In this morning's music 101 lecture, we were finishing up with the late renaissance, including in-depth discussions about the Madrigal. I explained to the class how the secular music of this time was intended for just pure entertainment - keeping in mind that we are hundreds of years away from the iPod or any personal music device at this time.
It got me thinking - how much does the average student rely on music in their lives. So I did a careful study which I believe is to be to within +/- 2% of accuracy. Ok, so what I really did was, on my walk across campus to find my wife and our car at the end of the day, I counted how many students walked past me with headphones on (by the way - why do people wear God-awful-huge-ugly headphones out in public? The ear buds are far more attractive folks!) I determined that approximately every fifth person I passed had some kind of music device playing in or on their ears, and for the record, every seventh person was talking on a cell phone, others were walking with friends and chatting - but very few people were walking alone without a phone or music device. From this I determine that music is a very important part of everyone's daily life.
I grew up in a house where there was always live music. From the sounds of instruments being practiced - between my sister and I, this included lots of piano, voice, guitar and a brief stints of trumpet and flute. On top of this, every family gathering ended around the piano with singing, not always in tune, but it was live music - not the same genre of music discussed earlier in this post, but certainly the experience must have been pretty close. I'm afraid that this tradition is lost in most of us now, thanks to the stereo. I have to admit, I'm a bit of a sterophile. I buy high quality components and speakers, and I spend a lot of time (and money) finding the right fit for me, and as I type this, I am listening to recorded music in my living room.
Many people have asked me what the best equipment is for sound - my new answer is going to be "Your Ears" Why do we spend so much money trying to recreate the sound of a live performance, when the best place to hear a live performance, is at a live performance?