To say that music has been around for a lone time is to somewhat understate the point. Have a guess? Nope, you got that wrong... Music has been around since, at least, the Palaeolithic (Old Stone Age) period. Several flutes have been discovered, made of various types of bone, dated to be 43,000 years old.
These flutes were deliberately designed for the purpose with 4 or 5 holes, were hand held and used to create some form music.
So, it turns out that the need for music is baked into our DNA, somehow.
Throughout our youth, most of us are exposed to music of some sort. For some, that exposure creates a strong bond with either a particular band or style of music. Sure, you may pull away from it, but that unique experience is still there, deep in your memory.
As I recall such events in my life, I can confirm that those deep memories exist for me. Whilst it is true to say that they are not in the forefront of my mind, they can be triggered on demand. How? Simply by listening to the music at that moment. It isn't just a warm fuzzy feeling that is evoked. No, it is much more than that. As well as those warm fuzzy feelings, I can remember the exact moment when I first heard that particular album. I can remember looking at the artwork of the album cover, pulling the vinyl (yes, it was that long ago) out of the white sleeve, and gently placing it onto the turntable. Looking at those grooves on the black surface, full of hidden expression and the magic of music. That moment where you take the needle and nervously place it on the edge of the spinning record. The underlying fear of a fresh piece of vinyl; the desperate need not to scratch it before it had been given that first listen through.
For me, that experience was always in a setting of the corner of the living room, behind the sofa, wearing a set of less than ideal headphones with a cord that was way too short. It is a memory that I cherish.
Way back then, listening to music was a process, almost a small kind of ritual. Sure, you could shove a tape in and listen to the music through a hiss. But the ritual always made the music somehow sound better.
If we scroll forward to the current day, our relationship with music is quite different. You can walk into a random pub, hear something playing, pull out your phone, flick onto the Shazam app, sample a few moments, and boom; that song, whose title you don't even know, is in your own personal music library.
The process is so transparent that it almost doesn't exist. It becomes a reflex action.
Listening to music is just as transparent. You don't even have to touch your phone, or even know what you want; "Hey Siri, play something happy." All of a sudden you are listening to something vaguely happy.
I guess at this point; you are expecting me to start going on about the evils of mass music access and distribution...?
You will be glad to hear that particular sermon will not be delivered from me. No, I love the fact that I have access to such a large and diverse catalogue. I love the fact that I can wonder into a pub, and then moments later be on a glorious music journey into stuff that I would never had otherwise stumbled upon.
However, just think a moment. Think back to the first time you heard "Lizzie's Ballroom" by "45 Dip" taken from their album "The Acid Lounge" ... nope, I have no idea when I first listened to that either. It's in my music library, and I can only guess that I heard it once in a pub and that is how it arrived in my library. Don't get me wrong, it is a delightful piece of music creation. I listen to it often; I just don't have that additional emotional-location memory with it.
That is essentially my point. The super-easy accessibility of music has come at the expense of a location-based ritual-based emotional-based music experience.
43,000 years ago, creating music was a non-trivial task. Today, we are in danger of losing something. We are in danger of losing the Music Transportation that was baked into yesteryear's experience.
It's not about choosing one over the other, but I feel we would all be a little richer if we took a long moment to, specifically, purposely, deliberately, listen to some specific music, from a specific artist, from a specific album. To try to create some Music Transportation memories, for our future self.
I'm a carbon-unit who writes; a Carbon Writer. Life & culture are my default topics, mixed with a little English wit & sarcasm. Full of mostly true stories, I occasionally remember to write them down. Found in a crowd, or contemplating in a corner. Habit of talking to anyone. Author.
- Nigel Derbyshire