Stay Righteous & Stay Human
Pono is a hawaiian slang term for righteousness, and Pono is also the brand name for musician Neil Young’s attempt to peel back what he sees as 30+ years of sensory deprivation.
Admittedly, a master musician has insight into how music affects listeners. His 4+ decades in the music industry gives him behind-the-scenes access to the mechanisms of delivering music to the masses.
Throughout his career, Young has spoke out on many topics of interest to him, and his belief that our current music delivery systems (starting with the CD) were robbing us of the full power of music gained little traction outside of philosphical discussions.
To understand the debate you have to go back to the beginning…..
Until about 120 years ago, if you wanted to hear music you had to make it yourself, or find a musician to stand near.
Recording technology came along that captured the vibrations from the air and carved them into a physical object. By dragging a stylus through the carved groove and amplifying that signal you could play back the recorded content.
The physical item we carved the reflection into progressed from a wire, to a drum, to a shalac disc, then to a plastic disc that we lovingly call vinyl (although it’s not really made of vinyl, it’s just PVC like most other plastics we love to hate).
Recording the signal to magnetic tape instead of carving, being reproducible since magnetic tape is easily erased and used again, elevated the recording and broadcast industries to powerhouses.
As digital technologies advanced in the 1960’s and 1970’s consumer music was the first of our media to transfer to digital. Compact Discs, along with home computers and video games, were the first mainstream digital technologies.
This first digital revolution was developed in the mid-1970’s and ready for public sale through the 1980’s. In the 21st century we have digital television, movies, photography, newspapers, games, radio, books, local news…… nearly all media is digital now. Each of those industries went through their own painful evolutions.
But remember that recorded music was the first media to go digital with the adoption of the CD in 1982. v1, so to speak.