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Monday, November 09, 2009

uncomfortable with shuffle

Not much to add to the online noise today... except to mention that I am annoyed with one noisy aspect of my own personal soundtrack.

The idea of having a 'shuffle' setting on my little iPod is neat, and often useful.  After all, even though I let the computer automatically load up the mix each morning, if the songs are played out of their normal order it is like some unseen DJ is serving up my favorite tunes... in a surprisingly fresh new order.

However whoever came up with the shuffle function didn't take into account the whole concept of classical music which, with some exceptions, is usually made up of multiple movements. 

If I knew in advance that I had classical music on the iPod I would turn off the shuffle function to avoid the risk having the first movement of Elgar's chilling Cello Concerto (Jacqueline du Pré's first recording of her signature piece) followed by the last moment of Howard Hanson's Romantic Symphony (Slatkin conducting the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra)... or worse; having the opening movement Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor 'Pathétique' (Grave – Allegro di molto e con brio, performed by Ingolf Dahl) followed by the short-lived boy band Hanson's 'Mmmmbop'.


This may not sound like a bad thing to many of you, but one of the wonderful things about 'long haired' music is the way early themes and motifs are often hinted at, quoted and developed later in the work. 

Best of all, when you become familiar with a particular classical work, you begin to unconsciously listen for these little internal references and developments... and it immeasurably enhances the listening experience.  Except, of course, when you suddenly have boy band music intruding on your reverie.

I know this must make me sound like a music snob... but clearly I'm not, considering I have 'Mmmmbop' in my iTunes archives.  :-)

Posted by David Bogner on November 9, 2009 | Permalink


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Nothing to do with being a snob. Hearing a tiny part of the medley on the second side of Abbey Road out of context turned me off to shuffle.

Posted by: Elder of Ziyon | Nov 9, 2009 1:13:47 PM

You listen to boy bands?

Not that there's any wrong with that.


Posted by: Karl Newman | Nov 9, 2009 1:58:33 PM

I am not a fan of the shuffle setting and usually don't use it. I guess I enjoy "order" when it comes to music.

Posted by: Ilana-Davita | Nov 9, 2009 3:37:41 PM

I am also an "orderly" listener. The few times I've used shuffle, I've found myself skipping past nearly every selection, even the ones I like. For some reason, hearing it unexpectedly just turns me off. I guess I need a DJ talking over the beginning of a song to enjoy it out of context.

Posted by: Alissa | Nov 9, 2009 4:27:49 PM

There's a partial solution: set up a "smart playlist" that doesn't include music from the "classical" genre. I had a similar issue in that my iPod contains a lot of spoken material, and having a Meat Loaf song followed by a shiur in Bava Metzia is too weird even for me.

If you google "smart playlist" or just fiddle around with iTunes a bit, you'll find a whole slew of potentially interesting features.

Posted by: efrex | Nov 9, 2009 5:07:49 PM

It's also a big problem with Dark Side of the Moon

Posted by: psychotoddler | Nov 9, 2009 7:40:40 PM

One solution is to use a playlist - and I believe you can set up your songs in iTunes so that certain songs always play in sequence (e.g., the various sections of a classical piece).

I had to laugh at your having "Mmmmmbop" in your Archive o' Choons - back about 4-5 years ago, I shared a first class cabin (and a pleasant conversation) with the Hanson boys on my way from Chicago back to Atlanta. Nice enough fellows, but I could not help but wonder what would have happened had the Mistress of Sarcasm been on the flight with me. For years, she had a sign in her room that read, "Hanson Sucks." No way she could have kept a straight face if one of them had tried to talk with her.

Posted by: Elisson | Nov 9, 2009 9:37:20 PM

Mmmmbop Oh my.

Posted by: Jack | Nov 10, 2009 3:01:48 AM

shuffle by album? or is that only an option for growed-up iPod devices?

Posted by: Wry Mouth | Nov 10, 2009 9:38:29 AM

I love the shuffle feature but you know you can exclude songs from shuffle, it's an option in iTunes, right click a song, select Get Info. For example, I set all of my shiurim to "Skip when Shuffling".

Posted by: SaraK | Nov 10, 2009 8:56:44 PM

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