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.



Did you ever get to perform your music for anyone? Do you think people would (or should)  enjoy your music less since it was born digital (ugh, I hope not)? I think Peters is exactly right: they should be non-oppositional. Their "real" instruments are not superior to your digital instruments or vice versa. The point should be to enjoy the actual music, shouldn't it? The Beatles are as legitimate as Bach, even though their musical styles are worlds apart from each other. 


It reminds me of the argument that audiobooks aren't real books, or even e-readers...there are people out there who honestly believe it's not reading if you're not holding the physical printed book in your hands. That kind of exclusivity hurts far more than it helps...anything or anyone. For a country that values symbolism so much, we still get it wrong far too often.