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Music and the Internet

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 December 2000


The fact is, if you want to make a difference in music, you have to change the machine. (Christie 1998)

In my book Rock Formation I borrowed from Walter Ong and Jacques Attali when I noted that, ‘The ability to record sound is power over sound.’ (Jones 1992, p. 51) I continue to believe that statement to be true. Arguments that I then made about the increasing role computers would play in the production of music have been borne out. They were not hard forecasts to make: one only had to imagine that the processing power of computer chips would continue to increase according to Moore's Law and then extrapolate the possibilities such increases would create for sound recording and reproduction. Even comments I made, vaguely tongue-in-cheek, expecting that we would have, in addition to the ability to record high-quality digital audio in the home, the ability to press CDs at home, and print colour inserts for CD jewel boxes, thus creating not only home studios but home pressing plants, have become a reality. However, with but a few years' hindsight, I want to append to these an argument that recording sound matters less and less, and distributing it matters more and more, or, in other words, the ability to record and transport sound is power over sound. Consequently, technology is an even more important element to which popular music scholars must attend.

Research Article
© 2000 Cambridge University Press

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