The past few days, I finally got started on a long-intended project: recording some of my old vinyl LP records into digital audio files on one of my computers. I connected a turntable up to my previous laptop (retired when I got the new one, but still useful for this), wiped a lot of data off the old drive to make room, and started recording. I've transcribed about a half dozen favorite old LPs that I have not listened to for at least ten years, and haven't really had the physical means to listen to for half that time. The past few years when I've been on the road a lot, carrying heavy stereo equipment has been abandoned in favor of portable gear like an iPod, a laptop computer, a case of CDs, and a set of computer speakers.
When I closed down my parents' home after they died, I kept my father's old stereo equipment, which at one point in time had been very high-end. My father and my uncle were both audiophiles. They both were willing to invest a lot of time and money into their sound equipment. For example, a Nakamichi 700 cassette tape deck; a Phase Linear 4000 receiver; really good AR speakers, etc. I grew up around high-end audio gear, and also reading my father's monthly audiophile magazines, like High Fidelity.
I learned a great deal about recording and reproduction technology before I was in college; later in life, I've spent a lot of time in the recording studio, both as an engineer and as a recording artist. In high school, I got involved with the audio-visual department. I made videos with the other students, and recorded tapes for radio. I was part of the team that read the daily announcements on the school's PA system, a daily five-minute "radio" broadcast of sorts. Not long after I graduated from high school and started college, I got my FCC Radiooperator's License, which I still have, and got involved with programming and hosting community radio. I viewed radio as another means of performance, and with a collaborator or two made several experimental radiopieces that ranged from very avant-grade live performances to mixups of LPs and cassettes and reel to reel tapes that were composed for radio. I have most of that material on cassette, recorded live off the broadcast feed. And I have a high-end cassette player also hooked up to the studio computer, and am digitizing those cassettes, as well.
One of these radiopieces was Bottle Music,
made with my regular music partner Stuart Hinds. (Follow the link for a couple of excerpts to listen to.)
Another was a piece I made entirely in the radio station production rooms, and in the University of Michigan's Electronic Music Studio, a stone flute.
This piece consisted of poetic texts with soundscape, inspired in part by my reading of Jerome Rothenberg's
seminal anthologies of what came to be called ethnopoetics, Shaking the Pumpkin
and These anthologies for the first time ever treated the oral poetries and songs of indigenous peoples from many cultures as legitimate poetic traditions, equal artistically and literarily to our own Euro-American fine art literature. Rothenberg has continued this interest over the years, and remains one of our most important editors of large poetry anthologies.
Here is a stone flute in its entirety (about half an hour long), if you care to listen:
a stone flute