Percussa micro super signal processor

It’s official: Music Thing, the benchmark music tech blog, is no more – at least for now. Post volume had dropped off of late, so it’s not a complete surprise. And Music Thing’s voice, Tom Whitwell, has gone on to shake up the online world in other ways: running the online output of The Times in London. (Yes, that’s The Times, founded in 1785 and the paper for which all those fonts are named.) Still, it’s sad that Tom will be focusing on a highly-paying job and the Future of News because, well, we really still all like that synth and sound object nonsense better.

Music Thing has meant a whole lot to me in the history of CDM. Back in fall 2004, I had just signed a book deal with Peachpit Press to make a book that, originally, I thought would be called something like Create Digital Music. (Sound familiar? In the end, the publisher opted for the far less expressive and slightly inaccurate Real World Digital Audio, for consistency with a line that would go on to drop most of its audio and music focus.) I had done some writing for MacMusic (as its English editor) and Jason O’Grady’s PowerPage, and had first dabbled in publishing magazine-style content for online communities way back in the days of CompuServe (which netted me a few inches of column space in an issue of CompuServe Magazine back when there was such a thing). And, of course, I had been writing for Keyboard and Macworld. I reserved the domain in the spring and pledged to get to it later that year.

But I’m not sure CDM would ever have really gotten rolling had it not been for Tom. Music Thing, for it part, got its start with a characteristic headline on August 24, 2004.

"A 20-foot long playable horn, built of leather"

CDM followed in October, and from that point on had a friendly rivalry with Music Thing that seemed somehow to encourage readers to hit both sites more. I tended toward futuristic things that didn’t exist yet and Tom tended toward things with knobs. And there’s something great as a blogger about being able to keep an eye on another site running roughly the same pace as you. Not to mention, I always get a huge kick out of Tom’s take on the world and the wonderful things he finds.

For me, a real highlight was Music Thing’s fantastic Small Music series, which plumbed the depths of the origins of signature tiny sounds for Windows and THX, and was possibly one of the most influential series ever on the site. (One got a big reddit shout after Tom quit the blog today!)

TINY MUSIC MAKERS: Pt 1: The ‘Intel Inside’ chimes

TINY MUSIC MAKERS: Pt 2: The Microsoft Sound

TINY MUSIC MAKERS: Pt 3: The THX Sound

TINY MUSIC MAKERS: Pt 4: The Mac Startup Sound

There’s still plenty of time to dig through these and many other stories in the archives.

Tom continues to have deep insights into what makes Web traffic tick. He writes, easily, the best headlines in music tech. And I’m sure he’ll continue to have a big impact on The Times during times that are tough for everybody in publishing.

Of course, in the meantime, the blogging world has gotten a lot bigger. There are many brilliant new blogs out there, not a few inspired at least in part by Music Thing. And we’ve seen new entries funded by actual businesses, in the likes of MusicRadar, Beatportal, and GearWire.

But there’s only one Music Thing. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Music Thing: The end of Music Thing, for now.

Other reactions:

The Day the Blog Stood Still [GetLoFi]

Music Thing Rides Off Into the Sunset [Waveformless]

Music Thing Calls it Quits [Synthtopia]