Time Capsules

The Bay Area has seen more rainy days than I can remember. On days like these, I usually spend time by making a cup of tea or coffee, putting on some music, and working away at some project at my morning table.

This other day, I stumbled upon a background music video that uses a few piano instrumentals from classics like 5 Centimeters per Second. One of the top comments read:


“(This made me think:) ’really, music is a medium for storing memories.'”

Music really is a medium for memories. Last time, I wrote about the physicality of music. But the temporal dimension of music is also equally important.

I remember the first song that made a heartfelt impact on me was タイヨウのうた (A Song to the Sun) by Kaoru Amane/Sawajiri Erika. It was my gateway into a host of Japanese artists that eventually shaped my music taste. I still vividly remember the moment I heard it for the first time:

When I was 12, one of the things I looked forward to the most was reading my monthly computer hobbyist magazine. The newsstand uncle would stock exactly one copy just for me. The magazine had a tasteful design, and always came with a CD loaded with software and music, a common distribution practice at the time before widespread internet. A custom-themed program would run automatically when you inserted the CD and start playing the playlist of the month.

One time, something different flowed out of my speaker. Like colors I’ve never seen before, the refreshing style of instrumentals and a pleasant-sounding language that I didn’t understand grabbed my attention more than anything else in that month’s installment. I immediately fell in love with everything about this song.

If there’s such a thing as “music awakening,” this must’ve been it. I’d never cared much about music before, and after that moment I became obsessed with it. The years that followed were filled with stories of discovery, friendship, and memories that felt like snippets of my life with soundtracks. The songs that my middle school crush and I bonded over. The songs that my whole class got addicted to listening during recess. The songs that I sang during a karaoke competition. The songs that held me through difficult emotions. There was a story behind every album, and so much of it that there wasn’t a single significant moment in my life since then that I could recall without a theme song associate with it.

The older I get, the more I come to understand how these experiences have shaped me. Some call it sentimentality, some call it an existential quest. However you call it, it’s one of the reasons I want to work on projects with minidiscs. The world around me changes all the time; perhaps I just want to anchor my existence to something physical in a world of impermanence. It’s ironically fitting that minidiscs are called “the futuristic medium without a future.”

I’m hoping to share more of these stories with you in my unintentional series of posts about music and minidiscs. Until next time!

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