Of course the idea that recorded music is in and of itself destructive, is not one I hold to. But one thing that I take away from Stravinsky’s amazingly prescient writing is how much the over saturation or availability of recorded music can cheapen music’s own value.
I once had a discussion with an (allegedly) educated man, who said that all recorded music should be free because record companies had ripped people off for so long. It was really hard not to hit him. Now obviously, for whatever reason there are a lot of people who feel perfectly fine about stealing music. If you think that it only affects the big labels, think again. Anyone care to look back and see when the last Varese rerecording was? File sharing has hurt everyone.
Because music is everywhere now, in the stores, in the malls, in the elevators, instantly attainable through free or paid means, somehow it’s value is lessened. I remember so well, the effort to save for a certain album, and then going to the record store to look through the bins, sometimes even smelling the records. And then finally buying one and not being able to contain myself until I got home to tear off the plastic and put it on. There was something to that. Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the convenience of iTunes. My son, who has grown up with virtually all music ever recorded, available to him at his fingertips all the time, thinks of music as something much less special. The accessibility we have to so much, and so many varied kinds of music is astonishing, but I think we have lost something in the process.
And finally, I think in general, people have lost the connection between recorded music and live performance. There was a time, when as a musician if you couldn’t play live what was represented on your record, there was real shame and ridicule. Now that’s the norm. I just don’t get it. But there ARE bright lights. When Chris Thile and his merry band of virtuosi choose to make a record of the most incredibly complex and difficult music, standing around two microphones, playing live with no editing, my heart soars. Because the music is phenomenal and yes, the fact that they can play it live with no mistakes makes it even more phenomenal to me. Knowing that the notes haven’t been tweezed to be perfectly in line or in tune makes that recording that much more special.