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View Full Version : Music at a Wheel's Click, but Do We Really Hear?


MacBytes
Nov 7, 2004, 11:56 AM
Category: Opinion/Interviews
Link: Music at a Wheel\'s Click, but Do We Really Hear? (http://www.macbytes.com/link.php?sid=20041107125610)
Posted on MacBytes.com (http://www.macbytes.com)

Approved by Mudbug

wowser
Nov 7, 2004, 12:01 PM
I still think vinyl is the best music medium (recorded). It is the closest you can get to seeing the band (or hearing them) live. It is a ritual, and experience which is not matched by the thin, lifeless sounds of CDs and MP3s. Even bad albums sound great on vinyl - Talking Head's True Stories, for instance. With MP3s it is all too easy just to skip around until there is something you like. The ritual is lost.

mainstreetmark
Nov 7, 2004, 02:26 PM
I tend to agree. I used to listen to an entire Pink Floyd album, front-to-back. Nowadays, Money comes up on the iPod and I frequently skip it, since I'm not in the mood or something. The iPod definitely breaks down the "album" concept that The Beatles worked so hard to bring to the world.

Mainyehc
Nov 7, 2004, 04:44 PM
The iPod definitely breaks down the "album" concept that The Beatles worked so hard to bring to the world.

OHH please, not the Beatles again! :D

Just kidding... Yep, I tend to agree, too. And what about when you hear a song from a particular album, when in shuffle mode, and then you think "hmmmm, now I just feel like listening to the next one". You know, like Paranoid Android and Subterranean Homesick Alien, two great songs I'd rather hear together ;) (oh, wait, Radiohead isn't avaliable in iTMS either... :rolleyes: ). In iTunes, with Party Shuffle, you can always do that, while with the iPod, that's impossible to do. This brings up an interesting question: would it be feasible to implement Party Shuffle on the iPod? And if so, would it be usable?

Anyway, sometimes I make an on-the-go playlist in which I enqueue (is it spelled like that?) full albums, with the suffle turned off. So, there's still hope, no one forces you to use shuffle (though that Shuffle Songs menu thing is very compelling...)

Oh, wait!! That reminds me... What if you're listening to a song, in shuffle library mode, then go to the main menu, and toggle shuffle songs to off... The iPod will proceed in playing that song's album, right?

Damn it, I should get my hands on one of those 4G iPods... My 3G suits me fine, but it's a hassle to toggle shuffle... :p

Ugg
Nov 7, 2004, 06:14 PM
I tend to agree. I used to listen to an entire Pink Floyd album, front-to-back. Nowadays, Money comes up on the iPod and I frequently skip it, since I'm not in the mood or something. The iPod definitely breaks down the "album" concept that The Beatles worked so hard to bring to the world.

But wasn't the "album" concept a way of breaking the single? It's just another stage in the evolution of music. Some albums are always worth listening to in the order the artist intended, some albums only have a song or two. I hate this constant "imminent death of music" dirge that is going around. Change is a constant.

There are times I like shuffle, if only the iPod would allow me to skip the classical genre and my audiobooks, and there are times when I don't, the important thing is that I have a lot more control over my music and am not limited to someone's expectations of how, when, where and why I should listen to it.

The guy who wrote the article ended it on a sour note saying to the effect that we'll all inhabit our own music hall in the future. I can't see that happening. Fifty years from now we'll be able to wirelessly access music through a small chip attached to our ear (maybe, who knows right?) and some old geezer at the NYT will be saying the same thing yet I'll bet you big bucks that live music will be just as popular as it is now. Anyway, it's not the music that draws people to concerts, it's the crowd you're sharing it with, whether it's a piece by Mozart or the Grateful Dead.

I like that our approach to music is changing, and what's more, I love my iPod.

jbembe
Nov 7, 2004, 06:35 PM
I tend to agree. I used to listen to an entire Pink Floyd album, front-to-back. Nowadays, Money comes up on the iPod and I frequently skip it, since I'm not in the mood or something. The iPod definitely breaks down the "album" concept that The Beatles worked so hard to bring to the world.


Baloney article. I once rumaged through all the CD's I owned so I could take them to work and play them one by one in the boombox there. Now I can simply click and drag into my "today" folder and play on shuffle (BY ALBUM) and avoid lugging all those CDs around and trying to keep track of them, etc. Plus I get playcount information that helps me automatically select albums I haven't picked by hand in a while.

The iPod is a tool that makes life easier, not create vapid music consumers. The vapid music consumer exists before and after the iPod.

jbembe
Nov 7, 2004, 06:38 PM
And what about when you hear a song from a particular album, when in shuffle mode, and then you think "hmmmm, now I just feel like listening to the next one". You know, like Paranoid Android and Subterranean Homesick Alien, two great songs I'd rather hear together ;) (oh, wait, Radiohead isn't avaliable in iTMS either... :rolleyes: ). In iTunes, with Party Shuffle, you can always do that, while with the iPod, that's impossible to do.

Not true!! I do this ALL THE TIME. If you have the next song on your iPod, all you have to do is change the settings to shuffle by album. Normally when I'm struck by this I want to hear more than just the next song anyway. But if you don't want to hear the whole album, just change back to shuffle by song. Assuming your library is big enough, it shouldn't repeat anything...

hulugu
Nov 7, 2004, 06:44 PM
I tend to agree. I used to listen to an entire Pink Floyd album, front-to-back. Nowadays, Money comes up on the iPod and I frequently skip it, since I'm not in the mood or something. The iPod definitely breaks down the "album" concept that The Beatles worked so hard to bring to the world.

I think you have a point, but this is all just hand-wringing by the gray-beards and the artists who are concerned that the paradigm is changing; of course it is! It always has.
While the album concept can yield spectacular results: Pink Floyd's The Wall, The Beatles' White Album, even The Flaming Lips Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots; but it can also result in two or three good songs packaged together with a bunch of anemic B-sides that should never have reached the album stage. Music could become more darwinian, the individual song reaching a new accendancy and becoming more central to the overwhelming experience of music than an entire album.
However, I would counter that the iPod and iTunes allows the user to either listen to whole albums, themes, or certain songs at their will. I think this is what scares everyone, the user, the hoi polloi has more control than every about their personal experience, and the Ralphs have nothing to do but wring their hands.
Furthermore, while Vinyl does have an emotive ritual to it, it is just as anachronistic as setting the fire in a stove or saddling the horse. Those are both enjoyable rituals, but in the day-to-day environ, not much fun to do.
Vinyl can have a lovely sound, but I suspect some of its appeal comes from a nostalgia. For me personally, it was Saturday mornings, when my father would crank up his stereo (with reel-to-reel and vinyl) and listen to the Who, Jefferson Airplane, etc. And, I remember clearly hearing Miles Davis' Kind of Blue from a record with a girl I liked while it snowed outside.
But, I feel just as generous to that first time I heard U2's Joshua Tree on a tape-player in an old van shooting through the hills west of Yuma, and I love Nick Cave roaring from my stereo and Powerbook.
Music is music.

macnulty
Nov 7, 2004, 07:18 PM
I tend to agree. I used to listen to an entire Pink Floyd album, front-to-back. Nowadays, Money comes up on the iPod and I frequently skip it, since I'm not in the mood or something. The iPod definitely breaks down the "album" concept that The Beatles worked so hard to bring to the world.

I don't think the consumer s breaking it down as much as the labels and artists are when putting together an album you get 2 or 3 good tunes and the rest so-so. The majic of the Beatles was the entire album was good. Economically, if a band had 10 great songs why what you put all 10 on one album? At least split them between two ( or more ) and maximise record sales, it is less of the industry of the artist then the industry of the accountant.

Mainyehc
Nov 7, 2004, 07:34 PM
Not true!! I do this ALL THE TIME. If you have the next song on your iPod, all you have to do is change the settings to shuffle by album. Normally when I'm struck by this I want to hear more than just the next song anyway. But if you don't want to hear the whole album, just change back to shuffle by song. Assuming your library is big enough, it shouldn't repeat anything...

I know that, and I pointed that out in my post ;)
It's just that with a 3G iPod that involves a few more clicks (taps, actually) than with the 4G... One of the features I wanted to have even before the 4G was announced was precisely that; Shuffle on the main menu. WHY OH WHY can't Apple give us that through a Software Update (I know why, but I just feel like whining today :D ) :p

nagromme
Nov 7, 2004, 08:53 PM
Enforcing the "album" concept was gone when CDs came out. People who wanted to (or felt they should) hear a whole album still did so. Other people would skip the songs they didn't like--just as easy on a CD as on an iPod.

I still have a turntable and vinyl and plan to keep them. But then again, I pick up the needle and skip the songs I don't like :D

I don't think "forcing" people to hear a whole album is of value. It's like forcing people not to read the end of a book first. It's not the way the artist intended you to read/listen, but in the end they're still enjoying your work in their own way--and nothing can stop that anyway.

Then think of radio--a huge percentage of the music people hear. That DESTROYS the album... stations won't even play the other songs on an album--even when they're great. They'll repeat one or two to death instead.

Meanwhile, having my digital music in one place makes me listen to albums I'd forgotten I owned, or would be unlikely to grab from the shelf. AND it makes me listen to songs I didn't like at first and tended to skip on my CD player. They come up in the shuffle and often I appreciate them better now.

Lastly, an iPod lets you hear MORE music--you have it with you in your life.

I think an iPod (or iTunes jukebox) can help you appreciate music more then ever.

kiwi-in-uk
Nov 8, 2004, 01:44 AM
The article closes with ... "It may end with one concert hall per listener."

Isn't this the whole point of the iPod? A hundred or so years ago the concert hall was the only way to listen to music (aside from those who made their own).

Recordings (edison et al) changed all that, and the iPod is simply the next step in an evolution from public to private music.

Doesn't stop me from enjoying live orchestras, bands and the ritual of vinyl - but I also enjoy the ability to carry around ALL my music and play any of it depending on my mood.

Loge
Nov 8, 2004, 02:21 AM
I agree with the previous posts suggesting the iPod gives you many more ways to enjoy music while not preventing you from doing what you did before. In particular it is good for listening to long classical or opera pieces, where you don't have to flip the side or change the CD.

hob
Nov 8, 2004, 06:25 AM
you can't blame the ipod for this one!!

YOU choose what you listen to on it - it's just a tool. I often listen to full albums on my ipod, and also when shuffling wish I could quickly listen to the next coupla tracks as well, so maybe that's something Apple could look into - but they don't prevent you from listening to albums in the same way you could on vinyl or cd...!

then again, vinyl's just much more fun :)

Hob

applebum
Nov 8, 2004, 04:14 PM
There are times I like shuffle, if only the iPod would allow me to skip the classical genre and my audiobooks...



Make a smart playlist man....just tell it to skip the classical and audiobook genres and then put the playlist on your pod.

trebblekicked
Nov 9, 2004, 02:06 AM
i rather liked the article. it was well written, and it was just an old school high brow chap giving us some different angles on the ipod phenomenon (not all of them negative.)

i don't even have an ipod yet. i work for myself, and i work on my macs, so my itunes library is always playing, day in and day out. i have an mp3 cd deck in my car, and i find now that 200 songs isn't enough. i'm very used to having every song i own available in a few keystrokes. is that for the better or for the worse? both, probably.

the mp3 player/jukebox has fundamentally changed the way music is used (if not yet how it is consumed), and it seems poets everywhere are starting to wax philosophic about the effects.