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WRONG NOTES: a blog of ear reverence

Wrong Notes collects posts on music, art, culture and fun stuff. Also included: news about the Ear Reverends.

The music never stops

Good article, The Music Never Stopped: Recordings depend on music, not vice versa, by Brian Doherty, which mentions a book I have been hearing about that I would like to read, Playback: From the Victrola to MP3, 100 Years of Music, Machines, and Money, by Mark Coleman (via Doc Searls).

I sometimes think of all the various music recording and duplication methods as forms of fabrication: a blueprint is created that is rendered into music through the magic of machines as varied as your player piano to your mp3 player. In other words, what gets distributed (and so-called "pirated") is not the music itself but a copy of the blueprint for rendering the music in a certain type of device.

So, the more common a method of fabrication, e.g., digital audio fabrication being totally common now, the more irrational it is to expect it to be uncommon. When we started giving people digital blueprints of our music on CDs, we maybe mistook the physical CD as the blueprint. But, in fact, we have been giving people digital (1s and 0s) blueprints for decades now.

So, I just mean that it is inevitable that people make digital copies of our music when we have been giving them digital copies for years in the first place. The reason why we record our music in digital form and distribute it in digital form is the pretty much the same reason why people make digital copies.

Unfabricated music can never be truly duplicated: one has to be in the space and time of its emergence. But, many of us create music as fabrication: our music doesn't exist in any physical form without a mechanism of fabrication.

But, there is a larger relational context between musicians and their listeners. Might as well call it psychic, because it can't be measured, sold, bought or fabricated. All music, ultimately, evokes an unfabricated sphere of experience, and we love music for helping us enjoy that sphere.


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