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October 2022
Vol. 21, No. 13
Blue Largo CD Release - October 20, 2022

Zen of Recording


by Sven-Erik SeaholmFebruary, 2022

What is the definition of High Definition?
I mean when you think about it (or at least, when I do), isn’t reality the highest we can go when it comes to video or audio resolution? If so, doesn’t that mean that every media of every medium falls short of that and the closest it gets for each of us, is the threshold at which we resign ourselves to accepting those results? What defines the level of quality (or lack thereof) we find acceptable?
Budgetary concerns would be one for sure. There are bucked-out folks out there in their palatial living rooms enjoying movies and music in environments that rival the state-of-the-art studios, which create the very content they’re entertaining themselves with! I’ve met and spoken with some of those peeps and while I certainly survey their treasures with eye-popping wonder and envy, nothing bores me more than the stilted perspectives of most audiophiles: “Yes, well this is the Colter-Funkhausen Ultra-Megatory Quintuple Transformer Amplifier, of which there are only 49 of in the world, paired with a…” zzzzzzzzzz.
On the flipside, there’s the ever-burgeoning majority of us who just don’t have time to listen that damn closely to anything, much less can afford to sink that Rockefeller kind of sh’money into its delivery methods. For this group of movie and music buffs, the whole world is still their proverbial oyster. There are literally hundreds (I think, but I could be exaggerating) of streaming services for them to choose from; all you have to accept is a data-compressed version of whatever you desire. Movies and shows seem to arrive pretty much intact, but music sounds terrible when compared to its original version.
Aye, wrote Shakespeare, there’s the rub.
Without a side-by-side comparison, we have to accept the versions we receive via ones, zeros, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and broadcasts as the real deal. As artists, producers, and content creators, we have to release ourselves from the obsessive trance we’ve been in during our baby’s creation, from conception to delivery. Often, we end up saying to ourselves how much better it sounded in our studio before it was released into the wild. The best we can do from that perspective is to make it sound as good as possible, knowing full well that most folks will ever hear it quite the way we do.
That’s not the entirety of this (admittedly one-sided) conversation, though.
For the sake of clarity, let’s narrow our focus to music for now. Up to this point, we have concentrated on sonic fidelity and how it represents the quality of our content. From a sales perspective, it’s the handshake extended to a prospective customer that signals a promise of excellence. This is just the hard candy outer shell, though. Beneath that polished sheen lies a musical performance of a song. The culmination of an inspiration being crafted into being. This is what I consider to be the essence of High Definition.
If this were a painting (I thought we were talking about music?), all of those earlier references to quality would amount to superfluous observations on brush strokes, textures, pigments, and oils…indicators that you are probably standing way too close to the goddamned painting.
What does it depict? What does it convey? Are its content, message, and images immediately apparent, or do they reveal themselves slowly over many subsequent viewings? What does this piece of art make you feel?
An effective lyric can be broken down beyond word or rhyme choices to the level of vowel choices, syllable emphasis, and even sonorous considerations. Melody can tap into our primal emotional core to bring feelings we didn’t even know we had into view. Rhythm, tempo, chords, keys, instruments, phrasing, arrangements, and dynamics are all co-conspirators in the effort of making our listeners feel something. Whether that is unbridled joy or the depths of despair, it makes no matter. Every creative act makes this world a better place, because someone out there needs that. Even if it’s only you.
Take it from someone who has recorded in the most deluxe studios, all the way down to two cans and some string: HD is the direct transfer from your heart to someone else’s.
Sven-Erik Seaholm is a singer, songwriter and producer.

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