Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Summer 2001/No Such Thing as a Perfectly Reliable Digital Backup

It's strange, but true: I've been recording on a computer for ten years now. Back when I first started doing this, hard disk space was hard to come by, so after I was done with a song, I'd run a mix of it and then burn the raw tracks to a CD. I had no real system for doing this, and as a result, when I try to revisit some of my older work in its raw mixable form, it can be a real disaster.

Back in the day, I wasn't too systematic about keeping track of my own music, and as a result, I've lost a few things along the way. In particular, there was a song that I recorded in the summer of 2001 that I remember really liking, but I can't find a copy of this song for the life of me. I can't find a mix, and I can't find the raw files. All I really remember is that there's a line in the song that goes "Monkeys, after all we've tried, threw the bone and I can't see myself desert walking in a robe." If anyone out there has a copy of this song (I tend to give away my own music, and therefore find myself not having my own stuff) I would really like to hear it again. It's been so elusively hyped in my mind that I remember it being some total masterpiece, but I could be completely wrong about that, seeing as how I haven't heard the song in about seven years.

Anyway, in going through my old backups, I found some songs that really don't embarrass me when I listen to them today. In hearing stuff that I did ten years ago, it's been really interesting to hear what has changed about my approach, and what has stayed the same despite whatever conscious decisions I've made. Anyway, here are a few tunes, all recorded during that magically weird summer of 2001:

"Cowboy Boots and Tatts"

I feel like this song really captures the weird thing that I was doing back then. MIDI, metal chords, and singing. I still like this song.

"Generations Reside in Your Eyes"

This song kind of makes me knot up a little inside, but in a good way. It's basically about my future baby-mama, whoever that might be. Religion, death, tradition, travel, hunger. It's all represented.

"Metal Meltdown"

I just like the notes that are played.

"You Were in Your Cell"

An example of the "maximal" approach I was into at the time. Too many notes, for the sake of there being too many notes.

"Old Friend"

This song kind of makes me weepy too. There's just something sad that you can hear in my voice. What a strange summer that was.

In short, I'd like to remind all musicians/filmmakers/digital creative types out there that any sort of digital backup, especially optical media, is prone to corruption, so don't count on that stuff working after about five years or so. Five years may seem like a long time, but soon enough you'll be old like me. There's really no sure-fire way to back up large digital files. The film industry is realizing this as well.


Meg D said...

Yo dude. I have boxes and boxes of CDs in my parents attic. I'm sure there is 5 years worth of Dixon tunes in there. Except you always did this really annoying thing where you would ask for them back! Sooooo on second thought, maybe I have what you're looking for or maybe I already gave it back to you long long ago.

MD said...

Should have proofread. I'm embarrassed of my grammar mistake. Ugh.

noxidgerg said...

It's also pretty lame when the songs that you have done were sequenced using some old antiquated software like Deck LE that you'll need an old OS 9 system to open up and remix. Complete takes starting at the beginning, padded with silence, can be a blessing in this case. There's no such thing as a reliable software company! btw, I heard you got a 1.5 TB hard drive and I'm totally jealous. I've been wanting to get something like that for my music "vault".

Damian said...

We back up our digital film files to a magnetic system (LTO). Ironically our "tapeless" recording system is backed up to an older technology that is used to archive bank records.

They are supposed to last 80 years uncorrupted, but we have only been using it for 2. So far so good.

noxidgerg said...

I remember these songs! I still have lots of your stuff "backed up" come visit and search for some gems.

Tinyfolk said...

I'm really enjoying this stuff. Cowboy Boots and Tatts for the win.

The "maximal" approach is hella entertaining.

M. H. D. said...

Thank you, Tinyfolk. I would say that one's my favorite of the bunch too.

Mom said...

Your future baby-mama? I'm intrigued!

toast000 said...

Microsoft offers 25GB of storage on SkyDrive now for anyone with a LiveID. The max single file size is 50MB right now, so it could work for uncompressed audio. Live Home