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* Early versions of this essay were presented at the Humanities Institute at the University at Stony Brook (April 1999) and the "Revival of Obsolescence" session at the International Association for the Study of Popular Music, Murfreesboro, Tennessee (October 1999). The session included two other papers that dealt with closely related material, "John D. Seibert Davis, "Not Quite Dead: Vinyl Records and the Consumption of Obsolete Media," and Stan Link, "The Work of Reproduction in the Mechanical Aging of an Art: Noise and the New Nostalgia." Special thanks to Lloyd Whitesell, David Brackett, Timothy D. Taylor, and the two readers from ECHO for their comments on the manuscript. Many thanks as well for ideas and recommendations to Lisa Barg, Theo Cateforis, Jason Hanley, Margaret Martin, and Kirsten Yri. I am particularly grateful to Erik Robinson for technical help with the examples.
1 See especially Théberge, Any Sound You Can Imagine.
2 There is, of course, a close relationship between Adornos ideas of the development of compositional technique and material in music and more general technological developments. See Paddison, Adornos Aesthetic of Music, 127. For a more focussed study of technology that uses the Frankfurt school as a starting point, see Andrew Feenberg, Critical Theory of Technology.
3 For a wide-ranging study of the social and cultural contexts for how technology and music have interacted see, Timothy D Taylor, Strange Sounds: Music, Technology, and Culture in the Postwar Era. See also Theodore Cateforis, "Are We Not New Wave? Nostalgia, Technology, and Exoticism in Popular Music at the Turn of the 1980s."
4 Many thanks to Tim Taylor for bringing this article to my attention.
5 I do not address here the significant gender issues connected to music and technology, particularly the striking popularity of genres that combine female voices with electronic dance music, often in contexts that feature old sounds. See, for example, Portishead, Lamb, Mono, Broadcast, Massive Attack, and Björk. Among the recent studies that do focus on gender, see Barbara Bradby, "Sampling Sexuality: Gender, Technology, and the Body in Dance Music."
6 The series is described on the NPR website as follows: "Beginning Friday, January 29, and continuing on Fridays through January 2000, NPR's® All Things Considered ® presents "Lost & Found Sound," a series of stories and sonic snapshots that capture American 20th century life through recorded sound. A collection of richly layered stories, "Lost & Found Sound" explores the ways recorded sound captured and changed the course of history, and how the sound of daily life has changed over the last hundred years."
7 Though with special significance for the present context, the rise of the MP3 format, which depends on the widespread acceptance of a lower sound quality, is further evidence of the extent of the transformation in attitudes towards audio technology.
8 Edward Macan cites band member David Gilmour as saying, "the effect was meant to suggest a fan playing along with his or her radio on acoustic guitar" (122).
9 For more on the relationship between sampling and music as commodity see Théberge, Any Sound You Can Imagine, 204-205.
10 For a detailed exploration of related issues, see Link "The Work of Reproduction in the Mechanical Aging of an Art: Listening to Noise."
11 Ann Kaplan has discussed related techniques in music videos: techniques such as "shot/countershot, continuity editing, the 180 degree rule and so on, give the spectator the illusion of creating the images, suturing him/her into the narrative flow. Theories have claimed that it is the very "reality effect" produced through these devices that ensures the texts remaining safely with the dominant ideological constructs" (40).
12 Thanks to my colleague Dan Weymouth for making this observation.
13 In a June 1999 interview with Rolling Stone, Moby was asked about taking "samples of black music from the first half of this century" and binding them to hip-hop and dance rhythms. In his response he speaks of finding "old field recordings," including some by Alan Lomax. See Rodd Mcleod, "Moby Makes His Latest Play," Rolling Stone.Com.
14 Andrew Goodwin makes a related point about how British bands like Portishead have refused "the particular version of funkiness" in the early 1990s with the dominance of rhythm samples from James Brown (1998 127).
15 Frith writes of another Portishead song, "Sour Times," from Dummy (1994) in strikingly similar terms: "The sampled sound from a Lalo Schrifin Mission Impossible LP places the track in space, not time, in the suspended space of the traveler, caught between West and East, past and future I decide that no record better captures the pop aesthetic at this time, in this placenot for its utopian or dystopian vision, but for its determination to be heard, to give cultural confusion a social voice" (278).