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Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas' time


Last evening, it was Christmas' Eve, I was peeing the dog near home... well, folks: I consider myself a cynical kind of guy, better a reality-linked kind of guy... yes, of course I read Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" and, nonetheless, Ebenezer Scrooge isn't a model for me... BUT, in the years I built up a sort of stress and dislikement vs. Christmas, Snowy, the lights, the gifts, the songs et al the paraphernalia involved... and I loved "100 reasons for hating Christmas" by Roland Topor... to my wife disagreement.
... I was peeing the dog, and... the fog in the old city, wet paves and curbs, the portici in dimmed light and - almost the only noise disturbing the stillness - some youngters in front of a pub screaming and laughing... the lazy walk with Chicco the dog snorting and puffing and sniffing like hundreds times before sort of anaesthetized me, when, suddenly, short after, I heard a song, an old italian Christmas Carol: "Tu scendi dalle Stelle"...
It was a quite far singing and I guessed it was the young people, couple of hundred meters from where I was... few seconds after, I wasn't prepared... it was like I was 6 or 7 years old for a LOOOONG moment... horses clogging, more and more near and near... I had a look out of the portici and...
... what I saw... fog, and lights and two white horses, clopping and clogging toward me, in the desert narrow street... and the song was louder, now...
For a long moment I looked to Santa driving a chariot with two white horses and music and lights and a red light on His red cap... AND he saw me and said hello with His hand, long beard and all...
Chicco feared about the horses, so I - sort of - woke up, and returned in my foolish, anti-Christmas' mood...
... but something was happened... yes... probably it was an "Hire Santa" kind-of service for rich children or the like... strangely, it was about 12 P.M., anyway
;-))).
... but, for me, it was a childhood trip: when the gift wasn't so important, but the wait for the gift, being still virgin to the world, when mom and dad and grandma were Santa, as me and my little friends knew, BUT I wasn't so sure as Christmas Day neared, 'cause I always saw "strange" movements and shadows and whisperings in the long, sweet, Christmas'Eve night...
My wife, when I was back home with Chicco asked to me if it was all OK?!?
Yes, it was... it still is... maybe.
A moral: who care if Santa was a by-product of Coca Cola Inc... people, ME, we all need pureness, surprise, dreaming, can't be all what's coming from TV... and I cherish this little Dickens'-like experience of mine...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Davey Graham died on Dec. 15th - World is a poorer place


Davey Graham

It's all here... sadly, so sadly.

Personally, I knew him in London, in early '90s, and he gave to me a three hour guitar lesson in his Camden Town home and studio... he fell in love with my flamenco '50s guitar... I'll never forget his teachings - I still cherish his handwritten music notation - on EMI music paper - with some technical tips - and I'll miss him a lot, fondly: he introduced me to oud, to high-strung guitar, to EADEAE guitar-tuning.

His discs on Kicking Mule records and - to a lesser degree - on Decca's are among my Desert Island guitar records ever and, fortunately, through his Music a Musician never die...

Too bad I'll only be able to commemorate his death playing one of his Irish music so beautiful, haunting arrangements...

Thanks, Davey.

ETF - European Triode Festival 2008


Few days ago was held in The Netherlands, the 2008 edition of ETF... people gathering from all Europe and beyond, sharing audio knowledge etc.

Thomas Schick and the group of Berliner met there, while I was invited but not healthy enough to join the bunch...

Anyway, here is a link for super pixes of the event - thanks to Thomas Schick and to Holger Barske for the VERY nice pixes.

ETF2008

... it seems I missed something;-)

Friday, December 12, 2008

La Prova del Nove


Ricordate a scuola, quando la Maestra dopo "La Divisione" ci faceva eseguire l'operazione inversa? "La Moltiplicazione di risultato x fattore"... cara vecchia Prova del Nove... niente scherzi il risultato veniva in questo modo sancito ed ufficializzato.
... beh, anche in Audio, seppoffà!
Tempo fa notavo uno strano fenomeno per il quale, se ascoltavo un brano, un bel brano ben conosciuto, in cuffia, sia con la vecchia fida Stax SRX che con la Beyer DT48, ma anche, pur con i (molti) limiti con un ascolto da iPod, e poi, a breve distanza temporale riascoltavo lo stesso pezzo "in chiaro" sul mio sistema... non udivo nessuna differenza, meglio, nessuna limitazione di risposta in frequenza.
Banale, no? Ma non era sempre stato così... ricordo quando sfuggivo ai limiti dei miei primissimi diffusori, ignobili, con l'onesta e, per il tempo, rivoluzionaria, Sennheiser 414... dovevate vedere la mia faccia da adolescente scioccato quando scoprii che nel mio adorato Volo Magico n. 1 di Claudio Rocchi, ad un certo punto della suite omonima della prima facciata, entrava la voce di Donatella Bardi... i miei diffusori di allora, anche dopo la scoperta, mi restituivano sempre e solo "una voce" non Claudio e poi Donatella! Satori a Padova!
Questo banalissimo confronto, eseguito in modo random nel corso degli anni era sempre stato una mia personale prova, allora senza forse background tecnico, ma già vissuta come "rivelazione" sulle differenze di suoni/apparati audio/registrazioni... ahhh, i giovani... e comunque non disdegnavo le ragazze, anche se quanto sopra non costituiva argomento di conversazione come moto/disco/Timberland ecc., ma anche oggi, nulla è cambiato Povero audio negletto, sob...
Comunque, nel renderlo prova cosciente, avevo notato dettagli che sfuggivano ad ascolti, anche critici, in ambiente: il cantante era in piedi, sala grande, sala piccola, editing, girava il capo davanti al microfono perdendo "fuoco" .
Ma ritorniamo alle nostre cuffie... IMHO, + il confronto da risultati, diciamo, allineati tra cuffia/ascolto in ambiente, + siamo (sono) nel giusto.
Vi prego: ridete di quanto sopra, confutate, sbeffeggiate, ma provate!
Costa niente, ed è, appunto, una Prova del Nove, una delle poche da eseguire senza andare a concerto, acquistare un Bosendorfer o una Martin pre-war e MOLTO meglio che acquistare una camera anecoica
Ripeto: + siamo nel giusto, timbricamente, spazialmente, tonalmente, + la stanza risulta neutra e sparisce, + l'ascolto in cuffia, bassi immanenti (ove presenti, of course...) e tutto il resto risulta uguale... e viceversa beh, avete capito...
Come va ora, mi chiederete, dai tempi della 414, Claudio Rocchi e Donatella Bardi ecc. ecc.? Meglio, grazie ...

_________________

Lacrime e Musica


Certa Musica, come un sadico, misterioso, invisibile gigante che schiacci un tasto altrettanto invisibile... mi fa, da quand'ero bambino, sgorgare subitanee lacrime... GROSSE, velocissime - giù per le gote - lacrime salate.
Non so se sia dolore, emozione, gioia, il ricordo di qualcosa di collegato alla musica, Qualcosa che il compositore ed il direttore d'Orchestra hanno instillato o spremuto dalla partitura... ho una decina di pezzi che, come da copione, mi fanno quest'effetto.
Stamani, giornata uggiosa, mi sono alzato e come spinto da una forza invisibile, ho acceso lo stereo ed ho cercato, dapprima casualmente, poi scentemente, PROPRIO QUESTI PEZZI... Autolesionismo? Follia senile? Voglia di ristabilire la giusta umidità oculare, contro la secchezza da computer?
... o forse, semplicemente, la voglia di farsi trasportare in un mondo parallelo, puro, algido, fatto di emozioni, di spirito, di bellezza sublime, come quando tra la neve a 3000+ metri, il sole, dando le spalle al rifugio... solo con Dio... quello Vero!
... ed ecco, mentre scrivo ed ascolto I Pini delle Catacombe di O. Respighi, ma solo quella diretta da Charles Munch su Decca NON quella, sempre su Decca, di L. Maazel, quella mi piace ma NON piango... e prima Schelomo diretto da Z. Mehta con Janos Starker al violoncello, e prima ancora Grieg e la musica dal Peer Gynt, con la Morte di Ase, la mamma di tutti, cosmica... alle prime note, pelledoca sulle gambe e lacrimoni... e, come primo pezzo in questa follia domenicale... o forse viaggio nell'anima + profonda che abbisogna anche di questo cibo come i Romani secoli fa amavano il Garum, puzzolente, schifoso intruglio a base di pesce macerato al sole il mio io fisico non è la mia anima e viceversa, forse... dicevo, come primo pezzo, l'immenso Who May Abide dal Messiah di Haendel... ma solo, SOLO fino alla fine dei miei giorni, Emma Kirby e Hogwood su L'Oiseau Lyre... quindi la mia anima, o qualsiasi cosa sia che mi spinge, oggi come ieri a piancere come un vitello sacrificale, ne capisce di musica, qualsiasi cosa essa sia o significhi... ed ancora, come non esiste prova scientifica dell'esistenza e della sostanza della Musica... non esiste un motivo per cui tutto ciò succeda... ma se a due ascolti, anche ravvicinati, tutto quanto raccontato succede, una qualche scientificità - replicabilità di evento a dato stimolo - esiste?!? Ed ancora, l'aria "Lascia ch'io dorma" dal Rinaldo, ancora di Haendel, su edizione CBS Masterworks e direzione di Malgoire... quanto ho pianto, come mi son divertito!!! ... ma ce ne sono altri... sniff, sniff...
Il mio caro vecchio amico, il compianto prof. Dragoun, la prima volta che ci siamo conosciuti nella sua casa di Merano, nei primi anni '80 - piangeva a dirotto ascoltando il suo amato Wagner, libretto d'opera alla mano... da allora non mi sono mai sentito solo, pazzo ed abbandonato a farmi sconvolgere dalla musica e dai suoi lisergici effetti... li ho accettati, come prima di me innumerevoli altri, migliori di me...

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Is a new star born?!?!


While chatting with a Canadian friend, David Beetles, I learned and discovered something really worth a try and further exploration...

A small South Korean workshop is hand-building a truly nice, little masterpiece: a cartridge using the very same approach used in vinyl cutting lathe, the only difference being a diamond NOT carving vinyl, BUT only reading the inner soul of vinyl records grooves. A little, humbly, almost home-made looking device, but nonetheless cleverly done and conceived.

David, a dedicated audiophile, someone who care about music at its very best and also a Lumiere DST user and owner like myself, told me about ALLNIC Verito MC describing its sound lifelike and extremely musical, definitely in the Lumiere's stellar lineage.


ALLNIC site

... so: voilà, I ordered one! Will report soon.

Ear Gym


As the late Gertrude Stein once wrote: "Use your ears as your eyes"... this very sentence, apparently senseless, make a world of sense, indeed.
A sound and music lover since short-legged trousers years, I always - first in a naive way, later more consciously - applied it.
I'm an eyeglass wearing guy, but ears and nose have always been my world interfaces of choice, needing no outer supports.
What I do is sooo simple: when I have a walk with my dog or sit reading on a park bench, when I'm at a concert or when I'm playing myself, mostly alone, I try to differentiate sounds, layers of sounds... from the lower to the higher pitched, from the subtlest to the loudest... then every sound is sort of analyzed, weighted, considered, appreciated or blamed... the wind different noises, the grass, the leaves, the birds, the different birds singing, a burglar... how far is it? Cars and trucks, while in the park... where are them: north or south? Church bells... what church is it? How many times do them rang?
Is the harpsichord on the stage tuned at A440 or A415? Do you hear the soprano breathing, at the concert or through your music system? What heard my dog, when it raised its ears? How did it... my wife's car, how the hell, as I didn't heard nothing?!? Yes, dogs reach higher frequencies and, maybe, level of attention but... now, I'm able to hear my wife's car engine, down in the street... my dog - with its attention - taught it to me;-)
Do all the above make sense? IMO, YES... it's care for Life and what happens around. Sound or music, it's not different... it's like wearing a blinding, dark-lenses eyeglasses or earpads... it ALWAYS makes a world of difference living (trying to reach) the 100% of our essence. Mine is like I described... my fault, my strength?!? Who knows?
Is it tiring? Fatiguing? Music unfriendly?
Definitely nope!
Would you define a clever chap cleverly running his healthy three miles a day? ... or anyone having a daily walk of at least half an hour, the very minimum for heart good health, as "body enemies" or "fanatics"? Or people appreciating the smell of a forest, while trekking, calling'em "nature foes" or "lunatics"?
No, of course...
This very practice, which, like every skill must be cultivated to improve at its best, is among the best Zen-like techniques a motivated music lover and/or musician should explore and learn, period!
When I listen to music, I concentrate on all melodic lines, different timbres, harmonic complexities or easiness, and it's such a joy to enter in a sort of sonic fabric, appreciating, feeling, absorbing down to the tiniest debris of sound and music. I know I'm not alone at doing this and everyone has his approach... this is mine.
When audiophiles listen to "the sound of cables" or "the sound of tubes", they're sure making a sincere, yet limited, effort to listen to the ineffable, to the tiny details of life... only calling this "miracle" with the wrong name;-)
... but, please believe me, as a complete beginner isn't able to listen to hidden details and differences in instruments tone and best recordings, so deeply & properly "feeling" the music, not only "listening to" it as a pleasant noise, everyone's able to reach such a level of "attention" with dedication and passion: through meditation & mind self-cleaning and... yes: Ear Gym.