Episodes 3 & 4
- According to Krukowski, what are the main differences between a microphone and a cellphone and why is this difference important?
Krukowski describes the difference between microphones and digital cell phones. He explains that cell phones have lost the feeling in a person’s voice. He explains that because cell phones compress data they lose something. Old analog phones and microphones are able to pick up the distance between your mouth and the phone, they were able to pick up the non-verbal sounds that we use for communication. A microphone can pick up the bass and treble of your voice. They pick up your breath between words, the sounds in the background and convey more than language but also feelings that can’t be interpreted by digital processing.
- What do Krukowski and Gary Tomlinson, the professor he interviews, assert about the “musical” qualities of the voice and how are these changed by digital transmission?
They explain that before we even had language many thousands of years ago, we had utterances. Humans were able to use those sounds to communicate. They also ascertain that there is a huge loss of this musical quality through digital processing. Tomlinson also remarks on the ability humans have to reconstruct those lost feelings even when they are lost to digital compression. He also believes we are musical beings. This can be easily observed in human history in religion. Religion has guided humans as long as we have written history. Religion has evolved to include music as it has become so important to human growth and communication.
- What is the significance of Krukowski’s comments on the voice to ideas about community and interpersonal connection?
Krukowski’s commentary on voice shows a general trend away from community and interpersonal connections that digital technology has aided. Cell phones and digital technology in society have step by step removed a personal quality of communication. I think we can even take that a bit farther than Krukowski did and add how texting has also promoted this human to human disconnect. The internet, video games, and television keeps children at home rather than outside playing with their friends. While technology has enabled us to talk to people and reach people at great distances all over the world, it has also disconnected us from the real feelings we get from seeing and hearing people.
- Krukowski begins by discussing the issue of music file sharing. What is your opinion of this issue? Should music be freely available or should one have to pay?
I believe that music should be free. I think people should pay for things like a live musical performance, but music is an art. Since the 50s and 60s music has become more and more of a business, whose major purpose has been to make money. I think this continued into the 1990s when musical artists became some of the wealthiest people alive. Music has lost something since then. This continues today despite digital music cutting into the wallets of musicians and record labels. But many of the greatest musical artists of the 40s and 50’s were poor. They didn’t make music to make money. They made music to connect with people. There have been, and still are artists that still make music for the art of it, beyond the capitalist tendencies seen today. One of my favorite groups A Tribe Called Quest once sang, ”Rap is not pop if you call it that then stop.” They were saying that rap music, which started as an art form for black artists to express their struggles in America, has slowly become less of an art and more of a way of becoming rich. Common Sense tells the story of rap using the metaphor of a woman who has changed over the years for the worse in “I used to love her”. It also expresses the progression of music from an artform to a product to be packaged and sold. I think most genres of music around the turn of the century have followed this course.
- How does this episode represent the relationships between music, community, and culture?
Music has been a part of human existence since the beginnings of communication. It has been a part of all cultures around the world and has inspired connections between us and our deities. Digital music has allowed us to share that music all over the world. It has allowed us to connect people across vast distances. There are some artists who may eschew these connections in the quest to acquire wealth and status, but the true musical artists of the world can obtain their wealth from the connections they make to other humans. They take pride in their art and are happy that it can be shared. There is still plenty of money to be made in the music industry, but more importantly there are still many human connections that can be made, and people whose lives can be inspired by the art created by musicians.