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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Music - or the player? Chris Roper, Steve Hofmeyr and Me - an exchange.

A 12" record, a 7″ record, and a CD-ROM.Image via WikipediaJust had a very interesting exchange with Chris Roper and Steve Hofmeyr (no, really), about a seemingly random thing...

To contextualise, here's a brief summary:

CHRIS ROPER: Always fun funding the limited edition stuff. VOD minidisc and steel cover VOD side project.

STEVE HOFMEYR: Just bought Ion's 'tape&record to Ipod' for my 2 suitcases worth of casettes&records.

CR: But some stuff I can't let go of. And some stuff doesn't translate to digital eg Coltrane. Or iggy Pop.

ME (totally conversation-bombing): But maybe music as an artefact is declined anyway. You all have ipods now. Isn;t technology the artefact now?

CR: You can never have too many artefacts. And all give different pleasure. Ok, I. do have too many. Grr.

SH: I dunno if music can be an artefact. Old tech can.

SH: I've always seen artefacts as something old, passé & tangible. Music is still huge. Old format is declining.

CR: the format is the artefact. Eg.Just found this Ella Mental seven single." Gosh.I was about 22.

Interesting perspective. I was thinking that music was the artefact in the sense that it imprints on memory very vividly. It represents more than itself in that sense... it actually may come to represent a time and space for people.

But of course I agree with Steve, too. Music before the digital era came with very specific "items" like a vinyl record (and to a degree CDs for a short while). This involved the physical action of "putting something on" to listen to, within a very specific space (your home, your office, your party) using technology or devices that for all intents and purposes were social and not "portable"...

... At least not in the sense that MP3 players, iPods and such are. The "personal listening experience" as first imagined by Sony's Walkman, effectively took music out of the realm of "social". And now, the likes of the iPod, etc, the music doesn't  even have a physical representation – not a visual one, or a social one. It is effectively a stream of consumable data, which for me diminishes it as representational artefact.

It doesn't in itself mean a moment or a place for you anymore, because you take it everywhere. Or you CAN take it everywhere. Without sharing it. It's a personal listening experience.

As a musician myself I find that both comforting and ironic. For me, music was once shared. Not in the data sense, but in the social sense.   Now, with the ease of actual 'sharing' of digital data, music seems more widely distributed, but less shared... funny.

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