Is it Live Music? Or is it Digitally Enhanced?

“Is it live? Or is it Memorex?”

Do you remember those “iconic” commercials from the early 70’s with Ella Fitzgerald? We would witness Ella’s “live” performance being recorded on to a Memorex cassette. When she hit a high note her voice actually shattered a Champagne flute. And then we would hear the playback from the cassette tape and – “miracle of miracles” – another glass would shatter!

With Memorex tapes there would be no loss in audio quality. Transfer your music from one physical medium – the vinyl LP record – to another physical medium – the Memorex audio tape. You would minimize audio degradation – the more you played your LP record the greater the loss in fidelity. And … you would minimize the “generational loss” from transferring the sound source from one medium to another.

Not to mention portability and accessibility – you could now listen to your Memorex cassettes in your car or in a portable audio player. And… the sound quality would be so good. “Is it Live? Or is it Memorex?”

I was reminded of these commercials when I read Pogue’s Posts: “Are Digital Orchestras a Sign of the Times?”in the NY Times. David Pogue is a terrific writer and this is a thoughtful article. This particular posting has received over 75 comments from readers so far. Click here to read the full article and comments from readers.

Are live musicians actually playing tonight? Or am I listening to a digital recording of a live musician? Often, it is nearly impossible to tell. Can you?

Let the debate rage on. And… at least on the NY Times website it is quite lively in response to David Pogue’s article.

Did audio cassettes cause the demise of the vinyl LP record? No. Did it help to change our listening habit? Definitely!

We can argue in a similar vein about how the Compact Disc changed both the music industry and our listening habits. Then on to how digital downloading music (both legally and illegally) have altered the sound-scape in our lives.

Do you prefer to listen to music at home or to attend a live performance? If you are like me, I enjoy both – each for different reasons.

Do you prefer having a DJ program the music at your event or do you engage a live band? That is your choice. There are pros and cons to accompany each decision. Take your pick.

As technology evolves so do we. Albeit, some more relutantly than others. Technology does not replace human effort. Technology enables humans to have more options. Technology allows us to develop that wich makes us human – the ability to make choices. Both rational and emotional. The choice is yours.

What are your thoughts on this topic. I invite you to take a few minutes to share your opinion in the space below.

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  1. A colleague of mine sent me his comments on this topic.

    He related his experience attending the current revival of the musical “South Pacific” at Lincoln Center in New Yourk City:

    “The orchestra members were half of the experience. For the Overture and Entr’acte, the pit opened up and revealed them in the formal attire and sounding like a million bucks. The audience loved it!

    I think that everyone would have wanted their money back had that pit opened to reveal a digital orchestra.”

    What thoughts do you have on this? Please share them – or email them to me and I will post them anonymously.

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