Some Assembly Required 2 SPARK

Some Assembly Required on Radio K – 770 AM, was a Nationally syndicated show that was produced and hosted at the U of MN radio station. Hosted by Jon Nelson, the show featured Tape Manipulations, Digital Deconstructions and Turntable Creations. This interview from June 03, 2007 is about my old radio show Technological Retreat, the CD release of material from that show and the sounds I was making with the Ancient Mix Master. There is an online Q & A interview if listening to me talk is more than you want to commit to.

Below is a video of my performance from the 2008 SPARK Festival of Electronic Music, also at the U of MN. It was shot with an early portable digital video camera that was not so great. The footage has some effects on it also. Toward the end, the video freezes so that my hand looks like a Dali foot dripping off the turntable. I don’t remember that happening so my guess is, that this is a tech issue.

The festivals were presented by the U of MN school of Music but I don’t know if they will be up to the same scale and size.

For the festival you could submit performance proposals and/or ideas for papers to be presented at the academic conference part of this. I submitted an idea entitled “Sound As Object”. I knew about getting into the shows but about a week before the conference I was informed that my paper had been accepted and I thought, oh shit now I have to write something. This is what I wrote and read aloud to about two dozen academics. They were polite.

Sound As Object AKA Am I My Mix?

The 19th century rhythm of the water wheel and grind stone turned into the bang and scream of the factory as the industrial revolution was born. The 20th century started with a piston and an electric spark and closed with a hum and click of a computer.

For over 130 years there have been recorded sounds available for purchase. The recording industry is just that, an industry. With the introduction of cylinder recordings in the 1880’s, people could, for the first time, hear a piece of music of their choice at a time of their choice in a location of their choice.

Transistor radios, walkmans, and iPods now mean that everybody who chooses to can create their own mix for any activity for anytime of day. This is my workout mix; my morning drive mix; my laundry mix. No longer dependant on the DJ, or the multi-disk changer, everyone can make their own mix, soundtracking their lives themselves.

Cylinders and flat discs were the first methods of recording that gave rise to the recording industry. Thus began the process of trying to fill an insatiable appetite for new sounds. Its purpose: to find, make and own the sounds that the consumer would identify with, and want to hear over and over. And more importantly, want to buy.

Not only the music that they wanted to hear, but where and when they wanted to hear it. Desktop media centers that could be taken from room to room, house to house, or literally be played in a field. These early cylinder players were phenomena that exceeded all expectations. Sales were great and both prerecorded cylinders and blanks rolled off the shelves.

The ability to buy and record music was developing around the same time that the advent and development of radio was going on. And although we can’t be certain, I think we can be pretty sure, that it was some independent kids working in their garages that put the first radios in their cars. No easy task when you consider that these early radios weighed between 15 and 40 pounds. This was about 1/3 of what their battery systems weighed. Mobile sound of your own choice was beginning.

Having music, news and information at the push of a button and the warming of a tube must have seemed like magic. All of a sudden voices and music, reports from across town or around the world were available to everyone who had a radio. I believe this had a larger and more significant impact on a societal level, than the advent of the internet. Telephones allowed people to communicate faster than horseback – which had been the fastest form of communication for thousands of years. Radio allowed a shared societal experience for those limited by geography. Recorded material allowed the populace to listen to a song whenever they wanted. Musicians became cultural icons to people who never would have heard of them.

The music industry has thrived, until recently, with the production and distribution of their product, the audio object. From cylinders to the flat disks. The advent of wire and later magnetic tape recording: cassettes, reels and 8 – tracks. The 12 inch vinyl disc has been superseded (but not replaced) by the 4 3/4 inch plastic disc. But the world has changed again. Music is now available without a physical medium to present it. The industry is freaking out. People are still listening to music; more music than ever before actually, except the industry is losing control. More importantly for them, they are losing control of the money.

Sound

If no one is around to hear it does it exist?

Recorded sound

If no one is around to consume it, does it exist?

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