Music to the Masses


In a distant galaxy, on another planet, a reader with the pseudonym Viking had written, “Interesting! I want to know more! I need an How to become an Audiophile-guide, telling me which gear to use to achieve the greatest sound for the cheapest buck!”

Viking was responding to The Real Differences Between 16-Bit and 24-Bit Audio by Wesley Fenlon on 2011-03-03 at 8:00, Located on that parallel planet’s Internet.

For just a moment, I imagined myself becoming an Amazon Affiliate, then writing such a guide with links to the site’s most expensive products. Yes, I read that bit about cheapest, too, but nothing beats price, especially if commissions are tied to it. Once the reader has acquired the book, and purchased the equipment, it will be too late – at least for him (or her).

Of course, this will simply be the first of many books on innumerable subjects. How to become a lead guitarist, … rhythm guitarist, … bass guitarist, … keyboardist or … drummer spring instantly to mind. Even, How to become a singer. Singing is so much more than just another pretty voice. It is condenser microphone, xlr cable, pre-amp, amplifier, speaker -wait, no not a single speaker, but a stack, no, a wall of speakers.

There is just one little problem with this approach. If the aim of the exercise is to make music that people will actually listen to, then there has to be another input factor other than raw cash – talent. Even listening to music appreciatively, requires talent – an ability to listen.

A knowledgeable and experienced recording engineer can’t make anything valuable out of noise. Garbage/ rubbish/ trash/ detritus in, garbage/ rubbish/ trash/ detritus out.

There has to be talent at every step of the music production chain. If Amazon and Apple are to be prevented from obtaining/ retaining a musical monopoly, then ordinary people are going to have to devote their time and energies freely to make this happen. They are going to have to become part of a production chain that is independent of Amazon and Apple, and Fender, Marshall, Roland and Yamaha.

Previously, I have mentioned Project Retrograde. One focus of this project is the encouragement of people to make digital instances of their own art (literature, music, painting, photography and more) freely available. The works I am talking about are not those performed by The Rolling Stones or Sixto Rodriguez, but by more anonymous groups, such as Skylane or Wes Honeywell and the Thermostats. For example, digital copies of the art works by Billi Sodd are available to subscribers of this weblog.

Previously, I have mentioned that I want to put some of my energies into the production of musical instruments using modern technology, such as CNC machining. While this is still true, I would like to encourage this type of work on a broader basis. In particular, musicians need to be encouraged to design and make their own instruments, or to find local people who can make them.


Experimental Musical Instruments was a magazine that appeared in 70 issues between 1985 and 1999. It was edited and published by Bart Hopkin. Much of the material published is still available at his website:

Another site of interest is Odd Music.

In 1981, Maurice Fleuret (1932-1990) became Director of Music and Dance at the French Ministry of Culture. According to myth, he reflected on musical practice and its evolution: “the music everywhere and the concert nowhere”. He discovered that half the young people played a musical instrument. Since 1982, the Fête de la Musique has become an international phenomenon, celebrated annually on the Summer Solstice (June 21st) in more than 700 cities in 120 countries.

Further information, along with an opportunity to practice your French, is available here.


With the Spring Equinox fast approaching (March 21st), there is slightly more than 3 months for readers of this weblog post to prepare themselves for the next Fête de la Musique. It is just enough time for the musicians among us, to compose some music, write some lyrics, and to prepare for a free public performance. It is probably not enough time for luthiers and other instrument makers to have equipment ready, so they might want to focus on completing instruments during the upcoming winter, so that they would be ready for musicians at Spring Equinox 2020.

Forget cars, Détroit is the World Capital of Music