For musicians and music fans alike, materials are everything from the feel of that classic hollow-body guitar with the rosewood neck to the ebony and ivory on a classic Steinway piano. From the wax cylinder by way of "vinyl" to the polymers used to make the ear buds for your high-end headphones.

It's that word "vinyl" that perhaps brings with it the most baggage into the modern aural era. For the popular and classical music of the latter half of the twentieth century, a black disc of polyvinylchloride on to each side of which is pressed a groove to carry the groove, vinyl was the way to go. I have friends who worked in the technology back in the day and pioneered what we know as the ubiquitous compact disc, the CD, from which came the DVD and Blu-Ray other optical data storage media. But, for all its alleged scratch resistance and ability to sustain sound even after being smeared with marmalade by television's Maggie Philbin back in the Tomorrow's World heyday, vinyl keeps a special place in the music fan's heart.

The discs, their gatefold sleeves, the liner notes, the crackles and pops, the wow and flutter, their size and susceptibility to scratching - deliberate for musical effect in the hippest hip hop sense and accidental to the detriment of all but the most punkish of post-modern industrial atonal brutality. The warmth of the analog sound they produce meshes and is matched only by the warmth our wetware enjoys.

Of course, there is also something bizarrely quaint, and otherworldly, if you are out of the habit of listening to vinyl, of unfolding the gatefold sleeve, slipping the disc from its gentler lining and putting the proverbial needle on the record. It is almost like we are somehow living in the stone-age world of Fred Flintstone gently lowering the sharpened beak of his pet bird to sing the theme tune, play the theme tune...

Much more "modern" is the simple downloading of musical bits and bytes and their injection via myriad different materials into a device that stores them essentially as quantum blips in a magnetic or electronic medium for subsequent playback, favoriting, scrobbling and such. Music was always about the social, but how did they put the soc in the bop-doo-wop-dee-bop back in the days of vinyl? Who got the RAM, for the ram-a-langa-ding-dong?

Anyway, that reminds me, I must get up into the loft and dig out my old vinyl albums...I just hope I still have the necessary analog readout equipment and a decent cleaning cloth to brush aside the accumulated fluff of the decades. On second thoughts, if you get lucky, it's those crackles and pops that give life back to the music and make our analog brains really get into the groove.

David Bradley blogs at and tweets @sciencebase, he has a zero-vinyl, download-only album of his own - Wishful Thinking - under the name "sciencebass" available from iTunes and amazon mp3, details on his website.