Saturday, November 15, 2014

When it Rains it Pours

What was once known as building a library is now considered hoarding. CREDIT ILLUSTRATION BY MAURICIO ALEJO
"Recently, while moving my CD collection to new shelving, I struggled with feelings of obsolescence and futility. Why bother with space-devouring, planet-harming plastic objects when so much music can be had at the touch of a trackpad—on Spotify, Pandora, Beats Music, and other streaming services that rain sonic data from the virtual entity known as the Cloud?"
This is the opening paragraph to Alex Ross's article The Classical Cloud published in Sept, 2014, which explores what is lost when the cloud replaces the CD.
When was the last time I purchased a Cd? I literally can't remember. But when was the last time I downloaded a song? Last week. The last time I was on Pandora? This afternoon.
"Yet I’m wedded to the wall of plastic. I like browsing the spines—Schnabel, Schnebel, Schnittke—and pulling out disks at random. Even in the age of Wikipedia, liner notes and opera librettos can be informative. (Not everything exists online: I tried and failed to find the libretto for Franz Schreker’s “Christophorus,” which begins with the lines “Her eyes—hot summer. / Her thinking—cool.”) I get a pang of nostalgia in seeing recordings that I bought almost thirty years ago, using money earned through an inept gardening business: the cover of Karajan’s Mahler Ninth bears the scratches of a dozen college-era moves."
I still remember my CD of Phantom of the Opera from back in 8th grade. Every detail of the liner notes, the pictures they used from the movie, my feeble attempts to draw said pictures from the cover. It wasn't just music from a good musical that I happened to be currently obsessed with, it was an experience. When you download a single track from an album or pull it up on YouTube, it is far less personal and much less memorable.
Music is a personal thing, and emotional tool. Is the cloud helping not just classical music, but all music to lose some of its significance? If it's so easy to obtain it, does it become less poignant? Could there be such a thing as too accessible?
'.... only by buying the albums are you likely to help the label stay in business."
So according to Ross, not only does buying the CD of an album instead of grabbing bits and pieces of it from various online resources give me something to hold in my hand that I can attach some memories to, it also helps the artist and the label break even. I think it's about time I went out and bought a CD.
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