Sources of music
by Edward Z. Yang
I love listening to music, especially new and interesting pieces that I've never heard before. Unfortunately, being a somewhat frugal spender my own personal collection of music grows very slowly; perhaps a bit too slowly for my own tastes. When I need new music, where do I turn?
- MixApp is a collaborative music listening application. At its worst, it can be simply used as an extension to your current music library; anyone who is your friend and who is online, you can search for music and queue it up for yourself. However, the serendipitous part of MixApp is when you've dropped into a room of people you don't know and music you don't know, but man, it sounds good and suddenly you're being taken on a sonic adventure across artists you've never heard of and a genre you've just discovered and wham: you just got MixApp'ed. Update: MixApp is dead (the founders went on to build Meteor), though there are replacements popping up like turntable.fm
- Pandora and last.fm are both pretty reliable methods to get a stream of genre appropriate singles, one after another. The serendipity level is not as nice as MixApp, though, so I don't find myself turning to these much.
- There's not really much that can beat a good radio host. People like David Garland and John Schaefer have such a diverse and deep palette of musical knowledge, and they've had every evening for who knows how many years to hone the craft of sharing this with the listeners of public radio. I was very pleased when WQXR finally managed to get a high-quality internet stream back online.
- I was room-skipping on MixApp one evening, and was caught by the Kleptone's latest album Uptime/Downtime. I have nothing against mix artists: the whole tradition of music has been founded upon the borrowing, stealing, and building upon of earlier work, and in many cases, an adept mix artist can improve the "popular music" material it was founded upon. Or sometimes the source material is just really awesome, and should be listened to in its own right: one of the most interesting musical adventures I've had recently was taking the samples list for Uptime/Downtime and listening to each source piece in turn.
- Orchestra, wind ensemble, small ensemble, or really any type of ensemble, rehearsal, affords time several months to get intimately familiar with a particular piece of music. I would have never have gotten the chance to fully appreciate contemporary works such as Bells for Stokowski or Persichetti's Masquerade for Band without this really in-depth exploration into a piece.
I should consider myself extremely lucky to be living in an era where new music is constantly at my fingertips. How do you seek out new and interesting music?
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