So hopefully I grabbed your attention with my last article, and you’re beginning to question how well you absorb the culture around you; whether you’re doing as good as you can. I’m not letting you off the hook yet! How many times have we listened to our parents drone on about how music these days sucks, that vinyl was better, blah blah blah….
These old fogies have a point, though many of them (if they’re not averse to accepting the world around them) have adopted this “iCulture”.
Let’s say you buy music (hurrah!!) directly from a certain iMerchant for your sonic device. Maybe you buy the whole album, maybe just the single(s). It’s already great that you’re employing this fine service to acquire music legally from their vast database of musical history. *high five*
Now, once you have this music downloaded, how are you interacting with it? More often than not, we buy into this so-called shuffle culture. We throw it on shuffle to exercise, drive, shop, clean. Is this really giving credit to the artist, is this really interaction?
Let’s come back to our parents. Why was music better for them? Why was vinyl better?
Which, of these two examples, seems to be more of a “Listening experience”?
- Throwing on those sweet $300 Beats plugged into our iPhone to shuffle through some pirated mp3s of dubious quality (at least try and do better than 192k, people) as background noise to keep us from having to talk to the people around us.
- Popping out a vinyl, placing the stylus, being forced to listen to one side after another, without skipping tracks (possible to do, but annoying). Absorbing the weeks of writing, recording and mastering work, done to provide the most honest capture of mood, dynamics and songwriting.
Now sure, I applied some much more intimate imagery to the vinyl experience. It might seem biased, but that’s literally what it’s like. Can you really employ the same descriptive language to listening to music on an ipod?
This is why our parents seem to be so marked by the music of their youth. Why do we, amidst all these technical advances, affordable technology, not have this experience? Why is it so easy for us to forget a single as soon as the next hit is released?
To me, it seems to be because we aren’t interacting with our music anymore.
All in all, what I’m trying to get at here is that sometimes; in this fast paced world of instant information, instant culture, right here, right now mentality; it’s nice to slow down sometimes and really take something in. Without having to climb a mountain, you can see a sunset over breathtaking landscape. Without training, you can travel to space. It’s all there for you, just take that step.
Go to a garage sale. Pick up a working turntable for 20 bucks. Flip through their album collection and pick up ones you know or have heard up. It’s gonna be cheap. And don’t worry about looking like a hipster. They’re gonna move on to cassette tapes soon enough.
Then go home, set it up. Grab a beer, pop a disc on. Look at that fantastic, super-sized artwork. Read those lyrics. Hunt for easter eggs. Slow your life down and LISTEN.
You’ll feel a lot better afterwards.
Here’s a fantastic short about the culture:
And a fantastic song from a fantastic (both musically and technically) album:
That delicious pop, hiss and crackle just add to the experience.