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Thread: Weighty Question

  1. #26

    Default Re: Weighty Question

    There is a vast difference between the measurable reality of sound produced and the perceived reality. If one could scientifically measure and quantify what good tone is, and perhaps it can be done, then compare results of the same instrument filtered through numerous human brains, I think you would get some interesting results. Would one evaluate a mandolin when told it cost five thousand dollars differently than the same instrument when told it cost ten? How about the same instrument with an unknown makerís name on the headstock compared to one that said Gilchrist, particularly if several hours lapsed. Then how about one you had just paid ten thousand dollars for next to one that cost three thousand?

    Since we only have our own brain to work with, would we take the scientific results over our own flawed impressions? Since we live with our perceptions, Iíd tend to go with that.
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  3. #27
    Registered User Tom Haywood's Avatar
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    Oct 2008
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    Default Re: Weighty Question

    Yeah, it's a never ending debate.

    I continue to look for that unbiased human being and for that mechanical sound collection and measuring device (especially microphones) that was designed and made by a human being without any built-in bias. After more than 5 decades of looking, I'm fairly certain no such thing exists. The idea of being able to re-create all of the variables that matter, even if you could determine what they are, seems impossible. Having worked with the statistical tests that supposedly account for any bias in a well designed and conducted experiment, I'm no longer impressed with that logic.

    What impresses me these days is that science costs money, and the research is generally paid for by schools, businesses, and individuals seeking a future return on the investments. There seems to be no major pressing interest in researching more deeply into the physics of mandolin sound by those who might pay for it. Without the research, all arguments for or against the question raised by the OP are simply beliefs. With the research, there are biases that are at least akin to beliefs.

    I occasionally use a sound meter to measure the decibel level in a small room during a public jam session, because it is frequently too loud for my ears. I'm concerned about ear damage. The reality is that according to the scientific studies it is often too loud to be safe. But there is an equal reality that the majority of people there in the audience, including the sound man, are a bit elderly and need new batteries in their hearing aids. They are there to hear the music and they can't hear it at what are objectively "safe" levels. A few others have never been exposed to loud noises, and the "safe" levels are much too loud for them. Their perceptive reality is the only reality that matters to them, and it is plenty real and good enough.

    I do hope that someone will show me an example of an independent, objective reality or truth that has been observed without the perceptions of a human being, such that it would not be "flawed". In the meantime, I say trust but attempt to verify your hearing and other perceptions.
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