---- by Richard G. Smith
  The drive towards the technical perfection of music, the 'stereo effect' of quadrophonics, high fidelity and hyperstereo, has drawn comment from Baudrillard on a number of occasions (S, IE, CM, F, LP). In Seduction (1990a [1979]) he describes the invention of quadraphonic musical reproduction, with its addition of a fourth dimension to give perfect sound reproduction, as obscene: 'The technical delirium of the perfect restitution of music (Bach, Monteverdi, Mozart!) that has never existed, that no one has ever heard, and that was not meant to be heard like this' (S, 30). It is not that Baudrillard laments the loss of 'authentic' or 'real' music, but rather that he considers 'perfect music' as charmless, fascinating but not seductive:
  At the heart of hi-fi, music threatens to disappear. At the heart of experimentation, the object of science threatens to disappear. At the heart of pornography, sexuality threatens to disappear. Everywhere we find the same stereophonic effect, the same effect of absolute proximity to the real, the same effect of simulation. (IE, 6)
  Music approaches its vanishing point as its production becomes a realm of activity that is governed by a drive for flawless technical execution: 'a false destiny for music' (CM, 83). Baudrillard describes his experience of quadraphonic rooms, on a visit to Japan in the 1970s, as that of the simulation of a total environment where one has the experience of 'a sort of musical perfect crime' (F, 66). In other words, the perfection of the reproduction (also evident in CDs and the 'composing' of music on computers), the addition of new dimensions ('triphony, then quadriphony, then multiphony' (F, 66)), is predicated upon the elimination of a 'specifically musical illusion' (F, 66), such as that which is afforded by the 'live experience' of the concert hall or opera house where music is heard at a certain distance. More recently, Baudrillard has equated the perfect reproduction of music with 'the Virtual' ('the more perfect the reproduction, the more it becomes virtual' (F, 66)) and 'integral reality' ('integral music' (LP, 27)) implying that music has merged into its own model: 'The sounds of such music are no longer the play of a form, but the actualization of a programme. It is a music reduced to a pure wavelength, the final reception of which, the tangible effect on the listener, is exactly programmed too, as in a closed circuit' (LP, 28).
  The news that vinyl records are now back in demand would perhaps meet with Baudrillard's approval. The once seemingly extinct format, whose heyday was in the 1960s and 1970s, is once again the height of 'music cool' because of - among other things - the 'imperfection' of its audio reproduction: the noise and static that makes it more 'musical'. Indeed, the song entitled Jean Baudrillard by the English band Maxпmo Park is available on 7-inch white vinyl; perhaps this is so that we can enjoy its imperfection, its distance from the vanishing point, its musicality.
   § disappearance
   § model
   § obscene
   § perfect crime
   § simulation
   § virtual

The Baudrillard dictionary. . 2015.


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