Asceticism Run Amok April 7, 2010Posted by Dwight Furrow in Art and Music, Culture, Dwight Furrow's Posts.
Tags: technology and art
Steve Almond laments the rise of new music listening technologies:
But for all the joys of such wizardry, I’ve been experiencing a creeping sense of dread recently when it comes to iTunes, a dark hunch that technology has impoverished the actual experience of listening to music.
See, back when I was a kid in the ’70s, the way I listened to music was pretty simple. I put an LP on the turntable, dropped the needle, then sat on the living room rug and listened to every single note. If I liked the record a lot, I would listen to it two or three times in a row, usually with the album cover on my lap, so I could study the lyrics and artwork. […]
I really miss the fact that listening to music used to be a concerted sonic and emotional event, rather than the backing track to some flashing screen. It was more inconvenient, to be sure. But for me, this inconvenience was part of the whole point.
I liked that I could only listen to my albums on a turntable in the living room. I liked yearning for my favorite records. I can still remember spending the entire day at school counting the minutes until I could get home to listen to the transcendent power chords of Styx’s “Paradise Theater.”
I even liked that there was a whole process involved before you got to the songs. You had to thumb through your collection, put the record on the turntable and then set the needle down with the utmost care.
I don’t get this. I understand the experience of focused, repetitive listening. It conforms to my own experience. (Aside from his interest in Styx who were dreadful)
But I don’t see why technology is to blame for his missing rapture. If he wants a “concerted sonic and emotional event” he can now have it anywhere he wants with any music he likes. If he listens only when tied to a “flashing screen” while distractedly multi-tasking, the problem is not the technology but his listening habits.
And the chore of archiving cumbersome albums, dealing with turntables, and waiting for the damn radio to play something good is surely not to be missed.
I’m surprised he doesn’t tell us about the whips he employs for his daily self-flagellation.
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