Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Scratch That


Quite awhile back, I posed a strange little question to you folks out there in the ether-'verse: I wanted to know if anyone had ever heard of a dog dying of natural causes.

Not hit by a car. Not put to sleep. Not taken out behind the shed like Old Yeller. Just dying.

Not surprisingly, I received very few answers in the affirmative.

Well, after many long months, it's time for another bizarre inquiry.

It's not uncommon during certain TV commercials and even a few creatively bankrupt movies to hear music -- loud or otherwise -- brought to a sudden stop by the sound of a phonograph needle being violently scraped across a record. It's a familiar sound, not to mention a pretty lame contrivance, to millions of people around the world.

But here's the thing -- for the most part, vinyl has gone the way of the Dodo; it hasn't been the preferred musical format for almost two decades and has now all but vanished.

So my question is this: Is there already a whole generation of kids out there who have no idea what the hell that sound is when they hear it?

31 comments:

sparksinner said...

My theory: kids will know what that sounds is for a long time to come. Even the newest generation.

BUT, starting probably now, the vast majority will have never heard that sound from a real needle and record.

Probably same for the sound of an SLR camera. All our phones and digital cameras make that sound, but punk kids of today have ever heard the real thing?

(am I first comment? What an honor)

Sleepless Mama said...

My kids don't know what that sound is, but then they are ages 5 and 3. I can't imagine that they'll go their whole lives without learning what it is. As for me, I'm pretty sure I've heard it directly from a record player, as I grew up not only listening to my grandmother's phonograph, but listening to albums of both Michael Jackson AND Ramon Ayala, often in the same day. Then again, maybe I never did hear that scratch sound directly, as Grandma was always very particular about the care of her vinyl.

Thomas said...

I think that as long as there are people trying to DJ with real turntables, that will be a relevant and identifiable sound.

There are all sorts of gizmos and software out there to let you use your ipod, or CDs, or Powerbooks to "spin", but nothing will take away from that tactile and rhythmic act of scratching with real vinyl. Remember what people said about paper when the Internet became widespread — vinyl has been on its way out for a lot longer...

Anonymous said...

I just cut one into a sequence two days ago. There was a DJ in the scene, so it has context. They'll know what it sounds like if I can help it.

Nexus 6 said...

i agree with sparkspinner up there, but only because vinyl is still a viable source of music (djs), and that is what all the cool kids are into.

sidenote: slr cameras (even digital ones) still makes that noise because the shutter still opens and closes, and the sensor snaps up whilst the shutter is open. this is not true for digital point-and-shoots. sorry, i'm in digital photography publishing. :)

TK said...

What a bizarre, and yet fascinating, question. And I think sparksinner is probably right - they may recognize what the sound is, but not because they've ever heard the real thing.

I think we're only a short time from when kids will start to ask what the sound is, though.

I missed the dog question, but I can answer that yes, I have heard of dogs simply dying. But in fairness, my wife is a vet, so I know all kinds of weird shit. But anyway, someone brought in a dog that was DOA. Heart attack. I shit you not.

Jennifer Sulkin said...

Well, don't know what I can say about that, but I *did* run into an 18 year old last weekend who had never heard the phrase "take it with a grain of salt".

Met another one, 19, last year, who had no blazing clue who JAMES DEAN was. JAMES DEAN. *and* the kid rode motorcycles. Wow.

Really. I can't make this shit up.

Emily Blake said...

I will ask my students tomorrow and report my findings.

Manny said...

My kids know what it is only because I used to DJ....mind you I had an entirely digital setup, but it could mimic the sound of vinyl scratching. But, like Sparksinner said, they have no context for it since I don't even think they've ever seen or held a vinyl record.

Jim said...

I think we should force children to listen to music on record album. The day I was told that my poor choice of a Millennium Falcon landing pad meant that I would no longer be able to hear Whip It again was the day I lernt me some 'sponsibility.

keenEddie said...

I agree with the turntable/DJ theory.

Don't a lot of people still call it an album when they talk about some band's new release (i.e. "... the title track from their new album, here on...")

But I suppose you'll also get some curious looks when they see someone in an 80s movie with a boom-box on their shoulders.

Anonymous said...

Are you really curious about this, or are you still just too hung over from Vegas to write something more current and thought-provoking?

ali c said...

Lots of indie bands release on vinyl. And old school rap isn't *that* old.

VOTAR said...

And while we're at it, why is the sky blue (as opposed to, say, mauve or yellow)?

What is dust made out of?

And how do they get those popcorn ceilings up there?

John said...

Just once I'd like to see a movie where the abrupt end of a romantic mood was indicated by the sound of a cassette tape unspooling. I guess that would have to be a movie set in the 80's.

TeenieBopper said...

Thankfully, my parents, my father in particular, was pretty big into music when he was growing up. He has a fairly large collection of original vinyl from the Beatles, the Stones, CCR, etc. Even when vinyl started to fade out, my dad would go around to all the department stores looking for stereos that had turntables, and when those stopped being sold, he would go to Radioshack looking for replacement needles. It's only been in the last 5 years or so that he's started using CDs. I actually think he downloads the songs rather than buys the CDs, though.

I was born in 1984, so I guess I'm more the latter end of the last generation rather than part of the new one, but I've heard a real needle scratch across a real record. Of course, even if I wasn't, I'm hearing impaired and thus watch TV with the closed captioning on, so every time that sound occurs, I see [Needle Scratching] on my screen.

Anonymous said...

i'm 16, and i knew what the sound was, though i'm fairly atypical in that i actually own vinyl (yes, i bought it, it wasn't my parent's)

Ed said...

As an eighteen-year-old, I can honestly and safely say I have no idea what that sound is. I hear record scratching occasionally when DJ's in a track are doing it deliberately, but I've not even held a vinyl record my life, much less heard it scratch in real life.

Janean said...

I recently decided to go back to school, and I find myself in a lot of classes with 18 and 19 year olds. I don't know if they know what that sound is, but something happened in a Western Civ class that made me feel really ancient and slightly depressed. One of my instructors used the phrase "like a broken record" and the kid next to me actually asked what that meant. He really didn't know. I tried not to stare at him in horror while the instructor explained it to him.
I shouldn't have been suprised. In one of my other history classes there was actually a student that honestly didn't know what a mushroom cloud was. I think being clueless about records was the least of her worries......

Nancy said...

Must have missed the dog question post. Our Molly actually did die of natural causes. She was a cocker spaniel, about eleven years old, and was failing, and one evening we were aware that her kidneys were not what they used to be, and the next morning she walked around the house, seeming to be a bit dazed, and then just went into her crate and put her head down and died. Very considerate, we thought.

Nate said...

Hey Chez,
I grew up with tapes and CDs but I am aware of records and the noises they make when they are abused. And Janean ^ I am in college too and even though I am only 19, I too am often horrified by the complete ignorance of some of my colleagues. I get the feeling that they just let anyone in. It's sad but Colleges are businesses like any other and they've gotta fill the seats. I have had kids in my differential equations class (fourth semester of calculus) who didn't even know the basic rules of how to do calculus. It's maddening really.

Emily Blake said...

So I asked my class of 17 year olds if they knew what that scratchy sound was. This was my answer:

"Yeah, it's what happens when there's a scratch on your CD."

Juju said...

I think kids will know because of djs and movies but not the "real" sound. And, my dog died of natural causes. She just peacefully laid down and died.

Marjorie said...

Don't know about the record thing but my dog died naturally.

Johnny Truant said...

So my 14 year old nephew was over, and we were going through his grandmother's old 45s. He recognized some of the songs, but asked about one particular one that I never heard of, so I said "That must be the B-side, check the other side." And he said, "There's a song on the other side!?" That's when I felt the full weight of my 40 years.

sparksinner said...

This has been a lot of fun to read. The "B-side" post especially.

My little girl, only 5 months old, will likely never take a picture on film. Will she ever push play on a CD? Probably, but not for very long I'm sure.

My 3-year old I think once did push the button on grandma's old film point and shoot.

It never fails to amaze me what some people are completely ignorant of. A few years ago I worked with a dude (of about 24) who had never heard of Monty Python. What? I realized then there would be very little for us to talk about.

satan's down home spicy bbq sauce said...

wouldn't any unassisted death be considered natural?

Vikingwench said...

My kids are not that young anymore- 24, 27, 30, but they definitely know vinyl. They relish it... go to old record shops and shop online to find.
And my mom's best friend, her big old german shepherd Mutzz, died in his sleep from heart failure (peacefully and at home)just a few months ago.
She has a wolf-shepherd mix puppy to take Mutzz's place, and my kids and their friends (old as they are) value vinyl. They also value the music their father and I exposed them to when they were younger. And my only granddaughter loves that music, too (her favorite is Blue Oyster Cult's "Godzilla").
All hope is not lost.

Paul said...

I am 31 and I remember vividly the very first 45" I had..."Electric Avenue" by Eddy Grant. Okay, it doesn't have the pinache of my first cassette (Prince's "Purple Rain") or my first CD (U2's "The Joshua Tree"), but I remember listening to it over-and-over again. The rotation of that, "Mr. Roboto" by Styx and "Break My Stride" by Matthew Wilder filled many of my days. I hope to obtain my parent's record collection someday, without it i would have never been introduced to The Beatles, Carole King, Jimi Hendrix, or Bob Dylan (although I wouldn't apprectiate him until college). There is something about vinyl that makes a song sound more alive..of course the fact that is an actual song, by people with actual talent helps out a great deal.

Al said...

Not only do kids not know vynil, they don't know the media that replaced it (cassettes).

You want a kick to the ego? Remember your first concert - then do the math on how long it was.

24 years ago - Billy Idol.

*sigh*

Eric said...

I am 12 years old and in kindergarten we had a phonograph. I know what that sound means because of that phonograph. My brother probably doesn't though...