As I wrote earlier, I'm developing the proposition that the processes of audio recording (and film and photography to different extents) along with the social context around these processes share fundamental features with magic, sympathetic magic and more specifically the chain of contagion as discussed my Marcel Mauss.
Before I dive into the work of Mauss I find it helpful, in terms of putting flesh on the bones, to pay heed to the ideas of Allen S. Weiss in Phantasmic Radio who speaks of radiophony's history and current forms in terms of transmission, disarticulation, metamorphosis and mutation rather than communication and closure. For historical perspective I would also bear in mind Edison's radiophonic moment of 6 December 1887 when voice and sound became disembodied, heralding the dance and play of sympathetic magic that I'm attempting to understand and explain.
'If the whole community does not believe in the efficacy of a group of actions. they cannot be magical' (p23). Try telling someone who's weeping that 'it's only a film' or that a recording of a musical performance is simply air being moved by loudspeakers or that a photograph of a deceased loved one is ink on paper. We believe and it's this belief that invites the comparison with sympathetic magic. This has nothing to do with the artist being a magician, though some artists would love to be considered as such by setting themselves apart and shrouding their activities in mystery. Artistic skill and techniques - these are matters of cause and effect.