The Natural Unit of Music is the Experience

20 May ’07

Nick Carr’s post on the first nine pages of David Weinberger’s new book, Everything is Miscellaneous, is perhaps an ode to the LP, but contains the start of an interesting debate about the packaging of music online – what is the natural unit of music, assuming there is one? Nick quotes David as commenting that “the natural unit of music is the track”, and takes him to task for it. I haven’t read David’s book (still working my way – with great pleasure – through Hitchen’s God is Not Great, but I will get to it), but ignorance of the subject area hasn’t stopped me from commenting before. I’ll admit to stopping in my tracks when I read that reference. I thought that the natural unit was the experience – whatever it might be for the genre or the context.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Adrian D. September 28, 2010 at 23:30

Perhaps the natural unit of music is comprised of yet smaller pieces, or chunks if you will. For example, I listen to a lot of house and tech-house music and while an entire (sometimes 15-30-minute-long) track is an experience, there’s often a section within that track, a motif for example, that elevates the entire listening experience to the memorable section. When that section is done, it’s done. And it feels natural, even if it’s not the entire track.


Dave Hyndman May 23, 2007 at 10:32

Funny. I’ve been reading the book and that line (“the natural unit of music is the track”) really jumped out at me. I maintain a belief in the album as a “unit of music” when done right (in the hands of the likes of Springsteen, Neil Young, et al).

I think the track is the natural unit of crap music or music from artists without the depth and vision to create a real album.


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