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Why you've never really heard the "Moonlight" Sonata

In music, the situation works something like this. In classical as in other varieties, most of the time people hear music in recordings. When people go to a live concert, they tend to want it to sound like a recording. When you're a classical pianist, you get ahead by winning competitions, where they tend to want you to play as perfectly, and as impersonally, as a recording. And they want you to sound pretty much like everybody else, which means you play a Steinway, as in most recordings. And Steinways are voiced to an even, velvety sound from top to bottom. The number of companies making a dent in Steinway's supremacy—these days mainly Bösendorfer, Baldwin, Bechstein—have receded steadily (except for home sales, where cheaper Korean pianos rule). The standardization of pianos and of piano performing are two sides of the same coin, and the main culprit is recordings.

In Search of Lost Sounds

While the "period instruments" question is probably fairly familiar to most classical fans, I think the above point is actually more interesting.  Many of the complaints we see here about modern music essentially boil down to the norming effect the recording process - technically and economically - imposes upon music.

The same could be said of how metal music is recorded these days.

When was the last time you heard a guitar tone or a drum kit on a metal album that didn't sound like overcompressed crap?

The emphasis nowadays seems to be put more on the "playing" and making sure every detail of it is crystal clear instead of coming up with a tone that actually has some bite and personality to it.

We could extend this discussion to how recording music is "killing" music (classical music especially). Remember there was a time when you actually had to learn to play an instrument in order to enjoy music (or at the very least, most likely if you were bourgeois, go to a concert). I believe on the other hand that recording contemporary music is not such an issue because the recording is more or less part of the creative process.