Friday, September 4, 2015

Return to the Fountain of Music

The first thing I thought of while discussing Ad Fontes is our generation’s interest in vinyl records. This can easily be written off as hipster nostalgia by lumping it in with the Polaroid cameras and thrift store suspenders, but I wouldn’t be so quick to lump. I think the music obsessed are experiencing a moment similar to Petrarch’s as they rediscover the roots of musical enjoyment in response to the digital age.

An article written for the online music magazine Pitchfork, a highly regarded source of influence and critique for new music, breaks down the logic and illogic behind this obsession with an outdated source of sound and an outdated piece of technology. A typical vinyl collector’s argument revolves around sound quality and the loss of sound quality as music goes very digital. The article points out how much physics and engineering went into each record to achieve a full bass sound. This kind of work and care was streamlined with digitalization. Though digital music is capable of superior sound, the ease and diminished cost of production lead to a loss in quality (Richardson). The fate of anything mass-produced.

Petrarch noticed a distortion in language just as music lovers noticed a distortion in sound. They looked back to a time when language and music production was passionate and substantial, deciding to return to a better time.

In order to give my opinion (because the argument for or against vinyl is very subjective) I must tell you that I do own a turntable and a few records, I own CDs and I have an active relationship with my Spotify account. This being said, I don’t put on a record and sigh thinking, “now that’s music.” I can barely tell the difference. Yet, in my life where music is a constant background presence (thank you iphones and streaming apps) the act of picking out an album, placing it on the player and sitting down to listen and only listen, is something of an Ad Fontes experience for me. The escape from the flood of easy tunes through an antiquated machine brings a substantial musical experience for me. There is overlooked potential in vinyl listening and as Petrarch, I would mourn for society if it were lost.

Richardson, Mark. "Does Vinyl Really Sound Better?" Pitchfork. Pitchfork Media, 29 July 2013. Web. 04 Sept. 2015. <>.


  1. I really like this connection you found between modern music apps vs the vinyl. What I get from your post is there seems to be almost a mutually exclusive mentality about music quality for some music lovers. Do you feel that one source has to be better than the other to be seen as valuable?

  2. This is similar to another post about polaroids and I totally agree! We're in to the hipster, old things that are more traditional.