New technology

29th May 2019 | Daily Life, Musings, Teaching | 1 comment

The other day I gave a copy of one of my own CDs as a gift to some young musicians.

They thanked me politely, but I caught them eyeing the CD with a certain blankness. Suddenly a thought occurred to me and I said, ‘…Don’t tell me you haven’t got CD players!’ They all shook their heads sadly. ‘We haven’t even got CD drives in our laptops’, they said.

Gosh! It made me feel old. When I first started making records, the beloved LP format was just going out of style. It was replaced by the cassette, which reigned for about five minutes, until we all got fed up with the tapes getting snarled up. CDs were the next great invention. Small, light, durable, don’t need to be turned over, can’t be scratched with needles – a format which would last!

So as vinyl ‘became obsolete’ (little did we know), we all started replacing our scratched LPs and our tangled-up cassettes with CDs – at considerable cost, I might add. A few years later the record industry started saying that DATs were the latest in crisp, contemporary sound quality. But DATs seemed to fizzle out almost before we had grasped that they were available. Then there were DVDs, Blu-Ray, MP3s, downloads, online playlists and streaming. Physical copies of recordings have vanished into The Cloud. And now I hear that young musicians don’t even have CD drives on their laptops.

Mind you, these same young people were playing on 200-year-old, even 300-year-old string instruments, made of wood, which they cart around all over the world and love with a passion. They play them with wooden bows strung with the tail hairs of a horse. Not only are these formats not obsolete, but the instruments have proved easily superior to most newer ones in terms of tonal quality, projection, and character. So it seems that not every sound source has been superseded by a newer, cooler one.

1 Comment

  1. Mary Cohen

    Yes, many of us do indeed play on ancient technology! Recently someone tried to sell me the idea of the benefits of using a carbon fibre bow on the grounds that, “It really helps prevent RSI because it absorbs all the vibrations”. Hmm…all those vibrations which give SO much feedback to the player…the ones which are essential to us understanding our own playing. RSI in the right hand/arm comes from bad action, and gripping and pressing too hard, which will not be avoided by using an information-less bow. Back to CDs: I love your CDs. Let’s hang on to our CD players and sit tight, waiting for the moment when someone in the tech world re-discovers this great format – which still works when the internet goes down.

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