Title

To Know Beyond Listening: Monitoring Digital Music

Document Type

Article

Date of Original Version

2010

Abstract

In music production, “monitoring” refers traditionally to audile strategies intended to reveal the “true” sound of mediated audio. Here, it is expanded to include new, digital technologies intended to better know and control the record-object beyond what listening and listening technologies allow. Surveying traditional, contemporary, and emerging tools of record production and distribution, this essay addresses three types of monitoring: audio, visual, and data.

In sum, monitoring entails the supplementation and subversion of the ear through protocols promising to surmount the biases and distortions of audio media. Key technologies include reference speakers, room correction systems, digital audio workstations, open mixes, pre-sets, social networking sites, and automatic music information retrieval. Situating these within a “techoustemology” of monitoring, the central argument is that many innovations in digital audio are non-auditory and, therefore, displace sound and listening as the central means of producing relevant knowledge about music mediated in the digital age.

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