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A Lark Ascending

Who needs vinyl...the cassette is back!

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Total rewind: 10 key moments in the life of the cassette

By the mid-1990s the cassette was a dead medium. Now, however, labels are releasing music on tape again. As next weekend's Cassette Store Day approaches, we look back on the 50-year history of this humble recording format.

http://www.theguardian.com/music/2013/aug/30/cassette-store-day-music-tapes

Edited by A Lark Ascending

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A couple of small local labels release cassettes with down load codes for MP3/FLACs. My impression is that the cassette is merely the physical front to a product that is actually a download. Quite a clever idea really.

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I remember that when I first bought cassette blanks, the cases came with two holes in them, one on each of the short sides. I never knew what they were for, until I went to a friend's house. He had a pegboard from which it was designed to hang cassettes: a rod was passed through the two holes in the cassette case. You would flip through the rods to see your collection.

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I do miss mix tapes. I thought they required a lot of creativity and ingenuity. Nowadays I can just create a playlist in iTunes and burn that to disc, but it's too easy - the romance of the endeavor is missing.

A friend of mine made great mix tapes. This is one of them:

fifty-seven.jpg

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I do miss mix tapes.You're bringing me back, man.

I think the only thing I have that still "works: (without me cleaning heads and sh**) I have is an old Dictaphone unit.

Some reason, I guess, I been keeping some of those "old" tapes. And I'm only 35 37. Fucking A, that was the currency and even then it was getting old.

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I do miss mix tapes. I thought they required a lot of creativity and ingenuity. Nowadays I can just create a playlist in iTunes and burn that to disc, but it's too easy - the romance of the endeavor is missing.

Somehow I am at a loss as to finding out what is so special or cultish about making "mix tapes". I've always thought this was the main purpose of having blank cassette (or K7, as the French cal them so fittingly) tapes. I've made them most of my life, not least of all to have my very personal mixes of my preferred music to keep me company in my car(s). Don't know how many hours it sometimes took to fill one C90. But it was fun and indeed more stimulating than the simple digital copying via the program on your Pc you can do today.

In fact I still have cassette players in my cars and the last time though it's been close to two years now that I made the last mix tape.

Never really got too much into the cassette format for prerecorded albums (don't think I ever bought any, and the only prerecorded ones I still have are a couple of band demos from the late 80s). The winding process to skip tracks turned me off most of the time, and though it was convenient to be able to copy LPs to K7 to at least be able to listen to the music if you could not get the album somewhere else this always was a stopgap measure to me. I tried to replace those self-copied "LP to K7" items with the real deal at the very earliest opportunity.

Anyway, nice article in the Grauniad - brought back some memories and was interesting to read up on the early development.

How come MG hasn't had his say here yet about the ongoing importances of cassette sales in Africa? ;)

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My first 2 Blue Note albums were cassettes - Lee Morgan Liberty-era deletions.

Lousy medium - far too many tangled tapes for my liking.

Edited by sidewinder

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I had a couple of brief flirtations with cassette.

In the very early 70s I had one bought for me. I'd record bits of the John Peel show (and other album based radio programmes) - the radio sessions and so forth. This involved putting the microphone next to the speaker and praying that no-one burst into the room! That recorder only lasted about a year before it broke down.

In the mid-80s I bought a proper one connected to my amp. I used it for two purposes. Firstly, recording LPs and CDs borrowed from the library ('home taping is killing music'), mainly of music not available at the time. This was mainly classical and where I started exploring highways and byways - Nottingham City Library had a rich classical section; not so good in other areas.

Secondly, I did the 'mix tape' thing for the car. This was time consuming as it had to be done in real time but it didn't half get you listening to those individual tracks you were focussing on (I did much the same in the 90s with a CD recorder before iTunes etc made it all much easier).

Only ever bought a handful of pre-recorded cassettes - generally things like 'Mozart Opera Arias' at a time when I was trying to familiarise myself with that world.

They had their purpose in their time but as with LPs whatever sentimentality I might have based on memory is not translated into a desire to return to the format.

Edited by A Lark Ascending

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Tried in vain to find on Youtube the scene about the mix tape from Death Proof.

What kind of equipment is people using now? Like Nakamichi and fancy stuff or just regular?

But enough about my idiocy -- speaking of improvised music I think Mary Elizabeth Winstead was in an incredibly moving movie called Make it Happen and also the prequel/whatever The Thing and also the Scott Pilgrim thing. Seem to beon a one-track mind.

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mjzee, I don't know the Beatles song Cry Baby Cry. What album is it from?

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mjzee, I don't know the Beatles song Cry Baby Cry. What album is it from?

The White Album.

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How come MG hasn't had his say here yet about the ongoing importances of cassette sales in Africa? ;)

He's busy making a mix tape...

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For the life of me, I don't understand why anyone would want to bring back cassettes. They were always an inferior recording medium.

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If anyone's seen Avenue Q, the song "Mix Tape" is a good reminder of what it was all about.

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Nick Hornby's 'Hi-Fidelity' gently lampoons the mix tape thing, if I recall correctly. I think it was in that book that the main character makes them to widen his girlfriend's musical appreciation. The response is generally 'Lovely, dear' as she puts on an Abba record.

Can't remember if that made it to the film.

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How come MG hasn't had his say here yet about the ongoing importances of cassette sales in Africa? ;)

He's busy making a mix tape...

See? I didn't need to say it - y'all know :D

MG

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Primarily, it was the ammunition of walkmans, of which I had an Aiwa version, whose sound was absolutely first rate. I feel a nostalgia for cassettes, but I went a bit crazy earlier this year with a refurbished Alpine 60 and bought shed loads of NOS and used cassettes. There is a unique and very analogue sound to tape that can sound quite appealing and direct, when you haven't listened to one for nigh on 15-20 years. But it is only a flirt with the past, you will soon pick-up on the limitations of the medium.

And there was IMO, a mix cassette culture that hasn't an equivalent in the CD world. Why, I am not sure. But there was always someone willing to spend an evening making you a mix tape that when it was given, always felt a like a gift given warmly. With burning CD's it's all instant and without the time of the mixer listening to the full song. Perhaps.

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And there was IMO, a mix cassette culture that hasn't an equivalent in the CD world. Why, I am not sure. But there was always someone willing to spend an evening making you a mix tape that when it was given, always felt a like a gift given warmly. With burning CD's it's all instant and without the time of the mixer listening to the full song. Perhaps.

Yes. You had to think about what you wanted to "say," the trajectory of the music within 47 minutes (the length of a side of a 90-minute tape). You had to gauge the gaps between the tracks, adjust the recording levels for each track...it's analogous (sorry) to writing a letter on paper vs. on a computer. It's difficult to erase, you can't really go back once you've started... And there was the plus side, where you really got caught up in the creative act of putting the tape together, making the music flow. For a non-musician, it was as close as we could come to actually making music.

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And there was IMO, a mix cassette culture that hasn't an equivalent in the CD world. Why, I am not sure. But there was always someone willing to spend an evening making you a mix tape that when it was given, always felt a like a gift given warmly. With burning CD's it's all instant and without the time of the mixer listening to the full song. Perhaps.

Yes. You had to think about what you wanted to "say," the trajectory of the music within 47 minutes (the length of a side of a 90-minute tape). You had to gauge the gaps between the tracks, adjust the recording levels for each track...it's analogous (sorry) to writing a letter on paper vs. on a computer. It's difficult to erase, you can't really go back once you've started... And there was the plus side, where you really got caught up in the creative act of putting the tape together, making the music flow. For a non-musician, it was as close as we could come to actually making music.

+1 :tup :tup

My thoughts exactly.

Can't even recall how often I stopped in the middle of recording a track and wound back to the previous gap, recording another track instead which I felt suited the flow of the music better after all. Just bcause upon listening to the individual tracks while recording them I found the originally planned sequence didn't quite provide the flow I had figured it would.

A bit like a DJ experimenting with tracks beforehand to set up the outlines of a projected playlist.

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