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What if you found a 1,000 year old Collection of Music?

Updated: Apr 6, 2022

We were doing the podcast the other day and the topic of the Norwegian Music Time Capsule came up, which is essentially a time capsule containing music that will survive for one-thousand years in a container one-thousand feet below the Earth’s surface. This was one of Kenny’s topics so when the idea was presented to me it started the wheels in my head turning and it made me think about what it would be like to discover such a collection of art especially if you had no real understanding of the humans who put it there. I have to admit the question I asked in the moment was not fully formed, as it was in regard to what the future population’s favorite song would be when really the question should have been in regard to how the music would be viewed in general. How is music evaluated in its purest form?

I guess you could say the question is somewhat in the vain of Walden but I could only get through the first ten pages of Walden so I think it’s safer to say it’s more about consuming the experience of a song or album without prior connotations or any other sort of information that would slight your take. We do this with our review section of the podcast where we listen live to a song by an artist we’ve never heard before but even then we at least have read their bio and vet them somewhat. I think a closer experience I have to the idea I’m talking about is when I first got into classic rock. It was a weird phase to be in because I was borrowing CDs from my dad and realizing that I knew all these songs from movies and the radio but it was still somewhat like diving into a time capsule and there were several instances of not understanding the story behind the music. The funniest instance I can think of was that I once I had an REO Speedwagon “Time for Me to Fly” ringtone and when it came on once at wrestling practice my coach made fun of me because REO Speedwagon was lame and, naively, I didn’t know how they’d been perceived back in their day. I now realize how lame that was and it was a revelation to be made fun of by a forty year old man for my music tastes but I thought it was a good song before that because I really had no background, I just thought it sounded good.

To get back to my question, what would it be like to discover a collection of music that was from a society we had no prior understanding of? While the thousand-year Norwegian time capsule may not live up to that, it raises a far more interesting question because I don’t know what music would be without all the side exposition around it. It makes me wonder that if rather than The Beatles we would worship some other soft rock band like the Bee Gees because there was no historical context which makes me feel ill but I also wonder if bands like Radiohead would be mere one hit wonders because the progression of their albums would not be appreciated in the same regard. Maybe our perspective on the music would be much clearer but I think it would be disingenuous in regard to the fact that music is based on stories, it is rooted in the history and that is essential to the songs.

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