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Thread: Too much music?

  1. #31
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    That said there's surely something to be said for recordings as objects, even beyond the sonics. As Adorno implied, they're anthropomorphic "analogs," images of people--as such they can "age" and "live" in a way dematerialized digital info can't.

    This is one way mass-reproduced objects gain "aura" through the back door. It's hard to give that up that particular "fix" once one's felt it, though one can understand why it just doesn't pertain for many, for whom music is a prosthetic accoutrement rather than this pseudo-subjective, anthropomorphic thing, with its own unique "identity"

  2. #32
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    I don't disagree with yr points about downloading Mark, but I think it just renders more visible what was already an underlying factor in music appreciation. Simon's article on his blog I think demonstrates how the same impulses are created and satisfied in an analogue environment: buying and taping things "just in case" and not really listening to them is as much an example of what Zizek was talking about as downloading, if perhaps more time-consuming and limited in scope. Perhaps the tv equiv. of downloading is digital cable, DVD burners etc. My dad has always taped TV shows compulsively; he got a DVD burner and adores it for allowing the infinite expansion of his pre-existing compulsion.

    Likewise, for those of us in music journalism, the CD promo suffers from the same lack of conferred value as the download (in fact I'm much more likely to leave a promo sitting on my shelf unlistened to than a download) - although interestingly I find that a lot of this depends on whether the promo looks like a promo or could pass for a purchasable CD - and I think trawling through second hand CD stores for cheap bargains is yet another example of that desire to get something for as close to nothing as possible... A ritual so formalised and half-conscious for me now that I would have no hope of remembering where I bought anything.

    In this sense I think downloading is perhaps best understood as the literalisation and formalisation of a pre-existing increasing tendency in our patterns of music consumption: technology serving our neuroses.

    Thinking about my dad reminds me that what Zizek is talking about here is not a universally standard syndrome: it's very dependent on how we personally structure our enjoyment. It would never occur to me to tape something on TV unless I planned to watch it almost as soon as I got home; likewise my dad knows how to download music but wouldn't do so unless he wanted something for a very specific purpose. The completist impulse just isn't there for certain parts of digital culture (just because we can be completists of a certain type doesn't mean we will). I suspect this means... not that we preserve some non-fetishistic autonomy, but that capital doesn't require our enjoyment to be standardised in order to make use of it (this, of course, is one of the big lessons for people who conflate Capital with the Culture Industry - the evil genius of capitalism is precisely its refusal to be limited to the culture industry, its recognition that it does have to cater to difference in order to dominate the field; Capital is not just the major labels but the totality of the major labels and all the boutique/independent alternatives).

    In Zizek's terms, we all have a Big Other who we are trying to please with our enjoyment (some sort of symbolic guarantee that we have been correct in our chocies) and it's really for this "Big Other" that we record things we may not watch/listen to. The completist side of this desire-to-please is like the pointy end of our enjoyment, the component that structures or hegemonizes the rest and simultaneously "sticks out" as a component of our identity (for me this is an engagement with music; for my father it's an engagement with TV/film).

  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim F
    Thinking about my dad reminds me that what Zizek is talking about here is not a universally standard syndrome: it's very dependent on how we personally structure our enjoyment. It would never occur to me to tape something on TV unless I planned to watch it almost as soon as I got home; likewise my dad knows how to download music but wouldn't do so unless he wanted something for a very specific purpose. .
    Wow, I bet you're the sort of person who turns off TV after they've finished watching the programme they sat down to watch too! As soon as something is taped, I find it almost impossible to find the energy to watch it (unless it is something ephemeral or trashy like Big Brother which I simply have to see that minute)

    But, yes, it's not just to do with digital culture (I don't think I set special store by this distinction any way in this context, but, to get a little Deleuzian, an acceleration can also be a change in kind, an intensive threshold shift) or downloading specifically. I'm also much less likely to watch a DVD once I've bought it... even if I like the DVD... Once it is safely at home, there's no need to actually watch it...

    At the same time, though, there is that phenonenom of the unwittingly acquired MP3... a phenomenon that is almost unthinkable when it comes to CDs or vinyl, at least for me.... and it doesn't matter how many times I root through second hand shops, I'll always remember exactly where I bought most CDs and books from...

  4. #34
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    I think letting go of anxiety about being on top of things is a good way to relax. You know, that concern about missing out on something, whether it be a great bit of music, or a crucial link that helps you understand some other bit of music.

    Really, if those things come true, it doesn't matter. Well, to a "punter".

    Not that I'm good at taking my own advice, but I try. It has been over a month since I bought a CD or record, and I think that is honestly the first time I've done that in .. maybe 10 years?? Mind you, I got given one on Sunday.

  5. #35
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    "Wow, I bet you're the sort of person who turns off TV after they've finished watching the programme they sat down to watch too!"

    Mostly! But my point wasn't that i can withstand TV's evil influence and isn't that great; rather, that these different tendencies are different socio-technological manifestations of patterns of behaviour which can rise in a variety of circumstances and contexts. I think it's a reductive approach to assume that this sort of digital ennui we're talking about is an example of how "technology rules our lives" (not that this is what you're saying mark); really what technology is doing is making it easier to give in to our collective everyday fantasies (e.g. the idea that this DVD will serve some mystical purpose sitting on my shelf unwatched) - it's a form of liberation of the "be careful what you wish for" variety obv...

    "But, yes, it's not just to do with digital culture (I don't think I set special store by this distinction any way in this context, but, to get a little Deleuzian, an acceleration can also be a change in kind, an intensive threshold shift) or downloading specifically."

    Actually I myself was thinking about Zizek's idea (since you raised him) of form vs content and stages of development - eg. analogue taping was really the content of digital downloading culture in the form of pre-digital analogue culture: the move to DVD-Rs and filesharing is simply the snakeskin-shedding exercise of throwing off the old form to match the change in content. In this sense tapes (of both varieties) are the "vanishing mediator" of between the pre-digital and digital world.

  6. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim F
    "I wanted to remark that its not necessarily the deluge of music thats the root problem here (though yes more and more music is made) its the deluge of opinions and information and discourse about music. After all, what is confusing isnt the choice on offer, its reading other people enthusing about stuff you havent heard."

    I agree, but do you think this is necessarily a bad thing, Matt? The critics who have the biggest effect on me are usually the people who inspire me to investigate more deeply stuff I'd previously dismissed for one reason or another by making an argument that is too compelling to laugh off.
    No I guess its a good thing, but perhaps it'd serve people better to let their ears lead them more, to really examine their reactions to music (most specifically whether they like those reactions)

    I like Stelfox's point (as he applies it to Hackney) and I'd applied it to here. Its nice to have people "researching" other areas so i dont have to.

    And yes f'sure i'm guilty of exagerating the point about my own recent tastes but it has been very refreshing following quite particular furrows.

    Amusing how so many reactions (including my own) have been to proclaim their narrow-mindedness.

  7. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Gutterbreakz
    I'm switching back to vinyl! Although not actually a proper dj, I've managed to blag another guest spot in Bristol next week. I intend to start my set with 20-30 mins of classic 89-91 bleep 'n' bass. In preparation I've actually been tracking down a couple of original 12" pressings, cos I just don't trust my digital versions to replicate the sound properly. As Warp's Rob beckett explained in Energy Flash, concerning the techniques involved in getting the sub bass pressure levels: "A lot of it was in the (lacquer) cut." No digital copy - CD or otherwise - is gonna give a bass response that the original 12" provides.

    MP3s still have their uses, but if you're serious about sound...you know what you gotta do.
    Ha! So funny hearing this from you Nik. Remembering your Road to Damascus switch to mp3 last year.

  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by michael
    I think letting go of anxiety about being on top of things is a good way to relax. You know, that concern about missing out on something, whether it be a great bit of music, or a crucial link that helps you understand some other bit of music.
    I totally agree with that. We've always been missing out on something, but we're being confronted by the reality of that fact more than ever.

    Quote Originally Posted by WOEBOT
    Amusing how so many reactions (including my own) have been to proclaim their narrow-mindedness.
    That's cos it's the only reasonable response to have: to concede the limits of your own abilities

  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by k-punk
    ... the issue is how easy it is to acquire the thing without actually listening/ watching it..
    The shuffle function is a really good way of getting around this. It nearly always throws up some hidden gem that I'd forgotten about; or maybe even not listened to properly in the first place.

    Quote Originally Posted by k-punk
    It's not that it is more 'valid' in some absolute way; but surely it's an obvious point that ppl value things because they pay for them, and not (just) the other way round....
    I don't find that obvious at all - if for no other reason than a gift is often valued more than a purchase made by one's self.

    Quote Originally Posted by k-punk
    On what grounds, tho? Why would physical objects lend themselves to completism more than digital code?
    On the grounds that completist fervour is, I think, for the most part bound up with notions of 'ownership'; and it's easier to talk about ownership of a physical object. Indeed, I'm not sure to what degree one can talk about 'owning' a digital download at all.

    Quote Originally Posted by k-punk
    Really? I find downloading to be a pretty much undifferentiated data-acquisition exercise...
    Well that much is fairly obvious, if I may say What I'm saying is that I don't. Really.

    ------------------------

    On a slightly separate point, I'd just like to add a small disclaimer - I tend to use P2P as a means of *discovering* new music. If I like it, I'll then go and by it. Like Juliand, I've got sick and tired of buying stuff only to find it's cack.

    And yes, by 'it' I mean the actual, physical product, not the legal download; because at heart I am a sucker for the sleeve art and everything that goes with owning the physical item, be it CD or vinyl.

    But I also find my behaviour - in principle, at least - quite quaint and outdated. Basically, I'm a dinosaur. A happy dinosaur, but a dinosaur nonetheless

  10. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim F
    "Wow, I bet you're the sort of person who turns off TV after they've finished watching the programme they sat down to watch too!"

    Mostly! But my point wasn't that i can withstand TV's evil influence and isn't that great
    No, I know, I was only teasing...

    "But, yes, it's not just to do with digital culture (I don't think I set special store by this distinction any way in this context, but, to get a little Deleuzian, an acceleration can also be a change in kind, an intensive threshold shift) or downloading specifically."

    Actually I myself was thinking about Zizek's idea (since you raised him) of form vs content and stages of development - eg. analogue taping was really the content of digital downloading culture in the form of pre-digital analogue culture: the move to DVD-Rs and filesharing is simply the snakeskin-shedding exercise of throwing off the old form to match the change in content. In this sense tapes (of both varieties) are the "vanishing mediator" of between the pre-digital and digital world.
    Yes, but something unanticipated happens when the form matches the content - inexplicably the content turns to shit! Plus P2P is on such a vast scale compared to home taping really... the fact you could only tape one album at a time, in real time; restrictions of locality; all of this falls away...

    but tapes as vanishing mediators yes.... mention C90s at our college and the students look at you askance... what are they?

  11. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by k-punk
    but tapes as vanishing mediators yes.... mention C90s at our college and the students look at you askance... what are they?
    It's a shame. Tapes sound great. A bit hissy maybe, but warmer than MP3s.

  12. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by WOEBOT
    Ha! So funny hearing this from you Nik. Remembering your Road to Damascus switch to mp3 last year.
    Heh heh. I was wondering if anyone would remember that. I'm man enough to admit when I'm wrong Matt. Actually I still like the idea of 'objectless' mass digital storage, but my ears have retuned to analogue this year - an inadvertant side effect of having been 'forced' to buy dubstep releases on vinyl. MP3s just sound crap now.

    The wierd thing is I'm currently using the same technology I was in the 80s - playing vinyl or recording it onto cassette to play in the car etc. First time I played a tape in ages I couldn't believe how much better it sounded than the iPod. Had to adjust all the eq settings cos the tapes were so much more bassy and warm.

  13. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by blunt
    I don't find that obvious at all - if for no other reason than a gift is often valued more than a purchase made by one's self.
    Yes, but a gift and something you pay for have more in common with each other than things you can simply take as and when you want....

    On the grounds that completist fervour is, I think, for the most part bound up with notions of 'ownership'; and it's easier to talk about ownership of a physical object. Indeed, I'm not sure to what degree one can talk about 'owning' a digital download at all.
    I'm not convinced by this; a new completist drive comes with the filing software of the new technology. Plus it isn't YOU who is the completist, it's the machine...

    Well that much is fairly obvious, if I may say What I'm saying is that I don't. Really.
    Are you really saying that when you looking at an MP3 in five years time you'll warmly remember 'that time when I sat and pressed the button to download this'.... Genuinely, what is there to set that time apart from every other time you've done it? Whereas when I do look at my records, even, perhaps especially, those I bought over twenty years ago, I remember the shop, the period of my life etc etc...

    On a slightly separate point, I'd just like to add a small disclaimer - I tend to use P2P as a means of *discovering* new music. If I like it, I'll then go and by it. Like Juliand, I've got sick and tired of buying stuff only to find it's cack.

    And yes, by 'it' I mean the actual, physical product, not the legal download; because at heart I am a sucker for the sleeve art and everything that goes with owning the physical item, be it CD or vinyl.

    But I also find my behaviour - in principle, at least - quite quaint and outdated. Basically, I'm a dinosaur. A happy dinosaur, but a dinosaur nonetheless
    Yes, the complementary irony being that I rarely buy anything now. Getting the i-Pod was the threshold trigger --- (sadly the machine was stolen last year, but its legacy remains) --- I now see the physical objects of CDs as unbearable clutter, lost in a world of extensive space, filed in one place and one place alone...

  14. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by k-punk
    Downloading is entirely different from buying because

    1: The fact that no money's involved makes you value the music less. As soon as something costs money it gains in 'symbolic' value. You don't pay for things because they have intrinsic value; on the contrary, because things cost money, they acquire a certain value. The fact that buying involves a scare resource (money) means that any transaction has to be more considered, judicious; with downloading, you can afford to be much less discriminating. The effect of this is corrosive, however. It's not that sound can be divided into 'downloaded' and 'non-downloaded'; all music begins to seem as evanescent and worthless as an MP3.

    2: Downloading induces a kind of 'might as well' completism. i.e. since it's free, you 'might as well' download that dodgy album by a band you're never going to listen to, even once. Downloading makes your computer into the completist; as Zizek says of taped films, if the machine has them, you're relieved of the burden of having to watch them. Same with MP3s... if the computer has downloaded them, the pressure to actually listen to them is much reduced.... (Digital replication induces an odd neurosis about backing up too : once one vinyl copy of a record was enough; now I'm not satisfied unless I've got the CD, an MP3 copy on the hard drive and an MP3 back-up on a CD... But with each backing up operation, the actual music comes to seem less and less worthwhile...)
    i'm a bit sick of this demonising of filesharing, the evils of downloading. we might as well go back to demonising virtual things, mass-reproduced things, why not every human technology while we're at it! let's go back to the stone age, what fun.

    having bought hundreds of cds, lps in the past (some of these very beautiful objects). having crossed cities and searched shops, waited patiently for them to arrive in the mail, having starved for these things i can honestly say these 'originals' had the same impact as the skimpiest 128kbps mp3 on my hard drive. and i discarded these objects with the same ease as i move files to the trash on my computer screen. why? because to me it is MUSIC, first and foremost. and i assign emotional value to it on the basis of what it says to me IN MY HEAD. is there a separate scale for my happiness/aesthetic pleasure as a result of listening to music that is delivered in mp3? i think not.

    there is also an obsession with other people's experience of things as valuable which i find a bit strange. who could possibly care less if someone hoards and fails to focus on one thing for very long? it's his/her loss, not the loss of humanity or of music. and why are you so sure of this degradation through digital storage and dissemination in other people's experience? couldn't the inverse of this, that to some people (perhaps most people) music has the same or greater value as an mp3, be just as plausible? that the lack of visual complement is actually liberating, perhaps enriching the experience of music itself?

    a bit tired, too, of the prophets of vinyl and fidelity. to all of you i propose a little exercise: please try to remember why you liked music in the first place.

  15. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by k-punk
    but tapes as vanishing mediators yes.... mention C90s at our college and the students look at you askance... what are they?
    that's interesting, cos i've got a faint sense that cassettes are starting to become fetishisable objects -- which would converge with the idea of them not becoming common knowledge among the youth -- thurston moore put together a nice looking (but content thin) book on mix-tapes, with various famous and semifamous friends of his reproducing their favorite mixtape covers with personalised art work --

    i can imagine things like the C86 tapes and Touch magazine tapes and so forth becoming collectable (whereas for years i'd try to flog them to music and video exchange and get no interest)

    in that respect the designer using cassettes as a signfier of postpunk was quite a canny move on the cover of Rip it up

    tangentially connected: on her first visit to our house one of the student girls who babysat for kieran exclaimed 'what's that?' and pointed at my turntable -- 19 and she'd never seen a record deck

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