Saturday, December 02, 2006

Is music listening for enjoyment or discovery?

Yes it's been awhile...

With my busy schedule and preoccupation with folk music this last year, I have been somewhat ignoring my classical music listening. Now by that I don't mean that I haven't been listening to radio stations (over the air or online), but I really haven't been actively seeking out new recordings or keeping up with the latest recordings. (Which was a lot easier when I worked at a classical radio station and had to catalog all of the latest). Well, a chance purchase of Gramophone has sort of revitalized my interest. I have been going through a debate in my mind over how I am going to consume music, in addition to making it actively. Either by recordings or radio. I have been satisfied by the latter, esp. in ther performance aspect; but very few stations give the variety I seek. Sometimes I want plain folk music, sometimes Celtic, sometimes orchestral, sometimes choral, sometimes barbershop, band, get the picture.

There is also my classical CD collection which has been largely ignored, since I've been working again. It is a good reference source, but there are some major holes which I don't really have the time to plug in. As good as it is, it's not a source for discovery for new or unheard compositions. So, I bit the bullet yesterday and subscribed to Naxos. I could have gone for Web Radio, with all of its many channels, but I went for the on-demand service for $19.95/yr. Do I get downloads? No, but I get streaming on-demand for any of their recordings (and their subsidiary labels).
That should suffice for work. Plus I think it'll help at work, when I need to identify works which I think I have an idea what it is, but I don't have easy access to a recording. On the broadband connection at work, it sounds really good.

Which brings up the issue of compression. Yes, it uses it. iTunes uses it. Everyone does--some better than others. In my everyday life, it doesn't bother me (except when I notice). But I can live with it. I don't regularly strive for aural perfection, because it's a moving target. But I don't like walking around with personal music devices. I don't think one should be in public and walk around with them. I like to engage (or ignore) at will, and earbuds are a barrier. I'm also addicted to high quality, comfortable headphones which cushion the ear, rather than buds which stick right into the ear (not comfortable to me). So, I have many issues with Eyedevices of all ilk. But I want access to music when I'm doing other things. If I'm at home that can be my stereo system, but again I'm not home that much these days and it's a pain to schlep CDs to multiple computers. So now, if I want to listen to Brahms' 3rd violin sonata, I can punch it up on Naxos, and listen to it whenever and wherever I want (if a web connection is available). For other times, I can download a copy on iTunes or track down a cheap CD copy. In the car, radio and CDs work best, and I don't tend to listen to classical music CDs in the car. That's what works best for me right now. Okay, enough random thoughts for the day...time for other tasks.

Here's an article from the Christian Science Monitor on whether compressed music is good enough, for further thought:

"Thousands of songs in your pocket: An audiophile's nightmare?
Will consumers who demand portable music always have to compromise on sound quality?"


Post a Comment

<< Home