‘Crappy Sound Forever’: David Byrne ponders music formats

Photo of David Byrne

In the above titled blog post Byrne considers the increasing prevalence of MP3s and their relationship to better sound sources such as CDs and vinyl:

Read a book called Capturing Sound by Mark Katz, which details how (mainly recording) technology changed music. Some of the information makes perfect sense in retrospect, but one often doesn’t ask oneself why or how music came to be the way it is, and his insights illuminate some of those mysteries.

He doesn’t reach any definite conclusion, but makes some interesting observations along the way including the huge impact that hearing new music even on a “crappy-sounding transistor radio” can have. It’s sometimes assumed that new technologies will replace old ones entirely, but it’s often the case of course that the end result is greater choice and diversity. I enjoy the convenience and choice that listening to music on my iPod on the move gives me, but at home I listen to CDs and have also returned to occasionally buying vinyl for the first time in more than a decade. Byrne doesn’t entirely fall into this trap, but nearly does.

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