September 4, 2010
So what IS music?
A digital music file is a series of encoded 1s and 0s that can be combined into an electric wave signal that can be sent to a device that pushes air around.
On a physical level, music is waves of vibrating molecules that push on the ear drum and stimulate electrical impulses into the brain. A person's brain does not care whether the source of the vibrations is a vocal chord, an instrument, or a speaker cone but the mind can discern subtle differences very clearly.
On a personal level, music is a form of expression. People create music when they feel they have something they want to say, and they listen to music when they want to feel something different from their mundane existence. Making or listening to music entirely for personal reasons is a perfectly valid and often cathartic exercise.
On a social level, music is about sharing and enhancing an experience. By listening to someone else's musical expression, a person empathises or aspires to the creator's experience. Participating in public concerts or broadcasts enables not only sharing of the music but also of the social experience of hearing it.
On a cultural level, music is about capturing and sharing information and reflecting on societal norms. The songs that endure tell stories of heroism, relationships, evil, stupidity, celebration and heartbreak that reflect the values of the culture in which they mean the most.
On an industrial level, music is a way to attach the shared feelings, experiences, or cultural value that music inspires to other things in order to increase their sale value. Not many wax cylinders, vinyl disks or cassette tapes would be sold if music was not on them. Even before movies could talk, producers recognised the characterisations and plot devices that were enabled by background music.
As data storage and transmission media, CDs and DVDs have long been replaced by portable drives, flash memory devices and bandwidth. CD sales are declining mainly because the popularity of CDs as transmission and storage devices for music is declining.
This post is the summary of Part 2 of Dr Huge's "How the record industry got it so wrong". The latest version of the complete ebook can be downloaded here and a hard copy can be ordered here.Posted by DrHuge at September 4, 2010 4:51 PM | TrackBack