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Topic: So it comes to this, another TBII thread, Don't take this the wrong way< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
Sir Mustapha Offline




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Posted: June 17 2003, 08:47

Don't wanna be a party pooper or anything, I just felt I needed to take this out of my chest. Yes, is that old TB / TBII thing. I know that TBII is supposed to be a different album, a new Mike Oldfield work, but... darn it, the name is Tubular Bells II, and I can't help but try and compare the two. I know I have no complaints about TBII as an album, because it's good. But then, it's good, and nothing more. Just a good album.

I think the main thing that annoys me is that I like to see Tubular Bells as a revolutionary, groundbreaking piece of work, absolutely unique and new, not as a blueprint for future albums. I don't like to see "Tubular Bells" as a brand, but as something unique. So, while the idea of a TB sequel doesn't offend me much, the execution actually leaves me underwhelmed.

The thing that I most like about Tubular Bells is that it's an emotional rollercoaster to me. That was Mike, a problematic teenager trying to vent his frustrations into his music and ended up making one of the most important albums ever. I can feel those emotions. The playing is so harsh and passionate, I can definitely feel Mike's anger and melancholy. He tries to sound bigger than the world, and at many times, catches himself being romantic and sad. In other times, it's intense and nervous, and holds me by the neck against the wall with its innocence and youth.

On the other hand, TBII is... nothing. Emotionally, I mean. Mike might have tried to emulate emotions in TBII, but they all sound insincere. I can cope with this sometimes, but here, I feel Mike isn't even trying to sound passionate like he once was. I'll get to this later on. I'll have to make a track-by-track comparison here, even if it's the album as a whole that strikes me.

"Sentinel": This one sounds to me like it was intended as a single. The TB intro sounded very vague and mysterious, like it was trying to figure out what it was trying to do, you know. This one has a clear sense of direction, that is to add up all those gimmicks into the piano riff slowly until the climax. In TB, Mike was there, playing and playing, until those melodies popped in his mind, and then suddenly, he finds himself getting all those feelings, emotions, and wwwWWOOsh, there was the climax.

"Dark Star": The synthesizers make this track a bit too "combed" to my tastes, especially when we consider the psychosis that consisted this part on the original.

"Clear Light": I don't know, but I can't remember almost a single thing about this track, andI heard the album 4 times already. All I remember was the loneliness of the original version, while this one... I dunno.

"Blue Salloon": Does anybody notice a pinch of humour in the original part? I do. But I don't see much content in this track, and it passes right through me... And of course, there was the pub piano, and all.

"Sunjammer": I kinda like this track, but of course, it's nowhere as raging as the original rocking part. Not that this is much of a complaint, though. Here, I have the clear feeling Mike was trying to do something tame, gentle, and... argh, I have the urge to say commercial, but I won't.

"Red Dawn": There was Mike again, trying to figure out what to do. In TBII, this part sounds a bit too "dramatic", but I far prefer the mystery of the TB part.

"The Bell": ... ... ... dang, for Chrissake. On TB, the bass riff used to be mesmerizing as hell. On here, they play it twice before the instruments arrive... totally underwhelming. Again, the original was a true emotional thing, but notice, Mike was trying NOT to sound emotional, with the MC and everything. But deep inside, he wanted to blast away his frustrations, and when the bells arrive, I can almost hear him mutter "okay, you mother******* b***ard, DIE! *BAANG* DIIIE!! *BANG BANG BANG BANG* etc." Here... heck, "digital sound processor"? The original had no synths!

"Weightless": Points the way towards Songs Of Distant Earth, now doesn't it? That's kinda sad, because I far prefer the intensity and nervousism of the original side 2 opener. The pianos, the organ, and that disturbing-as-heck Em chord to break the balance...

"The Great Plain": You all know what I think of the TB version of this one... A complete disappointment, this TBII version. Enough said.

"Sunset Door": Okay, okay, the mandolin melody of TB almost made me weep. And there's a *bass* playing along with the mandolin on here?

"Tattoo": Sorry, but those bagpipes sound rather cheesy here. I mean, it's the 40th time he uses bagpipes, and I'm kinda tired of it.

"Altered State": Oooh, a bit of humour. Actually here I can see Mike using the 90's rhythms and combining them with the original album almost flawlessly.

"Maya Gold": A bit too dramatic sounding to my tastes, on TB there was no drama, just guitar improvisation...

"Moonshine": Another "emotional rollercoaster" thing, on The Sailor's Hornpipe, Mike was trying to extract some chuckles from the listener, but he was also drowning his sorrows, pretending to be happy. It's like he was bashing those mandoline strings, going faster and faster, and as it ended, he collapsed on the ground, panting. There's nothing like that in Moonshine.

What also strikes me is that Mike doesn't try to do nothing unexpected on the album. On TB, The Sailor's Hornpipe for example, was completely unexpected. Moonshine is not, you know it's gonna be there, it doesn't have the same impact. I'm not complaining that he's doing a sequel, is that he's not doing anything to surprise me. It doesn't have 1/100 of the effect TB has in me, even if the music is undeniably good.

It's a good album, but nothing more than that. Just had to get that out of my chest. Thank you, now flame away. ;)


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SCprogfan
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Posted: June 17 2003, 11:24

I discovered Mike's albums in kind of a mixed-up order.  I don't remember exactly how it went, but it all started around 1989 with things like QE2, Discovery, and Islands.  I didn't listen to the entire original Bells until later, and was not as turned on to it due to the recording quality and "oldness" of it's sound.  Working in the sound reinforcement field will do that to your tastes a little bit.  Also, my fellow prog-mates and I usually had a rule that 1974 was just about the cutoff point for what we could stand musically, and production-value-wise.  I know some purist prog lovers will not agree with that.  There also were some exceptions to the rule, early Yes was allowed... Anyway, back on subject; when I first got Bells II, to me it was brilliant.  I have to say that I thought it was a masterpiece.  By then I knew enough about the original to know what this new version was all about, and the side-effect that it had on me was that it got me MORE interested in the original Bells!  I still found it hard to completely get into, because of it's "roughness", and I still like the Exposed version the best, but the rambling end to my story is that Bells II made me get more into the original, which would be a good thing, right?  (ramble, ramble...)  :zzz:  :)
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MusicallyInspired Offline




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Posted: June 17 2003, 22:08

TB2 is the best. And I don't agree that it's nothing emotinoally. The end of Clear Light is amazing. Especially the early stages version. And the guitar solo just after the main Blue Saloon theme is very captivating. I think The Bells is better than the original. Weightless is beautiful. Tattoo rocks. Altered State is...out there...but still good music. It sounds more like a fun jam...like Moonshine...but I don't like Moonshine at all. Maya Gold is also beautiful. Maybe not as good as Ambient Guitars. But I love the way the creamy strat flows along with itself later on in the tune.

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Holger Offline




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Posted: June 18 2003, 15:32

Mustapha, I agree with you 100%. Can't think of anything much to add to what you said.
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bevy Offline




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Posted: June 18 2003, 16:14

RP/
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raven4x4x Offline




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Posted: June 19 2003, 07:17

TBII is one of my favourite albums, so I disagree with you, but I can understand your viewpoint. I think that the album sounds overly computerised, processed and unemotional, but where TBII is really good is the live DVD at Edinburgh Castle. This was one of the first introductions to Mike's music, and is still one of my favourites. Played live, the music just has so much more emotion, especially on Sentnel and Clear Light, and a much more fitting climax after Moonshine. I also find 'Side 2', from Weightless to the start of Tattoo rather mesmerising. If you don't have the DVD or Video I would very much recommend it, there really is new life breathed into the music.

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Sir Mustapha Offline




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Posted: June 22 2003, 09:20

I suppose you're right. If I ever get the opportunity to watch the performance, I certainly will. Thanks, anyway.

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Jesse Offline




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Posted: Nov. 19 2007, 05:21

heh sorry for reviving, but all of the points were true for me at first as well:

I compared the two and i discarded TB 2 as an album that i couldn't live with.

2 years later, i had not listened to both albums for a year or two..and then I saw the dvd. I saw TB2 as a thing on it's own. And my conclusion is that TB2 is all in all his best album hands down.

You just need to stop comparing, because it sort of coulds your viewpoint. If you're open to the beauty of sunset door, then there's hope ;)
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Sir Mustapha Offline




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Posted: Nov. 19 2007, 05:50

Reading myself talking about "emotions" makes me cringe. And it's been only four years, yet it feels like an aeon. I suppose that, when I wrote this thread, I did it specifically to put it next to the original Tubular Bells and look at both of them together; maybe not knowing whether it would be any useful. It's true, when I look at Tubular Bells II on its own light, without comparisons, my opinions on it take a brutal spin... towards the worse. It sounds even more senseless and cheesy when I have no parameters to use.

I don't mean to recycle my negativity - only do a small anachronistic self-correction there. I was only 17, y'know... :)


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arron11196 Offline




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Posted: Nov. 19 2007, 05:50

You know, perhaps one of the reasons you might personally find it so lacking in emotion is because of how polished it might sound to you. It certainly does to me... but then I like that. I suppose its like crushed silk and lavendar... such a sweet smell when you like it, but completely fake and unoriginal (coming out of a glade airspray) when compared to the real thing.

Many here know that I personally consider TBII to be the best album ever made, let alone the best thing Mike has produced, so obviously i take a different stance, but I can see why you might think what you do Sir M. For me, its almost got this theatrical quality to it, where as you say, the original TB was like this raw expression of feeling... TBII might seem like a play about it.


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Sir Mustapha Offline




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Posted: Nov. 19 2007, 15:12

Actually, by this time, I don't consider the "emotional" impact to be a reliable basis for a judgment. The "emotion" depends more on me than on the music itself. What negatively affects me in this record is the melodies and the arrangements. But I'm not going to run through the whole album again. That's enough said. :)

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Alan D Offline




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Posted: Nov. 19 2007, 16:02

Quote (Sir Mustapha @ Nov. 19 2007, 20:12)
Actually, by this time, I don't consider the "emotional" impact to be a reliable basis for a judgment. The "emotion" depends more on me than on the music itself.

I've been considering this myself recently. I think it depends on what the musician has been trying to do - for example, I'm certain that the Romantics would hope - even expect - their listeners to respond emotionally to what they were hearing. Think of Beethoven's "From the heart! May it go to the heart!", for instance.

When you say the emotion depends more on you than on the music, Sir M, I think you're nearly right - except that I'd qualify it to 'as much as'. Your sensibility is an essential ingredient in the process. The highly expressive artist needs the highly receptive listener, or else nothing (or not much) happens at all.

But with a different kind of composer (Bach, maybe?) the musical intent is very different. The intention is not to convey emotion, but to articulate musical insight. The perfection of the result may generate emotion in the listener of course, but that's a by-product. I might be, and have been, moved by the perfection of a piece of mathematics, for example - but the emotion is a separate thing that has nothing to do with assessing the quality of the mathematics.

I think what that means (though I'm far from sure) is that if a listener doesn't respond emotionally in some degree to Beethoven, then something's not right - either with the listener, or the music, or both. But it would be possible to respond to the perfection of Bach without being touched emotionally, and that would not necessarily imply that something is wrong.

What about MO, then? Mike is at least in part (I'd say to a large extent) a Romantic of sorts, and I'd expect him to expect some measure of emotional response to much of his music. So what I think I'm suggesting is that the emotional response ought to be in there somewhere. Maybe not the whole story - but it should form part of the way we talk about a piece like TB2.

(I should add, though, that I'm increasingly reluctant to think in terms of 'judging' art at all, these days. I think I may not believe any longer that there is any reliable basis for judging art - and far prefer to talk about types of 'engagement'.)
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moonchildhippy Offline




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Posted: Nov. 19 2007, 17:49

Quote (Sir Mustapha @ June 17 2003, 12:47)
Don't wanna be a party pooper or anything, I just felt I needed to take this out of my chest. Yes, is that old TB / TBII thing. I know that TBII is supposed to be a different album, a new Mike Oldfield work, but... darn it, the name is Tubular Bells II, and I can't help but try and compare the two. I know I have no complaints about TBII as an album, because it's good. But then, it's good, and nothing more. Just a good album.

I think the main thing that annoys me is that I like to see Tubular Bells as a revolutionary, groundbreaking piece of work, absolutely unique and new, not as a blueprint for future albums. I don't like to see "Tubular Bells" as a brand, but as something unique. So, while the idea of a TB sequel doesn't offend me much, the execution actually leaves me underwhelmed.

The thing that I most like about Tubular Bells is that it's an emotional rollercoaster to me. That was Mike, a problematic teenager trying to vent his frustrations into his music and ended up making one of the most important albums ever. I can feel those emotions. The playing is so harsh and passionate, I can definitely feel Mike's anger and melancholy. He tries to sound bigger than the world, and at many times, catches himself being romantic and sad. In other times, it's intense and nervous, and holds me by the neck against the wall with its innocence and youth.

I agree Sir M that there's something about Tubular Bells that moves me that just doesn't happen in quite the same way with TBII.  Maybe to be fair to TBII perhaps I need to play it more often, I like TBII but just can't get into it in the same way. I think for me Tubular Bells grabs me by the balls (or it would if I wasn't born a girlie). I'm just trying to think how I can say it grabs my attention there, but when it does it's nearly 49 minutes of pure pleasure   :)  :D .



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Alan D Posted on Nov. 19 2007, 20:02
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But with a different kind of composer (Bach, maybe?) the musical intent is very different. The intention is not to convey emotion, but to articulate musical insight. The perfection of the result may generate emotion in the listener of course, but that's a by-product. I might be, and have been, moved by the perfection of a piece of mathematics, for example - but the emotion is a separate thing that has nothing to do with assessing the quality of the mathematics.


I guess for me the only thing maths has moved me to do is want to fall asleep.  I always found maths lessons so boring in school.  I am moved by a piece of engineering, such as the aesthetics of say a building , a bridge or even something such as a car or railway locomotive, these are very functional , but I marvel at the engineering that's gone into constructing such things.  However I don't think of the maths behind them as I've never been mathematically minded.  At school I preferred subjects such as sociology or history.  I guess I would've enjoyed art more if I felt I could draw.  I think what I'm trying to say is show me a piece of art, or a complex piece of music, and I'll most likely form an opinion on it, but show me a complicated  mathematical equation, I think my reaction would be rather emotionless.
Does maths come into music??? Well yes and no, I guess it does , but only in so far as counting the beats in a bar. I think for me maths and music is like comparing chalk with cheese.


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Sir Mustapha Offline




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Posted: Nov. 19 2007, 18:32

Quote (Alan D @ Nov. 19 2007, 16:02)
When you say the emotion depends more on you than on the music, Sir M, I think you're nearly right - except that I'd qualify it to 'as much as'. Your sensibility is an essential ingredient in the process. The highly expressive artist needs the highly receptive listener, or else nothing (or not much) happens at all.

Well, to this day, I still just can't figure out what's supposed to sound sincere in music and what isn't. I think listening to electronic music (more specifically, stuff some silly kids label as IDM - Intelligent Dance Music - not ain't that silly?) made me reluctant to try and figure out whether the artist "meant it" or not. When Squarepusher describes his album as "my own spectacle of horror and beauty", "unknowable to anyone, lest of all its creator", I just don't know whether to take it to heart. Next step: not caring at all. And it helps, because it makes me focus on the music and its merits. Okay, it's not the case that I don't care at all. Sometimes I do. But anyway, I'll never be sure. So, it's all up to me. And I do get those funky chemical reactions in my brain both when I listen to Tubular Bells and when I listen to Windowlicker - when one couldn't have been more honest and the other couldn't have been more ambiguous. And I'd have no problems, for example, with completely dismissing a work by an artist who completely put his whole heart and soul on it. I'm just sorry, but you can't please everyone, and you can't be pleased by everything.

Quote
I know I have no complaints about TBII as an album, because it's good.


Oh, goodness gracious, now I know why I hesitate before reading my old posts.

Quote
Does maths come into music??? Well yes and no, I guess it does , but only in so far as counting the beats in a bar.


You'd be surprised at how many things you can represent with mathematics. You can take any selected work of music and represent it as a series of quotients of many, many (matter of fact, infinite) sine and cosine functions. You can synthesize music with only a couple of those functions. In fact, a piece of music is a function of time, which returns a value belonging to [-1,1], and you can sample it, quantise it and press it into a CD. What does this all mean? That you can't dedicate yourself exclusively to mathematics without sounding like you were lobotomised. :D


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Alan D Offline




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Posted: Nov. 20 2007, 04:06

Quote (moonchildhippy @ Nov. 19 2007, 22:49)
Does maths come into music??? Well yes and no, I guess it does , but only in so far as counting the beats in a bar. I think for me maths and music is like comparing chalk with cheese.

Just like to clarify two things here:

1. All the relationships between notes - the basic components of harmony and discord, are based on mathematical relationships. (On the most simplistic basis, for instance - when you sing doh-ray-me-fa-soh-la-te-doh, the note you reach at the end has exactly double the frequency of the note you started with.) We don't need to be aware of those relationships when we listen to the music (any more than we need to be aware of the theory of gravity in order not to fall over); but they are there.

2. However, I wasn't actually comparing maths with music; I was comparing our responses to different kinds of music, and suggesting that in some cases a composer creates music with the intention of stimulating emotion in the listener as a kind of extra emotional ingredient. ("Land of Hope and Glory" for instance was written to stimulate patriotic feelings). But in other cases that 'added emotional ingredient' is absent, and experiencing the beauty of the music is more like enjoying the sense of rightness that can be found in maths, or that feeling we get when we look at fine architecture (where one senses a need for a support, and the perfectly elegant provision of that support, almost simultaneously).

My point was that in a piece like TB2, both these kinds of experience are part of the essence of the thing to a high degree. So, not to discuss the emotional effect that it has on us would be to ignore an important part of why the music exists in the first place.
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Alan D Offline




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Posted: Nov. 20 2007, 04:27

Quote (Sir Mustapha @ Nov. 19 2007, 23:32)
And I'd have no problems, for example, with completely dismissing a work by an artist who completely put his whole heart and soul on it.

I think we're talking at cross-purposes here, Sir M. I'm not suggesting that 'heart and soul' will necessarily produce good music.

Let's go back to Beethoven and that "From the heart" comment. It's possible, of course, to listen to Beethoven in a purely clinical manner, focusing purely on the structure of the music - and I'm sure a lot can be learned by doing that. But if that were all we did, we would miss the point in a very big way. For Beethoven, the 'heart' really was a crucial aspect of the music he was writing, and to ignore it would be like talking about 'The Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy' in terms of its literary structure, and skipping all mention of the jokes.
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moonchildhippy Offline




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Posted: Nov. 20 2007, 17:18

Quote (Alan D @ Nov. 20 2007, 08:06)
Quote (moonchildhippy @ Nov. 19 2007, 22:49)
Does maths come into music??? Well yes and no, I guess it does , but only in so far as counting the beats in a bar. I think for me maths and music is like comparing chalk with cheese.

Just like to clarify two things here:

1. All the relationships between notes - the basic components of harmony and discord, are based on mathematical relationships. (On the most simplistic basis, for instance - when you sing doh-ray-me-fa-soh-la-te-doh, the note you reach at the end has exactly double the frequency of the note you started with.) We don't need to be aware of those relationships when we listen to the music (any more than we need to be aware of the theory of gravity in order not to fall over); but they are there.

2. However, I wasn't actually comparing maths with music; I was comparing our responses to different kinds of music, and suggesting that in some cases a composer creates music with the intention of stimulating emotion in the listener as a kind of extra emotional ingredient. ("Land of Hope and Glory" for instance was written to stimulate patriotic feelings). But in other cases that 'added emotional ingredient' is absent, and experiencing the beauty of the music is more like enjoying the sense of rightness that can be found in maths, or that feeling we get when we look at fine architecture (where one senses a need for a support, and the perfectly elegant provision of that support, almost simultaneously).

My point was that in a piece like TB2, both these kinds of experience are part of the essence of the thing to a high degree. So, not to discuss the emotional effect that it has on us would be to ignore an important part of why the music exists in the first place.

@ Alan Point 1 Yep I agree that the components of harmony and discord are based on mathematical relationships,  and are expressed in fractions such as rythym or tones/ semitones 2 semi tones= 1 tone or 12 semitones = 1 octave, or say a 7th or 9th chord.   It's just I don't really think of the mathematical aspects of the music when I listen to a CD, apart from perhaps working out the rythym. I think as someone who tries to play the guitar I only really think of the maths as counting the beats in the bar.

Re point 2 you mention Land Of Hope And Glory, yes whenever I hear that I feel a pride in being English, but is pride also an emotion   :/ ???    I must admit music I hate such as Country and Western for example produces no emotion in me or if it does it's one of "Turn it off".  I wonder how it is thatby hearing  even the most annoying pop song it can get stuck in your head, no matter how hard you try to get it out it's lodged in there.
Which this talk of emotion in music, I know TBII and III, and TB 2003 recycle some themes in the original TB, TBIII moves me more than TBII, I  love TBIII, but II and TB2003 doesn't move me quite the same as III or the original.  I wonder when Mike composed say Tubular Bells, Hergest Ridge and Ommadawn, he was putting his emotions into the music, and was it his intention to arouse emotions in the listener  ;), or was that just an "extra" (for want of a better word).  I must admit I can't listen to those peices without feeling some emotion, maybe the emotion(s) felt depends upon the listeners mood whern he or she  decides to listen to the music.


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If you feel a little glum to Hergest Ridge you should come.


I'm challenging  taboos surrounding mental health


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jonnyw Offline




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Posted: Nov. 20 2007, 17:27

I cant really agree at all with what you're saying.... Writing such a big essay on it when really it all boils down to personal preference I think most of us will agree.

TBI was good, to me, TBII is just better. It just is. I think I must be one of the rare ones that isn't a massive fan of TBI in the first place..


Bit too many mistakes and things for me, and I think I subconsciously made the same ones when I was first experimenting with recording. (I grew up with TBI and TBII - But more FMO and QE2 than TBI)

I think that In my opinion, its nearly the opposite of what you're saying Sir M!


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Glockenspeil.
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Alan D Offline




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Posted: Nov. 20 2007, 17:28

Quote (moonchildhippy @ Nov. 20 2007, 22:18)
It's just I don't really think of the mathematical aspects of the music when I listen to a CD

No, neither do I, Galadriel - I only mentioned this because you brought it up. It was never part of what I was saying, earlier on.
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Alan D Offline




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Posted: Nov. 21 2007, 03:34

Quote (jonnyw @ Nov. 20 2007, 22:27)
I cant really agree at all with what you're saying.... Writing such a big essay on it when really it all boils down to personal preference

You don't agree with whom, Johnny? We all seem to be saying different things.

For myself, I find it interesting to think about the different ways we listen to music and how it affects our opinions of what we hear (in this case, TB2) . In other words, I'm interested in how and why those 'personal preferences' differ. Since that's a far from simple matter, I don't think it can be resolved with a quick one-liner, because (as the confusions in this thread demonstrate) it's not at all easy to express the ideas clearly enough to be understood.
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