Is there a word for this? (similar to erosion)

Think of an LP or a tape being played again and again. Gradually, “mistakes” begin to accumulate; certain parts of the music become lost or changed, until eventually it becomes something else entirely. It’s not so much “worn out” as gradually “altered.”

Is there a word for this?

“Attenuation” is one word that can be used in a similar capacity - signal strength becomes attenuated through the length of a transmission line, for example.


In audio, we use the term generation loss to describe the degradation over consequent copying of analog media - making a tape of a tape, as it were. It was a common issue in the days of limited multi-track counts. Every bounce had a quality cost.

There is also the gradual quality loss of a tape, through repeated use and aging. This is known as degradation loss. More than you ever wanted to know about analog tape operation (degradation and analog v digital at the end)

Bit rot? (Of course, it depends what we are really talking about here.)

Cumulative transcription error? (Hardly one word, I know.)

I am 100% confident that the word you’re looking for is “evolution.” That’s probably a bit of an anticlimax, though.

The OP is just talking about wear though. I don’t see any mention of transcription.

He isn’t. He specifically says he means only that it becomes altered and not worn out. He only uses audio as an example, although everyone in this thread is latching onto that element of it. And I meant evolution in the original meaning of it, not in the “theory of” meaning. That is, gradual change over time. No need to invoke copying or replicating.

Here’s the thing: the OP is self contradictory. If you play a record or tape over and over again, as the example is given, it does, indeed, merely wear out. The only way something can get ‘gradually “altered”’ into ‘something else entirely’ via accumulated ‘mistakes’, is if it is repeatedly transcribed. (Unless that ‘something else’ is just the meaningless noise of a worn-out tape or record.) I am pretty sure that process of change is not normally called evolution (except when the transcription in question is biological reproduction, and there is natural selection involved), but there may be no single word that applies to it across all contexts.

Exactly - I can’t tell whether the OP is actually talking about some transcriptive phenomenon (and just forgot to mention copying, or assumed it was a given), or is talking about normal wear and tear being somehow creative.

“Attrition” is a dictionary word for wear out by rubbing or scraping but I rather suspect that in the situation described by the OP there must be some technical jargon.

Introduction of artifacts by wear, multiple plays, degradation, overwriting, dubbing, transcription, etc. would be data corruption — or simply — corruption.

:smack: I think you have nailed it (as well as it can be nailed, anyway).

Lord knows I’ve dealt with my fair share of corruption over the years! :wink:

One definition of “Entropy” is this .

A very simple example : that you can’t have any “perpetual motion machine”. The machine - must lose some energy at some measurable rate, and so given enough time, all the kinetic energy must be gone and any fuel all used up.

This applies to a solar system… the light is leaving but not coming, the hydrogen fuel used in fusion is being used up, the tides change the orbits of the planets… all things move toward the end…

Now, how this applies to data on a CD ? Well the CD is degrading, there is oxidisation of the plastic, there are gamma ray bursts and nuclear radiation that are taking it apart one molecule at a time… given enough time … its gone.
I take it that the OP’s question wasn’t asking about an actual effect, but the name of the concept, even if its hypothetical . So while the nature of the universe (big bang and all) is a bit academic and perhaps WRONG, it seem to fit the “entropy” theory between big bangs.

I always feel its wrong to take what happens at a tiny level (eg gamma ray bursts) to say what happens at the really huge level (universe.) … but the concept of the distribution of energy to the ‘dark matter’ , so the place becomes 100% cold, has been called entropy…

Its important not to conflate this “all things move toward there end” entropy with the
information theory entropy - “the amount of information”… that’s not what I am talking about - its actually the opposite. ( entropy of a system causes a lack of information … eg destroys the CD… the irony… )

Voice is a magnetic wave, so it may be magnetic disintegration/degrading.

While entropy certainly happens to things like magnetic tape, CDs/DVDs and hard drives, it’s a way to describe the state of any system within the laws of thermodynamics, so absolutely everything is prey for entropy in some state or another, so it doesn’t really help describe the more esoteric or specific technical phenomenon the OP describes with recordable media.

What’s more, it wouldn’t be enough to say it’s undergoing entropy alone, either. In the case of data corruption, its entropy is increasing from a more ordered state.

“Corruption” is commonly used in codicology (the history of manuscripts, their production, creation, and copying), but, particularly in the last 50 years, has been pointed out as a loaded term, implying a “purity” of one state or another, particularly with the rise of a semiotic and post-modern armory of concepts.

OP could refine his presentation of what that “final state” consists of. As mentioned by other posters, the answer, if there is a one-word one, would depend on the beginning and end assumptions of the state of the work, and indeed, as I noted above, in some clearing up as to what a “work” consists of.

Think of “The Director’s Cut” being released after cinema release, and the debate thereafter. It’s a deeply entrenched concept in the West–an example in music the, or an, opus. Music compositions at some point started being catalogued or referred to as Opus, eg Beethoven’s Op. 53 (a piano sonata). “Opus” is the singular of “opera,” by the way, so if you want to get all Latin “an opera by Verdi” is a corruption (:)) of one language. In music history, at some point the words “opus perfectum” (completed, in one meaning) were smacked on as an identifier, and then at some later point the word “perfectum” disappeared.

It’s difficult enough, and when added to that a misunderstanding and misuse of “evolution” in its Darwinian sense, with some secular, non-acknowledged Christian eschatology thrown in, the understanding of history gets, and has gotten, pretty weird.

But I digress.

Doesn’t seem like OP has any interest in telling us what exactly he meant. I stand by my interpretation of his post as not requiring an auditory or degradation component of the definition.

Maybe OP is Humpty Dumpty.