Sonic treadmills

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One of my readers, Reed, posted the following comment which I found both illuminating and insightful:
I find music servers to be a massive distraction. Holding an iPad, browsing my music library with digital pictures of “albums”, dealing with computer & software hang-ups, format types, shopping for music on websites, etc. In my opinion, it makes listening to music a generic event. It’s too easy to jump songs or get stuck listening to favorites in playlists. It’s iTunes & headphones listening with better sound quality and speakers. I’m lately on a vinyl kick and enjoying music again. Vinyl has a unique sound quality that makes listing to music a unique event. I get out of the house to shop at local record stores and listen to whole albums. The experience of loading the record & dropping the needle is different than any other. CDs have many of the same experience related aspects. A running analogy…. I get up and run outside with no headphones…just run. I could run at home on a treadmill that mimicks hills, makes me run at a certain pace and removes the worry of weather. That’s just not running to me. Music servers are sonic treadmills to me.
There's much to take away from this viewpoint. First, the bit about vinyl mirrors my own. Vinyl does have a unique signature, but more important is the idea of physical interaction with the media. The acts of placing a CD in the slot, the needle in the groove, shuffling through record bins at the store, shopping for CDs online, connect us to our music in ways servers and iPads cannot. I still rely on my iPad for times when it's just more convenient. But for a greater connection to the music, I too find it much more satisfying to handle a physical CD. Not to mention it still sounds better than servers.
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Paul McGowan

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