A cura di @s1m0n4.
Sono passati 11 anni dall’incendio che distrusse i locali dell’Universal a Hollywood. Si pensava, fino ad oggi, che solo gli archivi cinematografici fossero andati persi, ma un’inchiesta del NY Times, dal titolo “The Day The Music Burned”, rivela che più di 500000 registrazioni audio originali siano andate in fumo.
Fra il materiale bruciato, dei masters e degli originali di Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Aretha Franklin, the Eagles, Ray Charles, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Sting, Guns N’ Roses o ancora Nirvana, Snoop Dogg e Eminem. E non si tratta una perdita marginale. I masters costituiscono lo standard audio più elevato di un brano.
It is sonic fidelity, first and foremost, that defines the importance of masters. “A master is the truest capture of a piece of recorded music,” said Adam Block, the former president of Legacy Recordings, Sony Music Entertainment’s catalog arm. “Sonically, masters can be stunning in their capturing of an event in time. Every copy thereafter is a sonic step away.”
This is not an academic point. The recording industry is a business of copies; often as not, it’s a business of copies of copies of copies. A Spotify listener who clicks on a favorite old song may hear a file in a compressed audio format called Ogg Vorbis. That file was probably created by converting an MP3, which may have been ripped years earlier from a CD, which itself may have been created from a suboptimal “safety copy” of the LP master — or even from a dubbed duplicate of that dubbed duplicate. Audiophiles complain that the digital era, with its rampant copy-paste ethos and jumble of old and new formats, is an age of debased sound: lossy audio files created from nth-generation transfers; cheap vinyl reissues, marketed to analog-fetishists but pressed up from sludgy non-analog sources. “It’s the audio equivalent of the game of ‘Telephone,’ ” says Henry Sapoznik, a celebrated producer of historical compilation albums. “Who really would be satisfied with the sixth message in?”