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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2010 5:35 pm
  

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An article posted by T Bone Burnett at jontaplin.com on the ill effects of digitally recorded music reposted here for your consideration.

Quote:
T Bone Burnett
Is Digital Music Affecting Your Health?

By: John Diamond, MD

HUMAN STRESS PROVOKED BY DIGITALIZED RECORDINGS:

JOHN DIAMOND, M.D., 

D.P.M., F.R.A.N.Z.C.P., M.R.C.Psych., F.I.A.P.M., D.I.B.A.K.

(First published 1980, modified and with a postscript, 2003)



Music is one of the great therapies. Throughout recorded history in all parts of the world, music has been used as therapy. In fact, of all factors that have been investigated, probably none enhances the Life Energy and reduces stress more effectively than music.[1] Perhaps the most obvious example of this is the fact that at the age of seventy, when some 50% of American males are already dead, some 80% of musical conductors are still alive, healthy, and productive. The tremendous therapeutic power of music has always been recognized, and it has been the subject of many discourses, from the time of Pythagoras to Moses Maimonides and beyond.[2] To me, as to Pythagoras, music is not mere entertainment or amusement (the absence of the muse), but therapy. It is one of the most potent modalities that exists for actuating what the Greeks called thymos, what Hippocrates called the vis medicatrix naturae, the healing power that exists within us all: Life Energy.



There are still many cultures in which there has been no divorce between music and healing. For example, in many so-called primitive societies, the healing shaman is nearly always a musician, and music and incantation are as important as all the other aspects of his profession. The only remnant we see of this in our society is the use of music in religious ceremonies, a custom which dates back to a time before the separation in our society of medicine and religion. And thus throughout the centuries and today, over and above the usual satisfaction or the more physical enjoyment we may derive from music, there is another quality, and it is this other quality, this Life Energy enhancing quality to which I have devoted a major part of my research over the years.



I have tested many thousands of phonograph recordings recorded over a period of over eighty years, and it has been found that almost without exception this music has been therapeutic,[3] often highly so. In fact, it has been used for stress reduction, relaxation, general tonification, analgesia, as part of modified acupuncture techniques, and as adjunctive therapy in drug withdrawal programs. Music has also been used in programs to overcome fears and phobias, alleviate insomnia, and even for the “tranquilization” of acutely disturbed psychotic patients.

In 1979 this changed. I suddenly found that I was not achieving the same therapeutic results as before, that playing records of the same compositions to the same patients was producing a completely contrary effect! Instead of their stress being reduced and their Life Energy being actuated, the opposite was occurring. Music examples that I had long used to promote sleep now seemed to be actually aggravating the insomnia. And I found in one case that instead of the music helping a patient withdraw from tranquilizers, it seemed to increase his need for them. Special tapes for businessmen to use during their rest periods seemed suddenly to increase rather than reduce their stress. These findings were very alarming.



When I investigated these paradoxical phenomena, I found that in all cases they were related to the use of digital recordings. These were vinyl records made from digital masters.[4] When I substituted analog versions of the same work, sometimes even with the same performers, the positive therapeutic effects were again obtained. There seemed to me little doubt that something was “wrong” with the digital process. Apparently the digital recording technique not only did not enhance Life Energy and reduce stress, but it was actually untherapeutic – that is, it imposed a stress and reduced Life Energy. Through some mechanism of which I am not aware the digital process was somehow reversing the therapeutic effects of the music!



In a number of instances I had analog and digital performances that we could easily compare. One was of Zubin Mehta conducting Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto. The digital performance (on London) had a stress-inducing effect whereas the old analog performance (on Vox) did not. Also the early LP transfers of Caruso and McCormack were Life Energy enhancing whereas the Soundstreamed digital versions had the opposite effect. Yet these were records of the same performance. The only difference was the digitalization process. And this was apparent even though the original recordings had been made nearly seventy years ago. Other examples were the Japanese Denon PCM recordings of various Czech performers whose earlier versions were on the Supraphon label. They were the same performers and the same works. The only difference appeared to be the digital process.

As a part of my work and as one of my research tools, I employ muscle testing, in a modification of the standard Applied Kinesiology testing. It is modified as I first presented to an ICAK conference in 1977. See the description of my study with Dr. Florence Kendall in my Kinesiology Report Number 10, December, 1977. At the request of Dr. Goodheart, I demonstrated this again at the ICAK conference in Monte Carlo in 1995.

If you play a digital recording, it will be found that the muscle that was previously testing strong and could easily resist the pressure, will be unable to do so – that the digital effect has so stressed the subject that he cannot resist. Something has happened. Some stress has been introduced which is now manifest in this negative response. Perhaps even more striking are the differences in stress effects found upon testing a recording session in which digital and analog recordings were made simultaneously.[5] Similar effects are also apparent with the human speaking voice using this newer digital recording process.[6]

This effect obviously is not due to the performer nor to the composer, since other recordings, analog, of the same performer and the same composer do not have this effect. In fact, they are therapeutic – that is, they reduce stress and enhance Life Energy on testing. There is a yet-to-be-identified factor involved in the digital technique which is causing this stress. At some level the ear is perceiving a signal which it recognizes as being unnatural and alarming. This instantaneously causes a stress reaction which is manifest in the loss of muscle response on test.

Many audiophiles and engineers state that they have noticed that they can discern something vaguely “wrong” with the digital recording process but cannot quite pinpoint the problem. Using the test, it can easily be shown that, using the same playback system, the difference between analog and digital recording does exist. While we certainly enjoy the benefits of this major technological breakthrough, there are subtle physiological effects still to be considered.

It is important to emphasize that this is not a test of muscle strength. It is a test of the integrity of the acupuncture system. Through it flows the electromagnetic energy of the body. A heavy, powerful testing is a test of muscle strength, not of Life Energy, and it is, in essence, a different test. When I demonstrated my findings at the Audio Engineering Society conference in Los Angeles in May 1980, I was accused of pushing too hard when the subjects were failing when the digital records were being played. In point of fact, pushing “too hard” if anything will fail to demonstrate the effect. It is not, I repeat NOT, a test of muscle strength. Hence the testing requires considerable expertise. It is not for casual and amateurish usage. It is a professional discipline.

This test has been performed both by myself and others under double blind test situations on many occasions, and the results always tend to be about the same, with many provisos. In particular, I wish to emphasize that for accurate testing there are many variables that must be controlled, many more than I can elaborate upon in this short presentation. Furthermore, as I have previously stated, for accurate interpretation I test not just at the one superficial level of testing that I have described above, but in at least twelve deeper levels as well. It is only when all the variables are accurately controlled and testing is carried out at all levels and parameters that the findings are meaningful.

I am more aware than any pro-digital advocate of the shortcomings of the test. And I would like nothing more than to be able to read a meter instead. However, although many electronics experts have tried to help me to design such an instrument, they have never been successful. They finally realize that perhaps the body itself may be a better test device than any instrument that we can make. Will we ever measure the difference between violins, or poems?

I personally believe that the proper research tool can be designed, but it will not ultimately be related to any muscle test. It will involve measuring the change in electromagnetic activity in that part of the body where is situated what we may call the acupuncture central processor, because it is the electromagnetic disturbance there which is manifested as a weakening of the test muscle. And it is there, centrally, that the stressful effect of the digital recordings occurs, being then reflected in a diminished acupuncture energy flow to the specific meridian feeding the muscle being tested.

What if my findings and those of my colleagues are correct? For many years now, nearly all recordings of otherwise therapeutic music have been made using the digital process. The implications of this, both for today and for our future, are very disturbing. If the major therapeutic recording artists of today are recorded for posterity using the present digital technique their efforts will be valueless for us and valueless for future generations. No more will we be able to call upon the therapeutic powers, the true healing powers, of the musicians of our day as we have called upon the musicians of the past. This will mark the end of the therapeutic era of recorded music. The great technological advance of being able to bring the greatest performers into our homes for true entertainment, and much more importantly, to raise our Life Energy, will have been destroyed.

When a man comes home stressed after a day’s work and puts on a record of a Schubert piano sonata to help him re-energize, the opposite will occur. He will become more stressed. And he will learn over a period of time that music does not help him to relax as he had expected. Or a person who as part of his religious pursuit plays a record of the Bach B Minor Mass will perhaps recognize that he is further removed from his goal – that instead of serenity, instead of holiness, instead of a feeling of life enhancement, the opposite has occurred. The music has become untherapeutic, contrary to its true nature.

It is no longer Music!

We will then cease to regard music as being what it is: one of the great therapies. Our recorded musical heritage will still satisfy the brain but will do nothing for the rest of the listener. Our true recorded musical heritage will be at an end.

I have frequently been in the position where discoveries first made through “unscientific” means have later been validated by what would be called the more usual scientific methods, and I have no doubt that in the future it will be recognized that the findings concerning digital recordings will be validated. But by that time, it may be that many works of our great artists will have been preserved in an unacceptable form.

By correcting the digital technique, we may actually now be able to make recordings more therapeutic than they have ever been before, more so than analog. By discovering the central problem in existing digital recording techniques, we may be in a position then to so improve them that we ultimately have advanced the therapeutic benefit to mankind.

Postscript, May 2003



Finally, about two years ago, I was contacted by several of the major recording and electronic companies who said that they never forgot my address to the Audio Engineering Society in 1980. They said they knew then that I was right with what I had presented about the negative effects of the digital process, but unfortunately it was released anyhow. They asked me to help in finding a solution to what they were now calling “digital fatigue.” Over the years I have tried many methods but all without success – until now.


Back then in 1980, I had only digitally recorded and/or mastered vinyl LPs to test. The arrival of CDs a few years later increased the problem. As with LPs, but more so, the stress leads after a certain time (different for each individual) to a reversal of their usual ethical and medical standards of belief. The effects of this profound change that I have now investigated for some twenty years are I believe a very important etiological factor in the increase in childhood and adolescent disturbances, (witness the soaring rate of Ritalin prescribing), and in the escalating violence in our society.

Especially when we recall that the digital process is no longer confined to recorded music but is now affecting us nearly all day: TV, radio, telephones etc. It is we who have become digitalized!

With the advent of Direct Stream Digital (DSD) recording, it is now possible to conclude that the negative effects I have stated above are due not to the digital process per se but to the mode of achieving it, Pulse Code Modulation (PCM). For DSD recordings do not have these negative effects.

Although it was suggested, unfortunately the record industry did not make analog backups of their digital (PCM) sessions. So now there is a (very expensive) twenty year hiatus. Hence some SACDs (the CD format for DSD) are being released which have gone through the PCM process and are as negative as regular CDs.

Increasingly over the years, music lovers are turning against PCM – they are feeling what I first demonstrated nearly a quarter-century ago. And they are resisting – proclaiming that it doesn’t sound like, feel like, analog. Cold, no heart. That is to say, untherapeutic.

(We must remember that a generation has probably rarely heard non-PCM music – for it is now so pervasive in concerts halls as “digital reinforcement” as well.) Perhaps now there will be a change. We all know something is wrong – and the solution is available.

I write this not only as a music lover, and a believer in the therapeutic power of music, but even more so as a doctor gravely concerned with the increasing disturbance in our society, especially in the children. The very essence of Music is the expression of peace, of comfort – of love. And this PCM has destroyed, even reversed!

As a very experienced sound engineer and producer lamented, “Music has lost its Spirit.” That’s it – exactly! And a generation has grown up not knowing it any other way: not knowing the higher dimension of music – the True Music.

And if their music has lost its spiritual dimension – then so have they!

We have lost our love of Music because we no longer feel loved by It. We must get it back – and we can.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2010 11:38 pm
  

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:shock: Sounds very intuitive to me. I have thought about this and even mentioned it to others in the past...... that I felt something was missing, or different.....I first noticed this in recordings I began making on a DAT machine that a friend had. Previously I had recorded myself on reel-to-reels and cassettes. I just never had any information to articulate what I thought I was hearing (or not hearing). Hmmmmmmmmm......... :? :idea:


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 30, 2010 12:27 am
  

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Wow, interesting. I had never heard of that...


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 30, 2010 11:49 am
  

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Do you think it's likely that we'll go back to using reel to reel or vinyl records?


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 30, 2010 12:27 pm
  

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Fascinating!

I mostly listen to web-radio so it's definitely digital - but I still listen to OLD vinyl... at least sometimes. Better to listen to live music when you can. But I agree - something about digital just doesn't sound 'right'... and don't forget that the new vinyl that's out there is probably digitally mastered, so you still have that 'off' feeling.

Will we go back to older formats? not likely, as most people want the mobility of their iPods, etc.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 30, 2010 12:40 pm
  

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According to Burnett, we'll go to high def. Here is T-Bone's response to questions about this. Keep in mind he is a pioneer and evangelist in this area who walked out of Nashville over the trend toward highly compressed productions. You may note he is not a fan of the Internet so some other comment topices are interleaved.

Quote:


“I notice the hideous flattening of sound that wave compression to create fake loudness and attention seeking intrusion causes in pop music. And I can’t stand to listen to highly data compressed music either – there’s no subtlety.”

That is exactly right. As you know, everything we see and hear travels in waves- sound and light. Digital sound is a series of right angles. To make the right angles smaller to approximate a wave, only creates more right angles. I was watching the World Cup in Hi Def the other day, and when I got close to the television, I could see the ball was square. That’s what digital sound is- a Square Ball. A digital recording when played on a high fidelity system comes apart just as a jpeg does when you blow it up. Both pixilate. Everything in nature is analog. Digital technology, while good for speed, good for computations, is the worst development in the history of music. Worse than Garth Brooks (with apologies).

“I recently made the mistake of buying a new bass speaker recently and it’s unbalanced my sound system so I’m likely going to have to spend some money. In a week I’m visitng a friend who recently bought some fancy new planar speakers. Quite interested in hearing those.”

Our team is designing a listening system for the 21st Century.


“So rather than characterising it as a lack of talent is it more that profits in the face of loss of income are being maintained by shaving technical, personnel and production investment?”

The record companies business plan for the last five years has been to fire people. There is practically no production investment.


“Or do I still misunderstand why TB thinks the quality of music production is declining? Is there some cultural retreat from recognition and expectation of quality happening as well?”

There is. Two generations have listened to recorded music at a degraded quality- the quality of distributed recorded music on the internet has been a meltdown.


“Would providing a blanket license improve things?”

A Digital Music License would improve things immeasurably. The potential for innovation in the analog world is very exciting. In my view, for music as least, digital is a side track. The internet is best thought of as a broadcast medium. When everything is coming down from a cloud, there is no difference from signals being transmitted from towers.

From wikipedia:

Broadcasting is the distribution of audio and/or video signals which transmit programs to an audience.

“If businesses protect profit by cranking inferior product out is giving them more income that isn’t earned by competition going to help?”

No. But that is not what is going to happen. Under the Digital Music License, streams will be indexed and the users are anonymized. Collection agencies will distribute the revenue by that data.

http://www.mediafuturist.com/2009/10/op ... ze-it.html


“If the quality of the music we hear is decreasing and we’d prefer it not to, what problem do we look to fix?”

We need to fix the playback equipment. We need to switch to high definition. For several years, movies, television, and video games have distributed music at a much higher quality than the record companies. CDs contain probably 30% of the sinformation of analog transcriptions. MP3s are unlistenable on a good system. (On a bad system also.)


“Surely you just can’t ensure more money is given to people providing the poor quality, we want them encouraged to improve quality. Competition is a reliable pressure to improve.”

We can insure money is given to people providing good quality.


“If any blanket license, levy or tax is imposed to try and increase investment it needs to work towards increasing competition and not rewarding the entrenched.”

That is right.


“I wonder if simply rigging it to deliver the best returns for modest sales would be the way to do that. If big conglomerates got no advantage from the scale of their production and the thicket of mid-scale success was with the money it might encourage greater competiton.”

It does not need to be rigged. It’s not going to work that way. Pricing is going to change dramatically according to the quality of the transmission or transcription.


“And that busy competition for the modest profit is what is hoped to arise from unfettered promotion and distribution via the Net. It’s the very thing I think will happen – a lot of people finding ways to gather an audience with fewer mega-stars spanning the world, and from that incremental improvements in all things”.

That was the idea. Unfortunately, that (idealistic) theory has been disproven. In reality, promotion and distribution via the Net is metafettered. Like a muthafutha.



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PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 12:06 am
  

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I'd like to see them bring back the records too. I love them. But I also like hearing MP3's portably. Never thought I'd want one until my car had a thing in it you could plug and mp3 player into the radio/cd. After finding that out, I thought cool, I can bring music along to play with me...


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 2:00 am
  

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I have yet to find any music that is bad.


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 9:57 am
  

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Get out and listen to live music,like I do weekly, then ya ain't gotta worry about it! Real digital music is played with the fingers!:D


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 01, 2010 4:20 am
  

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I've found some bad music. RAP lol. :)


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 01, 2010 12:24 pm
  

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Larry wrote:

"Get out and listen to live music,like I do weekly, then ya ain't gotta worry about it! Real digital music is played with the fingers!"


Now that is definately the brain cell talking.......excellent advice :!:


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 02, 2010 12:53 am
  

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Cheryl Harrell wrote:
I've found some bad music. RAP lol. :)


I know what you mean Cheryl. It is bad to you and me, but it's music to somebody.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 02, 2010 10:50 am
  

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Len! What do you think?


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 02, 2010 11:21 pm
  

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Yep, all music is liked by somebody even if it isn't our type of music. :)


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 03, 2010 1:11 am
  

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I know it's affected audience requests. They think performers are freakin' Ipods and should be able to play what they want to hear when they want to hear it.

I think Neil Young was freaking out about CDs when they first came out. He said that tapes and vinyl recordings gave you the music in a continuous flow while digitally recordings had "spaces" or gaps in between the sampled bits. Like the difference between video tape and film. The mind's eye fills in the gap between the still pictures of a movie film. The mind's ear fills the gaps in between the digitally recorded bits. Maybe that audio fill-in that our brains have to do has a negative effect. Like some people get headaches from fluorescent light flicker. In the US, the current cycles cause the lights to actually turn on and off at about 100 to 120 times per second. New, faster ballasts are eliminating that, they say.


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