The Reproduction of Beautiful Music

There is beauty in many kinds of music. This stems from the beautiful sounds created by carefully developed instruments, and voices created by nature and nurtured with dedication. Many pieces of music have either been conceived as works of genius (Bach, for example), or are melodies that have been passed down through generations and have stood the test of time. The result in many cases is music that, if heard live in an acoustically clean space, brings joy to the heart and pleasure to the mind. The ultimate goal of reproducing music is to create in the listener the same responses that are elicited by the original performance. This goal has apparently eluded engineers and designers for eighty years, in spite of a rather huge total investment by humankind in the art of audio reproduction. I have improved the art of high performance amplifier design. This has resulted in a listening experience that comes much closer to that of a live performance.

The Nature of Beauty and Truth

Plato identified beauty as that which endures. It follows that that which has endured more is more beautiful than that which has endured less. For example, a native forest is more beautiful than a freeway. If it can be said that truth is eternal, then it follows that truth is the ultimate reflection of beauty. Mathematics provides us with examples of eternal truths, such as the natural logarithmic base, e, raised to the power i times pi, is equal to negative one. This will be seen as beauty in the eye of the beholder who appreciates mathematics. Physics provides us with examples of near-eternal truths. The law of universal gravitation, first formulated by Newton, and later restated in light of Einstein's findings, is not quite eternal, as it is specific to this universe. In the first instant of the formation of this universe, critical parameters were solidified, which define this universe, apart from other possible universes. In other words, the laws of physics work in this particular universe, and presumably other laws would apply in other universes, or in other lives of `the' universe, if there can only be one universe `at one time'. The point is that there are gradations of beauty in truth based on the transient versus eternal nature of the truth. The opposite of eternal is transient, and it follows that lack of beauty, or ugliness, is transitory in nature. A beautiful mountain range is formed over eons of time as the result of countless transient events, such as a bit of rock flaking off due to freezing moisture. Man's exploitation of natural resources has an effect much the same as speeded up erosion, that is, many events lacking in beauty. History tells us that the ultimate condition of many human civilizations, given enough time, is a desert supporting a very small human population. Deserts are beautiful, and the hand of time increases the beauty of the desert, and many times forests have superseded deserts. In the large view, even forces that temporarily seem to destroy beauty will become contributors to beauty given enough time. Thus if the creation of beauty is considered to be good, and the destruction of beauty is considered to be bad, ultimately there is only good since the bad is transitory whereas the good is eternal.

Today, we live in a world where human activity, and indeed the condition of the human consciousness, is largely prescribed by the implications of the drive for corporate profit, and not by considerations of the eternal or of beauty. The ego, or pride, blinds man to beauty, as he can only see his own accomplishments. In the art of discovering audio perfection, ego blinds the designer once he has built an amplifier that is merely better than other amplifiers, whereas to the individual who is without ego, absolute perfection will always remain a clear goal. Those who have remained faithful have found that true beauty is an uncompromising teacher. Evolution has given man the ability to be attracted to beauty since this serves in reproduction, in gathering resources, and in finding a suitable place to live. Thus attraction to beauty for the purpose of exploiting that which is beautiful is commonplace, whereas the ability to appreciate beauty without exploiting is relatively rare, at least in Western culture. Most listeners have the ability to sense the degree of natural quality in reproduced music, while appreciation of beauty in music seems to be a higher talent.

To conceive of, and to create audio equipment capable of recreating a sound that does justice to beautiful music requires an appreciation of beauty and truth, carefully applied to the audio art.

The Spiritual Path

The spiritual path is, for the writer, the path in life of maximum openmindedness. This entails constant striving to better appreciate beauty and truth. What is truth? Human experience suggests truth is that which cannot be proven false by reasoned questioning and experimentation. A useful rule to follow to maintain maximum open-mindedness is to believe nothing, but to consider the probability of a postulate being true based on the available evidence. For the writer, the closest traditional philosophy to maximum open-mindedness is that of Taoism. The Taoist sees life as a path. The path is constantly created in terms of wisdom that is applied to the present situation. In other words, the future of the path cannot be seen; it is well enough to strive to be on the path in the present. This can be thought of as living in the present, which is akin to being, or sensing most fully one's true needs, and paying least attention to one's wants.

The good path leads to an appreciation of beauty and truth, and to the possibility of creating beauty. To follow the good path requires dedication. The future will be best as an outgrowth of a good past, which is the present. Taking maximum advantage of the present means respecting and following up on serendipitous events since these arise for deep reasons, while artificial opportunities have limited depth. Planning and/or expectation can desensitize one to serendipity, which is often the source of fresh approaches.

This philosophy has made possible a number of key innovations that have resulted in the development of amplifiers of truly high performance.

Copyright 2011 Duncan Scobie. All rights reserved.


The Spiritual Path
& Reproduction of
Beautiful Music
History of
Duncan Scobie
Technical Discussion
of Amplifier Design
Other Audio
Design Projects

Truth in Audio
Duncan Scobie
1156 Union Road, Victoria, BC, V8P 2J3, Canada
E-Mail: lankford@shaw.ca
URL: www.crunchers.bc.ca/scobie

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