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Music Is Love

Jim Forte | Published on 3/5/2020

Music Is Love

As a newly inducted member of the SFAS “leadership team”, I want to talk about music. After all, this is what we all pursue with a passion. We are inspired by it. We are lifted by it. We are moved by it. We seek perfection in it… And for some of us, it is a spiritual experience. Before you finish reading this article, my hope is this helps add to the perspective of your own musical journey.

A few or more years back, Stanford University held a weekend long symposium on the effect of music on sentient beings. Perhaps revealing was a presentation that showed the effects of music on men. The research discovered that music had similarities to the experience of orgasm in the male gender. Perhaps this explains the predominance of men in the audiophile arena. Others would simply argue that it is the heavy emphasis of technology and engineering as a left brain pursuit that attracts mostly men to the “hobby”. Well for what it is worth, my wife, while appreciating the superior sonics of my “stereo”, seems satisfied listening to her music on a boom box or computer speakers.

As I stated in my “leadership team” bio, my musical experience began in my mother’s womb while she danced around the house listening to “Big Band” grooves and the like of her era. Then I was exposed (via my older cousin) to the post Doo-Op rhythms of the late fifties and early sixties. Then in the early and mid-sixties, my allegiances were spread between garage band grooves, “soul” music and the Beatles. As the music of the Beatles matured, so did my musical tastes, especially after “turning on”. The music of the late sixties and early seventies was a musical moon shot and we were ushered into new ways of thinking and experiencing the world. I worked in “freeform” community radio in the early to mid-seventies. I played and enjoyed music of many genres and my musical sensibilities expanded exponentially.

As with all cultural phenomenon, the Woodstock vision faded and then in came Punk, Disco and Ronald Regan. I never could relate to Punk. After the classically trained musicians of ELP (turned rockers) left their mark, it was a hard act to follow. So Punkers went back to the garage and unleased their anger with the world by producing a sound that to me sounded like nothing more than an electrified washboard. For those of you who like Punk, maybe I missed something, so if I have offended you, I apologize. Instead I found solace in the musicality of Disco. Perhaps this stemmed from the danceable grooves I experienced in the womb, and John Travolta has nothing on me. Many of my friends and most audiophiles loathed the Disco era, but then most engineers are hard pressed to “cut a rug”.

Moving on and following this era, I became preoccupied with my career. The music of various genres was something I listened to “catch as catch can”. As like many of us in the SFAS, we now have more time to listen to music. After spending more than thirty years seeking sonic perfection as an audiophile, I want to immerse myself in the world of music. This is no small challenge no matter how you slice it. Roon labs shows 21 genres. Amazon shows 26. My DB Power-Amp software showed 127 different classifications of music, (and wait for it) according to data alchemist Glenn McDonald, there are no less than 1264 groupings!! Daniel Levitin, who was featured on Ted Talks, revealed that throughout musical history, all music fit into one of six categories: expressing friendship, joy, comfort, religion, knowledge and love.

I realize I can never fully explore it all, but with the new “streaming technologies”, we have the means to more easily go much further than we ever have. Next month, I will compose an article on the phenomenon of Streaming and February’s presentation by David Snyder on “Streaming”.

So while I can never fully explore all that the world of music has to offer, I can reveal to you what I hold as my favorite artists, albums and genres. (I HOPE OTHERS IN THE SFAS WILL IN FACT REVEAL THEIR OWN COLLECTION OF FAVORITES IN THE MONTHS TO COME VIA OUR MUSE NEWLETTER.) My favorite artists include Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, James Brown and other soulful artists including Otis Redding, the O’Jays, and Earth Wind and Fire. I love most Jazz, Blues, Gospel, Latin rhythms and Big Band sounds, especially the music of John Coltrane and a host of blues artists, including Billie Holiday and contemporary female vocalists. I am especially fond of the Beatles, CSNY, Jackson Browne, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, The Stones, Santana, Van Morrison, the Who, the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac and others. My favorite albums include Abbey Road, CSN and Déjà Vu, Let It Bleed, Rumours, Sweet Baby James, Joni Mitchell’s Blue album and most recently the “Playing for Change” productions which come in CDs and video rich DVDs. Finally for the moment, I have discovered Melody Gardot. I especially find her album “My One and Only Thrill” enchanting. I hope to review it in next month’s Muse.

If I have a weak spot, it is in my lack of familiarity and understanding of classical music and opera, although I do enjoy listening to a number of compositions. For those of you who are adept in the genre, I and I’m sure others in our membership would appreciate learning which compositions you think would be worthy of their attention.

So you see, I have a big problem. Should I spend more time tweaking the sound of my already very pleasing audiophile system, or should I spend more time enjoying and exploring the rich universe of music? The answer became clear to me after I experienced the newly accessible world of music via Hi-Rez streaming?

I genuinely hope that more of our SFAS members will share with their compadres, the music that inspires them in the months ahead.

JJ Forte