There’s a difference between hearing and listening. Listening implies paying attention to specifics, whereas hearing suggests taking in a larger soundscape.

I have to keep reminding myself of this when I listen to recordings that involve me playing the cello. I listen to the cello, and thus hear everything that’s unpleasant: technical errors, timing, weak sound production, bad shifts, bow imbalance. Anyone else hears the overall product, the song.

I also have to remind myself that a recording is a sterile capture of something that’s larger than life. The recording equipment doesn’t reproduce the deeper tones of the cello; it grabs on to the higher sharper overtones. On stage in real life, the sound was much better. A live audience is also being swept by the sound; there’s no time to dwell on technical evaluation. It’s an experience. It’s why films made of stage productions rarely work.

Having said all that, my main response to much of the recording of Saturday night’s show was “Is the cello always that sharp? Why does no one ever tell me?”. I wonder if it actually is sharp, as in the intonation being off, or if I’m just not hearing the rest of the sound that is there in real life.

Deliberately putting that aside, I could appreciate the recording as it was transferring to the hard drive yesterday. I could hear how we were working with one another, how we moved and adapted and recovered from hiccups and the technical challenges, and I could appreciate the beauty of certain songs. We’re far from professional; we don’t have the time or the inclination. We do this for fun. And in the last two years, we have come a long, long way, and the band work I have done has informed my orchestral playing as well.

So now I focus on orchestra as we prepare for the Canada Day concert, and mess about with Zimmer and Badelt for fun throughout the summer. And I will allow myself to keep thinking about band and the songs I’d like to do in the future, and perhaps make the attempt at arranging some songs.