Rhyming

There’s a song stuck in my head this morning and I think it is a contender for “most ridiculous rhyme of the 80s”. Walking in Your Footsteps by the Police. It contains the lines

Hey there mighty brontosaurus
Do you have a lesson for us

Sadly, this also highlights the fact that the brontosaurus has been renamed. It was a good name.

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Space Oddity

I was listening to my iPod at work today and as I left, Space Oddity by David Bowie came on. I know the song fairly well, but I don’t think I’d ever listened to it on headphones before. I hadn’t realized that the vocals in that song are David Bowie harmonizing with David Bowie. What made it really strange with headphones is that one vocal is in each speaker. The left speaker is entirely the harmony and it was so unusual that it was all I could focus on. As a result, it seemed like it was the main vocal track and the song became a very different listening experience.

I also realized that I haven’t been singing the “main” vocal track, the right speaker track, all these years. I’ve been singing mostly the right, occasionally crossing to the left when it seems to better fit what I expect the melodic resolution to be. I’m going to have to listen to it this way at least several more times to have a better idea of what I want to be singing when I sing along, though I may keep singing it the way I have been. It isn’t like I’m going to get to sing along to both tracks.

Is this on Rock Band? The harmonies are odd enough that I’d love to try it with the Beatles-RockBand harmony system.

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More Cowbell?

I think I know why there’s not much cowbell in music today. The 70s used it all up.

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Diminished effort, diminished enjoyment

Around a month ago, Emily suggested that we should each make a playlist for our iPods for the next long car trip we take. We could listen to one, then the other and that would be fun. She’s right, it would be. Unfortunately, I don’t feel any motivation to make a playlist. I currently owe around a dozen people mix CDs, but I keep putting off making them. I’m not entirely sure why. I like the people, I want to give them music I like and hope they like it too.

I used to love doing this. When I was in college and high school, I’d sit down with my stereo, pop in a blank 90 or 120 minute cassette and go through my record/cd collection and put together a tape for a friend. I’d have to consider how long each song was, how it transitioned from the one before and into the next. I’d think about the mood of the tape or the theme of the music. When you’re making a mix tape, you have to listen to all of each song. You have to be ready to hit pause at the end of each track and on some songs, figure out when it actually ends and the next one begins, trying to hit the button at that elusive point. When you were done, you had a gift that you’d really put something into. You could say something personal.

Then recordable CDs came along. There’s still some thought to it, you have to decide on the theme, mood, transitions and order still, but when you’re ready to make the CD, you just click a button and the whole thing goes together in a fraction of the time it’d take to play it. Sure, that’s good in some ways, but you lose some of the feel for what it’ll sound like when it is played. More recently, you’re not even sure that that is how it’ll be played. It is very likely that whomever you give the cd to will just rip it to their iPod or iPod like device or their computer and listen to the songs out of order or only a few of them. It loses a little more of the enjoyment of making the mix in the first place.

Now we’re at the point where you’re really just handing people files. Sure, you’ve made a playlist, but that’s an easily ignorable suggestion. It hardly seems worth the effort. You can give them a cd full of mp3s or a memory stick full of mp3s and there may or may not be playlists in there. If you’re lucky, the recipient will look for the list and it’ll be compatible with whatever player they use, but they’ll probably just take the files and mix them in with everything else. It just isn’t fun anymore. You don’t get to say anything with it, not of your own. The artists still do, of course and the music is still great, but you aren’t really a part of it any more.

I’ll probably get around to putting some of the cds together over the next month or so, but I certainly won’t be putting in the effort I once was. I’ll give printed playlists with the files, ’cause how else can you make sure the list is readable, but where do you store that? It isn’t really of a piece anymore.

The technology hasn’t passed me by, I still use all the modern tools. I like them and am growing to like them more every day, but I can also miss what has been lost.  Things weren’t “better back then”, I hate that phrase and it is wrong 99.99% of the time. Things were different and I can miss part of it while acknowledging that I don’t really want to go back.

On a much lighter note, I think it is funny that days after Emily and I had a conversation about this, an on-line comic we both like (Diesel Sweeties) posted this strip:


see more hipster robot webcomics and pixel t-shirts

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How you listen is important too

I was excited to be able to listen to music more often now that I have the iPod. I have around 1/3 of my collection on there now and that’s over 8700 songs. iPod claims it’ll hold 40,000, but I’m guessing that’s average length songs and I must have a bunch that are longer. I say around 1/3 because I’m not counting the cds I bought for $1 just to see or the cds that John left behind when he moved. I’ll be going through all of that and deciding what to keep as I go through the rest of my collection.

Whlie I do occasionally listen to specific albums or songs, I tend to just put the entire collection on shuffle and listen to what comes up. If I really don’t want to hear it I’ll skip, but that doesn’t happen all that often. The best part about this is that I’m listening to albums and songs I’d never gotten around to before. It is a lot easier to listen to a random track from an album than grabbing the album with the intention of listening to the whole thing or evaluating the entire album at once.

The daunting nature of having to listen to the new album left many albums unheard, even when I know I like the artist. Sometimes I just didn’t want to hear an album’s worth of music by them or I’d listen to the first few songs and not really be taken by the album so I’d put it away. Now I’m getting to evaluate the artists little by little and I’m enjoying the process a lot more. I suppose I’ve lost some of my enthusiasm for listening to entire new albums, I had it when I was younger, but these days there’s some apprehension in there as well.

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I have an iPod

A number of years ago, I’m thinking around 8, I had a bad experience with my roommate’s iPod. I was trying to load music onto it from my PC and for some reason the usb cable didn’t provide power to the device. There was no other way to get power to the device so it would run out in the middle of the night in the middle of the download. This completely bolloxed up the songs on the iPod. I tried to remove the songs, but it only removed the file structure while leaving all the data with no way to access it. It was a complete mess.

I mention this so you understand just how surprising it is that I now have an iPod. Around 2 years ago my financee Emily wanted one, so we got one for us to share, an iPod Classic 160 gig. We got the biggest one because then we could both load it with music and put podcasts on it and such. She used it much more than I did and it gradually became her iPod. She loved it and had no problems with it. We used it together in the car for long trips and it worked great. We have a Prius with an aux jack in the center console, so it was simple to run it through the car stereo and it sounded great. It was easier to use than the in-dash 6 cd changer!

This year, we got iPhones. Many friends of ours have them and love them and there are apps for it that I want that aren’t out for any other phone, so we decided to get the iPhone 4 when it came out. I’m going to be putting databases on mine for my music, book and comic collections so I don’t really have room on there for music. As a result, I got an iPod for myself as well. Again, we went with the iPod Classic 160 gig. I’d researched mp3 players and there really aren’t any others out there with the same capacity for a similar price. I figured I’d put the bad experience behind me and give it a try. I was still a little apprehensive because my bad experience was using an iPod with a PC and Emily’s good experience was with her Mac.

Turns out, it is wonderful. It is a good thing I got the 160 gig because I’m already over 48 gig of music on the machine and have a ton to go. No other iProduct could hold as much as I already have on the iPod. I have no idea why I was so resistant to getting some kind of mp3 player all this time. I love music and this is a way to have all of my music with me all of the time. I’d been starting to feel like I didn’t get to listen to music much any more. I don’t listen to it as often when driving with Emily, because we’re talking and that’s great, but it is time I used to listen to music. And I don’t tend to listen to music during my commute because I tend to listen to NPR to find out what’s been happening in the world. One other large amount of time I used to listen to music went away when I moved to Boston: I used to drive up here from NJ around once a month and I’d listen to music on the drive to and from. Now I live here and that drive is gone.

But now I have an iPod! I bring it to work with me and can listen to music on the walk from the parking garage to my office (also the walk back). I’m in computing so when I need to block out the noise around me in the office, I can listen to my iPod and it is considered an ok thing to do. I take it to the gym and get an hour to an hour and a half listening in with each visit. My next step is to replace my old, mostly broken radio in the Pathfinder so I can listen in the truck when I don’t want to listen to NPR. I won’t have a cassette player in the truck any more, but I don’t think that’ll be a problem as I’ll have the aux jack. Of course I’m going to try replacing it myself so who knows how that’ll turn out.

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Piled Up

I have a fairly large music collection. MP3s, CDs, LPs, 45s, cassettes, 78s, even a few 8 tracks and reel to reel tapes. I used to have a 16RPM record, but I don’t know if I still have it. I love music and wanted a place to talk about it, so here it is! I like a good variety of music so I hope there’ll be something here to interest someone other than me. If there isn’t, that’s fine too. Nothing wrong with a place to gather my ideas.

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