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Arc45
02-14-2004, 09:10 PM
I have an Acoustic Signature Final tool turntable with ARC VT 100 MKII Tube amp;Arc LS-15 preamp ; an Anthem phon preamp with Martin Logan Ascent speakers.
The turntable has a Rega rb 250 tonearm and I am presently using a Grado Gold cartrdige.

Any recoomendations for this set up? The Grado is ok but "thin" in the midrange and since I just got this beast (turntable) I probably should go better.

Your ideas are appreciated. Thank you in advance.

DMK
02-15-2004, 06:42 AM
I have an Acoustic Signature Final tool turntable with ARC VT 100 MKII Tube amp;Arc LS-15 preamp ; an Anthem phon preamp with Martin Logan Ascent speakers.
The turntable has a Rega rb 250 tonearm and I am presently using a Grado Gold cartrdige.

Any recoomendations for this set up? The Grado is ok but "thin" in the midrange and since I just got this beast (turntable) I probably should go better.

Your ideas are appreciated. Thank you in advance.

The Grado is a decent cartridge but it's outclassed by the rest of your stuff. The arm on my table is a Rega RB300 and I'm assuming it isn't worlds different from the 250. I use the Ortofon Kontrapunkt B and it's an incredible sounding cartridge which works well with the Rega arm. It's $950 - how much did you want to spend? It'll fit in nicely with the rest of your system but there are other nice cartridges around for less (or more!).

How do you like the Anthem? Years ago I owned their tubed preamp and it holds a special place in my heart as the first tubed product I ever owned. I upgraded the pre and then went with a tubed power amp and have never looked backwards to SS. I've never auditioned the Anthem phono and I'm not familiar with its specs. Does it have enough gain to drive a lower output MC cartridge?

Chas Underhay
02-16-2004, 08:58 AM
The Grado is a decent cartridge but it's outclassed by the rest of your stuff. The arm on my table is a Rega RB300 and I'm assuming it isn't worlds different from the 250. I use the Ortofon Kontrapunkt B and it's an incredible sounding cartridge which works well with the Rega arm. It's $950 - how much did you want to spend? It'll fit in nicely with the rest of your system but there are other nice cartridges around for less (or more!).

I'll second the Kontrapunct b, superb especially considering the cost.

If it is not already done, it would be worth considering one of the Origin Live type mods to your RB250, the Kontrapunct deserves it.

Arc45
02-16-2004, 06:00 PM
Kontrapunct is within my budget. I'm unclear by the mod to which you are referring , Origin Live.........
Thanks for the replies!

DMK
02-16-2004, 06:40 PM
Kontrapunct is within my budget. I'm unclear by the mod to which you are referring , Origin Live.........
Thanks for the replies!

www.originlive.com. I have not had this mod performed and I don't expect to but others have done so and have deemed it a good upgrade. Of course, one reason I'm not interested in it is because I have my eye on this Morch DP-6 tonearm.... :)

skeptic
02-18-2004, 04:29 AM
In some ways, choosing a phonograph cartridge is like choosing a speaker. Rather personal in what you think sounds best or most accurate with the other equipment you own. However, there are some objective criteria. Tracking ability, the ability to track highly modulated grooves at low force without distortion is one. Channel seperation at all audible frequencies is another. Personally I prefer cartridges with a flat frequency response. I also prefer cartridges which have a high output, are relatively immune to hum, and where you can replace the stylus without sending it out for service. That is why I prefer moving magnet cartridges in general and Shure V15 type V MR in particular. However, moving coil cartridges have their fans. Ortofon make a very good line of them and has been a reliable supplier for decades.

maxg
02-18-2004, 07:33 AM
Cartridge choice is just about as personal an issue as speaker choice. In that light it comes as no surprise that my choices would be rather different from his. I prefer almost the exact opposite in fact - MC carts with low output.

Based purely on my limited experience I would recommend you at least try to get to listen to any of the following at their respective price ranges:

$150 - Denon 103 (I do not know why the system has turned this into a hyperlink - it has nothing to do with me)
$750 - Shelter 501
$1400 - Shelter 901

All are low output MC and match well to the RB250.

IMHO the 901 is one of the best there is - and I am not alone in that (although there is now a 90X that is supposed to be better but I aint come across it yet...)

E-Stat
02-18-2004, 01:09 PM
Your ideas are appreciated. Thank you in advance.
I agree with skeptic that as transducers, cartridges are subject to as much individual preference as are speakers. Like you, I use electrostatic speakers and have done so for over twenty years. Consequently, I favor moving coil cartridges for their superior resolution and transient response IMHO. I presently use a Dynavector DV-20XL cartridge that is available in both low and medium output versions and can be had for around $550. Since Anthem recommends a minimum output of 0.4mV, you may want to go for a medium output cartridge. I'm pushing the limit with my arrangement (the SP-9 has similar gain to yours) since I use the low output flavor and found that cabling, both signal and power, was more critical to keep noise levels down. In fact, I use a Monster conditioner on the table for the same reason.

As for your Grado, I'm surprised at your "thin in the midrange" characterization. I owned one many moons ago and didn't find that to be the case. I found mine lacking in high frequency detail instead. But that was a different model, so? Since Grado says they are insensitive to capacitance, then loading is likely not a problem. Have you tried experimenting with VTA? A number of cartridges are quite sensitive in this area. I have found if the VTA is off, then the soundstage suffers. That may be what you are referring to. Good luck.

rw

hifitommy
02-21-2004, 11:21 AM
thats why i keep about 5 or six mounted on headshells ready for swap out. stanton 881s, atML170, at440ML, shure vi5Vxmr, krell mc, ortofon mc 200, oc9. yup, they all do things differently and all have their areas of superiority. also, i never need to worry about wearing out a stylus as none gets THAT much wear at a time.

that may be why i dont worry about wearing out LPs either...4-5k of those. i slide in some sacd, and rbcd discs now and again as well. its all about the music.

i agree about the vta and the grado, ive had them before and never felt the mids to be thin.

the kontrapunkt b is available on audiogon for less than the 950 cited by dmk, and 2juki as well. HIGHLY recommended.

DMK
02-22-2004, 06:40 AM
Consequently, I favor moving coil cartridges for their superior resolution and transient response IMHO.
rw

Absolutely agree. The MM cartridges I've listened to (Grado, Shure, Goldring) just don't compete in these areas, although I've never been able to fault their midrange capabilities. I much prefer a cartridge that is flat throughout the entire frequency spectrum rather than one that rolls off or sounds veiled when the going gets tough. My first listen to an MC cartridge was a revelation and I've never looked back.

skeptic
02-22-2004, 09:21 PM
Do the moving magnet cartridges have a flat response while the moving coils have a high end peak or do the moving coils have the flat response while the moving magnet models have a high end rolloff? The frequency response graphs and square wave response photos tell the story. The answer is the first case. And the reason is very simple. When you think about it, the principle of converting a mechanical vibration into an electrical signal is the same for both designs, the magnetic lines of force of a permanent magnet breaking a coil of wire therby generating a voltage. The only difference is that in the moving magnet design, the magnet moves relative to a fixed coil while in the moving coil design, the coil moves relative to a fixed magnet. Which variant is better? The one with the lower dynamic mass. And that is clearly the moving magnet. While extremely small magnets can be very powerful for their intended function, the mass of a coil of copper wire is restricted by the gage of the copper and the number of turns of wire required as well as the spool. Also the compliance of the lead wires becomes a factor. The high mass results not only in substantially more inertia but in lower compliance styli assemblies and greater resonances. Also fewer turns of copper means lower voltage output necessating more electronic amplification.

However, whichever you choose, you can change the frequency response of the output using an equalizer or tone controls. Don't like the idea of equalization? Then consider this. Moving magnet or moving coil, the first thing that happens to the signal from the cartridge in the preamp is that it is equalized. Why? Ever hear of the RIAA curve? Do you know how microgroove long playing records are made? On recording the high frequency response of the tape is boosted so that the signal overcomes the surface background noise on the disc and the bass is cut so that it doesn't overmodulate the recording beyond the cartridge's ability to track it and to conserve space to make a long playing record possible. Upon playback, this frequency response equalization must be corrected for by processing it through an inverse equalizer. So you get equalization whether you like it or not. What cannot be compensated for is the high dynamic mass requiring greater tracking force to keep the record in the groove and make it follow the wiggles. Therefore, as a bonus for buying a MC cartridge, you get greater record and stylus wear on each playing and as a further added bonus, most MC cartridges have to go back to the factory for stylus replacement which is far more labor intensive than the three seconds it takes to slide one stylus out and another in for a MM cartridge.

DMK
02-23-2004, 06:00 AM
Do the moving magnet cartridges have a flat response while the moving coils have a high end peak or do the moving coils have the flat response while the moving magnet models have a high end rolloff? The frequency response graphs and square wave response photos tell the story. The answer is the first case. And the reason is very simple. When you think about it, the principle of converting a mechanical vibration into an electrical signal is the same for both designs, the magnetic lines of force of a permanent magnet breaking a coil of wire therby generating a voltage. The only difference is that in the moving magnet design, the magnet moves relative to a fixed coil while in the moving coil design, the coil moves relative to a fixed magnet. Which variant is better? The one with the lower dynamic mass. And that is clearly the moving magnet. While extremely small magnets can be very powerful for their intended function, the mass of a coil of copper wire is restricted by the gage of the copper and the number of turns of wire required as well as the spool. Also the compliance of the lead wires becomes a factor. The high mass results not only in substantially more inertia but in lower compliance styli assemblies and greater resonances. Also fewer turns of copper means lower voltage output necessating more electronic amplification.

However, whichever you choose, you can change the frequency response of the output using an equalizer or tone controls. Don't like the idea of equalization? Then consider this. Moving magnet or moving coil, the first thing that happens to the signal from the cartridge in the preamp is that it is equalized. Why? Ever hear of the RIAA curve? Do you know how microgroove long playing records are made? On recording the high frequency response of the tape is boosted so that the signal overcomes the surface background noise on the disc and the bass is cut so that it doesn't overmodulate the recording beyond the cartridge's ability to track it and to conserve space to make a long playing record possible. Upon playback, this frequency response equalization must be corrected for by processing it through an inverse equalizer. So you get equalization whether you like it or not. What cannot be compensated for is the high dynamic mass requiring greater tracking force to keep the record in the groove and make it follow the wiggles. Therefore, as a bonus for buying a MC cartridge, you get greater record and stylus wear on each playing and as a further added bonus, most MC cartridges have to go back to the factory for stylus replacement which is far more labor intensive than the three seconds it takes to slide one stylus out and another in for a MM cartridge.

Please share with us any and all frequency response graphs you have on MC and MM cartridges. When's the last time you saw one? Many, many years ago - back when MC's had high end peaks? Granted, some still do and others can based on measurable parameters with other pieces of gear in the chain. But the problem you're citing is largely theoretical these days, along with most of the other problems associated with vinyl playback. Oh, and I have no problem with equalization. I simply prefer to get my system as transparent and neutral as possible first.

No question MM cartridges have some advantages - higher output, ease of stylus change. Sound is a disadvantage IMHO. There is less realism, less resolution, less detail. If being able to replace the stylus yourself is worth this, then by all means go for it. And record wear? Hmmm... I suppose records still wear out, but I haven't had that happen in many years. In fact, I still regularly play LP's from the 1950's. More record CARE = less record WEAR. And no one is dissing your Shure cartridge - at least no one who's ever spent any time with it. It's a world beater for $325. But it is NOT, and I repeat NOT the state of the art in cartridges - far from it. But there are other MM cartridges that are twice as expensive that aren't as good. There are even some MC's that bow to the Shure. But compared to a more expensive MC, the Shure comes up short. You disagree and that is your right. But don't cite some graphs and a bunch of theory and tell those of us who have heard better that MM's are the best cartridges - that ol' dog is too old and weak to hunt. We've heard the measurement schtick with digital, amps, preamps, tubes vs solid state and on and on ad nauseum. I prefer to listen, thanks.

Now, since arguing MC's vs MM's is hardly worthy of your talents, gimme an opinion that is. Do you prefer the Perlman or the Mintz reading of Paganini's Caprices? I have several different copies of these pieces by several different violinists and while I have picked these two as the two best, I can't decide which is better, if either. Little help? Which is your favorite, and why? I'd really like to know and talking music is WAY more interesting than talking gear, no?

E-Stat
02-23-2004, 11:34 AM
Do the moving magnet cartridges have a flat response while the moving coils have a high end peak or do the moving coils have the flat response while the moving magnet models have a high end rolloff?
Would you characterize the +/- 2db response from 20-20k of my Dynavector DV-20XL as possessing a high end peak?

http://www.dynavector.co.jp/english/frame_cart/e_20x.html

One model up the Dynavector food chain is the Karat 17. You will find a B&K graph where it is within +/- 0.5 db from 20-20k.

http://www.dynavector.co.jp/english/frame_cart/e_17d2.html



Ever hear of the RIAA curve?
Sure. While I eschew the 30 hz rumble filter specification, I find the Dynavector models able to track the RIAA curve rather accurately, thank you very much. Frequency response is but one aspect of a phono cartridge's sound quality.

Oh, lest I forget. Let's discuss this canard:


Which variant is better? The one with the lower dynamic mass. And that is clearly the moving magnet.
Uh, no. I do, however, understand the concept. That's why I favor full range electrostatic speakers. There is neither wire nor magnets in the moving mass. Just 0.00065 inches thick of mylar. Back to cartridges. You may find some non-representative example of a heavier moving mass MC cartridge, but the opposite is usually true. Even 70 turns of 11 micron wire doesn't weight a whole bunch. Think of the other side of transducers. Most conventional speakers are of the moving coil variety. Can you imagine the (dreadful) transient response of a tweeter where the magnet was part of the moving mass? BTW, how many moving magnet loudspeakers are there on the market? A random check of various tweeters in all price ranges finds the mass of the magnetic structure to be 10 to 30 times that of the moving coil structure. LOL !!

rw

DMK
02-23-2004, 02:36 PM
[QUOTE=E-Stat]Would you characterize the +/- 2db response from 20-20k of my Dynavector DV-20XL as possessing a high end peak?

http://www.dynavector.co.jp/english/frame_cart/e_20x.html

One model up the Dynavector food chain is the Karat 17. You will find a B&K graph where it is within +/- 0.5 db from 20-20k.

http://www.dynavector.co.jp/english/frame_cart/e_17d2.html



I'd call that "essentially flat" which coincidentally is how Shure describes its flagship cartridge!

skeptic
02-23-2004, 02:38 PM
In my house, Heifetz is the gold standard by which all other violinists are measured. I'd have to see if I even have the others. One thing I can say. I'm not too impressed by Rugero Ricci's recording. Let me look around and see what recordings I've got. The only versions I've heard of it recently was a piano arrangement of the 24th and 9th by Liszt played by a Russian finalist in the 1994 Van Cliburn competition on Phillips and a guitar arrangement on Naxos. A version on viola was pure torture to listen to.

DMK
02-23-2004, 02:53 PM
In my house, Heifetz is the gold standard by which all other violinists are measured. I'd have to see if I even have the others. One thing I can say. I'm not too impressed by Rugero Ricci's recording. Let me look around and see what recordings I've got. The only versions I've heard of it recently was a piano arrangement of the 24th and 9th by Liszt played by a Russian finalist in the 1994 Van Cliburn competition on Phillips and a guitar arrangement on Naxos. A version on viola was pure torture to listen to.

Piano, guitar and viola??? Well, I suppose it can be done but this is the first I've heard of the Caprices done on anything but a violin. I'm just talking about the solo violin 24 Caprices.

I heard some viola/violist jokes about a year ago and found them humorous but I can't remember a single one now! My one recording of Bach's "Cello Suites" is done on viola, hence the name change to "Viola Suites". Too bad, because the cello is one of the three or four instruments I most enjoy listening to when played solo.

I agree with your comment about Heifetz, although I'm also a big fan of Perlman and Irvine Arditti. And MC cartridges, heh heh! Not that I'm trying to start anything! :)

skeptic
02-23-2004, 08:14 PM
The theme of the Paganini caprice number 24 is one of the most famous in music. It's certainly a show stopper on any instrument and is often used by violinists as an encore. This theme has been experimented with by many many arrangers and composers. Undoubtedly the most famous was Rachmaninoff who used it for his "Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini." But there were many others including Brahms who wrote two books of them. IMO, this theme traces its history back to the Mideval theme "Dies Irae" which also fascinated many composers including Berlioz who used it in the witches sabboth of his "Symphonie Fantastique", Rachmaninoff used it in many compositions including "Isle of the Dead" and most notably Liszt used it in a spectacular piece called "Totentanz" or dance of death. Rachmaninoff used it for three of the variations in his Rhapsody. However, in listening to Bach carefully, I think that the Pasacaglia was yet another variant on this theme. I view the Pasacaglia as a stripped down version of the Paganini theme and the Dies Irae as further stripped to its barest essentials. Small wonder that every instrumentalist who makes any pretense of being a virtuoso wants to play it on his own instrument. But it is a killer.

BTW, here are some of the discs I've referenced.
The Liszt can be found on Philips 438 906-2 Van Cliburn 9th International Piano Competition played by Valery Kuleshow
The guitar arrangement can be found on Romantic Guitar Favoirtes Naxos 8.550296 played by Gerald Garcia
There are also many of them in a Vox Box CD3X 3020 called Paganini Variations which includes variations by Liszt, Brahms, Rachmaninoff, and Schumann.
You can also hear some very wild variations by Witold Lutoslawski on Duo Piano Extravaganza, Martha Argerich and Friends on Philips 446 557-2.

I'm sure if you do your homework, you can find countless more but these are among the most famous.

BTW, we have in our collection every recording Heifetz ever made on both vinyl and cd. As I recall, between the two sets they were well over $1000. In my house, much more emphasis is put on acquiring recordings than equipment. I think we've reached a point of saturation where merely cataloging and storing them is a major problem.

maxg
02-24-2004, 02:11 AM
"The only difference is that in the moving magnet design, the magnet moves relative to a fixed coil while in the moving coil design, the coil moves relative to a fixed magnet. Which variant is better? The one with the lower dynamic mass. And that is clearly the moving magnet."

Good grief - the absolute opposite of what I understood was the case!! I have always been told that moving coils shift less mass than moving magnets - in other words coils are lower mass than magnets - is this wrong? Are you sure?

Whatever the answer - I can't say it would sway me back into Moving magnet design - the last one I tried was the Clearaudio Virtuoso 2 which wasnt bad at all, but no match to the Shelter 901 to these ears..

DMK
02-24-2004, 05:08 AM
The theme of the Paganini caprice number 24 is one of the most famous in music. It's certainly a show stopper on any instrument and is often used by violinists as an encore. This theme has been experimented with by many many arrangers and composers. Undoubtedly the most famous was Rachmaninoff who used it for his "Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini." But there were many others including Brahms who wrote two books of them. IMO, this theme traces its history back to the Mideval theme "Dies Irae" which also fascinated many composers including Berlioz who used it in the witches sabboth of his "Symphonie Fantastique", Rachmaninoff used it in many compositions including "Isle of the Dead" and most notably Liszt used it in a spectacular piece called "Totentanz" or dance of death. Rachmaninoff used it for three of the variations in his Rhapsody. However, in listening to Bach carefully, I think that the Pasacaglia was yet another variant on this theme. I view the Pasacaglia as a stripped down version of the Paganini theme and the Dies Irae as further stripped to its barest essentials. Small wonder that every instrumentalist who makes any pretense of being a virtuoso wants to play it on his own instrument. But it is a killer.

BTW, here are some of the discs I've referenced.
The Liszt can be found on Philips 438 906-2 Van Cliburn 9th International Piano Competition played by Valery Kuleshow
The guitar arrangement can be found on Romantic Guitar Favoirtes Naxos 8.550296 played by Gerald Garcia
There are also many of them in a Vox Box CD3X 3020 called Paganini Variations which includes variations by Liszt, Brahms, Rachmaninoff, and Schumann.
You can also hear some very wild variations by Witold Lutoslawski on Duo Piano Extravaganza, Martha Argerich and Friends on Philips 446 557-2.

I'm sure if you do your homework, you can find countless more but these are among the most famous.

BTW, we have in our collection every recording Heifetz ever made on both vinyl and cd. As I recall, between the two sets they were well over $1000. In my house, much more emphasis is put on acquiring recordings than equipment. I think we've reached a point of saturation where merely cataloging and storing them is a major problem.

Thanks for the info. In a twist of coincidence, I just bought the Vox Box of Paganini Variations yesterday but haven't been able to listen to it yet - I'll do so tonight. I saw the 24 variations by Rachmaninoff but didn't make the connection. One of the discs in my collection that I find interesting is the Naxos 8.110601 of his Piano Concertos #2 + 3 because Sergey himself is playing the piano! A fuzzy mono recording taken from 79 RPM's but still exciting.

Guitarist Gerald Garcia - I'm assuming that's not the same Jerry Garcia that played for years with the rock band Grateful Dead. :)

I know what you mean about being overrun with recordings. In the past four years or so, I've upgraded my phono cartridge and that's it besides adding an outboard CD recorder. Recordings never stop coming in. I haven't done an actual count lately but I'm sure it's rapidly approaching 10,000. As a result, I have to cut corners where I can. So I bought some of those large multi-shelf tupperware-looking tool cases from Wal-Mart. I then bought vinyl sleeves for my CD's and pitched all the plastic jewel cases. I can store all my CD's in two of these, excepting boxed sets which I keep intact. Space requirements for about 4000 CD's is 5' H x 3' W x 3' D. Both these cases fit into the closet in my spare bedroom, which because of their looks is where they belong, anyway.

DMK
02-24-2004, 05:15 AM
I used the Clearaudio Virtuoso (before they put wood on it!) for about two years, on and off. I liked the way it basically removed surface noise but I always got the impression that it shaved off some detail along with it. When I picked up the Kontrapunkt, I had no further need of the Clearaudio and just sold it.

Maybe we're all stupid or something but I personally know over 200 vinyl fans and the only ones who use moving magnet cartridges are the ones who use cheap turntables. Those that have upgraded always graduate to MC's for the most part, although I do have one friend that used the low output Grado Statement which is a moving iron cartridge, whatever the difference between that and MM might be.

skeptic
02-24-2004, 05:54 AM
The problems for the moving coil cartridge designer are many. He must accomodate a spool to hold the coil, the coil itself, and he must deal with the electrical attachment of the wire to the pinout connection. He can use very thin wire but the number of turns will control the voltage output. There is a practical limit to the minimum diameter of the wire so that it can be reliably fabricated, therefore there is a limit to the number of turns. This is why MC cartridges typically have a much lower output than MM cartridges. The coils must also be aligned properly. All of these factors tend to increase the moving mass and the resulting inertia which the stylus assembly must overcome while following the delicate wiggles of the fragile vinyl. The moving magnet design merely requires a small piece of magnetic material of the proper size, shape, field strength, and field alignment usually embedded in a piece of plastic which easily docks with the remainder of the cartridge body. As magnetic materials improve, the mass can continue to decrease in subsequent designs. Given all of the problems the moving coil designer faces, it is remarkable that they have come as far as they have.

skeptic
02-24-2004, 05:56 AM
While this Vox Box set is a nice compendium, I don't consider these to be particularly good performances or recordings. I'll go back and listen to them in the next few days and we can discuss them if you like but as I recall having heard them in the past, I was not impressed by any of them.

maxg
02-24-2004, 06:58 AM
Well just to follow up on what I thought here is a quote from one of the many sites that refer to moving coil carts moving less mass than moving coils. the addy of this site is http://www.phonophono.de/english/html/tonabnehmer.html

Quote: "MM cartridges: Moving magnet cartridges have a magnet situated on the carrier pipe of the tracking diamond, moving correspondingly to the modulation of the record grooves. The coils are permanently fixed to the casing of the cartridge. They can be constructed in large shape and generate a pretty high output voltage (approx 2mV to 5mV at 47kOhms), which can be further processed without trouble. What is disadvantageous is that the magnet is heavier compared with the light coils of MC cartridges. That's why (at least theoretically) the stylus can't follow the deflections of the record groove so easily."

And he continues for MC carts as follows:

"Moving coil cartridges have the coil fixed to the carrier of the tracking stylus. The magnet is firmly installed to the casing of the cartridge. What is advantageous is the low weight of the coil, which has to be moved by the stylus. The coil must, however, for weight reasons, do with few coils, which results in a very low output voltage (0.1mV to 0.5mV at 30 ohms to 500 ohms). Therefore MC cartridges require special preamplifiers or step-up transformers in order to achieve output voltages like those of MM cartridges."

So whilst we have agreement that there is a difference in which moves the more mass we seem to have disagreement as to which is actually moving the more??

Yet another item I thought I had nailed drifts into confusion.....

skeptic
02-24-2004, 07:19 AM
If this were true, why would moving coil cartridges require more tracking force? Even thirty years ago, moving magnet cartridges could track at well under a gram while today, the best moving coil cartridges still require substantially more than one gram. Look at the specifications for complaince and dyanamic mass and compare. Remember, they when you double the tracking force, you are quadrupling the energy the stylus imparts to the groove. The higher the mass and lower the complaince, the lower the high frequency resonant frequency and the sharper its peak because it is not as well damped. Can you name even one moving coil cartridge that was ever suitable for playing CD4 discs which required response out to 40khz? I haven't looked at specs in a very long time but the physics hasn't changed. In fact, when it comes to phonograph records, practically nothing has changed in the last 30 years except that the prices have soared. BTW, when you look at the tracking force for Shure V15 type V series, you should keep in mind that 1 gram is for the cleaning brush. Typically it tracks most records very well at 3/4 gram. Some old Empire and ADC cartridges could go as low as 1/2 gram and on some records even down to 1/4 gram. The 999VE was one example. No MC cartridge I am aware of ever came remotely close.

skeptic
02-24-2004, 09:59 AM
I just spot sampled some of the Vox Paganini set and it's better than I remembered. Much of it is good but none of it is great.

Kanterow's reading of the second violin concerto is very fast and has very good technique but it's uninspired. La Campanella in Italian means "the little bell." You practically never hear it but in Accardo's performance with the London Philharmonic under Charles Dutoit (DG 415 278-2) it is unmistakable throughout the 3rd movement. I have never understood why this deliberate omission is so universal.

Jerome Rose's performance of the Liszt 6 Grand Etudes was good. Likewise Tomsic's piano performance of the Rhapsody on Disc 2 although I've heard better. Abby Simon and Peter Frankl are both fine well known pianists and gave excellent performances of the Schumann an Brahms but I was not happy with the recording of the piano on either of them. Ruggiero Ricci's peformances of the 24 caprices was awful, awful, awful. His intonation was often 1/8 note or more flat and it drove me nuts (it doesn't take much.) His fine technique does not compensate for his inability to hit all of the notes on key.

As I said, this Vox Box has no really memorable recordings or performances in it but at least it is a cheap way to get introduced to much of what this music is about.

There is one strange thing I noticed DMK and that is a minor manufacturing defect. On the right side of Disc 1 in purple printing, it says CD 2 in large letters although at the bottom it says CD1 in smaller print in black. Is yours the same?

DMK
02-24-2004, 10:25 AM
I just spot sampled some of the Vox Paganini set and it's better than I remembered. Much of it is good but none of it is great.

Kanterow's reading of the second violin concerto is very fast and has very good technique but it's uninspired. La Campanella in Italian means "the little bell." You practically never hear it but in Accardo's performance with the London Philharmonic under Charles Dutoit (DG 415 278-2) it is unmistakable throughout the 3rd movement. I have never understood why this deliberate omission is so universal.

Jerome Rose's performance of the Liszt 6 Grand Etudes was good. Likewise Tomsic's piano performance of the Rhapsody on Disc 2 although I've heard better. Abby Simon and Peter Frankl are both fine well known pianists and gave excellent performances of the Schumann an Brahms but I was not happy with the recording of the piano on either of them. Ruggiero Ricci's peformances of the 24 caprices was awful, awful, awful. His intonation was often 1/8 note or more flat and it drove me nuts (it doesn't take much.) His fine technique does not compensate for his inability to hit all of the notes on key.

As I said, this Vox Box has no really memorable recordings or performances in it but at least it is a cheap way to get introduced to much of what this music is about.

There is one strange thing I noticed DMK and that is a minor manufacturing defect. On the right side of Disc 1 in purple printing, it says CD 2 in large letters although at the bottom it says CD1 in smaller print in black. Is yours the same?

No, all three CD's are marked correctly in both places. You've got yourself a potential collector's item! That kind of thing happens on vinyl and the prices soar, I kid you not. Also, I'm noticing that some out of print CD's are selling for four times their original list price. This phenomena isn't just for limited editions and boxed sets, either.

If someone playing flat bothers you that much, don't listen to jazz saxophonists Eric Dolphy or Jackie McLean - ever! They both play sharp and it took me a long time to get used to it. Dolphy in particular has (had) phenomenal technique but technique alone doesn't do it for me. Both had incredible soulfulness and inventiveness. Which brings me to my next question....

You posted that Kantorow's reading was "uninspired". For someone that uses that term and its converse a lot with respect to jazz and that same someone coming from a limited background in classical music (fewer than 300 discs but growing), what do you mean by that term? How is it that someone can have excellent technique with a classical piece, yet be uninspired by it? I know that sometimes when I use that term, I mean uninspirING but I get the feeling you don't mean that here. What tells you when someone's playing is inspired or not? I often hear what I call "soul" in classical music and sometime's I don't when another symphony performs the same piece but I've never been able to put my finger on the differences other than tempo or technique. Yet there's something there. How would you describe it?

E-Stat
02-24-2004, 10:25 AM
If this were true...
It is. Your theoretical speculation fails you.



Remember, they when you double the tracking force, you are quadrupling the energy the stylus imparts to the groove.
All things being equal. Moving mass is not.



Some old Empire and ADC cartridges could go as low as 1/2 gram and on some records even down to 1/4 gram.
Don't forget Peter Pritchard's improvement of the XLM under the Sonus name. I had a Sonus Blue back in '76. Nice cartridge. It really liked low mass arms like the Infinity Black Widow and the Transcriptors Vestigal. It was not, however, the sonic equal of the Denon that followed. Or the Accuphase AC-2. Or the Shinon Red Boron. Or the current Dynavector.



The 999VE was one example.
What a dreadful sounding piece of crap. I sold those along with the Sonus brand. We coupled those high margin Empires with bottom-of-the-line changers.

rw

skeptic
02-24-2004, 04:16 PM
I've had this discussion so many times before I can hardly count them. And it's the same every time. This is something people really get fired up over. I even had it last night with my aunt who is a classical pianist and agrees mostly with everything DMK says about jazz being much more difficult than classical piano. Anyway, here is what I think. Believe it or not music cannot be written down. We could devise a machine to read it and play it but it wouldn't be music. Music must be a communication directly from one person to another. A human being creates music. A machine just creates sound. A recording is merely a facsimile of music just the way a photographic image is a facsimile of an object. No matter how perfect it is, it is NOT the object. The problem is that there is much more to music than merely the notes. Ever notice that Europeans cannot play jazz. Well that many no longer be universally true but it wasn't until recently that any of them could. "It don't mean a thing if it ain't got dat swing." (I never said I didn't like jazz or that I don't enjoy listening to it.) But most European musicians learned music from strict taskmasters. They play what's on the musical page or they get their knuckles rapped with the back of a ruler. It's up to the musician to bring music to life, to add something of himself to it to make it human. It means that nothing about it can be exactly what is written. An extreme example is in jazz. If there's one kind of music that defies being written down using the kind of notation we've had for the last 3 or 4 hundred years it's jazz. You can't write down a blue note. It fits between the other notes somewhere. You can't exactly write jazz syncopated rhythms. They don't quite fit the notation either. Even in classical music, there are interpretations which take license with tempo, dynamics, tone, and other aspects which defy the written notation too. Playing music is like singing. It come from the heart, not from a piece of paper. And if the musician cannot bring part of himself to put some of his own soul and emotion into it, it isn't very good music. But that's what we have here. Someone who simply played the notes as they were written. No more, no less. Just like a machine. Real music may slow down or speed up in some places. The dynamics may vary from what's written. The musician puts his own stamp on it. His inflections, phrasing, interpretations express the way he sees the world and what he brings is his imprint of his own personality and experience onto the performance. Even his excitment inspired by the enthusiasm of a live audience can alter his performance. Or the sadness of a recent terrible loss. Without any of this, we have a mere technician and that is not what music or any art is about.

hifitommy
02-24-2004, 07:57 PM
[Even thirty years ago, moving magnet cartridges could track at well under a gram while today]

that is/was a fallacy. specifications are just numbers on paper. adc specified o.75 gr vtf for the XLM and actually it was difficult to extract a 1.0gr vtf from it. i did so with a personally modified rabco st4 tt/arm assmebly. other arms required 1.5 gr minimum.

IF you have and XLM, try it. put on steely dans royal scam, second cut on either side. the cymbals will mistrack bleow 1.5 gr on most arms.

one gram with a shure v15V is a possiblity. but i would try the same tracking test or any other demanding test. why endanger your records with mistracking which can damage the vinyl permanently?

just be careful not to damage the vinyl.

skeptic
02-24-2004, 11:42 PM
Most tonearms did not have the prerequisites to get the best performance out of cartridges. The criteria were at the very least, dynamic balance in all planes (not merely static balance), low friction precision jeweled bearings (not ball bearings) and well damped resonance at a low frequency. Very few arms met those criteria. SME was one. Empire 980 was another. I tracked both Empire 999VE and Shure V15 type II improved and type VMR at under a gram without distortion many times on many recordings.

hifitommy
02-25-2004, 06:31 AM
on SOME records is not much of an accomplishment. being able to do so on the vast majority of records is another story. i wouldnt want to wonder if my stylus is going to mistrack on any less than 95% of all my records.

going to 1.5 grams isnt going to increase the wear by a measurable amount unless the stylus is in sad shape. a clean stylus in good condition at adequate tracking force is the pathway to record longevity, not seeing how low you can track at the risk of damaging some records that have some serious modulation on them.

the low vtf war was for selling cartridges, not for low record wear. n owadays with the increased footprint of styli, low vtf isnt as necessary or desirable as it once was.

E-Stat
02-25-2004, 06:31 AM
SME was one... I tracked both Empire 999VE and Shure V15 type II improved and type VMR at under a gram without distortion many times on many recordings.
I had a SME 3009 Series II on a Technics SL1100 back in '74-'75. I used a V15 II for a while during that time and indeed it was a good tracker. You could track at a gram, but as with most cartridges in my experience, not get the best overall performance. Did you ever try the DIY damping tray mod with the arm? It sure helped with soundstaging (and warped records, for that matter). Evidently, SME found it desirable as well since the Series III came with one. I later moved on to a Sonus Blue / Vestigal combination that tracked better than the SME.

rw

DMK
02-25-2004, 07:06 AM
"my aunt who is a classical pianist and agrees mostly with everything DMK says about jazz being much more difficult than classical piano."

Um...I think it was RB who said that - it doesn't sound like anything I'd say. I don't compare musicians of different genres, as a rule, and I especially wouldn't want to compare Cecil Taylor with Artur Rubenstein as to which one is "better". Both can do things the other cannot

"And if the musician cannot bring part of himself to put some of his own soul and emotion into it, it isn't very good music."

Well said. In that respect, classical and jazz are alike. It's why a lot of jazz buffs don't enjoy Wynton Marsalis' (jazz) playing - too derivative and emotionless. I don't necessarily agree all the time but sometimes I do with Wynton.

"Ever notice that Europeans cannot play jazz."

Nope. I could give you a very long list of outstanding European jazz musicians but suffice it to say that Norway, Germany, Russia and the British Isles have produced some incredible jazz. But you're absolutely correct about their learning curve. As a result, the jazz music comes from a technical background most of the time. It doesn't "swing" in the technical sense of the word (IS there a technical sense???). Think of European jazz as more like the classical avant-garde. The music has the basic essence but comes from a different sensibility. To be fair, europeans not playing jazz is largely accurate in the sense that you meant it. It happens, but the African influence is missing for the most part, hence the absence of traditional "swing".

skeptic
02-25-2004, 08:19 AM
Believe it or not, until a couple of decades ago, most European musicians weren't very good at playing classical music either and for exactly the same reason. With few exceptions such as the Berlin and Vienna philharmonics, they'd "play what's written down in the musik " And it was as dull as hell. That's why it was so prestigious and desirable for the best European conductors to get positions with American orchestras, especially the top ones. I don't think Europe has anything like Julliard or Mannes or any of the other fine music colleges in America. And while I'm at it, as several recent BBC "programmes' pointed out, they don't have comparable institutions of higher education in any other disciplines either.

Chas Underhay
02-25-2004, 11:38 AM
Believe it or not, until a couple of decades ago, most European musicians weren't very good at playing classical music either and for exactly the same reason. With few exceptions such as the Berlin and Vienna philharmonics, they'd "play what's written down in the musik " And it was as dull as hell. That's why it was so prestigious and desirable for the best European conductors to get positions with American orchestras, especially the top ones. I don't think Europe has anything like Julliard or Mannes or any of the other fine music colleges in America. And while I'm at it, as several recent BBC "programmes' pointed out, they don't have comparable institutions of higher education in any other disciplines either.

It' a shame that no one told Beethoven that most European musicians weren't very good at playing classical music, or any of the countless masters or mistresses for that matter, who have been writing and performing fine music on this side of the pond for the last thousand years or so.

Regarding your earlier point concerning European Jazz musicians, there have been a few (as DMK has already pointed out) but how many of the top American jazz musicians have been true, Momma's apple pie eating good ole boys? Probably about the same number as the Europeans. We owe jazz to Africans, who just happened to be living in America and not necessarilly of their own choice. How long was it before jazz was accepted by the American middle classes as a valid art form?

Also don't believe everything that the BBC tell you, they are rapidly becoming a traitorous bunch of gay left wing subversive pinkos who take great delight in knocking any thing of value and particularly any British or European achievement, past or present. Europe has a wealth of great educational institutions, many of which, pre-date Columbus (He came from Europe, by the way).

I'm off now to eat dinner at a table, which like most of my furniture, was already old whilst you were still a colony.

skeptic
02-25-2004, 01:01 PM
I feel your pain!

"how many of the top American jazz musicians have been true, Momma's apple pie eating good ole boys? "

Contrary to Russian claims, "The Jazz Idiom" was invented in America, by Americans. Many of these Americans were among the decendants of black slaves who traced their ancestry to Africa(slavery was a gift the Europeans brought to the new world with the rest of their "culture.") and was a development or fusion of earlier forms like ragtime, black spirituals, the blues. Jazz finds common root throughout America because of its informal freewheeling pioneering culture which understands it instinctively. European culture was much to rigid to comprehend it let alone perform it. When I lived in France, the French were utterly fascinated by it but when they tried to play it, they usually got the notes right but what came out wasn't jazz. Quite honestly, it really stank. The Germans were a little better.

As for European classical musicians and orchestras, it wasn't until recently that many of them even allowed women in. Their rigid robotic playing was B-O-R-I-N-G. Outisde of a handful, there wasn't a one that could hold a candle to the great American orchestras such as the Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, New York, and Cleveland, and many far less well known but nearly as good. Just look at where the great conductors want to go. Classical music has much more prestige and is more loved in Europe (at least up to recently) but the best musicians wanted to come to America. And it wasn't just for the recording contracts or the money either.

I don't take the BBC all that seriously and I agree that it is an anti American, anti Israeli, anti Tony Blair propaganda machine spewing lies and trash as described in the Hutton Report. So when they give the American devil it's due about the colleges and universities here, you can be sure they begrudgingly admitted that at least in that respect there is a better way. This was discussed extensively recently in the debate about "topping off charges" related to college tuitions and the sorry state of British higher education. Blair staked his entire future on the outcome of that one.

Chas Underhay
02-25-2004, 02:12 PM
Contrary to Russian claims, "The Jazz Idiom" was invented in America, by Americans. Many of these Americans were among the decendants of black slaves who traced their ancestry to Africa(slavery was a gift the Europeans brought to the new world with the rest of their "culture.") and was a development or fusion of earlier forms like ragtime, black spirituals, the blues.

So we agree its African, you are playing with words.


slavery was a gift the Europeans brought to the new world with the rest of their "culture.").

Slavery did not originate in Europe, in those times, many countries embraced it but Europe certianly abolished it before America did. If not European, whose culture would you rather had been brought to the new world?


Jazz finds common root throughout America because of its informal freewheeling pioneering culture which understands it instinctively.

So answer my question, "How long was it before jazz was accepted by the American middle classes as a valid art form? Or any other black music for that matter.


European culture was much to rigid to comprehend it let alone perform it. When I lived in France, the French were utterly fascinated by it but when they tried to play it, they usually got the notes right but what came out wasn't jazz. Quite honestly, it really stank. The Germans were a little better.

You must have lived a sheltered life in France, I would say that there are as many poeple in Europe follow jazz as there is in America. Come to think of it, I dont think Hitler liked jazz very much. You have also got to admit that French cuisine beats yours


As for European classical musicians and orchestras, it wasn't until recently that many of them even allowed women in. Their rigid robotic playing was B-O-R-I-N-G. Outisde of a handful, there wasn't a one that could hold a candle to the great American orchestras such as the Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, New York, and Cleveland, and many far less well known but nearly as good. Just look at where the great conductors want to go. Classical music has much more prestige and is more loved in Europe (at least up to recently) but the best musicians wanted to come to America. And it wasn't just for the recording contracts or the money either.

No one said there weren't great American orchestras but at least 95% of the music they play is European, Purcell, Handle, Vivaldi, Beethoven, Chopin, Elgar, Holst etc etc.


I don't take the BBC all that seriously and I agree that it is an anti American, anti Israeli, anti Tony Blair propaganda machine spewing lies and trash as described in the Hutton Report. So when they give the American devil it's due about the colleges and universities here, you can be sure they begrudgingly admitted that at least in that respect there is a better way. This was discussed extensively recently in the debate about "topping off charges" related to college tuitions and the sorry state of British higher education. Blair staked his entire future on the outcome of that one.

The BBC isn't anti Blair enough for my likes, if it hadn't been for him and his cronies there would have been no need for the Hutton Report.

The problem with British education is not of quality but of financing that quality. In the real world, it could still be argued that an Oxford degree will outclass an equivalent Yale degree.

skeptic
02-25-2004, 03:07 PM
Mr. Underhay, it is you who play with words, not me.

"So we agree its African, you are playing with words."

The term African American is an oxymoron, a self contradiction. One was either born in Africa or in America. So called African Americans are no more African than I am European. The people who invented the "Jazz Idiom" were born in the United States, not in Africa. They were therefore Americans who grew up in a segment of American society, maybe not a very pretty one, but it was in America, not in Africa. So we don't agree.

"Slavery did not originate in Europe, in those times, many countries embraced it but Europe certianly abolished it before America did."

Slavery originated before recorded history. The most ancient civilizations had slaves. I did not say that Europe invented slavery. I said that they brought it to America. And they did. The brought slaves from Africa to the western hemisphere to work in the new world. As for abolition, some European countries abolished slavery before some American states abolished it and before the Federal governement abolished it in all of America by the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. But SOME Europeans nations only beat even that date by a few decades at best and then only because slavery was an integral component of the cotton industry in the south which the Europeans also built in colonial times. So we don't agree there either.

"So answer my question, "How long was it before jazz was accepted by the American middle classes as a valid art form? Or any other black music for that matter."

It was accepted immediately. In the swinging bars and clubs of the cities during the earliest part of the century. Black migrants from the south brought it with them. Dixieland in roaring twenties. jazz bands all over in prohibition in the speakeasies. All throughout the vaudeville era, in nightclubs, on the radio. Great Jazz composers like Gershwin were well established quickly early on. By the 1930s jazz was a very widespread and widely accepted idiom throughout the nation. As I said, America took to it instinctively because it reflects the informal non rigid culture that characterizes American society and always did. European rigidity and class snobbishness never could take root in a place where people often survived by their wits alone. A fair reading of American history will show that American culture and civilization represents not merely a revolt against European civilization but a revulsion and rejection of it that it deeply ingrained in it even to this day. Those aspects which are embraced such as classical music by some people like me represent only its most superficial aspects.

"You must have lived a sheltered life in France"

Actually I lived alone in Bordeaux for about two years among other students and had a chance to experience French life first hand including as it is lived in the homes of many families. At least at that time 30 years ago, French people and French students were fascinated by Jazz but I didn't know any musicians personally. What I saw and heard in the French media such as on TV and live told the story at least at that time quite clearly.

"No one said there weren't great American orchestras but at least 95% of the music they play is European"

Again, you are making a statement about something I did not say or argue. I didn't say American orchestras didn't play European music. What I said is that they were much better at it. I'll stick with that.

"The BBC isn't anti Blair enough for my likes"

You're lucky that Blair didn't alienate the US the way Chirac and Schroeder did. France and Germany will pay for their self serving corrupt anti American sellout big time. I'd look for a deep deep economic downturn in Europe within the next 18 to 24 months. The strong Euro, high interest rates, and antagonism they have generated in American consumers have already taken a toll and it's going to get much worse. This time, the US does not need to make major concessions to Europe to help them out because the cold war with the Soviet Union is over. Besides, Europe is a continent in decline giving way to emerging new economic giants in Asia. Europe is at war with itself over immigration, the goals and laws of the EU, foreign policy, the common European currency, and a million other things. It's on the verge of a trade war with the United States, a war it can't possibly hope to win. Now it looks like some Europeans want a political cold war and a military arms race with the US as well. There's two more unnecessary wars they can't win.

"The problem with British education is not of quality but of financing that quality. In the real world, it could still be argued that an Oxford degree will outclass an equivalent Yale degree"

Argue all you want. When people from all over the world look for the best place to learn Business, Science, Engineering, Medicine, or whatever, they look to the United States. They go to Europe if they can't come here. Besides, who'd want to watch some stupid soccor game on a weekend when you could see a real game. American Football.

Chas Underhay
02-25-2004, 03:43 PM
Besides, who'd want to watch some stupid soccor game on a weekend when you could see a real game. American Football.

This is getting silly Mr Skeptic.

Why don't you go and pour yourself a drink and put a record on, any thing you like from Thomas Tallis to Ben Webster.

Its just your knocking of anything that's not American that gets up my nose, don't agree with you on several points but can no longer be bothered.

I am not anti American in the least, in fact i'm the proud owner of a very fine piece of Chicago built kit, in the form of a Hammond B3 with a pair of Leslie 122s, brought it back from the US years ago.

In fact I'm going to sign off now and as Her Indoors is out, I'm going to go and give the old B3 a dammned good thrashing.

Love and kisses

Mr Underhay

PS If you want to watch a real game, watch rugby, some of us Europeans are quite good at that.

Chas Underhay
02-25-2004, 03:52 PM
Oh and by the way Mr Skeptic, If a dog is born in a stable it doesn't mean it is a horse.

DMK
02-25-2004, 04:14 PM
[QUOTE=Chas Underhay]


So answer my question, "How long was it before jazz was accepted by the American middle classes as a valid art form? Or any other black music for that matter.



We're still waiting! :)

Actually, I sort of disagree with Skeptic's analysis insofar as your question said "valid art form". Jazz was accepted early on as entertainment, not art. Vaudeville, ragtime, etc were entertainment. As much as we denigrate pop music these days, swing in the 1930's and 40's was the pop music of the era. Granted, there was a cadre of folks that saw jazz as an art form but I wouldn't say that was prevalent and it sure wasn't taught as an artform in colleges much until at least the late 1960's if not the early 1970's. Jazz was no more looked upon as art as was a circus performer until within the last few decades. That doesn't mean it didn't have its staunch supporters. Nowadays, it's considered almost an academic form by most Americans... that is, when after hearing you might be a jazz fan, they don't exclaim "don't you just LOVE Kenny G?" :) Nothing wrong with that, really - if that's what they enjoy. Sometimes people go overboard with this "art" thing. Music should be enjoyed because it gives us pleasure, not because it satisfies some snooty sense of excessive self-worth.

P.S Ben Webster sure could play those ballads, huh?

skeptic
02-25-2004, 04:29 PM
[QUOTE=Chas Underhay]
Actually, I sort of disagree with Skeptic's analysis insofar as your question said "valid art form". Jazz was accepted early on as entertainment, not art.

Except for music written for religious purposes such as masses, almost all music was composed and performed originally for entertainment. In ancient time and during the Renaissance, it was for nobility. Likewise during the Baroque, Rococco, and classical eras. Noblemen would have huge dinners entertaining their guests and then they would sit an listen to musicians sometimes in ensembles after dinner to be lulled to sleep after a big meal and a lot of wine. Hayden's surprise symphony was written to do just that, and then just as they were dozed off , suddenly without warning to jar them into being awakened. Just a little joke. In the nineteenth century, during the romantic period, music was written to entertain "the masses." And even so in the 20th century although the audience for it has dwindled lately.

The study of music from a historical and structural point of view has also existed thoughout these eras, probably going back at least as far as the seventeenth century (I'm guessing.) Certainly there were instrument makers who studied as apprentices and musicians who were tutored. When did jazz become part of the formal training at the university level in the United States? I'm guessing again but I'd say probably by the fifties and certainly by the sixties. Many influential people had a lot to do with it not the least among them was Leonard Bernstein.

Chas Underhay
02-25-2004, 05:42 PM
Good boys, now we are talking.

rb122
02-26-2004, 05:42 AM
I'm guessing again but I'd say probably by the fifties and certainly by the sixties. .

My lineage is jazz musicians and I can say (based on what I've heard from my father and grandfather) that jazz was not taught in universities until the late 1960's, although there may have been a few schools that were ahead of that curve. It was indeed considered entertainment. Country blues is still taught only as a music appreciation course as far as I know, to answer Chas' question about other black musics. Rap is the same. I don't care for rap but based on what I've actually listened to, it's meat from the same bone as blues and jazz but even more so from the angry poetry of Gil Scott-Heron from the 1960's, who was then considered a "jazz" performer, being recorded by Bob Thiele of John Coltrane fame (as the recording engineer). From that, we pick up the argument of whether jazz is African or American that Skeptic and Chas have posed.

Jazz is African in the sense that the rhythmic propulsion and the reeds are based on African music. Saxophones bear a basic resemblance to African reed instruments and there were different sized drums that made different tones which begat the trap drum set. But jazz is American in the sense that began with the blues. Were Africans "blue" while they were in Africa? Not so far as we know. Many of them lived in castles. Blues came from the work song which came from working in the fields of America for no pay and getting beaten when they didn't pick enough cotton. Blues became ragtime which was happy music for white people. Ragtime moved into swing which was dance music for entertainment. Ragtime became bebop which was listening music and not danceable. Bebop became the angry free jazz of the 1960's - angry because after 100 years, black still were not "free". Get it? :)

Jazz is African - Jazz is American. Its African roots are still intact but it is the Americanization of blacks that made it evolve. It's truly African-American music. This is an old argument and the middle ground is usually where people fall.

If you want the story in music, I strongly suggest trying to dig up clarinetist John Carter's five CD "Roots and Folklore" series. They are all available separately. The titles and labels are:

1) Dauwhe - Black Saint
2) Castles of Ghana - Gramavision
3) Dance of the Love Ghosts - Gramavision
4) Fields - Gramavision
5) Shadows on a Wall - Gramavision.

The first deals with life in Africa. The second picks up where the first leaves off and finishes with the capture of slaves. The third has to do with the trip from Africa to America. The fourth is about work in the fields and the fifth is the celebration of freedom and the confusion of same in the new world. Highly recommended if you can find them.

rb122
02-26-2004, 08:42 AM
"my aunt who is a classical pianist and agrees mostly with everything DMK says about jazz being much more difficult than classical piano."

Um...I think it was RB who said that - it doesn't sound like anything I'd say. I don't compare musicians of different genres, as a rule, and I especially wouldn't want to compare Cecil Taylor with Artur Rubenstein as to which one is "better". Both can do things the other cannot

.

Not exactly. What I said was that in one sense, jazz is more difficult to play than classical and that sense is that not only does the jazz musician have to play the notes as perfectly as possible (as does a classical musician), he also has to step out and solo creatively. The jazz musician also has to improvise. Improvisation in itself is simple. It becomes difficult when you attempt to improvise and also say something creative. In fact, it's SO difficult that the majority of jazz musicians fall back on cliches and riffs when they solo. So we temper our need for creativity sometimes and hope for something that sounds good and proper and perhaps even swings instead. Hell, even Trane wasn't creative all the time!

Is jazz more difficult than classical overall? Well, having played both, I'd say they are both pretty difficult. There are some classical pieces I wouldn't want to have to attempt to play. On the flip side, I know classical guitarists that would be lost trying to improvise over changes in even a mundane way, yet they could play the classical pieces I avoid very well. They have a certain facility that I don't have. I have a certain functional understanding they don't have. It's a tradeoff. Neither is overall more difficult than the other but there are certain areas where one or the other is. Since you mentioned Rubenstein and Taylor, you are probably at least somewhat well versed in their particular strengths. I'd be surprised if Cecil could navigate some of the pieces Artur does with his amazing fluidity and I'd be just as surprised if Artur could play "Second Act of A" and show the listener, in effect, the history of jazz piano from Waller to... well, Taylor!

DMK
02-28-2004, 07:22 AM
Not exactly. What I said was that in one sense, jazz is more difficult to play than classical and that sense is that not only does the jazz musician have to play the notes as perfectly as possible (as does a classical musician), he also has to step out and solo creatively. The jazz musician also has to improvise. Improvisation in itself is simple. It becomes difficult when you attempt to improvise and also say something creative. In fact, it's SO difficult that the majority of jazz musicians fall back on cliches and riffs when they solo. So we temper our need for creativity sometimes and hope for something that sounds good and proper and perhaps even swings instead. Hell, even Trane wasn't creative all the time!

Is jazz more difficult than classical overall? Well, having played both, I'd say they are both pretty difficult. There are some classical pieces I wouldn't want to have to attempt to play. On the flip side, I know classical guitarists that would be lost trying to improvise over changes in even a mundane way, yet they could play the classical pieces I avoid very well. They have a certain facility that I don't have. I have a certain functional understanding they don't have. It's a tradeoff. Neither is overall more difficult than the other but there are certain areas where one or the other is. Since you mentioned Rubenstein and Taylor, you are probably at least somewhat well versed in their particular strengths. I'd be surprised if Cecil could navigate some of the pieces Artur does with his amazing fluidity and I'd be just as surprised if Artur could play "Second Act of A" and show the listener, in effect, the history of jazz piano from Waller to... well, Taylor!

Surprised that you've listened to "Second Act of A" to the extent you obviously have as I thought you were more a mainstream kind of guy. You're of course correct about Cecil's playing on that disc. I enjoy it a lot with the exception that Sam Rivers sounds as if he's lost! Jimmy Lyons is much more at home which shows you the value of a long term relationship - Jimmy had been playing steadily with Cecil for 6 years while Sam was a guest artist. Free jazz is a lot harder to play well than people think.

Cecil reads very well and has amazing facility. He is also well versed in classical music. I have no doubt that he could more than hold his own on a difficult classical piece. If I played the piano, I would head to Antioch College and take his courses. I think he's still there teaching.

rb122
03-01-2004, 04:58 AM
Surprised that you've listened to "Second Act of A" to the extent you obviously have as I thought you were more a mainstream kind of guy. You're of course correct about Cecil's playing on that disc. I enjoy it a lot with the exception that Sam Rivers sounds as if he's lost! Jimmy Lyons is much more at home which shows you the value of a long term relationship - Jimmy had been playing steadily with Cecil for 6 years while Sam was a guest artist. Free jazz is a lot harder to play well than people think.

Cecil reads very well and has amazing facility. He is also well versed in classical music. I have no doubt that he could more than hold his own on a difficult classical piece. If I played the piano, I would head to Antioch College and take his courses. I think he's still there teaching.

Didn't say I enjoyed it! :). Actually, I enjoy the piano solos and the piano/drums duets. The horn solos and the ensembles aren't really my cup of tea.

I'm not sure Cecil could hold his own on classical pieces. I think his improvisational vision would preclude him from even wanting to be technically perfect. It's like trying to become a moderate when you've been a diehard right-winger all your life. It might be an interesting experiment, though.

Chas Underhay
03-02-2004, 07:01 AM
It was the bashing of all things non-American whilst taking full credit for something that was only part American that I took exception to but that's history now.

Let's consider some of the history of music, the formal study of it must have gone back a lot further than the 17th centuary, particularly in a religeous environment. The earliest composer of music that I am aware of is Hildegard Von Bingen (c1098 - 1179) and could name more than a handfull from the 13th 14th and 15th centuaries. By the 16th centuary we had the likes of Thomas Tallis (c1505 - 1585) and William Byrd (c1543 - 1623) as well as numerous others from other parts of europe.

Whilst I fully agree with Mr Skeptic that this early music was generally writen and performed for either religeous purposes or the entertainment of noblemen I feel sure that music of sorts must have been performed at public events such as fairs and other festivities even if it was only singing.

Music was certrianly performed publically in the 18th centuary by the likes of Handel, maybe not for the masses but certianly for the public who could afford it. I believe tickets for the first public performance of the Messiah in Dublin were priced at 10 shillings and 6 pence. I think a good quality long cased clock would have cost about 10 at the time.

Which brings us on to musical fashion and the paying public, fashions change, even in the 18th centuary musical fashions changed, as Italian style opera fell from popularity astute and sucessful composers such as Handel moved on to pastures new.

As for jazz, I think we all agree now that it would not have happened had it not been for the African influence. Is jazz any less valid than classical? I would say definately not.

I don't think any musician who has had to rely upon other people (be it noblemen or the public) paying them in order to earn a living. would have made a living by writing music just just to please crusty old intellectuals and they certianly would not be remembered now.

The 20th centuary was a turbulent but also fantastic time both musically and socially, many of the barriers were broken down by two world wars but it was't really untill the big backlash against the Vietnam war in the late 1960s that other big changes occured. I would say it was probably around or during WWII that Jazz became fully accepted and not just regarded as second class music.

Mr Skeptic, I remember you saying that when you studied in France about thirty years ago and no one there seemed to know about jazz, well that would put you at around the same age as me and I'm not suprised, I did not know anyone apart from my Father and his fuddy duddy friends who listened to jazz. In those days we were all into rock and pop, Pink Floyd etc. In fact it was quite a lot later that I realised just what cool music my Father and his fuddy duddy friends had been listening to.

Went to two concerts over the last two weekends, the first was Haydn's Te Deum plus Beethoven's 9th, not bad for our local orchestra and choir, the second was a Glen Miller bash in London, absolutly superb, they even had one of the original members of Glen Miller's Army and Airforce Band there as a guest. They also had a take off of the Andrews Sisters, never would have imagined that three girls, dressed in American army uniforms, singing boogie woogie could have looked and sounded so sexy.

skeptic
03-02-2004, 03:49 PM
Of course I wasn't there, not old enough but I think jazz became fully integrated into American culture in the roaring 20s. It just seems to fit. Black migrants from the south brought it with them to the big cities of the north and played the most fashionable clubs and speakeasies. It was a natural for vaudeville to embrace it as a logical development from ragtime which preceded it. I'm sure my personal favorite Dixieland was well established in New Orleans by the 20s and this probably moved north too to the big cities rather quickly. Two developments which helped a lot was the development of the 78 RPM phonograph record and the radio. Musical shows and shows with musical backgrounds both live and on the radio were very common and had a wide following. Pop songwriters from Gershwin, Porter, Berlin, and so many others embraced it as well. I may not have my dates quite right but the big band swing era was well underway by the late thirties and forties and bands like Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington and so many others were highly sought after. While jazz certainly has African ancestry, I see it as a purely American phenomenon. Can you name one jazz band or performer from Africa of that era? I can't. Can you name one jazz musician who was born in Africa and came here during that period? I can't do that either.

As for Europe, I lived in France in the mid 70s. What I said was that it was my observation that the French, especially the youth were fascinated by jazz. But when they tried to perform it, what came out wasn't jazz. Oh they got the notes right most of the time. But there's a lot more to it than that. The intensity of emotion that jazz requires just wan't there. This was hardly surprising from musicians who were trained to play exactly what was written down on a sheet of paper, nothing more, nothing less. Musicians from other European countries differed. I think the Germans were a little better at it. A lot may have changed in the last 30 years as Europe has become more Americanized. I'm not quite sure. I do like an English jazz pianist, a woman named McGreggor. Ever hear of her?

I never said I didn't like jazz. In fact I like it a lot. I don't like Coltrane but there's a whole world of jazz besides him. What I said was that I think jazz is more limited in some ways than classical music because it has fewer performers at any given time playing fewer types of instruments, most jazz compositions are not very long and therefore don't have the chance to develop along much broader lines with greater variations, and because it has a much shorter history. All of this could change. Classical music and jazz each have their own technical difficulties and crossover musicians who are successful in one genre may find it impossible to be successful in the other. I think for now, I will just stick with that and leave it alone.