This post is mostly about pop music, but I will say that I’m thinking about a Brahms piano music comparison for my thesis.
The following is a post I did for another blog I write for (Webster University Music Department blog). I thought it was interesting enough that I would put it on my own page.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the remastered Beatles albums that are due out next week and I’ve been debating for quite a while now about whether or not to listen to them. I mean, from a musicological perspective, I want to listen to the songs in their original form so that I can understand more about the instruments and mastering processes of the day. The Beatles recorded the albums using the technology they had available at the time, and to change any of the variables that make those albums what they are might compromise the historical value of the music itself.
To me, it’s the same as going to see a performance of a Strauss tone poem or a Beethoven symphony, in that they wrote for the instruments that they had available at the time. A section of a Strauss piece as played on the instruments that existed 100 years ago would sound vastly different from the same section being played on million dollar, world-class quality instruments made recently. For this reason, I enjoy John Eliot Gardiner’s performances because he usually uses period instruments in order to capture the original feeling of the piece.
I understand the general argument for listening to these new albums: that they SOUND BETTER. Well, sound is a qualitative thing- perhaps the albums sound exactly how they band wants them to. In assuming that we are ‘making it better’ by changing it, it not only causes people to associate the original albums with imperfection, but it causes us to therefore assume that we can improve an artist’s music by applying current technology to it.
So, the question persists: Should we listen to the new Beatles albums?