'Round And 'Round, Having Fun!
When I was a kid, I was a music snob. Other than Doo-Wop (which I still love, even today), I pretty much thought that any music written after the death of Handel (1759) wasn't worth listening to. The exception — the reason I just say "pretty much" about my musical bias — was that, if it was brilliantly and believably recorded, I would listen to and enjoy just about anything!
I became a Hi-Fi Crazy (now more politely called an "audiophile") when I was just twelve, and even in those monophonic days (The first stereo LP wasn't released until years later, in 1957), there were recordings so great-sounding (George Wright or E. Power Biggs at a giant pipe organ, for example) that regardless of what was on the disc, I was enthralled and had to hear more of it.
When I say "more of it", though, the "it" that I'm referring to wasn't necessarily the music, the performer, or the performance; for me, it was the sound! Sonic realism — the kind that makes me feel as if I were "right there" with the sound source — was what caught and held me; even made me a music-lover; and has continued to do so for more than sixty years.
Whether it was the long 32 Hz organ tone at the very beginning of Richard Strauss' Also Sprach Zarathustra (later used as the opening theme for the movie "2001"), the "revolution-in-a-clock-shop" percussion of the last few minutes of Shostakovich's Symphony #15, or even just "sound effects" — things, in the old days of stereo, like trains, jet planes, military bands marching across the listening room, a distant storm, or (Yes, really) even an atomic bomb explosion recorded from twenty miles away — it was the sound that caught my initial attention and opened the door for me to be exposed to, and sometimes even to become a fan of, just about every kind of music there is.
I can't count the times that I heard something in a dealer's showroom, at a friend's house, or a hi-fi show, that, just because of its glorious sonics or utterly believable imaging and soundscaping, I immediately ran out and bought. Or how many times that, after I bought something just for its sound, I got "hooked" – either on the artist, the composer, or its new and exciting musical genre — and continued to listen to it as music ever after.
Some perfect examples of this are Cantate Domino [Proprius PRSACD 7762], Jazz at the Pawnshop [Propius PRCD7778], Yello's One Second [Mercury 832 675-2] and Ballet for Band (Mercury SRI 75138). Considering that those are. In order, Classical / Sacred Music, small-group jazz, "Techno" pop, and ballet music transcribed for wind ensemble – none of which fits any part of my youthful bias — perhaps you'll understand what I mean.
Countless more recordings or types of music could be added (at this point, I'm also "into" Mongolian Heavy Metal, Balinese Gamelan music, Country and Western, Big Band, and many more), but the point is that there's more than just a single pathway to becoming a music-lover, and one of them is pure audiophilia!
What a fine thing! The better our recordings and playback equipment get, the closer we can come to that "perfect sound forever" that we were promised at the beginning of the digital age. And the better the sound becomes, the more likely we are to enjoy whatever music may have been recorded. It's a never-ending cycle, with our musical and cultural horizons being broadened with each new kind of music we hear, and each new kind of music we listen to giving us more opportunities to hear a great sound!
In these last several weeks, it seems like most of us have been effectively in quarantine, whether self-imposed or as a result of government policy. And even if we haven't been shut-in, with all the restaurants, bars, movies, gyms, theaters, stadia, and concert halls closed, there's been no place for us to go. (This last has been true, incidentally, not only for us here in the United States of America, but also elsewhere, as confirmed in telephone calls with friends in the UK, Canada, Thailand, and several other countries) The result is that many of us have had lots of "stay-at-home" time to work with and enjoy our systems and to discover new favorite recordings – and maybe even new performers and new types of music, as well.
Good! It's a great start; now think how many more there are to go!
Just because it's been announced that some States will be starting to re-open for business in as little as the next few days, and that (hopefully) most of the rest of us will be back to work not too long thereafter, is no reason to stop doing what's been such great fun during our "shut-in" period.
Do keep on enjoying your system – especially when you go back to work. (Now that you've been reminded, courtesy of COVID-19, think of what a great break it will be from your daily routine.)
Do keep on listening to new things and swapping them — at least in the form of recommendations — with your friends.
Do keep following those new things through to find the great ones – whether musically, sonically, or both!
Remember that new stuff leads to more new stuff, and it just keeps on going 'round and 'round. That's what I'm going to do right now: I'm going to pick something new, put it on the system, close my eyes, sit back, and...