The Rambler :: blog

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Computer music 

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So, quite a few people around the place have been buying big harddrives and transferring all their music onto MP3s - with attendant worries about organisation, and backups.

Well, much as may, in the past, have come across as an MP3-head, I'm very reluctant to lose my physical format music. I've been getting kinda bored with iTunes recently - finding myself playing CDs live on the computer rather than as MP3s, or just listening to the radio. Strange that. Something about the overabundance of choice iTunes presents you with. You can't scan your racks and let something catch your eye. Or, even better, let someone play you something you've not heard before.

This really hit me when (shameful admission coming up), I was making some cheeky copies of discs I'd bought friends and family as Christmas pressies. Well, I've spent the money on them, why shouldn't I get a listen...?

Ahem. I'm sure they do the same.

Anyway, thoughts of Christmas benevolence to one's kith and kin aside, the fact that I now have MP3 copies of records that I'm not going to own physical versions of is really unsatisfying, and leaves me feeling pretty cold. For the purposes of research, and a basic desire to hear all music ever, then great, I've got some copies of some stuff I've not heard before, but I don't actually have anything particularly nice to go alongside the basic acquisitive impulse. One of my greatest pleasures - in an OCD kind of way - is unwrapping new CDs, peeling off all the price labels and other crap, reading every single word in the inlay, looking for names I recognise in the acknowledgments. It's stating the obvious, but MP3s don't let you do that.

And this isn't an ethical question for me. It's one about the pure experience of music - and more and more I'm feeling that sitting in front of a computer watching it run through a giant database table is a pretty unrewarding experience - no matter the quality of the music. Music is best heard moments after slotting or placing a disc into or onto some sort of hi-fi machine and sitting down with a cup of tea; or through headphones on cold autumn streets.

This is all a roundabout way of saying that after thinking about such issues - and the aforementioned backup question - I decided I needed a decent CD burner. Not a second hard drive. 3/4 of my MP3s I already have on original CD, so no back up needed there anyway, which saves me a ton of data that I would otherwise need to store. And, properly organised, burnt CDs would bring everything into the living room and cups of tea on the sofa, and give me something round to slot into a machine. Enter ebay, and 30 minutes later I've bid for and won a nice Lacie drive. Isn't the internet great?

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