24 March 2009

How to listen at work

Radio in this area is pretty bad. And the cheap little Sony that I have on my desk generally picks up about 5 stations, three of which I actually listen to: NPR on 88.5 (WAMU); classic rock on the sad, pathetic remains of 94.7; and Top 20* on 107.3.

Whereas I like to complain, David is a problem solver at heart, so he gave me a very nice JBL iPod dock for Christmas. I have it on the desk at work and I listen to Morning Edition on the radio until 10:00 and then plug in myPod for the rest of the day. I generally go through about 50 - 80 songs between 10:00 and whenever I chose to leave and, because they are on myPod, they are all songs that I like, although that doesn't stop me from glancing over every so often and thinking "Oh! I like that song!" Such a genius, I tell you.... (At this minute, it's Gene Kelly melting me with "Singin' in the Rain" from a collection of movie music.)

I had been very foot-draggy about ripping my CDs to the computer, but now that I use myPod at work so much, I'm more inspired. As of this morning, there are 901 songs on myPod and I'm hearing music that has been just sitting and waiting for me, feeling all neglected.

The other inspiration to better populate those bit receptors is that Carl, with whom I'm performing in Rehearsal for Murder, is a DJ (weddings, not radio) and we tend to talk music a lot. He has challenged me to put together a mix-CD of songs I like and he will do the same for me. If I'm going to put it on a CD, I need to have it on the computer, so I've been ripping up a storm.**

Because no one should ask for a CD of my favorites and not find the Partridge Family on it, I jumped ahead in my mostly alphabetical ripping order, which means that I get the occasional "I Think I Love You" or "Point Me in the Direction of Albuquerque" at the office, which only improves my day.

The hard part will be narrowing down the playlist to something manageable, but I have decided that it should be a true sampler: pop music new and old; what David calls "art music" and everyone else I know calls "classical;" some jazz; some nonsense; some show tunes; some G&S.

And speaking of G&S, I am very fond of the Savoy operas, but myPod is strongly preferential to them. I only have Gondoliers, Sorcerer, The Zoo, and Iolanthe on so far (loaded for different singing projects), but I hear much more Sullivan (especially Sorcerer) in a day than I do, say Warren Zevon or Mary-Chapin Carpenter.

And, as I like to point out, the reason that pop music is such good office music is that it has just the one dynamic (mf)*** whereas jazz is often softer and classical is all over the map. So I am constantly diving for the little volume buttons so that my co-workers aren't unexpectedly dealing with something fff after a mp Josephine Baker piece.

This morning before work I copied music from The Little Rascals played by the Beau Hunks which includes the particularly nice "Jazz Wedding." Tonight Ludwig van joins the gang.

Hmmm. Maybe Carl is open to this being a box set.

*Based on their extremely limited playlist one could not call them Top 40 without feeling dishonest.
** If you can call it ripping up a storm when the computer crashes and needs to be restarted after each CD, but let that pass.
***Uhh -- mezzo forte. Jeez. You people. Honestly.


Anonymous said...

Years and years ago, when I was working Summers at the Library of Congress, my workspace (in no way could I call it an office) was two floors below ground, with steel decking and tons of books between me and the surface. The ONLY station I could get was WPGC.

Maureen said...

I'd love to enhance my iPod collection but have to overcome a few obstacles:
- Much of what I like, I've already bought on cassette or LP (or both); it seems, I dunno, wasteful or sthg to buy the same thing all over again.
- My Nano only holds 8GB (the 30GB iPod is hiding somewhere and flatly refuses to come out) and is already at least half full, so I have to make some choices.

I'm hardly iTunes-savvy, but I do like the playlist feature. Maybe you could transfer some of your "less dynamic" favorites to an Office playlist, or have lists sorted by liveliness, whether your G&S has dialogue, or some other criterion.

aquazoo said...

I have iTunes, but no portable device yet. While I like running it on "random," I also tend to start weeding out songs that have been played over a certain number of times and let the others catch up. Why, yes, I am AR!