Friday Freestyle: A Miscellany Of Ten Things I’m Thinking About

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This week I introduce Friday Freestyle: A Miscellany Of Ten Things I’m Thinking About. It’s a new post format in which I share ideas and questions without developing them further into blog posts. It may become a regular thing, or this may be the first and last installment! I really don’t know.

• What are the qualities of a recorded sound that make is seem materially visceral and tangible? Are these qualities connected to the aesthetics of “warm”- and “vintage”-sounding audio? And are these qualities in turn mostly a matter of the nonlinear artifacts native to analog devices (or digital technologies that simulate them)?

• Alfred Gell (a most interesting anthropologist who wrote about time, enchantment, and artists) describes the artist:

The artist’s ambiguous position, half-technician and half-mystagogue.

(Alfred Gell “The Technology of Enchantment and the Enchantment of Technology”, 1992, 59).

• If you like motion, here’s an awesome skateboarding video:

• How does physical training influence creativity?

• Has Auto-Tune pitch correction forever changed the rapper’s singing voice? Or will we one day look back fondly upon our current hip hop era?

• A really good recipe for chick pea curry:

• What does dragging and rushing in music performance tell us about the musician?
And how do we know we know when someone is going too far in either direction?

• Why are most of the cars with boom-boom-booming sound systems driven by men?

• Too Much Of A Good Thing Syndrome: Why does YouTube’s algorithm work to provide us content based on our previous viewing that eventually wears out our interest in what we thought we were interested in? In other words, why is the algorithm so uncreative and what does this tell us about how we actually think?

• Radiohead singer Thom Yorke discusses in an interview the paradox that learning how something works in fact means that, creatively speaking, it no longer works: 

“Once you’ve learned to use a drum machine, or learned to write in a particular way, the temptation is to go back there, because you know it works.  But…if you’ve discovered it works, it no longer works.”   

4 thoughts on “Friday Freestyle: A Miscellany Of Ten Things I’m Thinking About

  1. As so often, a lot of intriguing stuff here.

    On the first item, the musical magic of analog artifacts, we human listeners are truly weird. I bonded with recorded music on analog devices, but objectively ugly ones: handheld transistor radios, car radios with slack speakers, plastic combo record players. I was not displeased. I was transfixed. This experience informed my ability to understand when I read historical accounts of people listening to pioneering cylinder recordings and reporting sincerely that it sounded like the musician was in the room with them.

    There is no way to recreate that experience I had sonically–or rather, it can probably be recreated but not experienced the same way.

    1. Very interesting Frank—how we get to know and get fond of the playback devices’ sounds to the point where they sort of become transparent. Sort of like not noticing the thin sound of AirPods until you listen to better around the ear phones just moments before and then compare. Suddenly you notice.

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