Eyes and Ears

A million years ago when I was a freshman in college, I was eating lunch with a classmate in the student union. The union was busy at lunchtime. Two guys, who knew the other girl, asked if they could share our table. We said yes.

It turned out that one of the guys, Jim, was a professional photographer. I’m not sure if the other guy, Aaron, was, but he seemed to be quite knowledgeable about photography. They had a proof sheet, an 8 ½ by 11 piece of photographic paper with maybe twenty postage-stamp- sized photos printed on it. The two men spent ten or fifteen minutes looking carefully at each tiny photo, discussing whether it was good or not, whether it could be improved with cropping and printing techniques (this was decades before photoshop), and which ones were hopelessly bad.

I finally asked them what they were doing.

They tried to show me. They even had a magnifying glass (which they hadn’t been using) so that I could see better.

I began to think the whole thing was a practical joke. I couldn’t see any difference between the pictures, even after they pointed things out to me. But I finally realized that they were serious. No joke involved.

My problem was that I was ignorant about what makes a photo good or bad, and my eyes were not trained to see the tiny but definitive differences between the proofs.

I’m sort of like that about recorded music. My cousin was an audiophile. He loved music, but even more important to him was the quality of the sound reproduction. He tried to explain why music on LP records is so much better than on tapes or CDs. Even though he played examples of what he meant, I couldn’t hear it. And I don’t think I could learn to hear it, because my ears are busy listening to the line of the melody, the nature of the rhythm, the blend of the harmony.

But that’s okay. Ignorant or not, I love music anyway. So I’ll be posting a link to music I like every week, and I hope you enjoy it.

I’d love to hear what music you like too. Let me know.