Analog v. Digital Recording: Trying to get a 'Real' Sound

I was in the music fraternity in undergrad. Less a fraternity than a loose association of music dorks, the fraternity put me in touch with a great deal of music majors, myself being an English lit major. All of my friends in the music fraternity loved jazz. They played trumpets, trombones, and tubas. They were in the jazz club, they took jazz classes, and they formed jazz bands. I made music, too, but what it seemed that my art was never taken as seriously. Every time I made a new song, I shared it with my jazz friends, and they always recieved it with a nearly imperceptible touch of irony, as if everyone was let in on a secret abotu my own music that I didn't understand.

Now I understand it. I played keyboards and guitars treated with dozens of digital effects. I recorded my music into a Macbook Air. They played real instruments. They owned reel-to-reel tape machines. Their music was analogical, mine digital. Their music was physical, mine symbolic. 

Peters writes: "Digital media, such as these, point and refer to real world objects outside of themselves,
and this transducing from the symbolic to the real limits both the computing and the
indexing power of digital media" (8).

To the music majors, my music only "pointed and refered" to what they had in their hands: trumpts, tubas, and trombones. My music was merely "symbolic" or their real, analogical musical world. Which is to say my music was all 1's and 0's, there's was all tape and spit valve.

But as Peters goes on to write: "We can now see how the digital and the analog are non-oppositional modes of indexing the world. Take the classic analog medium, the phonograph (an early record
player named for how it transduces a real world event of sound, phono, into symbolic
writing, -graphy, and then reads the writing into reproducing the sound)" (12).

The music majors failed to realize that evey digital action is part analog, as even analog technoligy has "symbolic writing." Only the language changes. Just as spit flies out of their gold instruments, as John Lennon once said "I got blisters on my fingers," regardless of what signal recieves the musical information I give it.

 

A Critique of "Making, Critique"

In their introduction "Making, Critique," Hayles and Pressman assert that humanities scholarship and projects are uniquely isolating, stating that since "the typical model of humanities scholarship is that of the single author working more or less alone to produces books and articles" (xvi) and "interactions [between colleagues] tend to be cooperative rather than truly collaborative" (xvi), "students majoring in the humanities typically come into this world with little practice in such work environments [that involve teamwork], a less than optimum situation for their integration into it" (xvi). Humanities graduates have long been plagued by the (more or less spurious) narrative that degrees in creative or investigative arts are ill-suited to garner employment outside of academia; this argument that the humanities model of relative scholastic independence is a detriment to a future in the working world offends the popular case that the humanities are valuable because of their unusual demands and the resulting flexible skill sets. While I agree with Hayles and Pressman that digital humanities projects "offer an alternative model for research and pedagogy" (xvi), I think that their appeal to the sense that the humanities need to adapt to the structure of other disciplines (or risk obsolescence) is underdeveloped and only half true. (Aren't all projects that investigate/interpret the past vulnerable to obsolescence-themed criticism?)  Perhaps I am being too critical. But it seems that there are better arguments to be made for the utility of digital humanities than a sloppy appeal to the popular obsession with teamwork. Additionally, most of Kirschenbaum's essay "What is Digital Humanities, and What's in Doing in English Departments?" elaborates on technology's ability to aid existing collaborative movements in the humanities (hence the proliferation of DH-themed organizations) and augment individual research procedures, rather than replace or reform all instances of lone-ranger-style efforts. 

Week 1: George Anders

Digital Humanities seems to be about bringing the human element into the workroom. In the article by George Anders, he mentions, “Being able to read the room is such a crucial skill, adds Phunware sales executive Mike Snavely, that he's willing to hire people who don't know much about technology if they have a gift for relating to other people.” The workforce needs math and engineering degrees, but human relations are necessary just as much. There appears to be contempt for liberal arts majors, that the mainstream finds the education nice but useless in the job market. Yet there are important skills we learn, while utilizing creativity and ingenuity can be a major asset that more linear ways of thinking from math and engineering degrees don’t have. In a world where technology is king, humans still must work together, and it is even harder when social skills and flexibility are not being taught or are in the field of dying social graces. Liberal arts majors can be the bridges in the gaps where other degrees are lacking. This is where we can find a niche and be welcomed in a job market that can be quite ruthless to those who don’t fit the square peg mold of traditional stem fields. 

Links to Digital Humanities

digitalhumanities.berkley.edu

https://libguides.wustl.edu/c.php?g=385216&p=3561786

https://classics.fas.harvard.edu/type/digital-humanities    Classics and Latin

 

https://www.jstor.org/stable/41636594?seq=1   Mysteries, from the post online, "Observations on the current stage of the Digital Humanities and their environment identify four dangers: (1) The focus on infrastructures for the Digital Humanities may obscure that research ultimately is driven by analytical methods and tools, not just by the provision of data or publishing tools. (2) Information technology can support the Humanities in many forms and national traditions. That textual analysis is much discussed right now, should not hide the view of a broader disciplinary field. (3) The mobile revolution looming may once again lead to a repetition of highly destructive processes observed at the PC and the internet revolutions. (4) The Digital Humanities may have to take a much stronger part in the development, not only the reception, of technology. – A series of concrete and controversial questions, which allow the discussion of some of these trends, is derived.

 

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