Post withdrawn... comments follow
You guys are right, of course, my part of the information in this post has not been adaquately tested...
And the choice of words "plague" was indeed far too mellow dramatic... what a turn off...
Speaking for myself I have struggled with a form of schizophrenia for a number of years, and the vaugeness of my writing was an attempt to reflect a relatively new principle in science: non-causally lnked phenonmenon... much of this appears in chaos theory (non-linear dynamics)...
I feel kind of bad in that I qouted Dr. Diamond largely out of context, & thus may have discredited his work... in the interests of undong that potential damage, here appears a more flushed out version of his full address to the Society of Audio Engineering...
I have tested many thousands of phonograph recordings recorded over a period of over eighty years, and it has been found that almost without exception this music has been therapeutic, often highly so. In fact, it has been used for stress reduction, relaxation, general tonification, analgesia, as part of modified acupuncture techniques, and as adjunctive therapy in drug withdrawal programs. Music has also been used in programs to overcome fears and phobias, alleviate insomnia, and even for the "tranquilization" of acutely disturbed psychotic patients.
In 1979 this changed. I suddenly found that I was not achieving the same therapeutic results as before, that playing records of the same compositions to the same patients was producing a completely contrary effect! Instead of their stress being reduced and their Life Energy being actuated, the opposite was occurring. Music examples that I had long used to promote sleep now seemed to be actually aggravating the insomnia. And I found in one case that instead of the music helping a patient withdraw from tranquilizers, it seemed to increase his need for them. Special tapes for businessmen to use during their rest periods seemed suddenly to increase rather than reduce their stress. These findings were very alarming.
When I investigated these paradoxical phenomena, I found that in all cases they were related to the use of digital recordings. These were vinyl records made from digital masters. When I substituted analog versions of the same work, sometimes even with the same performers, the positive therapeutic effects were again obtained. There seemed to me little doubt that something was "wrong" with the digital process. Apparently the digital recording technique not only did not enhance Life Energy and reduce stress, but it was actually untherapeutic - that is, it imposed a stress and reduced Life Energy. Through some mechanism of which I am not aware the digital process was somehow reversing the therapeutic effects of the music!
In a number of instances I had analog and digital performances that we could easily compare. One was of Zubin Mehta conducting Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto. The digital performance (on London) had a stress-inducing effect whereas the old analog performance (on Vox) did not. Also the early LP transfers of Caruso and McCormack were Life Energy enhancing whereas the Soundstreamed digital versions had the opposite effect. Yet these were records of the same performance. The only difference was the digitalization process. And this was apparent even though the original recordings had been made nearly seventy years ago. Other examples were the Japanese Denon PCM recordings of various Czech performers whose earlier versions were on the Supraphon label. They were the same performers and the same works. The only difference appeared to be the digital process.
When a man comes home stressed after a day's work and puts on a record of a Schubert piano sonata to help him re-energize, the opposite will occur. He will become more stressed. And he will learn over a period of time that music does not help him to relax as he had expected. Or a person who as part of his religious pursuit plays a record of the Bach B Minor Mass will perhaps recognize that he is further removed from his goal - that instead of serenity, instead of holiness, instead of a feeling of life enhancement, the opposite has occurred. The music has become untherapeutic, contrary to its true nature.
It is no longer Music!
We will then cease to regard music as being what it is: one of the great therapies. Our recorded musical heritage will still satisfy the brain but will do nothing for the rest of the listener. Our true recorded musical heritage will be at an end.
I have frequently been in the position where discoveries first made through "unscientific" means have later been validated by what would be called the more usual scientific methods, and I have no doubt that in the future it will be recognized that the findings concerning digital recordings will be validated. But by that time, it may be that many works of our great artists will have been preserved in an unacceptable form.
By correcting the digital technique, we may actually now be able to make recordings more therapeutic than they have ever been before, more so than analog. By discovering the central problem in existing digital recording techniques, we may be in a position then to so improve them that we ultimately have advanced the therapeutic benefit to mankind.
Postscript, May 2003
Finally, about two years ago, I was contacted by several of the major recording and electronic companies who said that they never forgot my address to the Audio Engineering Society in 1980. They said they knew then that I was right with what I had presented about the negative effects of the digital process, but unfortunately it was released anyhow. They asked me to help in finding a solution to what they were now calling “digital fatigue.”
Back then in 1980, I had only digitally recorded and/or mastered vinyl LPs to test. The arrival of CDs a few years later increased the problem. As with LPs, but more so, the stress leads after a certain time (different for each individual) to a reversal of their usual ethical and medical standards of belief. The effects of this profound change that I have now investigated for some twenty years are I believe a very important etiological factor in the increase in childhood and adolescent disturbances, (witness the soaring rate of Ritalin prescribing), and in the escalating violence in our society.
Especially when we recall that the digital process is no longer confined to recorded music but is now affecting us nearly all day: TV, radio, telephones etc. It is we who have become digitalized!
With the advent of Direct Stream Digital (DSD) recording, it is now possible to conclude that the negative effects I have stated above are due not to the digital process per se but to the mode of achieving it, Pulse Code Modulation (PCM). For DSD recordings do not have these negative effects.
Although it was suggested, unfortunately the record industry did not make analog backups of their digital (PCM) sessions. So now there is a (very expensive) twenty year hiatus. Hence some SACDs (the CD format for DSD) are being released which have gone through the PCM process and are as negative as regular CDs.
Increasingly over the years, music lovers are turning against PCM – they are feeling what I first demonstrated nearly a quarter-century ago. And they are resisting – proclaiming that it doesn’t sound like, feel like, analog. Cold, no heart. That is to say, untherapeutic.
(We must remember that a generation has probably rarely heard non-PCM music – for it is now so pervasive in concerts halls as “digital reinforcement” as well.) Perhaps now there will be a change. We all know something is wrong – and the solution is available.
I write this not only as a music lover, and a believer in the therapeutic power of music, but even more so as a doctor gravely concerned with the increasing disturbance in our society, especially in the children. The very essence of Music is the _expression of peace, of comfort – of love. And this PCM has destroyed, even reversed!
As a very experienced sound engineer and producer lamented, "Music has lost its Spirit." That’s it – exactly! And a generation has grown up not knowing it any other way: not knowing the higher dimension of music – the True Music.
And if their music has lost its spiritual dimension – then so have they!
We have lost our love of Music because we no longer feel loved by It. We must get it back – and we can..