I have recently started to collect Vinyl albums. I keep trying to convey the experience to my friends, family, and peers. I try to explain to them why I believe it is worthwhile. Don’t get me wrong I’m not going to try to argue the age old question of analog vs. digital in terms of music quality. There are plenty of inconclusive studies and forum dialogues to do just that. I simply want to put into words a theory that I have been running through my head. A theory of why I believe owning and collecting vinyl recordings is worthwhile.
Music by its very nature is physical. I think that everyone can agree that live music is by far the greatest version and most superior way you can listen to music. Guitars, Bass, Drums, and vocals are required to create music. Without instruments and vocals we have nothing. It is for this reason that I believe we are loosing something with the direction we are headed, all digital collections of music.
Of course all music first begins as an idea. An intangible and unexplained series of notes that is mulled over in the artists head and only happens when several minds come together. No matter how an intangible musical idea comes together, when it does it changes from an idea to a piece of music. Once this idea becomes a piece of music the artist next step is to create a copy or version of that piece of music and share it with people who might enjoy the piece. In this way the piece of music is able to be cherished for years to come.
A physical representation of music is a natural next step in this formation of music. The artist wants a physical copy because a digital copy is still intangible and feels incomplete. With a physical copy you have what feels like more than just an Idea and more than just a piece of music. It signifies completion of a project. It feels like an entire work, an artist’s blood sweat, tears and emotion completed to form an entire sound that is an album. In this way it transcends a series of tracks and becomes work that will be appreciated years down the road.
In this same way a music listener is able to appreciate a physical copy. Music is meant to be listened to one album at a time. Of course a listener is able to listen to music in anyway he or she chooses but I believe music is best listened to when heard the way the artist intended the listener to hear the songs. The artist went through the trouble of choosing album cover art, organizing the tracks in a way that fits and is pleasing, and creating a sound that resonates through each work.
In this way we can connect with an artist better than any other way. When I listen to vinyl the makes me feel one with the artist or at least just that much closer. Closer yet to understanding just what that lyric meant or why they put a boar covered in mustard on the front.
I think beyond this theory, my love of vinyl goes beyond just these ideas. I enjoy listening to vinyl because the experience is much more complete than any other way of listening to music aside from maybe live music. I listen to vinyl in much the same way one would watch a movie or read a novel that you cant put down. Sequentially and in one sitting. I also am usually not doing anything else but concentrating on the music maybe making dinner, eating or talking with friends. Very different than listening to music with headphones in where you are mostly are enhancing other activities and is very much a solitary event. Listening to the piece in one sitting gives you a connection to the artist unlike anything else.
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