Monday, May 07, 2012

Machine Music

Seeburg Stereomatic 100
You know she wiggles like a glow worm
Dances like a spinnin' top
She got a crazy partner
Ya oughta see 'em reel and rock
Long as she got a dime
The music won't never stop

~Roll Over Beethoven, Chuck Berry

The direct descendant of the 19th music boxes, the "Juke" boxes of the twentieth century replaced the mechanical discs (actually a form of multiple-track digital recording) with analog 78rpm disks, later replaced by the familiar "45's". Amplified to overcome noisy barrooms, the Juke boxes were an entertainment staple for years, still showing up in "retro" themed establishments. Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys had a personal Juke box with every record a copy of The Ronettes "Be my Baby". The most visually appealing juke boxes even let you see the mechanism, to see the actual artifact producing the music.

Now most public music is stored digitally, there no need for a large mechanism to store records, tens of thousands of tunes can be stored in a pocket-able device, or even completely disembodied in "the cloud."

So where is the focal point? Where does the music come from? Is it just "there", disembodied, no friendly beast in the corner, no fireplace glow from the push-button selectors, having been replaced by... nothing?

By Professor Batty


Blogger Jono said...

Analog is so much more sensuous because it is physically present. I think it gives the music a deeper meaning even if the song remains the same (LZ reference).

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