Friday, December 7, 2007

A Ratatouille for the Ears

The title of this piece is an allusion to the animated movie about a Parisian gourmet rat. The following quote, taken from a article, In Defense of Audiophiles, made me think of a scene in that movie where the main character was waxing orgasmic about the symphony of flavors in a well-constructed dish:
But there are some things that only a really good home stereo, playing well-recorded CDs or vinyl LPs, can give you: the texture of an instrument (the woodiness of a bass, the golden brass of a trumpet, the fleshy skin of a bongo); the bouquet of harmonics that waft from an orchestra (the mingling overtones, the echoes off the concert hall's walls); the breath behind a voice; the warm percussiveness of a Steinway grand; the silky sheen of massed violins; the steely whoosh of brushes on a snare; the undistorted clarity of everything sung, blown, strummed, bowed, plucked, and smacked, all at once—in short, the sense that real musicians are playing real instruments in a real space right before you.
For what it's worth, many of us are losing the chance to appreciate quality music. Whether because our music collections are primarily in MP3 format, or because our "stereo systems" consist of tiny speakers or earbuds, we -- as a consumer group -- are dining on "fast listening."

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