The iconic variation solution

I’m still messing with playlists. If you read yesterday’s post, you’ll note that I mentioned that one of the fine-tuning problems with my continuous mix of music was the ‘resting’ issue – particularly of Gold tracks.

In other words – if I hear a classic song that I haven’t heard for AGES and I love it, then that’s usually an indicator of a good mix. If I hear the same song again the next day, then the whole mix will strike me as repetitive, even if that was the only song I heard again.

The phenomenon seems directly proportional to the degree to which I notice that the song is playing. Yesterday, it happened to me with Joan Armitrading’s ‘Me, Myself, I’. What a great song. Haven’t heard it in such a long time. Except… it came on again today.

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And the beat goes on…

While I’ve been listening to – and occasionally tweaking – the rather pleasing continuous mixes of music I’ve been creating for myself (so far, I have a day playlist and a night playlist), I’ve noticed some interesting things.

First – the concept of resting music, particularly music that I would categorise as ‘Classic’ (or, in radio parlance, ‘Gold’), is an important one.

Nothing makes a playlist seem repetitive quite like encountering a song that you haven’t heard in years and thinking “Oh my god – I LOVE this! I haven’t heard it in years!” only to hear it again a couple of times over the next day or two. I had no problem hearing other stuff more than once – but I think the Gold tracks need to appear in the playlist, surprise me, let me have my moment – and then go away for a bit. Easily fixed.

But the other thing that I thought was interesting – and I became a bit fascinated with it – was the realisation that the phenomenon of ‘Extended Mixes’ appears to be a uniquely 80s thing. In other words, they’re a big part of my teenage years, and not something we really have any more.

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In search of ‘The Right Next Song’

This won’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows me – but I’m a bit obsessed with playlists and mixtapes. I like to make compilations of songs. There’s nothing particularly special about that, I guess. But it is something I think a good deal about. It’s kind of my thing.

Making mixtapes for other people has always been one of my favourite things to spend time on. I don’t do it nearly often enough these days, but I’ve never really stopped doing it. Since the age of about 13, my life has been spent in search of “the right next song”. And it’s something I’m still working on.

I always give it a lot of thought, and I’ll listen to and fine-tune a compilation a dozen times or more before I make a gift of it. It invariably means a whole bunch of different stuff to me than it means to the recipient, and that’s probably as it should be – but as a piece of communication, it comes in just above the long, handwritten letter on the genuine-ometer.

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Speaking as a film maker…

Screen Shot 2014 03 31 at 00 17 58

I gave a talk at Flatpack Festival today about Occupy Music – the film I’m making about independent music and alternative economics in Brazil.

I showed some interview segments and still images from the film – but spent most of my time explaining the fact that despite having spent six weeks travelling around Brazil and accumulating around 24 hours of interview material – I’m not really sure yet what the story is.

The more I work on the film, the more complex it seems to become, and while I didn’t think I was just going to be a passive narrator that explained some things about how it all works – I didn’t expect my own struggle trying to make sense of what Fora do Eixo is, where its boundaries lie and what it all means would become the centrepiece of the story. But that’s how it seems to be going.

The film isn’t edited yet, and there’s going to be more of me talking in it than I had originally intended, so I filmed my presentation today on the off chance I might say something sensible and helpful that could illuminate the material I already have. And I think there may be one or two bits in there that could be useful for the finished movie.

All I need now is a budget to edit, an epiphany or two, and some free time.