The analogue divide: interpreting attitudes towards recording media in pop music practice

Pat O'Grady

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Since the 1980s, the uptake of digital hard disk recording has replaced analogue tape as the primary medium on which popular music is recorded. This change sparked a fierce and ongoing debate between producers about aesthetics and musicianship within pop music production. It is possible to understand this debate as part of an extended history of sceptical attitudes towards new technologies. In this article, I examine the ways in which the capacity to express and articulate sceptical attitudes towards new technologies also function as cultural capital. In order to develop this argument, I analyse Brian Eno’s published critical attitudes toward digital recording technologies, and draw on Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of cultural capital as a conceptual tool for understanding the cultural dimensions of the perceived divide between digital and analogue. Against the backdrop of emergent cheaper and user-friendly digital technologies, this article argues that aesthetic attitudes towards analogue media can consecrate an agent’s position – and in the case of artists, their oeuvre – within the social order of pop music.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)446-459
Number of pages14
Issue number4
Early online date8 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • analogue media
  • cultural production
  • digital media
  • music production
  • technologies


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