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Re: Decoding the CD318 Genome

Jim Morrison wrote:

> > Hey, Jim:
> > The easy answer is "yes".
> and then told us how complicated the process would be.
> Well Jeez, I was hoping he could just play a few minutes worth of old CD 318
> and get a waterfall plot and then do the same for the Yamaha, and been done
> with the project in just a few hours.

Don't think so.

> I had no idea it was so complicated.

Well, the mechanical-acoustical part is complex enough.  When you add
in anything involving psychoacoustics and aesthetics, it gets pretty wild.

> Maybe we should
> start on the easy stuff first, that is, Yamaha versus Steinway.  When I try
> to detect the Yamaha I listen for a somewhat dull, unresonant sound in the
> bass chords, not as full a sound as the Steinways.  Anyone else have a
> favorite way to play spot the Yamaha?

I think the CD318 vs. Yamaha is pretty easy, because the Yamaha was
procured specifically for the '81 Goldbergs.  I believe it was also used
on all of the subsequent Sony recordings done before GG's death.
I'm pretty sure that it makes its debut on the '81 Goldbergs.

Trying to decipher which recordings between 1972 and 1981 used
CD318 vs. some other Steinway might be a bit more tricky.

FWIW, I find that CD318 has two sonic traits that are really nice.
There's a "stringy" quality to the low notes of that piano that gave it
a wonderful "singing" kind of quality.  The low end is not "thin";  perhaps
"lean" might be a better word.  The other feature is a "crystalline" quality
to the upper regions, particularly for softer passages.  GG (and his piano
technicians) managed to bring foward a lovely, refined quality to the top
end that, again, really sings.

I think the above qualities are perhaps common to many Steinway Ds,
but CD318 was really a shining example.  I find it interesting that GG always
claimed that the sound wasn't as important as the action to him.  CD318
had a wonderful sonic character.  Bradley's hypothesis about Gould trying
harder and harder to make up for 318's deficiencies in action after the
accident are very interesting, however.  I'd never considered that.

I must revisit the Toccatas.  I always liked that album, but maybe
it was for the engineering.  I generally liked the kind of sound that GG
and Kazdin got at the Eaton Auditorium.  They weren't "on the clock",
so I think they had a bit more freedom to try different things and get
the sound the way they wanted it.  Now as for the *action*, who knows.
We *do* know that GG didn't care much for those pieces, especially
the fugues.