Sunday, May 01, 2011

Diary of a Mad Archivist

There has been relatively little reflection upon the medium of transmission on this blog. I've rarely weighed in on the state of the record industry, streaming media or the demise of physical media in favor of downloads. This is largely because the focus of this blog has been on the musical content. And also because I have become heavily invested in physical formats over the years. Still holding fast to the experience of listening to a single disc from beginning to end while perusing the information contained within the included booklets.

A few too many cross-country moves have driven home the sheer mass taken up by years of collecting as well as the perishable nature of any physical media. Accompanied by the failure to admit that there will never be enough hours in a lifetime to develop the intimate familiarity craved for so many thousand discs. But an undiminished passion for the musical treasures both known and unknown in the piles of discs remains.

The process of archiving this lovingly assembled collection has begun in earnest at HurdAudio. A 3-terabyte drive slurping up gigs of flac files for more than a month now. The very act of ripping each individual disc driving home even more forcefully the embarrassing abundance of creative expression. Reacquainting and rediscovering so many old and new treasures. Cursing and admiring the prolific output of Anthony Braxton and Sun Ra or realizing how substantial the 256 Cantatas of JS Bach are. I would not be surprised if the CD reader on the computer needed to be replaced before this is done.

In the end, one hopes that 3-terabytes will hold a complete collection. That a second 3-terabytes can back it up. That an increased fluidity of access can enhance the ongoing efforts to build familiarity with such a collection. How many profound musical voices and centuries of human artistic striving can practically vanish onto a platter of bits and bytes? The wilderness is more vast than any of us can really know.

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