Wittgenstein wrestled with a puzzle audiophiles come up against all the time. How is it possible, he asked, for a sentence to represent, or stand for, a situation or circumstance in the world? It sounds simple, but it’s not. Just compare some recording with a review of it. If you know the music well enough, you’ll have some idea of what the reviewer’s talking about. But if you don’t, the printed words can mean almost anything. Many times I’ve thought, after reading a review, “I think I’d really like this band!” Too often, the CD ends up going straight from my transport to the used record store.
By the time you hear it, music has made a long journey. It begins with whatever inspired the composer or performer, moves into the world of instruments and air vibrations, and finally arrives at your ears. If you’re listening to a recording, of course, this chain is much longer. It continues with microphones, cables, mixers, processors, and recorders, all the way through your equipment and listening room.
Or – writing about music is like dancing about architecture?