"The soundtrack of life..." An intriguing phrase that, without context, can evoke various associations. Each of these three words can stand alone (path, sound, life) or in pairs (soundtrack, life path, sound of life).
Sound and life
We certainly imagine a path leading in some direction, and we've already traversed quite a few of them. Every day, we hear various sounds that reach us. The world is not silent; the world is filled with sound. And then there's life: life, the opposite of death. So, since we are, it means we are alive, and conversely, "to live" simply means "to be."
But what can the phrase "the soundtrack of life" mean? I felt like I understood it somewhere. It was as if I heard the sound of a ringing bell but didn't know in which church it was ringing at that moment. I am aware that it exists, but I don't know where. I must be honest: did I really understand the phrase "the soundtrack of life" used by "Mr. Vinyl" Tomasz Olszewski? I don't think so. It just seemed that way to me!
"A Book About Vinyl"
One day, I'm returning by train from Warsaw to Krakow (Poland), and I open Tom's "A Book About Vinyl." It's a little gem in the form of a square. I immerse myself in the words and content that speak to me, that emit the sound of something incredible, that introduce me to a world I only heard about before, a world that has surrounded me throughout my life... It's the world of sound, vinyl, and the music I've been listening to since my youth.
Music accompanies not only me but everyone. Music is a constant in everyone's life. Even people who are deaf create incredible music. Just think about Ludwig van Beethoven. When the last chords of the Ninth Symphony were played for the first time on May 7, 1824, the hall of the Kärntnertortheater in Vienna erupted with applause. Beethoven, however, remained unmoved, with his back to the audience. Why? Because he could no longer hear the standing ovation. It was only the soloist who turned him to face the audience. It was Beethoven who said,
So, it's not about whether you hear the music with your hearing apparatus but whether you feel it inside you, whether it touches you, gives you freedom, "speaks" to you...
The Convenience of Streaming
I never thought about how it came to be that I press the play button, and the music "plays." What mattered most to me was that it "played." Technical matters didn't interest me. But Mr. Vinyl introduced me to a world that preceded what I use today.
He told me in a casual manner, full of interesting facts and the stories of people, gradually explaining how we reproduce music that's not only stored on black vinyl records. I read about people's fascination with sound, inventions related to sound, its recording, playback, and reproduction. It slowly dawns on me that, just as we can distinguish different eras in the world related to the formation of the Earth and life forms, Mr. Vinyl introduces me to the pre-vinyl era, only to later show me the fullness of the vinyl era. So, since we have the pre-vinyl era and the vinyl era, is there a post-vinyl era ahead of us?
We've become so accustomed to sound that we don't pay attention to its quality. Yet, the quality of the recording and the ability to extract the depth of tones and their richness from that recording translates into what we ultimately hear. And here, the vinyl record always outperforms compressed formats like MP3, WAV, or FLAC. It's analog but surpasses the well-known digital formats. Just listen to the same song on vinyl and CD to hear the difference!
Sound Quality Matters
Recently, I had the opportunity to listen to a few pieces of diverse music at the home of a well-known and respected Polish musician who is also a music producer and a passionate advocate for sound quality and tone.
I was comfortably seated on a couch facing the wall of equipment from which the sound would soon emerge. But when I heard the first chord of the sound, I felt its different dimension: the sound simply flowed, moved around me, vibrated somewhere in the air, touched me with its tone and color, spread within me. It felt like I was looking at a three-dimensional picture.
I understood – quality matters! The quality of the recording medium and the quality of the playback equipment. The record is one thing, the turntable is another, and then there's the amplifier and the speakers...
The Post-Vinyl Era
Returning to the question of the post-vinyl era, I think we may have already passed it! Cassette tapes and CDs "ruled" our homes for several decades. Vinyl records took a back seat, but that doesn't mean the vinyl industry and vinyl enthusiasts have become extinct like dinosaurs. Today, the market for vinyl records is thriving year by year, as evidenced by hard sales figures.
"The soundtrack of life"...
It's time to answer what "the soundtrack of life" means. This answer may be a big surprise for you, and it may not be the answer you were expecting, but... "A vinyl record collection is a personal soundtrack of life." ("A Book About Vinyl," p. 68)
I couldn't finish reading this book during a single train journey from Warsaw to Krakow. There are still several pages of content ahead of me. But Mr. Vinyl has already brought me a lot of joy at this stage of the reading. His narration about vinyl records has drawn me in. An interesting message takes me further and further into the world of music and vinyl. This book deserves attention not only from audiophiles and connoisseurs. It's a story for everyone!
But before we start "feasting," it's worth reading about collecting vinyl records, vinyl "hunts" (!), about equipment... And most importantly, it's worth saving to have something valuable in your home.
Our black is golden!
Yes, this little black disc is not just gold! It has its own spirit and soul! It's worth discovering! And then, a true musical feast will begin! So, the best is yet to come! Just reach for that black vinyl record...
Here you can read chapter 1 of Mr Vinyl's book in English: Vinyl Book pt. I.