Larger than life – To much music for a dozen lifetimes (Part 1 of „Ashes to #s“)

One of the thoughts that run thru this blog has always been the sphere of digital and analogue tools, techniques and trends not in seperation from each other but in a rather complementary way. The following lines on music from the recieving (I don’t like the term ‚passive‘ here due to the very active involvement a listener can take in music) point of view is only the tip of the iceberg: Right now the topic is being explored by a number of writers, researchers and musicians. So maybe you’ll come across something you already experienced and felt that the time should be about right to discuss this in public – this is one humble contribution to the larger debate and in the future I’ll share my reading list with you to get you deeper into the professional discourse after this rather personal presentation.

To start with, one should take a look at the changes brought about by the spread of digital technologies in music culture: The cheap and easy to use consumer media introduced with their shift from analogue to digital one crucial novelty: The seperation of sound from a physical medium of materialised vibrations. There had for a long time been a relation between the amount of sound and the size and cost of the medium – in short: A large and versatile collection had to take up a lot of space and money.

But the CD marked a turning point in the development because a single of let’s say 12 minutes is from this moment on just as big as an album with up to 74 minutes. With this step into the digital world the ties to physical form were cut and unlike the ‚black media‘ (I use this expression for early grooved media, vinyls and tapes due to their black material) there was a new kind of independence from bulky material to preserve sound. The accelerating pace of this trend has led to a state where whole collections of hours, weeks and years of music can be put on a device not larger than a remote control for the old analogue devices. And they still offer the option to record some of your own music as well – if you find time for that.

With this first impressions I’ll leave you for now. Please leave a comment if you read the essay and tell me what more you are eager to get to know.


[Why is this new series called „Ashes to #s“? Because it points in the direction of the change we are facing: From physical media with it’s added soot to digital formats with their metadata.]



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