on attention span and epic works

tunequest in review: for the week ending may 27, 2006.

stats: 226 songs played over 16 hours. a further 11 were removed and 1 was added, for a net progress of 236 songs, which is a nearly 50% decline from last week's performance.

well, it figures that this week's would be lackluster compared to last; i'm nothing if not inconsistent. it's not surprising though. i knew there would be a drop this week. for one thing, i was out of commission for most of friday. the office closed early and then i spent far too much time at ikea (neat furniture. bad service, but the restaurant serves free coffee until 10am). furthermore, i apparently developed a severe case of space brain at work, resulting in much un-listened-to music. hell, hours would go by before i would even remember that i had an ipod with me. this week's workload wasn't that heavy. i really have no other explanation, save for adult-onset ADD.

and that brings me to an interesting phenomenon. i'll be the first to admit that my attention span is about as reliable as a kitten's (damn you television!) and there are times that without serious effort, i can become easily distractable. which is why it's ironic that i'm drawn to music projects of record length. (and books too for that matter).

mo' longer mo' better is my general rule.

an 80 minute symphony (such as mahler's 9th)? bring it on i say. john barry's complete james bond scores? why not? my 3 hour/3 disc kit-bash of orbital's in sides or a 2.5 hour pearl jam concert? turn it up!

the natural result of these 2 forces is a cycle of initiation, abandon and renewal until i either 1) devote the proper effort and attention to the project 2) keep muddling through it without fully appreciating or comprehending its scale, or 3) give it up completely (that last one almost never happens. i always think i'll get around to it). case in point: i've had both bernstein's complete mahler cycle and hughes' complete holmboe cycle for nearly 2 years and there are still several works that i've never listened to.

but that's partly why i've undertaken the tunequest, to give those under-appreciated masterpieces the chance to shine. and it is working, to a point. i have already found or re-discovered much great music and i'm only 1/3 of the way through the project.

but there is a downside. in order to reach my goal of listening to every song in my library by the end of the year i basically have to "speed listen" to everything, rushing through as many songs as possible. each song gets a single listen, then i'm onto the next. there's no time for me to dwell on any of these new discoveries of mine and give them serious critical thought. it's not so bad with pop and rock music, those songs being generally less complex. but for classical, jazz and film scores, one listen is certainly not enough to develop a full appreciation for the art.

i guess that's what tunequest 2007 will be for…

anyway, this week's complete album list is in the

  • gorillaz [gorillaz]
  • daft punk [homework]
  • bran van 3000 [glee]
  • dennis mccarthy [deep space nine: the way of the warrior]
  • filter [hey man nice shot] single
  • beastie boys [hello nasty]
  • berlin philharmonic orchestra performing mahler's* symphony no 10
  • royal scottish national orchestra performing rautavaara's symphony no 7 “angel of light”
  • combustible edison [i, swinger]
  • orbital [in sides]
  • can [inner space]
  • david arnold [independence day]
  • boards of canada [hi scores]
  • akira ifukube [godzilla (1954)]
  • mark de gli antoni [horse tricks]
  • the postal service [give up]
  • the cardigans [first band on the moon]
  • morcheeba [fragements of freedom]
  • the beta band [hot shots ii]
  • daft punk [human after all]
  • jim o'rourke [eureka]

*i'm a mahler purest regarding the 10th symphony, which was still a very rough draft when he died. large portions of the symphony have been completed by other composers, diluting it's authenticity as a work by mahler.

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