Renaissance: French for 'rebirth'; the revival of learning and culture.
I think that I've always had this oddly 'dead' part of my soul: I've never had much of an emotional attachment to music. Well, that's not precisely true - when I was a pre-teen, I did become somewhat attached to the kind of music that my folks listened to: Elton John, Steppenwolf, The Eagles, Huey Lewis and The News, Billy Joel™1, etc. I remember that when my friends were walking into high-school listening to Daft Punk and that godawful garbage, Prozzäk, I'd have the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack spinning in my enormous portable CD player. What can I say? I was cool.
Classics aside, I've never really generated that mental playlist that so many of my friends associate with their teenage years - you know, like the guys who spend hundreds of dollars on limited edition boxed sets of horrible audio quality Nirvana B-sides? I actually remember other kids making fun of me because I didn't know the names of the people in the hip bands of the 90s, or own any of their albums (but did you know that Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon remained on the Billboard sales charts for FIFTEEN YEARS!?!?!? What do you mean, 'What is a Pink Floyd'???).
I think that part of this ties back to a previous discussion that I had on the blog about piracy: around the age that most people would've started developing their die-hard musical preferences, I was exposed to MP3s on the internet (while Napster came around when I was ~18, I've had DSL internet since I was 13). And, as economics and common sense teach us, you generally don't value something that you can get for free as much as you do when you pay for it with your hard-earned dinero. Having endless numbers of songs to shuffle through isn't conducive to making you care about any particular band, I guess.
All of this being said, MP3s are now causing me to 'rediscover' music - in particular the types of bands that I heard during my teenage and college years, but also some new groups that I've heard on the radio here and there. I'm particularly impressed by Amazon.com's MP3 store, which regularly has great deals on albums ($2-5) and provides DRM-free tracks (i.e., bare MP3s that can be played on anything).
Though musicians probably disagree, I think that these low prices are necessary in the era of digital sales. There's no doubt that MP3s are changing the way that we listen to music: what's the meaning of an 'album' when we can pick and choose our own mixes? In reality, most albums have 2-3 catchy songs and a bunch of 'filler' - very few bands can write 15 solid gold hits in a row. If an album is $10-15, I'll just buy the songs that I like a la carte, thank you very much.
However, buying only the singles will cause you to miss some of the great tracks that are out there - and it's these that I'm discovering now. (This is also why I'm typically not satisfied by Pandora or Spotify, which focus on singles and have me constantly skipping tracks that I don't like). While vocal tracks distract me too much from writing and/or doing computational work, they're certainly conducive to lab work, jogging, biking, and also doing house work as well - can you believe that I've only recently clued into the idea that it's nice to have music in the background? I know, it's strange isn't it?
Next time that I decide to dust my appartment, which, incidentally, is probably going to be very soon, I'll do it to the tune of Katy Perry... Umm, I mean, Florence and the Machine. Yeah, that's right.
1While it is not uncommon for bands and performers to trademark their name for the purposes of countering fake/bootleg merchandise (though they're not required to do so), I find it somewhat laughable that Billy Joel™ actually puts the tradmark logo next to his name on some materials (rather than in the legal text below).