A month of music – part 4: listening to my entire iTunes library by date added.

So, it’s that time of year again!

In 2009 I listened to every bit of music in my iTunes library as sorted by track name, and in 2010 I did listened to the entire thing as sorted by by track length, and again in 2010 sorted by play number.

It’s a fun little project, and makes me take notice of the music I have in new ways. Over the past month I’ve listened to every track as sorted by date added.

What did I find out this time?

Of the four ways I’ve listened to all my music in order, it was the one that had the greatest effect. Listening as sorted by track length told me a lot about the kind of music I own, but by date added it told me a lot about me. Changing tastes of music is only the smallest part of it.

Mostly it’s about the triggered memories. This is a great way to relive your life through your memories, in order, as triggered by “Oh shit, I remember buying this!” or “I know where I was the first time I heard this track, and ripped it from that CD!”

If I looked through a diary, that would work, but most people don’t keep diaries. But everyone has a collection of music. Listening by track name is just a whimsical thing that only someone like me would do, someone who has almost unlimited free time, gives in to random impulses, and bloody-minded enough to stick with long term projects.

I think everyone should listen to all their music as sorted by date. Then again, maybe most people aren’t like me, and might not get anything from it at all. Who knows.

Some more notes:

  • When you sort all the tracks by date added, if an album has the same time and date (to the nearest minute) it then lists the tracks alphabetically by name, not by track number. I’m not sure why, but it meant that I listened to albums in an unusual order. Unless, of course, the track names were “Track 1, track 2, track 3, etc.”
  • The first track, for the second time, was “5 seconds of almost silence”, a track I use to separate music track on CDs for my show. It’s also the shortest track in my library, as well as the most played.
  • Next is a whole load of music that I copied direct from my old PC onto my macbook when I bought it back in February of 2008. This includes 311 songs, 20.2 hours, or 1.5 GB of music. A lot of this is from my collection of CDs from the previous decade, but from CDs I didn’t still have with me physically.
    What did this mean? This batch included a LOT of memories. Stuff I’d downloaded for specific shows, CDs I’d borrowed from friends at university and ripped, some music from Pola’s computer, and lots more.
  • The next main batch of music is from a few weeks later, when I wanted to have the titles of every track listed, rather than just “Track 1, track 2, track 3, etc.” Instead of doing anything manually, I just ripped all the CDs I had, let iTunes grab the track titles from the internet automagically, and deleted the previous files.
    This included a lot more music that Pola and I had bought together, or that we both liked so that we’d carry the music with us on road trips in a CD carrying case. Good times!
  • Once I had an iTunes account, much of the music I bought was through that, and not CD. A lot of these were impulse buys, or buying new albums from favourite artists. Also there are many EPs and albums that I bought after hearing the music on a YouTube video, and iTunes is usually the easiest way to grab it.
  • At the EJC in 2008 I organized the EJC Open Stages, and put in lots of CDs to rip for the artists appearing on stage. Also someone gave me a USB thumb drive with a big collection of ska music and other stuff, and it somehow got imported into my iTunes library. I liked most of it, so kept most of it.
  • Some CDs that someone gave to me. Those were ripped.
  • Some music from musicians I work with on cruise ships. Well, to be honest the style of music normally isn’t to my taste, so I don’t keep the music in rotation, except for a very few artists.
  • Oh look, all of Jonathan Coulton’s Thing A Week music. Mixed memories of my own attempt to make a song a week for a just six weeks, rather than for an entire year.
  • And then quite a few albums bought at the suggestion of various girlfriends and friends who are girls over the last two years. Lots of memories there too!
  • Albums and EPs by musicians I met on my vacation in New York in September 2010. Those guys were all super talented! I still buy their new music as and when it comes out.
  • Various nostalgia trip! Downloading albums I owned on CD, cassette tape or (I’m not kidding here) minidisc when I was 20, but since lost. Groove Armada are still cool, right? Basement Jax? Air’s Moon Safari? Jamiroqui? Love it! That reminds me, I should find some Orbital and Leftfield again some time. This way I can get double memories, of when I first listened to that music, and also when I buy it again 10 (or more) years later.

Whew! A lot of memories. That will do for now.

But what next? Listen to the whole iTunes library as sorted by… release date? That might work, but only three quarters of my library has the year of release. Beats per minute? Only a few dozen tracks have that info attached. Genre? Album? Artist? Those are a bit boring. No matter, I’ll think of something.


One comment to this article

  1. Anthony Naples

    on 2011/10/18 at 15:55 -

    Luke – I ‘ve done this same thing using shuffle. It always amazes me how differently I hear songs when in a different setting. Songs really bring out different features other songs when rubbed up against each other in unexpected ways. Also, I’ll hear album tracks that I never paid any mind to – and I won’t even know where they come from at times – but suddenly I appreciate them.

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