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Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

A watched pot never boils
Our perception of reality, of the here and now, of past and future, is relative: time crawls when you watch a clock’s secondhand and speeds past when we’re otherwise occupied.

The same can be said for listening to music. We like to imagine that recordings are immutable, that what’s on the CD or LP or even a streamed music file is fixed and no mood or perceptual change can influence that which is. But, we would be wrong. Just as wrong as thinking time is also immutable, or how long it takes to boil a pot of water when you’re watching it.

Intellectually we understand that clocks and water obey strict laws, yet we cannot say the same for our perception of them.

Measured dynamic range, for example, is rarely a good indicator of how dynamic music sounds. Instead, it is the juxtaposition of loud and soft—the contrast between passages—that makes us feel like it is dynamic, not the measured range itself.

I know the scientist lurking in all of us wishes to measure, quantify, and catalog our physical world. Unfortunately, we haven’t any equipment to measure how we interact with it.

And how it makes us feel is a more valuable measurement than numbers on a page.

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Paul McGowan


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Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.


In my post of a few days ago about pop singer Billy Eilish, I received some very anxious emails informing me she’s more than just a singer with dark lyrics, it seems she’s making outrageous statements about “the occult” and whatnot.

Certainly, if this kind of modern music makes you uncomfortable then, by all means, don’t listen.

On the other hand, if you stop for a moment and think about it, she’s more of a reflection of our times and her age than anything else. And isn’t that the idea behind music? Bob Dylan’s lyrics were a reflection of his time as much as Beethoven and Mozart were.

And music is often outrageous! Gustav Mahler’s music was so outrageous that he was booed off the stage and lambasted as a heretic! Today, we cannot even imagine that it was so.

It’s tough being 18. For one thing, part of your job is to scare the crap out of adults by being outrageous. That’s what we do when we’re coming of age. We test the waters of what it takes to provoke outrage. That’s what Billie Eilish is doing, only, she’s doing it brilliantly. She is saying what’s in the heads of her contemporaries and saying it so honestly that people listen. Which is why I bring her to your attention.

And the conspiracy theories? She’s no more on a mission to convert youth to darkness than Elvis Presley was out to corrupt and subvert his generation. They are/were reflections of their time and age.

Let me give you some examples of past outrageous behavior. We’ll start with the 50s, and work our way through to today. See if you don’t spot a pattern in these photos:

Each era had its outrageous appearance designed to shock the older generation, make a statement of their independence, and put a stake in the ground saying, “I am here. I have arrived, and I am not you.”

That’s how it works.


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