU ARE ABOUT TO READ IS NOT AN ARTICLE OR ESSAY, BUT A MIND SONG, SO RELAX AND LET IT FLOW THROUGH YOU.
As the Triode Guildmeister am a specialist, and hold a unique position in the high end audio tribe. My job is scramble the brains of the higher IQ gifted listener segment of the audio industry. The reason I am an authority on this subject is because my brains are scrambled most of the time. My job is to arouse your curiosity to stimulate your imagination and compel you to take a journey into deep music hyperspace, where you stop listening to music, and become it by eating it; when you stop listening to Elvis Presley, and you become him........and that means exploring tube electronics. My job is to cause you serious brain damage, which when repaired will be organized very differently, so here goes......
The audio arts is almost exclusively an all male activity because men love sex, and nothing is more sexually gratifying than music. All male activities are hierarchical, and everyone starts at the bottom and moves as high as he is comfortable, because men like to get high as possible, and that includes Icarus and Daedelus. You dont win a custom bike show first time out, but you keep on trying. For example: My friend Rob Fabroni spends four hours making a spaghetti sauce, and he only use his own garden grown herbs and spices. Robs tongues IQ is 175. Me, I like eating cold spaghetti out of a can while standing by my sink because my tongues IQ is 80. There is also a hierarchy in spaghetti sauce. There is also a hierarchy in the audio arts, and you are probably a young music ExtraTerrestrial of advanced intelligence surfing the web, because this is the only place in the audio arts that is uncensored. This digital meta-structure is only place to explore the paradox of this centurys most dynamic art form. Just think about the hierarchy in the audio press: the larger the audience the lower the standard must be...and that is not a criticism, but a description of the bell shaped curve.
(Pause: Every day humans experience trillions of hours of music because the audio arts has made it possible for music to experienced everywhere by everyone, and that includes on top of Mt. Everest and in the middle of Nubian desert. You are here and now exploring the top of the audio hierarchy. You are now approaching the high pass that will lead you to music Shangri-La. You are about to enter the Nth dimension of Music Hyperspace©.
Now take the next step with me: The top of every male hierarchy is home of the masters and that includes everything from Kings of Home Runs, Sultans of Swat, Masters of Accuracy, or Masters of ....pottery or cooking or race car engines or audio amplifiers. So it naturally follows that my job is to insist that you encounter the masters of the audio arts...those men who dwell and work on the tippy top of the highest mountain. You now are searching for the Music Holy Grail and you cant find it unless to encounter the wisdom and the art of the Masters.
As Guildmeister I have the responsibility to be the "bridge of beaudacity" between you and the masters of the audio arts, who by his nature, has trouble using normal language to communicate to you, the Mr. Highly Sensitive Creative Courageous Spiritual Gifted Listener of very High IQ, or any other normal human being who lives in America. Or to put it another way.....just look at me as short bald pudgy audiomaniac bridge between our greatest audio nerds and Mr. Bud. Perhaps I have 50% audio nerd DNA and 50% Wholey Dude DNA.
My job is to convince you to use your audio tools/paintbrushes to create your musical masterpiece, and when you are ready (it will take some time and effort) I promise you that you will launch yourself into Music Hyper Space, which is the most far out space that is deep in your musical soul.
Here is how you know you are one of us: When you put your head down on your pillow and start dreaming about MORE musical beauty.......you are deep into your search for the Music Holy Grail. Dont worry, this doesnt mean that you will stop dreaming about Cameron Diaz.
My middle name is gizmo. A Gizmo is a thing that is filled with spirit and therefor speaks. A thing can speak because it is filled with powers....the spirit of the maker or the user or both. This blending of intention releases the energy of the gizmo. This is as true for a crucifix or a 1948 Hacker Speedboat, and they are the exactly same form of transportation.
All that I am saying is that art is everywhere, because man is art, and his world reflects that notion. Men instinctively sees the spirit in all things. This is a very ancient idea because during 99% of human consciousness we believed that everything was alive with spirit from the Buffalo to the rocks and including our spears and bows. Then came along the industrial revolution and science and most things started to die and loose their meaning. As things lost their meaning so did we, and we began to feel like we were trapped in an eternal bad date with life, so almost one hundred years ago, we invented the triode tube, the first amplifier, and released, just in the music in time, our most ancient wisdom in amplified form. In a historical seconds of human time we have gone from a world that was covered with very little musical energy to a world that is exploding with music energy everywhere. Whats going on? Is global warming due to the music heat generated all over the world?
Being a professional gizmologist means that I am in the business of exploiting a core ancient idea: we need things to express who we are, and my Calvin Klein tie is just a short jump away from the bone I used to wear through my nose....things convey meaning very efficiently. I can say that another way: A man is a work of art struggling to express its truth. We know that there is an art to living and it is all about making life a work or art, and we know that if we dont do that we are nothing more than the fodder for our capitalist system. The gizmo is a catalyst to our genius, it help us define who we are, and who we are not (like: I Would Rather Have My Sister In A Whorehouse, Than My Brother Ride A Honda) which tells us something about the motorcycle hierarchy. The rapid growth of our motorcycle culture indicates how strong our need is for more powerful totems. ( I note that this is parallel to what has happened with tube electronics...when men need powerful totems they reach out to the Tube Spirits). We need all the help we can get and we create exactly the kinds of totems we need to help us evolve, which explains why there is such an abundant supply of new copies the original 1938 Western Electric 300 B directly heated triode. We create what we need.
Back to the gizmo. An old hat that you love is loved because it speaks your truth. You favorite old leather jacket is a unique voice in your life. Your music system. amongst all of our totems, is your most effective voice. Every human, every man has a deep mysterious dimension to his being that can not be expressed in normal linguistic ways...which again explains the purpose of art...and especially music. You are, we all are, much more than can be expressed in a language that is, at an accelerating rate, loosing its meaning.
Which explains why our need for music is growing in intensity; it is the incorruptible custodian of our most precious dimensions of being. Let me put two things together to give you an insight into the nuclear alchemy possible with music: (1) take a love poem, the ultimate expression of language supercharged with meaning, and (2) put these words, which are feeble, to music, and you have created a love song. Music has transformed the words and realized its full meaning. When words are embraced by music they are transformed to transcendent truth. This intellectual leap is obvious: take any human activity and surround it with music and it becomes more meaningful. So we have now arrived at the obvious ontological get down with our funky selves point of this introduction, which is intended to jogulate your normal mind set about the audio arts.
Music is meaning, and that meaning resides in deep physical pleasure. It is meaning whose foundation is always a deeply felt physicality; profound emotion that is resonating in pleasure. Why are the audio arts so important? Because every man must create his own meaning, and that means every man must create his own music world, which means every man must explore the deepest regions of music pleasure. This deep deep probe into the deep dark juicy recesses and moist folds of music is the type of mythological quest that high I-Q men and dogs love. The audio arts is all about questing for meaning in the mysterious dimensions of musical pleasure...which according to the anthropological records began about 200,000 years ago when man made his first musical tool...a flute. Man made music long before we made language and thought, and we are returning to our roots to protect us from the sulfuric acid of modern life.
I had lunch with Merlin the Magician last week and he told me to remind everyone that intrinsic to the quest for the home music Holy Grail are surprises, adventures, getting lost, finding new paths, meeting masters and fakirs, denial, and discovering utopias you never knew existed.
Let me take the above and scrunch it up into one small ball: some men must paint on canvas so they have something to hang on a wall that can speak their truth. Some men hammer away at completely inert dead marble so that it can glow with inner light and sing their song. Poets craft beautiful motorcycles so that the audience can be filled with their wonder. Audiomaniacs, bravest of all, create with pure energy a completely dematerial art; it cant be touched or measured, yet it produces the most intense emotions of all the art forms. How is it possible for a completely dematerial art form to have such a command of our being? The answer is obvious, but to understand it you must, in the tradition of the Jewish rabbi, answer this question with a question: How can a completely dematerial Being, GOD, have such a command over our being?
Can we be honest girls? Lets face the experiential truth...we all know that something much bigger and more powerful than humans exist; we can feel it, and the only time we can really get a good solid glimpse into the nature of this huge power is when we are in its music. This makes obvious sense to higher I-Q men because they know that to really "know" something you have to become it, even if that means you have to wear dress, high heels and make-up once and a while to better understand women.
Clearly this is one of the most essential paradox of human consciousness: the power of the dematerial form over the mind material. Can I induce an eye twitch with a question?: why did the human mind, which is completely dematerial, create and awareness of a mind larger than itself?.... which is saying that one dematerial intelligence created another dematerial intelligence....like God and Music. Now leap up, out and over, and embrace this notion: the audio arts is the servant of our need to tremble in the presence of the dematerial. (There is an "concrete" exception to this that still applies to higher IQ gifted listeners: every man is basically a dog and it is always possible to encounter a women who will make us tremble like a hound dog who has just caught coon.) Nothing is more important than trembling in front of something more powerful than ourselves, and I hope women will stop taking advantage of us soon, so we can spend more time on the audio arts. Did you get my point: audio gizmos are connected to some powerful primal stuff, just like bikinis.
SOME BONES TO CHEW ON
MAN AS ART: Because we can not, unfortunately, return to the days when we wore feathers, animals skins, wore the heads of fierce animals as hats, wore bright shiny armor, or participate in sacred pagan rituals, we must find new ways to be truthful about our essential artful nature: man is art. In fact the common wisdom is that modern civilization began when we created the first art about 40,000 years ago. Again...the historical record is clear that in the evolution of our culture we created symbolic sounds first about 200,000 years ago, symbolic statues and paintings about 25,000 years ago, and symbolic linguistic sounds, language about 15,000 years ago, and with that we began to think for the first time in our 4 million history of bipedalism. It is impossible to separate the human condition from the symbolic, which is why even amidst the explosion of high technology, we are so commanded by the symbolic, the artful.
Every man is a unique work of art that must struggle to express itself. Clearly culture plays a large role in this expression, but this core notion of man as art, appears in every culture throughout history.
The reason you should take the audio arts seriously is because we find here the most cost effective tools for fulfilling our responsibility to express the artful in our Wholey being. The reason that we take the audio arts seriously (as seriously as the man who defines himself through fishing, who must take all of his dry flies seriously) is because fun is always the most fun when you take it seriously.
The reason that most journalists in this field lie, and act as if they are almost dead white audio professors who cant dance is because they are guilty. The audio arts is all about hot juicy deep moist primal pagan musical pleasure. In an uptight puritanical American culture where pure hot pleasure is taboo it is very tough to be honest about hedonism as truth. Yes, it is true, art, pleasure, truth and meaning are at the bedrock of our masculinity so why lie about it?
99% IMAGINATION: If you compare a live music event to what is happening our living rooms, in the most literal sense, (which is called THE SCHOOL OF ACCURACY), you are comparing a rose to a turd, and the turd wins. No one can ever get close to creating a living music event in their home unless their living room is Alice Tulley Hall. The pursuit of accuracy is an important development stage to pass through, if and only if you understand this ABSOLUTE TRUTH: this sport is about your imagination and your imaginationis hunting for ecstasy....the highest of highs. The audio arts are 99% imagination. Let me say this another way: the way we know great audio equipment is the way in which it creates music in our home that expands our musical imagination; the way it stimulates our brain to open to deeper levels of musical mystery that is in each of us. Which explains why directly heated triodes are now so popular.
The greatest bow in the world will not make you a great archer, and the finest Fender guitar will not make you a great musicians, and the finest audio gear will not induce mysterious dimensions of hot musical pleasure. Your imaginative commitment is the key to channeling your genius through your gizmos. Without your musical imagination in DRIVE you are doomed to music desperation, which is manifested in compulsive buying, hoping that some magical purchase will open your door. You are the door, the knob, and the magic is in you.
But let me warn you about imagination: Imagination has a twin that is inseparable from it, and it is called MORE. Imagination can not be stopped. If it could we would not have Beethovens 3rd symphony, but only his first. This truth is your truth; once your let your hot bitch imagination out of its closet she is going to do her thing and nothing you do can stop her, and that is a good thing, because she is your salvation.
Which his why I remind you all that DREAMS HAVE POWER. If you can imagine it you and create it, which explains my excitement about the audio arts. We are entering a brave new era where we are being offered expressive possibilities that never existed before. Just check out what is happening with tubes!
THE FREEDOM OF YOUR HOME AURAL MATRIX: Call it your canvas if you want. I call it The Home Aural Matrix because, as a typical aural artist I am artifying that space in exactly the manner that pleases me. I am decorating this space with exactly the kind of music metaphor that triggers the deepest physical response to music...and that is a completely unique and personal experience. My home aural matrix is my musical signature. As you know every signature is completely unique. I have also noted how my style of artifying my home aural matrix has changed over time, just like Picassos style changed over time.
Let me put this another way: your home aural matrix is really your gourmet style of cooking with music. Some prefer Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, each has its own textures, colorations, tonalities and spices. Your job is to develop your own unique style of musical cooking, because only you know what would satisfying your eccentric cravings...and they are changing and evolving.
Why is this work so important? If you get your home aural matrix right then you will have created a "SPACE TELE-TRANSPORTER", which is just like the one of that you have seen in a Grade D science fiction movie: you know the type: you get in it, push the button and your are transported to another time and place. That is exactly what happens, when after considerable struggle you get your aural matrix right....you push play, and up, up and away Space Ranger. Dont be confused by your body in your favorite listening chair. That is only your physical shell. Your true being is now in outer music space.
HEARING IS CULTURE: The way we hear is culturally determined, and cant be separated from the unique character of different languages. Gifted men like you can enjoy many different musical cultures. The American audio press is not yet matured to the point where they can discuss this obvious truth. Hearing, like language, food, music and the graphics arts as well as religion is culturally determined. This simple idea is very difficult to grasp and it is a paradox. Lets fill a concert hall with men from all over the world, from the Brazilian rain forest, to the Mongolian steppes, and play Bachs Goldbergs Variations...we would all be hearing the same thing and we would be hearing it through very powerful cultural filters. There is distinct Japanese, Italian, French, German and American music, each with its own distinct style, yet we can be moved by all of it.
But what I prefer in the audio arts will probably be very different than my Japanese brother because of the unique way we each hear music. There is no absolute music perception, there is no absolute musical truth, and all music perception is ingrained in cultural priorities.
My crusade over the years has been to introduce American men to other audio cultures because I want to expand choices. Dont we like to eat Chinese, Japanese or Mexican food while we consume billions of hamburgers and French fries? With growing musical sensitivity you may discover that the audio arts from other cultures are more satisfying. Because of your advanced artistic sensitivity you love English sports cars, Italian shoes, Cuban cigars, French wines. Trust me, it is the same in the audio arts, and it is sign of audio weeniness that the American audio press is afraid of exploring the audio masters of other cultures.
As you know I write about Japanese audiomaniacs a great deal because I believe they have the most advanced attitudes towards the audio arts, and it reflects the Japanese attitude towards the world: go out into the world and scoop up the best that each culture has to offer. While they Japanese are highly nationalistic and love their own culture, they are ego secure enough to want the best of the worlds audio arts and readily consume the best from America, and Europe. The Japanese audiomaniacs highest expression is boasting of the great American, British, Italian, and French art, both old and new that stands next to his Japanese gear. This man is a connoisseur of audio culture and art and trembles in the beauty of a Marantz 8B, a Garrard 301, JBL and Tannoy speakers, Western Electric tubes, and Wadia digital.
The Internet has destroyed the parochial vision of the American audio press, and today the only limits to your choices is the intensity of your curiosity.
As you will discover from my own personal system it is a goulash of audio art from around the world and it perfectly fits my taste.
MUSIC IS A MULTI-DIMENSIONAL MUSIC EXPERIENCE: My article MUSIC TABOOS" explores this subject in detail. The music experience is intrinsically, by its very nature, intended to get us out of our "normal" modes of perception and into deep physical union with music, which is about as close as we can get to sexual union, only it is better and it wont kill us. Those who describe, in the most analytical terms the characteristic of music they are experiencing in their home, just dont get. The audio arts is doing its job when you need to rip your clothes off your body and dance naked in your living room. If you are comparing micro-dynamics to macro-dynamics then your audio system is not working properly and you should start all over. Or ask yourself this question...can you smell the aroma of the music, or can you smell the fires burning in your loins when everything is just right?
HEARING EVOLVES: Everything about you is always evolving, and that means that your sensitivity to what you love is becoming more intense...and that is especially true for you musical sensitivity. What sounds great today may annoy you tomorrow. Cant be helped.
PASSIVE VS. AGGRESSIVE RELATIONSHIP TO MUSIC: There is nothing wrong with being a musical couch potato, and there is nothing wrong with buying a Honda motorcycle. Yet there is an ancient truth that applies to all human endeavors...if you want the most, if you want to experience the edge...you have to make a commitment to be actively involved. Your home music system is your instrument and you have to learn to tune it. This is as easy as knowing the difference between what flavor of food you like, or what cigars you prefer or what kind of women turns you on. All that you have to do is relax and let your body tell you how it (you) are feeling. What feels best for you? This is no different that finding the perfect nine iron, or tuning for your Hawg motor..no pain, no gain. I like to think of a music system as a perfectly ripe mango that needs to be squeezed.
THE LISTENER AS ARTIST: The gifts of listening are not equally distributed. None of this will make sense to you if you are not a gifted listener. But let us pause for a moment... men who have gifted tongues are insulted unless the finest vintage wines are in their mouth. That is the way I feel about my ears. I am insulted by anything less than the finest music, and I dont mind drinking a fine $4 bottle of wine. If you are born with above average listening gifts then you must express the creative energy implicit in your gift for listening.
THE EMPEROR IS WEARING NO CLOTHES: This is probably the most tender vulnerability in the world wide audio community that most hate to talk about. There really isnt any such thing audio engineering, there is only quasi/faux audio engineering, and in my about to be published book UNDERSTANDING TUBE ELECTRONICS II, I will make this obvious. All of audio engineering uses distortion measurements of both simple and complex noise signal to make value judgments about audio equipment, which is like judging the flavor of food based on its color. Firstly, no one knows what the relationship is between a test noise signal and music other than that there are so dissimilar that no scientist has ever been able to calculate a correlation. Measuring music quality, even if a music signal could be measured, (and it never has), is akin to measuring the quality of love, because judgments of music quality are judgments about beauty and passion and as I asserted before this is not only culturally determined but very personal, and not possible to measure with electronic devices.
I a recent speech I gave about this subject someone in audience asked if I thought such a goal could ever be achieved...I assured them that 24 hours after we measured the quality of Mona Lisas smile we would be able measure the quality of a music signal.
While it is necessary to use conventional test procedures and sophisticated test equipment when designing audio equipment, the creating of significant audio gizmos is still an art. And let me remind you that the Pyramids were built without an formal engineering.
This whole process is also complicated by the "lie" that it is possible to make quality judgment about a single piece of equipment. How can any single piece of audio equipment be judged unless it is an entire audio system? How can we separate the contribution one piece of equipment is making when all of the elements of the system, including the room acoustics are interacting with each other? The savants know that there is an organic unity to every audio system, but choose not to discuss this subject for fear of scaring away customers. Yet, we all know this reality in everything we do.
What is the point of all of this...audio engineering is about 10% engineering and about 90% art, and there is nothing wrong with that because long before audio engineering existed we acquired the skill to differentiate between a rose and a turd. Remember all of the great music instruments were developed without one piece of electronic test equipment, and no technology yet exists that equals the ears refinement to discern quality.
HOW TO USE MAGAZINE REVIEWS: WHO DRESSES YOU IN THE MORNING? At some point in our life we learn how to dress ourselves and then slowly over time we develop our own unique style of dressing, like wearing kilts and making an asshole out of oneself. When we are young we need authority and someone elses order to guide us, but we then must break free and discover our own truth. So it is with audio reviews. And I remind you that I am an audio reviewer for three magazines.
Because you are evolving you are now ready to establish your own authority over your own experience of music. Yes, it is true that there is a vast difference in audio equipment, but the notion that anyone else, including me, knows whats best for you is absurd. Yet over and over again I am confronted by the paradox of universal music culture...all over the world music lovers in diverse cultures gravitate towards certain patterns. The current world wide craze with directly heated triode tubes is an example of this.
Remember that an audio magazines business agenda is not your artistic agenda, so just be true to yourself, and be sure to use the world wide web to get as much feedback as possible before you commit to any serious purchase. Your fellow audiomaniacs can give you better advice than any magazine reviewer.
And here is another HI-IQ suggestion: Use the web to find someone in your town who has the kind of equipment you are interested in, and convince him to tell you come to his home to check out the sound. This is much better than any audition you can have in a store.
Creating an audio system is a very pieous task and must be taken seriously. Dont move to fast, and check out the equipment in a home.
TRANSPORTATION AND TRANSFORMATION; Every morning I meditate on the banks of Ganges river, and especially enjoy having lunch at Birdland in 1954. After dinner I usually travel to the Nth Dimension of Music Hyper-Space. How is this all possible? A properly tuned audio system will transport you where ever you need to go. It is why we spend the effort tuning our systems, and it is worth the trouble because we save a considerable fortune on airplane tickets, hotel accommodations, vaccinations and we can still walk the dog and take out the garbage.
SPEND TIME ON THE WEB: This is the best place to get a good education.
Anything worthwhile, is worthwhile because it gives us exactly the right combination of pleasure and pain to discover who we are...so right on, ride on, and write on.
e-mail Dr. Harvey "Gizmo" Rosenberg: firstname.lastname@example.org
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