By Arved Ashby
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Extra info for Absolute Music, Mechanical Reproduction
F. McKenzie, Marshall McLuhan, Roland Barthes, Richard Rorty, Jacques Attali, Susan Sontag, and beyond—may seem chaotic, but these thinkers do have signiﬁcant convergences when it 22 / Introduction comes to my subjects. The book, to return for a moment to the points suggested by its title, addresses the problem of unlimited reproducibility and the impact this has had on subjectivity, memory, and convention. Benjamin, Bergson, and Attali have each explored this area in their different but complementary ways, through notions of capitalism, repetition, epistemology, and the machine.
As already mentioned, recordings embody certain aspects of both written and oral texts. They are readable texts, ﬁrst, because they are coded entities requiring a speciﬁc form of literacy above and beyond taking in the performance in the concert hall, aurally, without mediation. 6 The most inﬂuential recording artists—Glenn Gould, Herbert von Karajan, and Leopold Stokowski serving as key examples—have understood this phonographic literacy, savoring it and developing it. Even beyond basic aspects of phonographic literacy, recordings are texts in that they are closed, circumscribed, structured, posed, edited, and otherwise mediated in a way that requires “reading” as well as listening.
Innovations in audio electronics speed up the increase-decrease of a music’s popularity, certainly, but in introducing sambas and sonatas to new cultures and manners of construal they also serve to broaden their signiﬁcance. Some see the iPod as they saw the Walkman twenty-ﬁve years ago: as an instrument of aural wallpaper and mindless distraction. ” It is my belief, in the end, that the currency of classical music bears little if any connection to issues of education and commercialism; the only real concern is access to and distribution of the music, and that is now largely a technological concern.
Absolute Music, Mechanical Reproduction by Arved Ashby