Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lost & Found

Alright- so there is this argument (and elsewhere) that rock aesthetics are defined by recordings. There are limitations to this insight—like the way it tends to break down if the discourse you’re surveying for evidence favors the participation of musicians, jam band fans, or happens at certain places and times, etc. but basically it’s usually been true in many places during rock’s now glimmering and fading postwar hegemony in the US and the UK. Rock occurs in objects that reproduce recorded sound in moments and spaces different than those it was recorded in. And more often than not the original space/moment doesn’t/didn’t literally exist and is described and surrounded only by that recording; that created arrangement of vibrations over time that I’ll call the sound object. So there’s a very deep affective relationship that gets built up between the sound object and the artifact it’s encoded in. The music industry that exists through rock/as rock has defined itself according to it’s ability to deliver new kinds of sound encoded objects, and it’s depended to some great degree on its monopoly on the legitimate and efficient production of those objects, including the ability of its major actors to define what’s legitimate and efficient (and vice versa) in their interests.

So what happens to rock when the sound object becomes separable from the found object? Well, a bunch of things that I’ll address in another post, though a lot of it is likely familiar, if heatedly debated stuff. What I’m interested in is: if the musical form and the object are coequal, what happens to that musical form when the object goes away, when not just specific kinds of objects become each progressively obsolete, but when the idea that there is a specific, legitimate physical object at all that exists to deliver that sound, what happens to the sound? Not to the record company, the record stores, the musicians, the radio stations, etc. What happens to the music of objects when the musical object is obsolete?

No comments: