turning back

20140128_100003Good morning bloggists.

For those who are not looking nostalgically at the picture here today I should perhaps explain that it is a record player (aka turntable). It is the analogue way in which many people used to access their music. The record (the big black disc) rotates at 33 rpm and the needle or stylus (visible below the red bit) gently touches the record and runs in a groove that starts at the outside of the record and runs right the way through to the middle. The groove contains bumps and indentations that transmits vibrations into the record player where they are turned into sound waves that are amplified and fed out through speakers. (Yes, I know that it’s a low-tech description of what happens but it’s a low-tech bloggage today).

Records (or LPs as they were known (Long Playing records)) had enough space on each side for about 5 songs of average length. Yes, young people, they were double-sided! If you wanted to play a track other than the first one on that side of the record you either had to listen all the way through or try (with trembling fingers) to get the stylus to hover just above the ‘silent’ groove that existed between tracks so you could start at the right place. Of course they were not very portable!

When cassette tapes were introduced they were seen as the thing that would kill off record players. You could record what you wanted on them, and even re-record! They were still analogue but much more portable. You could play them in your car, and when Sony revolutionised the world with their Walkman you could even listen to your own music as you walked around outside your home!

Then Compact Discs were introduced. These were revolutionary discs that held much more than one side of a record and were digital (oooh!). We were told initially that they were scratch proof and indestructible (wrong and wrong). These were going to kill off record players.

Other tech tried to muscle in on the market – did anyone else have a Mini Disc player which seemed to be a compromise between cassettes and CDs? They could hold a lot of songs, you could skip through the disc easily, they were portable and the discs were small. I imagine when they were introduced the designers felt that they would kill off record players.

Next we had the advent of the iPod and MP3 players which didn’t even need a disc! Surely they would kill off record players when you could download your music from that new fangled internet thing?

And now we have streaming music websites so you don’t even need to own the music to listen to it! The record player is dead.

Long live the record player.

You see the strange thing is that record players are still being sold. Records are still being released. In fact although record sales plummeted in the face of all the new tech, they are now recovering!

Those who know about these things tell us that the analogue sound of a record is much more authentic and richer than the digital sounds of the later machines. (Analogue tapes have not survived because they are easily stretched or broken, but if you want a challenge, young people, try to work out the connection between a cassette tape and a pencil.) Having discarded records in favour of other tech we are discovering that there is actually something to be valued and treasured in the traditional and apparently ‘old fashioned’ turntable.

You have probably worked out where I am going with this, so let me just declare it as a parable about church or Christian faith and let you do the rest of the work.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

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