Saturday, July 30, 2005

Life in Tunes

Today’s topics are the letters i and x, the number infinity, and the painfully obvious notion that technology revolutionizes music.

I’m amazed that the digital revolution is continuing to spin crazily, further and further from its groundbreaking introduction of the compact disc.

The Apple music universe, with the i-everything, still seems to be the realm of fantasy. How some little gizmo can be a personal jukebox holding entire record collections still seems like somebody’s great-but-impossible idea. Throw in the podcasting, the ability to buy any song and it seems too good to be true.

I remember being blown away by my old roommate’s 60-disc changer, with its full random function and incredible accessibility. And this isn’t ancient technology, he still uses the thing. But the ipod bests that by a factor of 100,000 or so: it’s roughly one percent the size, with roughly 100 times the storage. Incredible.

And one of these days I’ll buy one of the damn things.

Then there’s the all-everything, all-the-time satellite radio. On a 20-hour cross-country U-Haul drive, I got hooked. The programming is nothing short of genius, from the formulating of the individual genre stations to the playlists, track-by-track. Satellite radio and podcasting are a year or two away from being universal. They’re just that good.

The access to great new music is mind-blowing. It’s leaps and bounds beyond the near-yesteryear of Napster and cd burners.

Then there’s the opposite side of the coin – digital failure driving me to the most fundamental analog medium: radio.

My car’s cd player crapped out on me a month or so ago, and since I’ve been glued to KXCI, the community radio station. It’s not always great, but the variety and quality of music overall is stunning. I’ve heard an incredible amount of new stuff on the dial and been frequently thrilled when one of my more obscure favorites came on the radio. The “real people, real radio” tag truly fits.

The last component of this is the oldest of them all – live performance. Through these new technologies, touring bands of all levels are reaching new audiences and fans of all stripes are finding new favorites, a perfect marriage.

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