Saturday, January 03, 2009

The Personal is Musical

Reading Typing in Stereo's header tagline "Life is music is personal is political", I am reminded of the the phrase "the personal is political", the mantra that became synonymous with Second Wave Feminist Movement of the 1970's. In this new era, where our protests are logged in the form of Blips & Tweats, it can be said that "the personal is virtual." And while our personal lives intersect with the virtual, one Google search of the Battle of Fallujah, and we can see that so much of the world is still perilously out of reach of our words, becoming distant and diminished.

One of the casualties of the new virtual frontier has been the destruction of the Monolith that was once known as the "Recording Industry"; there stands in its place a crumpled and collapsed edifice. The demise of the Music Business has been a gradual process, like a slow buildup of lava in the dome of a volcano, where after the eruption, the landscape is one that is no longer recognized.

The way we listen to music has also changed, as has the language we use to describe it - songs are downloads, mp3s, wav files, mash-ups - and while there has been a general negation of the physical format of the 'record', there has been no eradication of the listeners' actual need for the physical reality of music, evidenced in the nationwide upsurge in vinyl sales. This fact is not just a reflection of music purchasing preferences, but a silent subversion of the Music Industry.

The quiet vinyl revolution taking place in indie stores nationwide reflects a need to re-affirm Reality and re-connect with History. Although the protests and political fires that inflamed our mothers' generation no longer burn in the same way they used to, the new radicalism can be found in oblique corners, wherever vinyl records are being sold.

But some revolutions are so silent that only advanced sound techniques over time are able to capture. In this new millennium where music, philosophy and art co-mingle in the flummoxes of commercialism, consumerism, marketing and paraphernalia, where "the personal is virtual", it can also be said that it can also be said that "the personal is musical." While our play lists become public along with our Tweats and Blips, the universal mirror that reflects our private lives is still, as it has been since the invention of the gramophone, the vinyl records that we unsheath, rub clean, hold up to the light, play with reverence, and take with us, everywhere.


Anonymous said...

My Quadraphonic mix of Miles Davis' Bitches Brew that will never be released digitally can't agree with you more, V. Oh, and too bad about analog TV, eh?

Of vinyl interest:

A thread on

Ciao, George Hook

Oliveira said...

Oh dear, I am honoured. And of course this is exactly why the "personal is political" bit is in my tagline, I'm a feminist myself. Greetings from COLD Amsterdam!

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