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November 3, 2011

IndyMcGrath: Juggling Musical Sources in the Digital Age

by @thoughtontracks

I never learned how to juggle, but I have always admired the skill. I always viewed it as the perfect mix of maintaining composure while overcoming distraction.  Focusing in on the touch, building routine, gaining speed and then ultimately mastering the art. Muscle memory serves as an essential element in the skill set of any juggler. Memorizing the patterns, the feel, and the object is primary.  Often, jugglers challenge themselves to handle different objects with opposing size and textures.  These are the true pros.  They are sincere risk takers, always looking for a challenge.  These artists never settle, absorbing innovative ideas and experiences. The “like riding a bicycle” perspective is truly impressive as I build a true appreciation for the composed multi-tasker, the juggler.

In an era where music can pump through our speakers in a matter of seconds we all have to be jugglers. The searching, downloading, streaming, spinning, Spotifying, Turntabling, etc. makes it a constant challenge to maintain routine and memory.  So many awesome avenues to discover artists and reaffirm our relationships with existing bands is truly amazing. We now reside in an era where our listening experience is not directed, but merely suggested. The choice to tune in or out is ours. Technology has created a new type of personal DJ.  We are the hunters, we are gatherers, and we are jugglers.

Keeping a notepad by my computer, taking pictures of my Sirius radio, and texting recommendations to myself are all methods I must juggle in order to document the firestorm of tuneage that pours down upon me each day. My advice is to focus on a documentation process that works for you.  Gradually add a new blog or online stream source while building your personal documentation process.  This musical juggling might not be as impressive as hurling a flaming bowling pin in a circular motion to the average outsider. However, we musical jugglers can appreciate the art that comes with constantly unearthing new sounds.

My latest documented success came courtesy of a fellow Turntable.fm user.  I introduce you to the Belgian-Australian experimental rocker Gotye.  When I heard “Somebody That I Used to Know” blare through my headphones in some indie turntable hotspot, I fell immediately n love.  This song was a perfect mix of sadness and rhythm.  Add New Zealand singer-songwriter Kimbra on the second verse/harmonies and I was hooked. Discovering this one beautiful song caused me to immediately purchase his 2011 release Making Mirrors from iTunes.  While this song is truly the gem of the album, the rest is certainly something to take note of.  Upon further discovery, I found out by my local record store that this was not cut on vinyl and is only available in the U.S. for a $33.00 import fee. This truly marked an occasion where the avenue of digital download proves its value.

Please take the time to watch this radical video for “Somebody That I Use to Know”.  Your avenue is Thought on Tracks and your platform is YouTube.  Grab your pen, legal pad, and write this down.  Congrats, you are now a juggler.

Written by Brett McGrath

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