A defacto hiatus and a short RatingQuest update

Seriously, I don’t mean to be neglecting this place. And perish the thought about it being abandoned. Things have just been busy around tunequestlandia lately. I’ve not had much time to read this month, much less write about anything.

So, how about a quick RatingQuest update?

Of the 16,282 songs in my library, 8,775 have received a star rating. That’s 53.9% Only 7,507 to go for the whole library or 1,225 for my year-end goal of 10,000.

If you’re at all interested, here’s the pie chart of the current ratings breakdown:

ratingquest 071119

It shows basically what I’d expect: the majority of my ratings are what I consider to be “good” songs, pleasant enough to listen to at any given moment, while 10% are exceptional. Note: I don’t use one and two stars for rating purposes.

Anyway, here’s hoping I find the time and energy to get back in the publishing saddle soon. In the meantime, feel free to explore the archives or be adventurous with a random page.

I’m quoted on the Star Wars wiki…

The other day, I was perusing the ol’ server logs, doing my periodic behind-the-scenes examination of this site. Mostly it was the usual stuff: popular URLs, a couple image hot-linkers and an ungodly amount of Googlebot crawls. But then something caught my eye: a new and intriguing referring site.


I checked it out, trying to find the connection to here, and discovered a lengthy and detailed encyclopedia article on the orchestral score to the Star Wars derived Shadows of the Empire project. Turns out the wikians behind it picked up part of a post that I wrote about it last year, during the actual tunequest.

Here’s me quoting the Star Wars Wiki quoting me:

Tunequest remarked that the highlight of the score was “The Seduction of Princess Leia,” saying that the piece is “built around a fabulous freakin’ waltz, a first for Star Wars.”

So yay for the slight ego boost.

It’s especially gratifying to see my work included with other prominent film score sites such as Filmtracks and Soundtracks.net. It does seem, however, that some of the factual assertions I made about the score may be in error. On that point, I must defer to the wiki, for it relies on quoted and referenced sources, whereas my own claims were based on the rickety and fragile strands of memory.

Still, the article holds up. Check it out. And if you’re into that sort of thing, explore the Star Wars Wiki (Wookieepedia); it’s crammed full of Star-Warsiness.


As of today, my active library contains 15,601 songs. Of those songs, 7,501 have been given star ratings, leaving 8,100 unrated. So, just as I spent last year listening to every song in my library, I will spend the rest of this year working to completely rate my library and assign stars to as many songs as I can.

The effort I’m putting into this is substantial, but not as all-consuming as the tunequest was. I’ve got plenty of audio to listen to without devoting huge swaths of time to this project. Hopefully, I’ll break the 10,000 mark by the end of the year.

I’ve got my playlists ready; first up: all unrated songs from before 1980 (1332 songs. 3:07:58:26).

Off I go!

The attempt at all-out bribery continues, folks

The bribe is that, if you subscribe to the tunequest feed, I’ll use that medium to point you toward free music downloads that are worthy of your attention.

I had been using WordPress’ “Optional Excerpt” to point to the links whenever I wrote a post. But that was proving cumbersome. It unnecessarily tied the posting of links to my own erratic posting schedule and it was requiring me to bookmark and retrieve lists upon lists of those links. Then I had to format the excerpt for the feed version before posting. In short, it was turning into a major pain.

So I’ve outsourced that job to del.icio.us.

Starting today, those links will be posted as individual feed entries along side my regular posts. You’ll be able to tell the difference by the [del.icio.us] tag at the end of the title. I can point you to them as I find them, regardless of whether I have a post near completion, which hopefully means more great music for you and less work for me.

Plus, it means you don’t actually have to read my posts in order to get the links…

Go ahead and check the feed. You’ll find a link to my favorite song from 2006.

Best of tunequest: Top 10 discoveries of 2006

When I began the original tunequest in February of last year, I had ~6000 songs in my iTunes library that had a play count of zero. Part of that list consisted of old CDs that just hadn’t been played since they were digitized. A good number of them were the result of over-zealous music collection and exploration. That was one of the reasons I decided to undertake the endeavor in the first place.

By the end of the journey, every one of those songs had been played and a good number of them had been rated as well. Of those, 122 songs received a five-star rating after only a single play. About half of those were well-known songs from yesteryear. From those remaining, I whittled down the ten newly discovered or unearthed tracks over the course of the tunequest that had the highest impact on me.

Here they are in no particular order.

Ratatat – Noose – Live at Lee’s Palace Toronto 2004

I first heard this song on a CBC Radio 3 Internet stream, which is the version presented here. It’s the b-side to the Germany to Germany single and I liked it so much, I, a) captured the entire show and, b) instantly bought it from iTunes. Along with Ratatat’s Wildcat, the single from their 2006 album Classics, this is probably my favorite track of the year.


Ratatat - Germany to Germany - Single - Noose

Sonic Youth – Incinerate – from Rather Ripped

Rather Ripped is Sonic Youth’s latest new release, having come out last summer. This song is the perfect example of the ” radical adults’ ” effortless melodies and


Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped - Incinerate

Pearl Jam – World Wide Suicide – from Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam came back into my life last year, after having been relegated to background noise for many many years. It comes in the form of renewed appreciation for the group’s back catalogue as well as the latest album, the self-titled Pearl Jam, and this, it’s lead single.


Pearl Jam - Pearl Jam - World Wide Suicide

Les Baxter – Oasis of Dahkla – from Tamboo!

A song I’ve had digitized for a while, but somehow never listened to. Les Baxter’s smooth and exotic compositions and arrangements have been perennial favorites around here. Oasis of Dahkla is lush and melodious, just like I like it.


Titel – Klaus Doldinger – From Das Boot

A soundtrack that I acquired several years ago, but resisted listening to it for fear that I couldn’t relate to it. What a mistake! Methodic, pulsing and indelibly thematic, Klaus Doldinger’s main title score to this 1981 film is captivating.


Klaus Doldringer - The Longest Day - Music from the Classic War Films - Das Boot (The Boat)

Stereolab – Pack Yr Romantic Mind – from Transient Random-Noise Bursts With Announcements

I’m a big fan of Stereolab’s later releases with their heightened pop sensibilities and have traditionally shied away from the groop’s more expressly noise-influenced early records. Though the production value isn’t quite what I expect from the band, the somber beauty of this song, from their first proper album, quite surprised me.


Stereolab - Transient Random-Noise Bursts With Announcements - Pack Yr Romantic Mind

Joe Hisaishi – Sootballs – From Spirited Away

Hisaishi’s score are as breathtaking as Miyazaki’s animations. This song from 2001’s Spirited Away is full of playful mischief.


Blondie – Sunday Girl – from Parallel Lines

For whatever reason, I had never listened to the second half of Parallel Lines, other than Heart of Glass of course. This song is pure pop bliss and I’m bummed I missed out on it for years.


Blondie - Parallel Lines - Sunday Girl

Stravinsky – Scene 1 from Petrushka – performed by the London Symphony Orchestra under Abbado

This ballet by Stravinsky, composed in 1911, is simply marvelous and the opening legerdemain scene at the Shrovetide Fair is quite engaging.


John Barry – James Bond with Bongos – from From Russia with Love

If you thought James Bond was cool before, wait until you hear that famous theme slowly dissolve into some uber-smooth slacker jazz before 007 is put in danger once again. From THE master, John Barry, doing what he does best.


Learning to listen to music again

Even though the finale of the actual tunequest was a foreseen event, the end itself turned out to be quite abrupt. One moment there was music to listen to, the next I was all done, staring at an empty playlist. I took a day to revel in the accomplishment, then I ran into an interesting side-effect.

What’s next?

For nearly eleven months, I had abdicated my ability to choose for myself what music to listen to, relying on the tunequest Smart Playlist to select albums for my consideration. To be sure, I had freedom within the confines of that playlist, but for the most part, it was a press-play-and-see-what-we-get experience.

I’d been on autopilot for so long, that making a decision about what to do next is seriously challenging. Logically speaking, I know I have some acquisitions from the past year to revisit. And hours worth of podcasts to re-subscribe to and catch up on. There are audiobooks and iPod videos as well.

All of which I’m looking forward to tackling, but where to start?

For the time being, I’ve reactivated a couple playlists of randomly selected tunes. So I’ve at least got music to listen, but once again I’m not really in control of it. Which is fine–it’s all four and five star songs, but the casualness feels weird, not having a purpose behind it.

Tunequest by the numbers

A post full of arcane trivia and statistics about my very personal iTunes library. Compares and contrasts the state of the library at the beginning of my musical journey as well as some numbers about my progress throughout 2006. Archived here for posterity.

Library Stats

Songs: 14812
Time: 42:18:11:39
Avg Song length: 4:09
Total Play Counts: 25457
Top 10% of songs account for 49% of play counts

Post Tunequest
Songs: 14084
Time: 40:23:37:18
Avg Song length: 4:05
Total Play Counts: 38674
Top 10% of songs account for 35.3% of play counts

Songs deleted during 2006: 1044
Songs added during 2006: 339
Net change: -782

Graph showing how many songs/time spent listening for each month

tunequest monthly progress 2006

Month Songs Played Time (h:mm:ss)
Jan 376 28:04:55
Feb 865 65:35:48
Mar 1043 80:03:55
Apr 1177 81:47:13
May 1295 86:29:02
Jun 1108 77:19:01
Jul 1412 97:29:53
Aug 1265 88:27:37
Sep 1179 80:23:49
Oct 1541 104:59:44
Nov 1222 82:50:45
Dec 1601 106:05:36

Superchargin’ through December; that’s how you complete a tunequest.