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Wow. Great essay. Thanks for posting the link.
Sometimes less is more and sometimes more is less.
"I had nothing in common with people for whom music was merely an entertaining distraction from real life rather than a way of life itself."
Don't have it as bad but good to know there are others out there... (good, maybe).
The best thing I’ve read lately (along with Bob Dylan In America, by Sean Wilentz). In preparing for the final move of my life, I two years ago realized there were in all likelihood not enough hours left in my life to listen to every LP, CD, and tape I own even once more. For years I bought (or acquired for free as promos) more discs each week than I could listen to before the next week’s batch came in, so the backlog piled up. I listened to the most promising, keeping the ones I liked and trading in the others at Amoeba Music for other albums. Low priority albums were sitting there, unopened.
I went through them all, deciding which were no longer of interest to me (my musical taste having moved on since the acquisition of some titles). I got rid of about 1000 or so LPs, and 3000 CDs. Of the remaining 7000 or so albums (LP and CD), I am racing to hear them all as many times as possible before I leave. Some are old favorites, some are new, previously unheard, some contain music that requires multiple hearings of to fully absorb (most especially Classical). The race is on!
I maximize my enjoyable listening time with minimal angst by ripping everything to my music library and letting the streamer play in random mode. All music I like and no decision making.
This works well much of the time. I always loved listening to music on the radio as a kid and this is like programming my own station. I choose what is in the library but not what to listen to when. Great for gaining a deeper apprciation for the music you like most.
Also whenever I play a record, I convert and master it to digital then into the library it goes. Possibly never to have to be played again.
Maintaining a good quality digital music library does require some time invested regularly but may prove worth it for some. 2402 albums in mine to-date. Sharable via Plex.
The author’s premise is that technology has changed our relationship to recorded music- too many choices, too little understanding. Letting an algorithm "curate" is no substitute for learning and better understanding the music and its context. But,
The "too many choices" problem always existed. Sorting the wheat from the chaff has always been an issue. Finding a gem in forgotten or overlooked music has always been a process of discovery.
I’m still mainly an LP listener. I have a fairly large pile of records and still enjoy the process of seeking out ’new to me’ music. A deep collection allows for a rich listening experience-- I can go from Starker to doom metal in one session and have (almost) enough records to satisfy almost any itch. It isn’t the "collecting" that it is important- it is the wealth of choice, along with the research and understanding of the music, its history and context, how it was made and recorded, why one performance or recording is "better" than another. The technology hasn’t foreclosed any of this-- it has enhanced it. It all depends on how you use it. Will i ever listen to everything I own? I don’t know. Is it a race? That seems to miss the point.
Good post, whart. It DOES feel like a race to me, hearing everything I want before the clock runs out. Not to the point of being distracted from enjoying and/or appreciating as I listen, but to the point of not squandering my precious time on music of marginal value. Of course, one often can't make that determination until the time required to listen has already been spent! A first world problem, for sure ;-).
It is a good read. The author's position is not surprising considering his young age. Since I am a few decades older (57 y.o.), it has been easy for me to disregard any computer audio/streaming/downloading. It also helps that my musical interests reside almost totally in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. My system is in a dedicated, treated room. It is a minimalist 2-ch system. It's not used for background music (other systems in the house serve that purpose for my wife). Listening is with eyes closed, the focus is on the music. I enjoy my system immensely. It's used 1-2 hours per week. I enjoy it now much more than when I tried to listen to it every day. It's relaxing, the way enjoying music is supposed to be. To each his own, this approach works wonders for me.