When I saw a presentation by the authors of Recording the Beatles (amazing book, btw), they played excerpts from the recent 5.1 surround mixes of the Beatles. Those mixes often had 1-2 instruments or voice panned to a speaker, and this allows one to listen to individual parts in isolation, and hear a lot more how they were recorded as well as other sounds in the studio that were otherwise buried in the original mono / stereo mixes.

I mention this just as another example of multichannel mixes allowing a different way of getting into the music–there’s definitely something to be said for this approach!


I might also look at what you’ve done with this song as simultaneously releasing three versions:

1. the song you hear when you play both channels at once

2. the song you hear when you play the left channel only

3. the song you hear when you play the right channel only

The fact that these versions are all in one file means different things to different audiences–to a listener on an iPod, it’s maybe inconvenient to switch between the versions; to a musician with a multitrack system, maybe it’s a convenient format to work with, etc.

But (and this gets to your question), part of what’s happening is that you are deciding on some part of your music to be the component “atoms”–and this is either arbitrary or an artistic decision, or somewhere in between. And that decision (or arbitrariness) is something people experience as listeners and/or as musicians who can build on your work.

For example, why not record every guitar string on its own track? Or, separate notes above middle C on one track, and notes below on another? Or, make each bar of a piece it’s own song?

There are a lot of ways to listen to and build upon music in component terms, and those ways are overlapping and simultaneously valid starting points for both experiencing the music and for building new / different musics.

As a musician, you give people some starting points that represent your perspective and process–but then others find their own starting points themselves, as listeners or players.

In this way, I’d see music as embodying potentials more on the order of the web (links) than of web pages (code). The source code of your music is ultimately the “links,” not just the tracks.

So, one way I’d look at what you are doing is helping people get into your music at a different level where they might discover or make new links. And, mostly what I am saying is that, with music, there are a lot of different, overlapping, levels that can work this way.