The Four Quadrants of Death Cab for Cutie

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the Four QuadrantsDeath Cab for CutieWhat are the Four Quadrants? They're components of a map. They're a way to understand what's going on with something. Anything. For instance, the band Death Cab for Cutie, and a concert of theirs I went to last week.

Upper Left Quadrant: Individual Subjective. Your personal experience. Your opinion of Death Cab's music. The thoughts it inspires. The memories and associations it brings up. 


Your reaction when you find out they're coming to town. Your excitement as you get into the venue and stake out a place on the floor near the stage. Your annoyance with the people in front of you who keep taking pictures and filming segments with their phones, blocking your view and spilling light back in your direction so they can post a shitty video on youtube that'll only get a few hundred hits. Inconsiderate shitheads!




Upper Right Quadrant: Individual Objective. What's going on with your physical body. The dopamine released when you hear a favourite song. The signals your brain sends to your foot making it tap with the rhythm. Your increased heart rate as you dance. The synaptic rewiring in your brain as you listen to Doors Unlocked an Open again and again. The damage to your hearing from the concert's speakers at high volume right in front of you. The brain cells holding the memories of that night.




Lower Right Quadrant: Collective Objective. The physical components of society. Death Cab's record label, and their reach with music distribution outlets and radio stations. The internet as a place where people get music: myspace, youtube, the iTunes store, file sharing networks. Copyright laws. Concert promoters. Ticket companies that add service fees and convenience fees and venue fees and make you squeal like a pig with your pants around your ankles. The physical dimensions of the concert venue. The acoustics. The local crew running the concert. The gear. The companies that made Death Cab's instruments. The technology used to record and mix and master the music. 




Lower Left Quadrant: Collective Subjective. What the culture at large thinks of Death Cab. What your peers think of them. What genre they are, and how people feel about that genre. The use of Death Cab's music on The OC, not just to underscore scenes, but to define one of the characters. It's the cultural knowledge that makes audiences react when Ben Gibbard does acoustic covers of Thriller, Complicated, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun or Harvest Moon. It's the audience reaction when he slags Los Angeles in Why You'd Want to Live Here.




It's the mood at the concert. It's people singing along or clapping to a song. It's the feeling in the air as everyone leaves. It's the opinions expressed on the blogosphere by people who've seen them and listen to them and use them to illustrate philosophical precepts. 

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