28 May 2009

The Mixed Tape Grows Up

I was at a party last week and had a hilarious discussion with a bunch of music lovers who were all old enough to have fond memories of mixed tapes. And yes, I know that CD compilations and iTunes playlists serve the same function. Symbolically, however, when it comes to the blood, sweat, and tears involved in using music to pour out your soul to the object of your affections, the digital versions pale in comparison. It used to take hours, if not days, to put a proper tape together. Stacks of LPs and 45s at the ready, along with a notebook to jot down possibilities in terms of tracks and to note tape counters so that "The Song" could be found easily when that special someone wanted to play it over and over and over again . . . Of course, I do not mean to suggest that selecting songs for a CD compilation or an iTunes playlist is a straightforward matter,* but the act of putting the mixed tape together--beyond the selection of the songs--was quite a bit of work.

I have received quite a few excellent compilation CDs and digital playlists over the past few years, but they were gifts from friends who were keen on introducing me to new music, for which I am always very grateful. It's been a long time, however, since anyone made me a mixed tape. And even if they did, what would I do with it? I haven't had a tape deck in ages. And to be honest, most of the guys I've dated recently are happy to just buy CDs for me, for which I am also grateful. So it's been a long time since I've experienced that giddy feeling I used to get when a guy reached into his pocket and pulled out 90 minutes of affection that took him forever to get just right . . .

. . . until Monday:

Now seriously, how fucking cool is that?

So yeah, it's still digital, but what it lacks in the effort involved in actually putting the music onto the USB stick is more than made up for in the design. Oh, and the music selection is fantastic, too. Okay, it's slightly stalkerish, but fantastic nevertheless.

Naja, falls Du irgendwann hier landest, nochmals vielen Dank.

*I'll give everyone the benefit of the doubt and just ignore iTune's Genius ;-)


  1. Love the photos

    Yes mix tapes were a difficult music to assemble. For me it was always getting the spacing between songs uniform through out the Cassette tape. I actually think that it was more difficult than pro tape in having to cut and splice tape to assemble a bumper reel for a show. Watching a pro cut and splice tape in the studio on the fly was an art.

    Doing all that work was something special when you gave it away. Its that gap between handy craft of see what i baked or built for you. It was the first real technology you could make your self. And give away. It also represented a lot about you in your taste in music.

    Like the generation before us old people. You would go to someones library to look at what books they liked and collected to understand the type person you were encountering. Upon completion you generally knew if you would be interested, and what type activity from the book titles alone. IE Do not discuss politics or religion, but this could be good sex

    So it was with my generation with Albums. First encounter with someone and you really couldn't wait to see what albums they had. You could sit and share your music with someone and in the sharing know the type of relationship you could expect from the conversation and selection.

    There were always surprises. Like "Oh Broadway show tunes how uh unique". Yes i had both versions of Jesus Christ Superstar, Movie and Musical. Still today one of my favorite music scores. Of course Tommy and Hair. Listing to an album today you can hear the warmth of the music we could listen for hours. You would never get tired of music. This brings me to my point finally.

    Digital Music. Without getting to technical. Humans can hear in the frequency range of 20Hz to 20,000Khz count from 20 all the way up to 20,000 and you cover the bass up threw mid and to the high treble Freq. Digital music is sampled at 48 or 44 Khz on DVD and CD. Your speakers are reproducing these sampling Freq, Digital Hash, and you are being bombarded by them as you listen. Famous English sound console designer Rupert Neve said these sampling Freq were bad and dangerous to listen to music with. If you remember Punk Rock started about the same time. He related the sampling Freq to a whole generation of angry youth. I noticed it one day in how quickly i was fatigued when listening to a cd and how quickly i tired and stopped listing. I attributed it to age but i remember listing to albums all night and then again the next day.
    I now put music on the computer and record it and listen back at 96Khz high enough i do not think my speakers can reproduce Sampling Freq. I can listen longer and enjoy the experience more. Listen to an album yes pop and clicks but i never tire of the warmth and smooth sound of vinyl.

    Isn't that what you share with a friend. George Massenburg said again recently we may in the future, look back at this period in music and wonder. No wonder music was lost in this 44K /48K MP-3 period. Its just terrible to listen to. He is a big advocate of bringing quality back to recording sampling in the 192K 24 bit and above range. Its expensive but its what i remember about why i enjoyed recorded music.

  2. Although I wasn't able to play with vinyl records to make mixed tapes, I played with other tapes and the then luxurious CDs to make my own mixed tape.

    By the way, I was so much into your post and therefore 'quote' your photos and wrote another post on my weblog in response to yours.

  3. Ha ha ha! Yeah, that is cool. I still keep a pen and pad or open up a text editor to jot down song names to make my play lists! lol Or use the BPM or Key of the song to try and figure out if it will actually blend with the song that previously played!

    I want one of these!

  4. I made you one, remember!? The old fashioned kind. Still have it?

  5. Hey Wael, of course I remember! Technically, I still have it, but it's in DC with the rest of my stuff at the moment :-(

  6. My belongings are in Panama. How funny that our lives go on while all of our precious, can't-live-without-it "stuff" sits in storage in some other part of the world. There's something to write about.