Thursday, November 15, 2012

Written In Stone

Remember how I was fascinated by the Permian-Triassic mass extinction? I had an awestruck moment yesterday finding out about a four-winged bird of prey from a more recent, Cambrian period who hunted with great agility in forests.
Imagine witnessing such a place with all the foreign and familiar sounds of animals and wind and leaves, before the "Anthropocene" story had been written in industrial destruction. On Radiolab I heard an untested hypothesis that voice vibrations could have been written into ancient Roman vases when they were spun and we could read them with modern equipment. (Seek to about 9:20) So imagine being able to read those prehistoric sounds with future technology!

This opens up all sorts of cans of worms: when a tree falls in a forest 120 mya, does it make a sound for the first time now as a fossilized recording? Is aleatoric sound less spontaneous heard on playback? In what context does the dichotomy between live and recorded music cease to exist?