Friday, April 13, 2018

It depends upon your point of audition, I suppose...

A few years ago, I heroically dragged my recording equipment up the long ladder into the pipe room to make a recording. The point I was making was that you could listen to the same piece--same performance, actually--from two points of hearing, the first from within the sanctuary, where you would normally be sitting, and the second from in the pipe chambers themselves, and get a very different sonic experience. If you missed that, here they are (90 seconds each):

Tunder: Canzon in G (sanctuary)
Tunder: Canzon in G (pipe room)

 I've been doing a bit of work on my website lately, trying to update, modernize, centralize, and generally improve vast amounts of material, and in the process it is necessary to see how it looks to the people using it. The difficulty here is that people have got multiple ways of accessing your site, and they all produce quite different results. For instance, if you are at a desktop computer reading this, you are using a browser, like Chrome, or Mozilla. I can't tell which one, but I can tell how many people are using which ones because the google tells me. Chrome usually wins for popularity. This is unfortunate, because my site looks so much better in Mozilla, which puts nice little defining borders around things, and doesn't shrink the pictures and diminish their sharpness and general quality the way Chrome does. But at least they are not too many yards apart. I have to check my pages in both of them to make sure something that looks good in one doesn't look positively stupid in the other. I've also found ways to fix the width of the presentation because, depending on the width of your display (some can be more than twice as wide as others) anything that you would like to display in some kind of relation to something else (like a caption that should be below a picture) could end up on the other side of the screen. Imagine something tall and thin (like a person) suddenly becoming short and squat. Now imagine the internal organs having to move around to accommodate, because this person is now three times as wide as he is tall. Now imagine them trying to get through the metal detector at the airport, and becoming tall and thin again. We can't perform those gymnastics, but a website can and does, without telling us.

Now that we are all using cellphones to browse the internet I have to account for the small screen, too. A lot of what I've been doing has to do with making the site more "cell phone friendly" even though the majority of my users still don't use them. (A sizeable minority does, however.) It's amazing how much adjustment needs to be made for the different situations. The traditional wisdom in these matters is to keep things simple, but then you are being dull across the board.

The same is true for recordings. I found years ago that the same recording could sound considerably different depending upon what you are listening to it on. Something that sounds good in headphones can sound poor on desktop speakers, or (more often) vice versa. Generally my recordings sound decent with good headphones because that is how I listen when I mix them. But even professional CDs are subject to the differences in players, boomboxes, car stereos, and the like.

This is all a very good metaphor for receptivity among people. How various people can react so differently to the same material depends greatly upon the kind of grey matter they have between their ears are well as the personal experiences they've had all their lives. Someone might find this terribly interesting. Somebody else hit the back button on their browser a long time ago.

The world is awash in advice for popular success. One of the formulas is to "be yourself." That only works if you are similar enough to most other people to catch their attention. If not, you can be yourself by yourself. It is also conveniently self-indulgent enough not to concern itself too much with other people. You obviously can't spend your life anxious about how they are going to react (particularly the nasty ones), but failing to care about their perceptions makes you pretty limited. In fact, being able to see things from other points of view is pretty much a basic hallmark of human intelligence. Being particularly good at it, though, is far from basic.

Over-accommodation has its problems as well.  If I were just out to get viewers, and keep them entertained, I would skip the classical music and go straight to kitten videos. Instead, I have something to say and I'm going to say it. I'll try to make it more interesting for a broad audience, but I'm only going to take that so far.

Thus it seems we must strike some sort of balance. And balance is something that is continually in danger of being lost. It has to be revisited constantly, reinvented, repurposed...

But at least it keeps life interesting.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I don't bite...mostly.