Friday, July 08, 2005

Musical Chairs

Yesterday I bumped into a long-time classmate of mine at a bookstore. When he spied my Mini-Me strapped on my belt, he asked, a bit warily, “Ano ba yang iPod na yan? Okey ba yan?”

I don’t blame my generation for being wary of the leaps in technology. After all, we are the generation who managed to experience so many different formats, from vinyl records to different kinds of magnetic tape recording, to compact discs, and now MP3s, in such a (relatively) short span of time. We are a generation that’s updated our music collection several times over the years, and I’m slowly getting tired of it. I’ve changed my music collection more times than I’ve changed… no wait, I’ve never had a boyfriend. Sheesh.

I remember vinyl records. They came in different speeds and sizes—the 45 single, the 33 LP (for “long playing”), and the 78. Our parents owned them and played them during weekends. But because it was easy to scratch them, my dad refused to let us handle them. “Wait until you’re old enough,” he’d tell us. But we couldn’t, so we ended up using those 45s as Frisbees. But by that time our dad had recorded most of our singles into open-reel tapes.

An open-reel tape player/recorder was the precursor to the cassette tapes. One reel contains the recorded tape; the other empty reel collects the tape as it wounds its way; it’s like a cassette tape without the shell. My dad had reels and reels of music, mostly soundtracks and Latin/Caribbean music and a lot of Ray Conniff.

My dad also had an 8-track tape and radio in our car, an old Ford Futura. Yes, you’ve never heard of that car because there were only less than 50 of them in the Philippines (I don’t know how my dad got hold of one, but that was our family car for more than ten years). But I digress. An 8-track tape is bulkier than a cassette tape. It was often used in radio stations and by jeepney drivers. Remember those days when jeepney drivers would stack those tapes by the front windshield? I often wondered how they could drive around with all those tapes blocking almost 80% of their view.

When cassette tapes came out, I started collecting my own music. Cassette tapes were way cheaper and more portable than long-playing albums. I started collecting Beatles albums—no one could go wrong collecting The Beatles back then. Soon I was purchasing the albums by each individual Beatle; then I graduated to soundtracks. I also started saving up for an occasional long-playing album or two. I remember buying my first LP, the Thompson Twin’s Into The Gap, because of the songs “Doctor, Doctor” and “Hold Me Now”.

This continued until the emergence of the compact disc. Ah yes, the CD; the first digital format made available for mass consumption. When my parents asked our uncle to buy us our first CD player from Saudi Arabia(!), I immediately went out and bought 3 CDs so that I can test the sound quality of our player: Barbra Streisand’s The Broadway Album, Fleetwood Mac’s Greatest Hits, and George Winston’s December. My biggest purchase then was the double album of Miss Saigon, the original London cast recording with Lea Salonga, Monique Wilson, Issay Alvarez, and the rest.

Through the years as the CD took over as the dominant format, I started replacing my old cassettes with CD versions. It wasn’t exactly easy on the pocket. Other digital formats threatened to upstage the CD, but none could dethrone it—until the emergence of the MP3 format. Now I’ve been transferring many of my favorites from CDs into MP3. But until we can legally purchase MP3 music, I don’t think I’ll let go of the CD—yet.

What next after MP3? Whatever it is, it isn’t wise to create a format that will render the previous one obsolete. Buyers will resist it—unless they make it so affordable.

Meanwhile I will enjoy Mini-Me as best as I can for as long as I can. We are committed to one another, ‘til death, theft or another format do us part.


Blogger Nadriamez said...


u have a miss saigon cd!

i was able to listen to it before i even watched the play. :) siyempre manila prod ang napanood ko.

damn, my double cassette edition of saigon's ost became old and damp after we transfered to a new house.

so, hanggang ngayon, may i search pa rin ako sa mga record bars ng CD version..


11:17 AM  
Blogger McVie said...

I recently saw a copy of the Miss Saigon CD in the Tower Records at Shangri-La Mall in Ortigas. I think mga 3 weeks ago. I'm sure meron pa, maghanap-hanap ka lang. :-)

12:17 PM  

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