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IndiaPaleAle

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I am new to this forum and perhaps this topic has been covered before...yet here it goes....

I am an avid devotee of ICM (with a slight preference for Hindustani). Ironically, my interest blossomed when I left India as a graduate student. Now, I spend each visit to India happily walking in and out of stores in old-Delhi, Bangalore or Madras seeking ICM recordings.

Over the years, I have also come to appreciate the magic of a good amplifier and speaker setup. That leads to my biggest source of angst - the fidelity of ICM recordings and the spotty quality of production. From poor percussion/vocal balance to incorrect stereo recording or extraneous noise, the general lack of consistency is somewhat surprising. Especially, given the relatively sophisticated recordings of filmy music!

This is also why I try to eschew mp3 recordings (except when there is no choice, as in non commercial and personal recordings, for which I am always grateful to the kind soul who uploads them!). On a reasonably revealing audio setup, even so-called "CD quality" mp3 can sound quite tinny and distracting.

As for non-commercial (i.e., live or non-studio production), my preference is always for the "unclean" copy. Even the process of "cleaning" up a recording can sometimes take valuable frequencies out!
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Shivaranjani

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nicneufeld

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Partly because of my relative newness to the music and partly because of my geographical location, I've only had the occasion to hear a proper sitar recital once in person (Nayan Ghosh on sitar, in Lawrence, Kansas). It was mic'ed and amplified for a medium size hall, but the sound to me was incredible and seemed so much fuller than what I'm used to hearing. That said, I listen to so much Indian Classical music on my iPhone via internet radio, so that's pretty much guaranteeing that it will be lo-fi quality.

I also agree about no artificial reverb. The taraf of a sitar, in particular, makes the addition of reverb almost distracting. With a nylon string guitar, I love judiciously applied reverb, but on a sitar it almost deadens the sound by putting a blanket of dull reverberation over the delicate and detailed resonance of the sympathetics. Even natural, acoustic reverb can do this, when I tried playing a sitar in an empty concert hall just to see how it sounded. I had imagined it would sound fantastic but I was surprised it almost sounded more dead than if I were in a small room without reverberation. Strange phenomenom, and I grant it might just have been a personal perception at the time.
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haldamos

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Reply with quote  #4 
To me, the content overshadows the recording quality. Someone here posted something akin to the fact that a fine poem is just as beautiful even if the print is faded
Quote:
I had heard many recordings of Vilayat Khan.
One day i had the grace to sit at the first row of an unamplified concert with the master.
I could not believe my ears how soft and warm his tone was.
A fine recording and fine playback equipment could match this sound, yet i have not heard one recording that achieves this.
If you are into the sonic aspects, try India Archive Records. The label has many ICM recordings, though unfortunately the vast majority have yet to be released. The producer uses MasterSound Astoria studios in NY, and they know what they are doing. I was around for quite a few of the recording sessions of Ud Vilayat Khan, and Ud Shujaat Khan. They take pains to capture the sound as precisely as possible. I'd often jump in and out of the control room to compare, and I have to say it was quite nice in the control room. (And less stressful--Godforbid you sneeze!) Unfortunately, few people can afford the equipment that they use to reproduce the sound.

Anyway, when a CD is released, they have great liner notes from knowledgeable people. It's a great, complete package. If demand were there, I think there would be more high quality products like this on the market.

PH

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jaan e kharabat

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Reply with quote  #5 
ICM is supposed to be preformed in a relatively small chamber with no electronic amplification of the sound. Recordings, naturally, should try to be faithful to that ideal, as Shivaranjani points out. Unfortunately, we live in an age of concert stages and big speaker systems.
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If there are just ''six tones'' in an octave [sic] then why have frets for tones that don't exist?
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jaan e kharabat

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Reply with quote  #6 
ICM is supposed to be preformed in a relatively small chamber with no electronic amplification of the sound. Recordings, naturally, should try to be faithful to that ideal, as Shivaranjani points out. Unfortunately, we live in an age of concert stages and big speaker systems.
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If there are just ''six tones'' in an octave [sic] then why have frets for tones that don't exist?
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cabernethy

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Reply with quote  #7 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "haldamos"
To me, the content overshadows the recording quality. Someone here posted something akin to the fact that a fine poem is just as beautiful even if the print is faded

Whilst I agree with where this is leading, the point that it misses is that with lo-fi recordings the music is not quiet or faded but totally missing or digitally aliased.

What you are hearing is far from a faded copy of the original source (as it would have been more accurately on analog equipment), part's of the original are completely absent in digital playback.

Of course, quality always shines through. But at the same time it also frustrates me to know that digital approximation is making acoustic decisions for me as the listener.
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povster

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Reply with quote  #8 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "haldamos"
To me, the content overshadows the recording quality.
When I first began studying with my teacher he gave me full access to his collection on reel to reel, recorded at 1 7/8ips, each on a single track of a 4-track machine. So lots of music on one tape. But the audio certainly suffered. Combine that with many AIR over the air broadcasts with the ocassional signal blips impacted the quality even more.

But aside from a few LPs, this was my main source of ICM for a few years. Many recordings I have uploaded like the Abid Hussain Khan vin and the old Vilayat Khan reflect the general quality.

But depsite having a ton of high quality recordings now on CD, the ones I usually hearken back to are the low-fi ones because there are such outstanding performances on them that the quality of playing indeed overshadows the recording quality.

In an ideal world there would be both performance and recording quality. But this is not an ideal world. But just the ability to even HEAR such live recordings that are 40 years old or older? That is a priceless privelege.

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...Michael
Dasani - the official bottled water of ICM
Panini - the official bread of ICM
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Shivaranjani

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