Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Trains to Brazil: The New Technology

I’ve only recently started listening to “Trains to Brazil.” (A note: whatever the song’s virtues, the music video engages in the typical indie-nostalgia-fetishism that’s so annoying). It seems likely that without recent technology I never would’ve appreciated the song in the first place.

By recent technology, of course, I mean the computer vintage of music technology. “Trains to Brazil” was added to my music library in 2006 where it sat around to unlistened to for four years or so until 2010 when, upon further consideration, I decided I actually liked the song. Music is often a matter of moods and a song occasionally needs to connect with the right mood or atmosphere before you realize exactly what a song is about…I suppose that’s what happened with “Trains to Brazil.”

At any rate, this type of serendipity would surely not have happened in earlier eras of musical technology. Computer-era music technology allows for storage and random play, meaning that you’re a tap of a button away from a new song, and hence effectively one tap away from that experience of a song working just right. Were my entire musical collection in the form of CDs I would have to affirmatively experiment and this kind of effort is surprisingly difficult to put into effect.

Then there’s the ease of downloading. There are several songs in my library that I’d have never purchased in CD form but that I downloaded solely on the theory that I might like it, someday. And of course this has happened from time to time, through that same process of serendipity that I described earlier.

It’s not particularly profound, I think, at first glance, but I think it’s interesting to explore how changes to technology change our experienced of media, for I’d have never liked “Trains to Brazil” were iTunes never invented.

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