Traces over Practice

“Surveys of routes”, according to French Scholar Michel de Certeau in “Walking in the City”, “miss what was: the act itself of passing by”.

Putting it another way, de Certeau writes that “[t]he trace left behind is substituted for the practice”. 

When we only focus on music, we focus on the trace left behind. Navigation between listening to music is subordinate to the listening. And yet think of the myriad of ways we access music today, especially online. It is the downloading, mixing, burning, torrenting, file sharing, and converting that allow us to listen in the first place.

Discussion of this is odd at first glance; all because it appears to upend music’s own significance. On the contrary, music is left alone and still important.

The practice, however, is just as important and begs for inquiry.


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