Wednesday, 20 November 2013


Before the age of computers, before the era of MP3s, and FLACs, and pirates who don’t own boats, audio was edited on tape. Quarter-inch, magnetised tape. If you wanted to mix and master a track, you’d take a razor to the tape. Can you picture that? Good.

If you listen to music, you might be aware that certain songs have censored lyrics, versions where the expletives are replaced with awkward beats of silence. Before the age of computers, this was achieved by taking a razor to the vocal track The razor goes in, the swearing comes out, a couple of millimetres of silence are sutured into the void. Can you picture that? Good.

This process has a waste product. About a centimetre long, a quarter of an inch thick. A shiny, black rectangle, no larger than your fingernail. An expletive. Can you picture that? Good.

A major studio, under contract to a major record label, edits about two hundred tracks a year. Depending on the genre, in a month a single studio generates between twelve and sixteen thousand pieces of obscene confetti.
Each studio stores them in a small, wooden box.
Can you picture that?

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