Demo recordings often capture something lost in the final version, and that something might be synonymous with what architect and theorist Christopher Alexander means by roughness.
The rough edges of a demo recording can suggest completeness (and thus aliveness) in ways that a polished rerecording might not.
For example, compare the snappy polish of the Association’s “Windy” . . .
with the roughness of songwriter Ruthann Friedman’s original demo.
Note the sparseness of Friedman’s demo arrangement, her bluesier singing, the texture of her guitar strings, the warp of the band’s groove and less-steady tempo. The Association's much more professional recording presents an ode to a beautiful girl; Friedman sounds as if she is singing of someone whose eyes "flash at the sound of lies."
While it lacks the Technicolor glory of the familiar Association version, the character marks in Friedman’s demo imbue it with a complete humanness that conveys life in a way the Association’s stellar version cannot.
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