Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Brian Eno, 1997.

I've often used this Ibanez TCM50 for ambient sounds. It is strung with all unwound steel strings.

Margaret MacLean of the Getty Conservation Institute and I hosted a meeting of Stewart Brand's Long Now Foundation board, librarians, and the Internet Archive at the Getty Center to discuss the problems of digital preservation. The meeting and subsequent publication was called "Time and Bits: Managing Digital Continuity".  Brian Eno attended as a board member of the Long Now Foundation ("longnow" was his expression.)  It was very interesting to talk to him about his career as a musician and producer and hear great stories about riding around with David Bowie in a car in order to listen to a recent studio mix to make sure the sound "worked". He was not altogether convinced that digital was in any way better than analog. The irony for me was that I had bought my first CD player in order to listen to his ambient recordings like "Music for Airports" without any vinyl scratches or pops.

Eno - "There is a backlash going on. I notice it a lot among musicians.  The music world has bifurcated into two completely separate camps that have hardly anything to do with each other. It's computer based music and the rest. There are very few people working in the cross-over area in-between. One of the problems is that when digital material corrupts it corrupts absolutely.  We've been used to analog materials that deteriorate rather gracefully. You know a tape played over and over again does lose high frequencies but you can still tell what the music is, you can still hear the song.

What has happened with some of my earliest digital recordings is that they have become completely silent.  There's nothing there at all. A lot of people are finding that they prefer the type of deterioration that occurs with atoms to the type of deterioration that occurs with bits. The backlash is partly realizing that this problem exists."

I still have a few copies of "Time and Bits".  Getty Publications has stopped re-printing it.

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