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  • Milton Horne

Testing your acoustical vs. electronic ear

I was shocked when I learned (from my son, of course) that writing film score was mostly done with technology, utilizing vast stores of electronically available libraries of instrument sounds. Now I know how my old vision of the composer (cue John Williams) conducting an orchestra from a score while viewing the video feed in a recording booth is so laughably out of date. So is my notion that electronic music does not sound as realistic as acoustically produced music.


On a bet my son downloaded the (massive!) sound libraries of two concert grand pianos: a Bosendorfer model 290 (the Imperial) and a New York Steinway model D. I thought the aim was simply to compare the sounds. His aim was to determine whether I could identify which was which. Well, detecting the difference was not difficult at all if you've ever been around those two pianos. And I have, indeed, been around both.


I don't know if I amazed him. But he certainly amazed me, or at least the electronic versions of those instruments did. They were impeccably reproduced from the electronic library of sounds.That's what I could not get over.The extraordinary bass of the Bosendorfer was distinctive, but the clarity of the tone in the Steinway was determinative. Wow! Who knew? I was humbled and contrite as well as deeply impressed--at what I never knew I did not know.

All of us acoustical purists need to keep an open mind, I think.



The new age

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