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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
Monday, April 2 2001

Better than radio

If your goal in enjoying music is to have all liked selections in a surprise sequence with no dissonance (as my goal is), the computer playing option is, at last, better than playing the radio.

I earlier preferred radio to CDs or other recordings for three reasons. 1. After the first play-through, there is no "a-ha" experience left in the CD, and playing music is greatly enhanced by "a-has" or even more, "awwwws." You've heard it; you know what's coming next; there are no pleasant surprises. 2. Prerecorded media mixed by the recording company is never (with one or two exceptions in the history of music—my opinion, your mileage is likely to vary) dissonance-free. No album is free of a few clinkers and to my money, most have only a couple "awwww"-quality recordings out of a dozen. At best, the other 10 are mediocre, often relatively poor covers of better versions of the same songs by the original artists. 3. Hearing the same voices and stylings for a whole album is in itself a form of dissonance.

Certainly, radio is a major source of dissonance, from both commercials and clinker records, but before I discovered computer-play, because the radio also gives an great "awww" when it does come up with something you dig, that's sufficient grounds for preferring it over CDs or tapes.

The people who run Napster (and the genius behind it is, as of last time I read about him a few weeks ago, a 19-year-old could-be "hacker" who has made millions in the project but now also stands to lose all that) say that the legal wrangling the record conglomerates are putting them through are at bottom line about the way you get your music. Not in the sense of how you obtain your copy of a "single," but how you arrange and play it. I agree; that is the nub.

If you have a collection of "liked selections" amounting to five, 10, or 20 hours of potential listening (the latter describes my gigabyte of mp3 files), you can download a "jukebox" to play it on from Winamp. It's free, but it would be worth getting if they were charging a nominal fee for it. You have all your mp3 music files in one folder (or perhaps several folders if you like all-pop one day, all country and western on another, all Christmas music on another, etc.). Open the folder in Windows Explorer. Select all of the selections by clicking control-a in the folder. Drag the highlighted list into the Winamp playlist space (it copies the list, not the files, and doesn't actually move the files). You could even next open and drop another folder's worth of tunes into Winamp.

Once they're in Winamp, click the Misc button. Then click the Sort button that appears from Misc. From the menu popping up from "Sort," select "Randomize list." Voila! All five, 10, or 20 hours of music has been sorted in a random play sequence that you've never heard before and may never hear again. The more hours you drop in, the greater the randomization, of course. Also, you can also totally control the sequence by selecting and moving which ever selections you want into Winamp. If you've just discovered a new favorite song and can't get enough of it (who hasn't been in a cafe where someone plays the same song over and over on the jukebox?), pull just it's title into Winamp and set it to repeat, and it will play it over and over (Winamp's settings are virtually the same ones available on CD consoles, except that only my brother Bob has an infinite selection randomizing option on his CD player).

Still to come: limitations of the computer interface, and work-arounds.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Worth thinking about

The trouble with the world is not that people know too little, but that they know so many things that ain't so!

—Mark Twain

Sent by Happy Mountain

Lenten thought

Christ compares the kingdom of heaven to a treasure hidden in a field. Someone finds this treasure and hides it, and in the joy of discovery, goes and sells everything he or she possess and buys the field. We should note that the treasure, once discovered, is hidden for protection's sake. It is not enough for us to stake our claim to the joy of heaven, guarding it from the forces of evil, if we do not also hide it from human praise. In this present life we are traveling on the road which will lead us to our homeland. Evil lies in wait along our route like a highway robber. Those who carry their treasure openly on the road are asking to be robbed.

St. Gregory the Great, pope of Rome, sixth century

Lenten thoughts (i.e., pertaining to repentance and spiritual growth, from any faith-community perspective) are solicited from readers.

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