Saturday, March 11, 2006

music and life

New Routine 2
Originally uploaded by matt_leclair.
I am ashamed to admit I let this happen. Music is one of my great passions in life. For the past 15 years I've been working to build the best stereo system I can. I discovered how to do it on the cheap. High-end audiophiles have upgrade-itas and they're always selling their old stuff at a fraction of what they paid for it. Quality hifi doesn't become obsolete the way other electronics do, so a 40 y.o. piece of gear can sound as good as it did back then. So I've got an incredible sounding system made from people's leftovers. It's the sound I care about though.

And yet when we moved into our new place, I half-heartedly hooked it back up, and then I needed to borrow the line conditioner for the TV, so basically the system has been just taking up space for almost a year.

What a waste! How could I abandon my love this way?

I realize now that I was doing the thing that I find so distasteful in others: trading convenience for quality. I've got my iPod and I just load that up with music, and I can listen for weeks without having to do anything but hit play.

But the difference between an iPod and a finely tuned hifi system is the difference between a McDonald's Happy Meal and a meal prepared by a gourmet chef in a 5 star restaurant. The iPod fills a hole. It's good for background noise, blocking out the distractions of the world to make whatever else you're doing a little more pleasant.

And that's what music has been to me for more than a year now. Just background. Not something I really listened to.

While rearranging the apartment, I hooked the stereo up properly and I remembered my lost love. With a good system you can hear the things that are lost, like John Coltrane taking a quick breath between notes, or musicians turning the pages of their sheet music. Things that remind you that these aren't just notes, but they're real people playing them on real instruments. You hear the size and shape of the room the music was recorded in. You hear heights, depths, resonances you never knew were there.

Now that my system is back together, I find myself doing something I haven't done in a long time: listening to music. I mean really listening. Eyes closed, doing nothing but sitting back and really hearing the notes.

Of late my morning routine has been to drink my cup of coffee listening to music while Dash keeps me company. It is a great way to start the day!


Audioman said...


What a fabulous layout,

I would love to know how you did this page.


matt leclair said...

If I weren't such an honest person, I'd take credit for it! But actually, I was just digging around in the Blogger templates and thinking I'd have to create my own, when I found one that said "coffee" better than what I would have come up with on my own! It is prefab, sorry to say. Some day I hope to figure out the CSS thing and be able to build my own!