Posting for 10/9/14 Class

Now Playing: You’re Living All Over Me by Dinosaur Jr.

I loved the articles for today’s class because archiving shares so many aspects with one of my personal hobbies, which is collecting music. Maybe it is just my OCD talking, but I don’t think there is anything better than a well organized set of CD’s/records or a perfectly tagged iTunes library. Compared to the issues explored here, my musical collection and practices for adding to it are small scale. On the grand scale of an entire archive, and especially in the convoluted world of publicly funded university archives, issues of copyright and transaction costs come into play in a way that I don’t ever have to worry about (until I joined this class, that is).

The trend I enjoyed reading about most was the inclusion of targets of recording in the recording process and the celebration of their participation. The dismissing of the old record and run method of field research is great. The new mentality of making things as available as possible is great, but it raised questions for me about the feasibility of archiving sound recordings as their original date of publication/recording gets closer to the modern age (for example, adding late 30s jazz recordings versus recording a local jazz band today and asking to disseminate their recording). One ‘archive’ I use often is the KEXP in studio performance youtube page, which has its own rules that I find quite annoying (pulling the videos after a certain amount of time due to copyright, things like that). I guess the end of this rambling thought is the exploration of if there is a way to reconcile archiving recordings for public use and not jipping modern artists out of a paycheck (which it seems the modern music industry is doing a great job of anyway).

Another question I had involves the scope of archives: is it more valuable to have several specific archives or a large one for an entire institution? Some subquestions related to this:

  • At what point is specificity of archives, leading to a large number of archives, out of control?
  • If the institutional basis is adopted (meaning there is a single “UW musical archive”) would competition ensue, making adding to an archive more about sheer numbers and quality of additions with a trade off of losing sight of the original goal of making the archives for the purpose of a high quality dissemination experience? (We have all these recordings, have fun finding a way to check them out!)

Intellectual property, copyright, and many other factors can make archiving a tricky business. At its core is taking a sensual experience that probably holds special meaning for the performer/community/audience and making it publicly available, a lingering aspect of the dark “colonial” origins of the practice. I think we can do things to offset this practice though, which Vallier talks about in his article through community involvement, repeated permission requests, and allowing the performers the means to visit the archive and add to it themselves.


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