Changing Tastes

In my last post (and the story of why it was so long ago is an epic which I won't go into now), I observed that the listener I am today is a completely different critter than the one I was years ago. It's inevitable that time, experience, and liff its ownself change us—and change the way we perceive art.

Two readers—KBK and RankStranger—wrote in saying that they had acquired collections of classical discs in the hope that they might eventually gain an appreciation of the genre. Another reader—our esteemed Alan in Victoria—wrote in incredulously: "You guys keep hundreds of classical records on hand, because you think one day a switch will flip somewhere and you will suddenly like classical music? Bizarre."

I have to admit that a similar idea occurred to me for an instant and then I got it. First, as Jon Iverson likes to observe, audiophiles are hunter-gatherers. Collecting music is what we do. And our musical tastes do grow—and, in my humble opinion, our taste can change based upon our systems. (Owners of Quad '57s are far less likely to be into death metal than, say, owners of Duntech Sovereigns.)

Certain recordings have acquired legendary status among audiophiles over the years and have frequently been held up as examples of audio perfection. Even the most died-in-the-wool rocker would jump at that $2 shaded dog or Mercury Living Presence thinking that maybe this will be the start of a beautiful friendship.

And people's tastes do change—it doesn't take a switch flipping, sometimes beauty is sufficient. When I worked at Tower Records, a gent who had chanced upon The Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughan Williams fell deeply in love with classical music. Not all classical music, but definitely RVW, Elgar, Delius, and, later, Ravel and Debussy.

I have no idea what he listened to before discovering RVW, but it sure wasn't classical—and I worked with a few hard-core modern music enthusiasts who thought that he didn't like real classical, but a less pure, lite version of it.

That's an attitude I find puzzling and tiresome. And it's one we audiophiles seem to fall into with some frequency. It's one reason our hobby is so Balcanized—I keep expecting to see tube lovers and solid-state perform a combination dance routine/knife fight a la the Sharks and the Jets.

Ultimately, I think that KBK and RankStranger have the right attitude, which is to embrace the hobby and pray for change. I've met audiophiles who only played 10 records and I've folks who get to choose from thousands. I've always enjoyed the latter group immensely more.

Monty's picture

Not unlike collecting hundreds of vacuum tubes that don't fit any of your current amps, just in case you someday buy an amp that would require them. Not that I would do anything like that. Nope, not me.

Mark Fleischmann's picture

I think of my musical life as a series of concentric circles. Things move from the outer circles to the inner circles or vice versa. Sometimes seeing the artist live makes a huge difference.

nunh's picture

At least what I listen to is "so cool and underground" the video - lol!

Jagdish Tytler's picture

Surinder Singh “I have come to know that in front of Justice Nanavasti Commission from my side has been put blame on Shri Jagdish Tytler. I give my statement that I cannot read and write English for this I would like to state that I do not know that what has been in English in my previous statement. Dated 01/11/1984 crowd attacked an GurudwarwaPul Bangash, people were saying that attack was being led by the Congress leaders. I did not see Shri Jagdish Tytler anywhere in the crowd.”

Alan in Victoria's picture

I dunno! I can see why you audiophiles might stash away something you know you should eventually check out, but I prefer to let my musical discoveries happen when they happen.

rudy yniguez's picture

Wes Phillips wrote: (Owners of Quad '57s are far less likely to be into death metal than, say, owners of Duntech Sovereigns.)I have long wished you reviewers of all things musical would include in every review what type of music you think the equipment is best at reproducing.Classical music? Not my cup of coffee.Death metal? Absolutely.

Two dogs's picture

My parents have the duntechs. They are fabulous at classical. They are yet to play death metal. Is this 15 years of wasted opportunity?