Tune dem

General HiFi discussion, using the Tune Method to evaluate performance

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Post by Music Lover » 2010-04-10 10:28

This is a brilliant post!
Please read it again folks.
It totally mimics my experience building/upgrading/tuning a system.

You need to constantly re-test to be reminded of how strong tune dem is as an evaluation tool.
And as a result, the importance of source first!
Without constant reminders it's too easy to using logic, but tune dem and source first can't really be explained using your brain. Only experience counts!

Charlie, using tune dem to listen to music? Not a chance.
I also think you missunderstood what Ivor said.

lejonklou wrote:This is an interesting discussion. I must say that I understand your complaints about niceness, Efraim. To me it indicates a system that for some reason isn't good enough for your demands.

The main problem could be anywhere; in the source, in the speakers, in the installation. It doesn't necessarily have to be in the choice of amps that you've compared. And it's great to be aware of the compensatory mechanisms: One character (dynamics) can be exaggerated to compensate for a weakness in the system (nice, non-dynamic sound). But this kind of compensation doesn't really improve things, it just hides some problems and often create a few others. You're probably already aware of this and the need to stay focused on musicality instead of chasing faults.

I can't resist mentioning that when developing an amplifier, I often come across choices that are really tempting for reasons of sound. Let's say that a prototype has a slightly harsh and edgy sound and some component values can be varied within a certain range. At one end of this range, I hear that the harshness is completely removed; the sound is more like I think it should be. But in the middle of the range, the prototype performs better tune-wise; it's easier to understand the musical message, despite sounding a bit more harsh and edgy.

Which do I choose? I go with the more tuneful setting, always. And experience has taught me that it's the only way to do it. Because very soon, another choice will appear in that same prototype, with a different impact on sound. And this time, that initial harshness might go away when I, once again, choose the most musical setting.

If instead I had first chosen the nice sounding setting (thinking that I need to sacrifice a bit of musicality in order to make it sound good), the second setting would most likely have become different as a result. And in the end, after many tuning sessions of different parameters, I would have a prototype that sounded OK but made a complete mess of the music. I know, because I've tried it! :lol:

Sorry to ramble, but I think that often it's the same thing with systems. When we really wish to trade musicality for a certain sound, it's best done at the end of the chain; the speakers. Compromises there doesn't affect musicality as much and has a really strong impact on the sound character. Also, it usually doesn't result in a chain of compensatory changes.
It's all about musical understanding!

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Post by Tony Tune-age » 2010-04-15 14:30

That is a good post, with several valid points 8) . I do enjoy this forum :!:
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Post by donuk » 2010-04-19 08:28

Hi Guys,
As things seem a little bit quiet at the moment I hope you don’t mind my putting in my point of view, ignorant though it may be. I have joined this forum recently with a couple of issues and people have been very kind and encouraging. I have reported the success of my upgrades using the usual hifi terms. I apologise for this – I have made no reference to Tune Dem.
The problem is that I have read your descriptions in various places on the forum, and have really tried to follow this. I thought I understood what you were saying – I have made comparisons listening to the tunes, singing along, even going into the next room to get an overall impression of my system.
One of the problems is that I am a jazz musician; I know a lot of hifi enthusiasts are musicians, so I know I am not unusual. About twice a week I play various gigs and sit among real live instruments – so I know, I think what they sound like. I also regularly attend organ recitals (York Minster – world class) and classical concerts.
Now, before I met you guys, my favourite rant when hearing a “hifi” system was “Yes it sounds like good hifi, but not like music.” And I pointed out that at live music concerts you did not usually hear plectrum clicks, string clicks, every breath the saxophonist takes or cymbals which fizzed around your ears. Neither, if you were sitting in the audience did you ever experience the sort of sound stage with pin-point positioning of the instruments which most hifi magazines would have us aspire to. You’ve guessed that I could go on......
The essential problem with my limited understanding of the tune dem method is that I do not know what to listen to. Say I am listening to a small band version of Body and Soul. Now, I know the tune. I know the chords. It is not hard to hear the improvisations against the melody even in my car hifi system. What I find myself listening to are subtle alternative harmonies, bass lines and rhythmic inflections by the percussion.
A good system will link all that is going on together, and when I close my eyes it will not be too hard for me to imagine that I am sitting in front of the band. Too many “hifi” systems accentuate features of the performance to try to enhance the sense of being there by adding the clicks, squeaks and fizzes detailed above. To me the same fallacy applies in amateur digital photography. Are we not all tempted to enhance the contrast and colour of our photos to make them look more stunning? But they become unrealistic too.
I suppose just as all of us secretly believe we are great lovers and drivers of cars, I am sure we each think we have good ears for recorded music. Certainly friends who come in the house and listen to my Linn system think it sounds unusually realistic.
But what exactly am I listening to? And how should I report it on your forum?
Musings, from Don
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Post by David Neel » 2010-04-19 11:08

I'm not 100% sure I get tune dem either - I get the theory, and I fully understand that musical communication is the key parameter, but sometimes just listening to short excerpts of music makes it difficult to see the wood for the trees. The key for me is to realise when I'm fully engaged with the music rather than looking for sonic differences.

Last year I had a very interesting demo of speakers. I heard 109s against Kudos C10s (standmounts which are very highly rated elsewhere, and much more expensive). I listened to the 109s with several short excerpts, which I'd chosen to give variety, then repeated the sequence with C10s. The differences were obvious, the C10s had a much bigger, easier sound with more detail - the 109s sounded constricted by comparison. Then I reverted to the 109s to check my impressions, and immediately noticed the loss of the C10s better sound - but a funny thing happened. I forgot to change the music to the next piece because I was enjoying it so much. Then I realised that the A/B comparison of sonics didn't matter, the C10s might have a more immediately beautiful sound, but the 109s played better music. The sound differences were forgotten in a few minutes, but the musical differences were fundamental. So despite trying to do the tune-dem type of comparison I had nearly missed the point completely by focusing on detail not timing!

This may be similar to the point about perspective, and excessive detail not necessarily helping. I've got lots of cassettes which are mainly Radio 3 live broadcasts from 20+ years ago, and the more natural concert hall perspective is in contrast to most commercial recordings. Again, the enjoyment is in the musical tension and flow, not the sonic detail.

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Post by Charlie1 » 2010-04-19 13:45

Hi Guys, People differ but here are some of my own preferences:

I never use familiar music when using the Tune Method (:wink: Fredrik). It can be possible for me if the system has remained unchanged for a while and I'll then pick up on the musical differences when making a single change, but for repeated A-B comparisons I need unfamiliar music. Otherwise I don't feel confident of my conclusions - it makes it very difficult for me to be certain. Other folks may not have trouble in this way.

Ideally, I prefer single instrument music of a reasonably complex nature, so unfamiliar classical piano sonata is my favourite. I can use pretty much any unfamiliar music with varying degrees of success, but when the comparisons become very close then I always fall back to this to be sure.

Lastly, and again, when it gets very difficult then I always follow the strict Linn methodology, so silent repitition and not judging the perfomers or using instinct. I think it's possible to be caught out otherwise, but only when it's very very difficult to choose.

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Post by Tony Tune-age » 2010-04-19 19:31

David Neel wrote:The key for me is to realise when I'm fully engaged with the music rather than looking for sonic differences.
That is essentially how I evaluate audio systems. And as it turns out, if the system is truly engaging, the sonics are generally great as well 8) .
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Post by lejonklou » 2010-04-19 19:40

donuk wrote:The essential problem with my limited understanding of the tune dem method is that I do not know what to listen to.
A very interesting post, Don.

To me it sounds like you are clearly focusing on the musical content of the reproduction. Using the Tune Method is just a methodical way of doing that, in a way that is very fast and reliable. With some practice, it also becomes surprisingly easy to detect tiny differences. While they might appear as unimportant, several of them can add up to a very worthwhile improvement. Therefore the Tune Method is invaluable when you're installing and fine tuning a system.

I think Charlie's comment is spot on in this case. You are a musician and know what to listen for in familiar music. If you try practicing the Tune Method, choose something you are entirely unfamiliar with. That way, you will have no choice but to focus on trying to understand the whole picture.

Also, don't rule out music that doesn't sound nice. I only mention this because most audiophiles believe in picking out their finest recording when judging a system. But it's just as easy with something really distorted and "over produced". Death metal with growl, anyone?

David: Thanks for the 109 vs C10 report! What you're describing makes perfect sense to me, including the part about tension and flow.

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Post by Tony Tune-age » 2010-04-19 19:56

lejonklou wrote:If you try practicing the Tune Method, choose something you are entirely unfamiliar with. That way, you will have no choice but to focus on trying to understand the whole picture.
In addition, I like listening to music that is complex, as part of the Tune Method. Such as two sets of drums being played at the same time, along with various types of horn instruments, etc.
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Post by SaltyDog » 2010-05-08 09:27

OK here we go. This is a totally new thought I'm having regarding tunedem and listening to recorded music. It has to do with how you prefer to listen to music. It has to do with how we are intended to experience music by the artist. It has to do with how we are intended to hear music from the engineer's point of view or in other words what he/she wants us to hear based upon their work. It has to do with tunedem and what it means.

This may seem to be a question of perspective. Maybe it is. Maybe not.

One definition of tunedem is that it is a consistent method of evaluating music.

Music Lover says "Charlie, using tune dem to listen to music? Not a chance." I really respect your comments and trust your evaluations but I just did not get this until now. But maybe I still don't. Help me here if you can.

Is Tunedem being able to understand each musician, being able to follow every musician's part(s), or being able to understand the group?

What sounds better to you and what feels better to you based on the following. Which one is tunedem?

Example 1

You are listening. You can hear everything in the recording. You can follow any and all musicians one at a time. You get the message. For example you can listen paying more attention to the percussion and switch to listening to the bass for a while but then the background singers grab your fancy for a time. You can switch back and forth at will to who are following while still listening to the whole performance. As if you are the conductor of the orchestra or playing with the orchestra. In my experience of learning about music, playing, and hearing live music this is where I started out and is how I've usually related to music. It is how I've always listened. In the recording you can hear where the microphones are positioned. You can hear all the nuances. To me this was tunedem.

Example 2

You are listening to music. You hear the tune. You always follow a tune, but can not follow each musician at will. You always can hear and follow a melodic performance. It is immensely enjoyable. You want to listen more and more. You hear the tune - can't follow let's say just the drummer because the tune is getting in the way. Way different than how I learned to be part of the music my self as a performer. It's being part of the audience. This would probably be what some people involved with the HiFi and recording are trying to achieve. You hear the music but not the musicians. One of the performers is leading and this is the part that stands out. Different musicians lead at different times and this is who you can precisely follow. Everyone else is accompanying. You would miss them if they were gone, but can't follow them the entire time. This would be frustrating to you if you were out in the audience watching your kid perform. (Like when another dancer is blocking your view of your kid in a recital.) But if you were not personally involved, relaxed and just out in the audience with no expectations you are thoroughly entertained.

Recapped:

Example one you are the conductor or at the sound board - part of the performance - but not a musician. You hear what the microphones hear.

Example two you are in the audience. It sounds like the recording was made from your seat. Like two microphones - one at each ear.

What do you prefer?

Which one is tunedem?

I'd like to hear as many responses as possible on this. I'll make a little revelation after I hear back from some of you.

Thanks

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Post by SaltyDog » 2010-05-08 09:33

I've also posted this on the Linn Forum so I can get as much feedback as possible.

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Post by lejonklou » 2010-05-08 12:21

Interesting and well expressed (it's not easy to translate musical experiences into words).

I feel it's a simplification to put example 1 against example 2. In most cases, you will get more of [what you describe in] both 1 and 2 by an upgrade of your HiFi system.

But I agree that there are certain moments where it can feel like 1 against 2. Recent DS firmware changes is one example... And in those cases, I find that choosing the option that focuses more on the whole picture is the right choice. This is close to what you describe in 2, isn't it?

The option that appears to give better separation can be a trap. Because when you add faults like time variations and subtle levels of distortion to a reproduction, it's not unusual to interpret this as having more detail.

Imagine ten violins playing the same note with a high level of coordination. Then imagine if the musicians are angry with eachother, bored and less coordinated. Which of these two do you think will sound "better separated"? In which of the two will it be easier to follow a separate instrument?
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Post by lejonklou » 2010-05-08 12:34

SaltyDog wrote:I've also posted this on the Linn Forum so I can get as much feedback as possible.
As you mentioned this (here, but not there...), I just paid a visit there. Long time ago and now I remember why! :lol:

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Post by SaltyDog » 2010-05-08 22:11

Hope you don't mind. I just really wanted as many points of view as possible on this subject.

For me, I could set up a system using 1 very easily. I don't have confidence that I could get it right so easily with 2.

Setup with 1 then Listen and enjoy with 2 - maybe.

Your violin example is good. I've played with violins and even had an opportunity to be two seats away in the audience from the Stradivarius in the New York Philharmonic. I was closer to it than the conductor. This is the kind of experience I'm talking about in 1. Seated in the 20th row or so is like 2.

Each musician plays a tune 1. The ensemble plays a tune with one part more emphatic 2. The group most likely intends the one part to be the lead at that time and the lead changes with the flow of the music to another musician.

With 1 I can follow this but also choose to follow someone individually.
With 2 I am not able to make a choice. It gets confusing trying to follow it in that way.

Some times I want to sit with the orchestra. Sometimes I want party while the band plays on.

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Post by Music Lover » 2010-05-09 10:35

Saltydog, as previously said - tune dem is an evaluation method not "a way to listen to music".
You can listen to music in many ways, example 1 as well as 2. Both are the correct way. Who are we to judge which one is better?
But when you link tune dem with a way to listen to music, let me ask you...how did you listen to music before you heard about tune dem?


Back to tune dem, according to my experience from myself or other people, when you TRY TO HARD, then you fail.
Best is to relax, just FEEL the music.

When I listen to music and start focusing on the details (bass, treble, dynamics, one of the musicians and how he is playing and the sound of his instrument, OR how the musicians play together) that is for me a warning sign!

When the reproduction is very good, no need for your brain to listen to the details to "understand" the music, no need analyzing the performance of the band, you simply forget about the details and just think what a great band what a great album/track.

Please study how children listen to music, they just enjoy it. Ever asked them to describe why it was good? "it's a great song dad" Are they looking at the details? Nope.

When you are in love, ever got the question from your friends "why her"? Can you answer? You simply are in love!
Last edited by Music Lover on 2010-05-10 14:26, edited 1 time in total.
It's all about musical understanding!

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Post by SaltyDog » 2010-05-09 15:32

You are right about children. My one year old granddaughter loves to listen with me and to dance too. She starts out dancing by bobbing her knees to get into the beat. When the system is more musical she continues with other moves and keeps it up longer when things are working better.

I listened to music originally while being a performer, from within the orchestra. I was poor and had to play a school owned instrument. I could not afford to go to performances they cost too much.

I never liked HiFi as such till I heard a friends system with Advent speakers. I was out of high school by then. Bought 2 Japanese systems, then discovered Linn in 1980. Bought LP12 with Grace 707 along with DCM Time Window Speakers and Nakamichi System One.

My basis for judging has always been real music.

What I'm getting at is that with just a change of software I can hear as if I'm part of the performance on one version. And on the other I get a perspective of being out in the audience. Live music sounds different depending on where you are. But the recording is the recording it does not change where it was recorded from. Yet the software can make it sound so different. There are two versions that sound right Tune Dem wise, but give different perspectives. It's like choosing where to sit. Would that be changing the Tune Dem? The room is going to have an impact if you actually change position. But that is not the case. The room sounds the same from the same seat. The flow, timing, sound, all sound real. The system sounds in tune with the room with both versions. But they are different. They are both very good.

We have said in the past that we should simply ask does this sound better than that? If it sounds better it is better. Most of the time this is easy to do.

There are many versions that don't impress me. Most of these sound the similar to me based on Tune Dem. The official releases are in this group.

You must have a favorite version. It's not clear to me right now that your system is working with the newer versions. Hope that is not the case any longer.

So much for now.

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Post by lejonklou » 2010-05-09 22:17

SaltyDog wrote:What I'm getting at is that with just a change of software I can hear as if I'm part of the performance on one version. And on the other I get a perspective of being out in the audience.
Later in that paragraph, you wrote "Would that be changing the Tune Dem?" and my answer to that is: perhaps. What you're describing is to me two different presentations, but I can't determine from your description which of them is more in tune.

I installed a system today. When fine tuning the last millimetres of the distance between left and right speaker, the result was a little bit similar to what you describe in 1 and 2 above. Two millimeters more apart made the music more lazy, laid back and big sounding. Two millimeters closer together made it more dry, speedy and detailed. The best performing position musically was right in between those two. At that spot everything just jelled and the music became soo goood. All analysis of "how it sounded" felt superfluous.

In my experience, when the source is really good and the system is perfectly tuned, these kind of decisions become so much easier. They become "right and wrong" instead of "sounding like this or that".

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Post by SaltyDog » 2010-05-10 03:33

Fredrick, What you are describing is to me what I consider tuning the system to the room or getting the system to play the room.

I don't hear a reason to change the speaker position. I don't hear differences in timing. The ATCs can a play a piano like no other speaker I've ever heard. I have a piano in the next room. Chic Corea's piano does sound better than my daughters. Most piano recordings just sound like a piano. I don't hear a difference like one is playing the room better than the other.

Maybe the effect I'm talking about can be described like when you look at a grouping of things up close you can focus on each item while still seeing every item. Then when you increase the distance slowly moving back you can focus on the group. You could focus on an individual item by looking directly at it, but would not need to change your focus (like a camera's depth of field and focus) Once you are that far back it doesn't change again until you've moved beyond your ability to see. The way both eyes work together. Then you can move forward again and realize the point where you are again focused on part of the group.

The same with sound and two ears. There comes a distance from the source that both ears will be engaged with the entire group.

When I move to the next room both ways sound right. Very realistic. In the past when performing Tune Dem one variable being auditioned would sound better than the other. Usually a timing or loss of information type of difference.

This gets back to what was intended by the artists, engineers and technicians collaborative effort. If I knew this maybe it would be easier to decide which was more accurate/appropriate. Both versions seem in tune with my room and system but are different.

It would be ideal to hear what it is that would be halfway between these two. This however seems beyond my control. (Kind of makes me miss dealing with positioning keltiks :roll: )

For now I remain :?

The system I'm using is KDS/D - KK/1/D - ATC SCM50SL AT. Fully balanced. I don't know anything other than including a properly setup sub that could make it any easier to hear the differences.

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Post by lejonklou » 2010-05-10 14:21

Salty, I don't understand what you're trying to say. I've read your posts several times, but I still don't get it.

You are hearing differences that are important to you, but they seem equally good musically. Correct? Do you want to share your findings or are you asking for advice? Are you unsure of which one you prefer or do you already know?

You just wrote: "I don't hear a reason to change the speaker position."
What does that mean? Are your speakers already in perfect position down to the last mm? If so, this optimal position can sometimes change with firmware. I find that the required change is often very small in these cases, just like when changing a preamp. It could be just one cm away or even less. This might seem insignificantly small, but it's not. Close to the optimal position, tiny movements of a speaker result in dramatic changes to both sound and music.

If your speakers are not optimally positioned, it can be difficult to draw the right conclusions from changes elsewhere in the system. Which is what I wrote above.

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Post by Music Lover » 2010-05-10 14:30

Just read this page of the thread again and in the post posted 2010-05-09 10:35, I previously started with "Charlie". That was wrong, my reply was to Saltydog.
Sorry for the confusion! :oops:
Just changed the post.
It's all about musical understanding!

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Post by monkeydevil » 2010-05-10 14:54

Music Lover wrote:
When I listen to music and start focusing on the details (bass, treble, dynamics, one of the musicians and how he is playing and the sound of his instrument, OR how the musicians play together) that is for me a warning sign!

When the reproduction is very good, no need for your brain to listen to the details to "understand" the music, no need analyzing the performance of the band, you simply forget about the details and just think what a great band what a great album/track.
Hello Music Lover!
I am not trying to be picky or something here, I am just very interested in understanding this.

Regarding tune dem, you write that thinking about “how the musician is playing and the sound of his instrument, OR how the musicians play together is a warning sign” and then when everything is working that you “just think what a great band what a great album/track”.

Isn’t this the same thing? I usually think that when a band is playing together, then they are a great band. Will I have a hard time finding a good speaker position listening to the band? Actually I focus on an instrument, and listen to when it is most in tune. But sometimes it is hard to resist to not weigh in the” togetherness” of the band, as in how the players and notes come at you in time. I suspect that I am missing something here. Please elaborate! Or if anybody else has thoughts about this.

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Post by Azazello » 2010-05-10 15:18

I'd say that you should relax and try to feel the music rather than "think" about something - regardless of what. :)

In that way, you will take full advantage of the fact that the human brain is much much more powerful than the concious mind. This is where the power of tune-method lies imo.

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Post by donuk » 2010-05-10 17:39

Hi guys,
I as still struggling to understand Tunedem. Honestly. I know it is one of the cornerstones of this forum, so I will not criticise. But I am still trying to understand, really.

As I have explained, I hear a lot of live music, both as a performing musician and audience member. When I try to evaluate my system at home, I close my eyes, and say to myself "Can I imaging sitting in the front row, and hearing it like this?" If it does succeed in fooling me for a few moments then I conclude I have a good recording and the system is well set up.

Most "good hifi systems" sound like, err, good hifi systems, but not like live music.

Don
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Post by Music Lover » 2010-05-10 19:31

monkeydevil wrote:
Music Lover wrote:
When I listen to music and start focusing on the details (bass, treble, dynamics, one of the musicians and how he is playing and the sound of his instrument, OR how the musicians play together) that is for me a warning sign!

When the reproduction is very good, no need for your brain to listen to the details to "understand" the music, no need analyzing the performance of the band, you simply forget about the details and just think what a great band what a great album/track.
Hello Music Lover!
I am not trying to be picky or something here, I am just very interested in understanding this.

Regarding tune dem, you write that thinking about “how the musician is playing and the sound of his instrument, OR how the musicians play together is a warning sign” and then when everything is working that you “just think what a great band what a great album/track”.

Isn’t this the same thing? I usually think that when a band is playing together, then they are a great band. Will I have a hard time finding a good speaker position listening to the band? Actually I focus on an instrument, and listen to when it is most in tune. But sometimes it is hard to resist to not weigh in the” togetherness” of the band, as in how the players and notes come at you in time. I suspect that I am missing something here. Please elaborate! Or if anybody else has thoughts about this.
First of all, read the bold parts. I was describing how I listen to music, I was NOT describing tune dem methods.
Secondly, no it's not the same thing. Please read Azazello's post.

I aksed this before but do it again.
All of you that say you use tune dem listening to music, how did you listen to music before you heard about the tune dem method?
It's all about musical understanding!

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Post by lejonklou » 2010-05-10 20:03

monkeydevil wrote:Regarding tune dem, you write that thinking about “how the musician is playing and the sound of his instrument, OR how the musicians play together is a warning sign” and then when everything is working that you “just think what a great band what a great album/track”.

Isn’t this the same thing?
I think it can be! My guess is that ML means this: When a conscious analysis of the music is growing strong within you, it's a bad sign. When you react without having intended it (the music moves you instead of you doing the work), it's a very good sign.
monkeydevil wrote:I usually think that when a band is playing together, then they are a great band. Will I have a hard time finding a good speaker position listening to the band?
Of course not!

ML, you have to tell me whether you agree with what I said above. I sort of put words into your mouth. I'd also appreciate if you could try explaining the difference in you between doing a tune dem and simply enjoying the music. I am not sure I get what you mean there. You strongly emphasize there's a difference and I still don't understand what that is.

Personally I feel that the two are the same thing, except that when I do tune dem's I am more focused because I want the result as quickly as possible (there's usually 50 more dems to follow).

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Post by lejonklou » 2010-05-10 20:20

Azazello wrote:In that way, you will take full advantage of the fact that the human brain is much much more powerful than the concious mind. This is where the power of tune-method lies imo.
Excellently expressed!

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