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Is Music Is Better Played Live Than Recorded?

Frampton Comes Alive

   It’s no secret that as a musician I just plain love music. I learned to love music from my father who used to sing with me when I was a little boy. We used to take road trips and sing a whole bunch of old classics. Then as I got older I sang in choir in grade school, then learned trumpet, piano, guitar and a bunch of other instruments. So my love of live performance began at an early age and has developed over the course of my life.

   When I turned about 13 years old I started to discover the classic recordings that I have grown to love. The Beatles – Revolver, Sgt. Peppers, The White Album. The Who – Who’s Next, Tommy, Quadrophenia. Pink Floyd – Dark Side Of The Moon, The Wall, Wish You Were Here. Over the years I’ve collected some of the finest sounding recordings of all time. Which also brought me to the realization that there are a lot of poor recordings out there as well. Some really classic songs are extremely poorly recorded. Take The Who – My Generation for example, scratchy, tinny, distorted but a kick-ass song!

   I have tried to enjoy all types of music by listening to them recorded. I’ve got bluegrass, classical, country, jazz and lots of rock-n-roll. I tend not to like recordings of bluegrass, classical or jazz though. I just can’t seem to wrap myself in the recordings of those genres. That being said, I love bluegrass, classical and jazz played live. I can listen to them all night long in a live performance setting. I honestly feel like the acoustic instruments are still poorly recorded in group settings and bluegrass, classical and jazz rely heavily on acoustic instruments.

   In terms of sound quality there’s no question that heavily acoustic styles such as bluegrass, jazz and classical sound better live. So that got me thinking about how much I enjoy rock, metal and progressive music played live. I’ve been to many a rock concert that had such horribly produced live sound that it just ruined it for me. Or the venue that I’ve been to big rock concerts in were just horrible acoustically. But, when a sound crew gets it right, or I hear a great rock band in a smaller live venue such as a club a live show can just blow a recording out of the water. So again, even though the electric instruments are trickier to make sound great live, the live show is better than the recording in terms of sound quality. Electric instruments and amplifiers also lose something during the recording process. A simple Les Paul Guitar through a Marshall amp just sounds better when you are standing there listening to it live than on a recording.

   So I have to say that I honestly feel that live music is by far more enjoyable than recorded music simply in terms of sound quality. When you add in the facts that a live show gives you direct interaction with the artist, more improvisation and a totally unique experience every time an artist puts on a show then there’s no question in my mind that music is definitely better played live than recorded. When you happen to be at a show where everything is hitting on all cylinders, it’s truly magical. There’s nothing as fine as one of Beethoven’s symphonies played live by a full orchestra. That is one of life’s greatest experiences.

   I’m putting up a quick poll on the subject so take a moment and vote in todays poll.

Is music better played live or recorded?

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