Project Title: Ephemeral
Name: Bethany Deyo
Major: Digital Arts & Culture and Media Studies
Expected Graduation: December 2020
Project Medium: Audio
Technology and Software Used: Ableton Live, Adobe Audition, Adobe Photoshop
Semester: Spring 2020
The goal of this capstone project was really a 2-part objective: to explore styles of music different from what I usually focus on and to create a tangible artifact of that music once it was finished. I have always been really interested in cassette tapes and thought that that would be a really cool medium to use as a physical copy of my project. They’re obsolete in comparison with today’s mode of music streaming over purchasing music either digitally or as a physical copy, but there’s something really nostalgic and prideful in having ownership of a physical copy of music like a cassette tape or a CD, even if you don’t ever listen to it. Physical copies of music are a great way of leaving a noticeable footprint of your project in the world different from that which can be achieved from a digital footprint.
Going from digital to analog may seem idiotic in a sense because you sacrifice the audio quality of the digital files in doing so, but that’s the point. You don’t get a cassette tape because you care about the quality of the audio; you get a cassette tape because you want the tape. This is something I found particularly striking as I went through the process of recording all 20 of the cassette tapes I had gotten for this project. As someone who had been taught for so long that the quality of your audio can singlehandedly make or break your project, it was a surreal moment in being able to let go of those intuitions and just find joy in recording the cassettes and hearing the way the music had been duplicated into a new format. I arguably found greater satisfaction in the recording process with the tapes than I did making any of the music I was putting on them.
However, this was my first-time recording cassettes (or recording onto any physical medium as a matter of fact) so it was a bit of trial and error. Not having access to a mixer and recording with a portable tape recorder made it so that I had to rely on my ears to tell me whether the tape had been recorded as good as it could be. With the first tape I recorded from the set the audio clipped in almost every single song, so I had to go back and record silence over it and then record it once more. The second recording over the tape was much too quiet, but both failures gave me the basis with which I could find the perfect balance for the rest of the tapes. Overall this was a very rewarding project to have done and I am extremely pleased with the results.
Deyo, Bethany, "Ephemeral" (2020). DAC Capstone Collection. 2.