Coping with Excess
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Coping with Excess

How Organizations, Communities and Individuals Manage Overflows

Edited by Barbara Czarniawska and Orvar Löfgren

What does a stockbroker in Istanbul navigating the rush of incoming trading figures have in common with a mother in Stockholm trying to organize a growing pile of baby clothes? They are both coping with excess or overflow. This book explores the ways in which institutions, corporations and individuals define and manage situations of ‘too much’ – too much information, too many choices, too many commodities or too many tasks.
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Chapter 7: Cloud control: the capture and escape of music as information overflow

Jakob Wenzer


Music is a special type of matter. It occupies a key position in the study of modern overflows because of its material format within a specific type of artistic content and the way it connects information. Thus music may be loosely defined as sound organized to make it recognizable as a melodically, harmonically and/or rhythmically thematic for human listeners. Hence, music can be considered as transcendental – existing even when it is not played – but also physical, tied to the medium in which it temporarily occurs. By this definition, music is not saleable, but the materials acting as its medium (magnetic tapes, vinyl records, CDs) are. Music, therefore, is not its medium; the medium is what allows music to flow, both by providing the reproductive conditions and by being operative in the process of determining what music is. This chapter focuses on issues of control of this medium and how it is monetized, capturing it in marketable material forms in a variety of ways. At every historical point of capture, part of the flow is framed as a legitimate musical flow and everything else is deemed illegitimate, thus overflowing some type of boundary. At least since the birth of recording technologies around the beginning of the twentieth century, music as a commodity has been found in the midst of a maelstrom of flows: social, discursive, economic, political, juridical and technological.

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