Discovery and Deletion: Alphabetical Listening, Pt 2

Posted by: admin on March 18, 2010 @ 8:27 am
Filed under: Humor, Listening, Music Technology

Last month I started a listening project in which I vowed to listen to my whole iTunes library in alphabetical order sorted by songs. Last week, I updated and said I had stopped due to the strains in caused on my ears — it was somewhere between Esther’s Nose Job by The Soft Machine and Estribillo by Aaron Copland. But I’m back on the horse as of yesterday, persevering to get those play counts up.

One of the reasons I stopped was because of the schizophrenic nature of such a playlist jumping from one tune to a completely disparate one. As much as I tout my multi-genre appreciation, trying to hear order in an orderless list — even if the common denominator is that it begins with “Everybody”– is tough. Things do pop out though. Putting on a full album while working usually brings me to eventually tune out a lot if my mind is on something else rendering it background music. This list is a jarring punch in the face at times. It wakes me up — ex. European Son by Velvet Underground into European Trip from Woody Allen‘s Standup Comic album.

I have found so many hidden gems in my library. Tunes I didn’t know where there or had never even heard or heard of making me wonder how they even got on my computer. Pieces in the Steve Reich boxset that I hadn’t gone all the way through popped out immediately. Guitar instrumentals by the fuzz guitar inventor Link Wray. And tunes from my past, things I hadn’t listened to since high school or college. How interesting it is to know that after almost 8 years, I can still sing all the words to Asleep On A Sunbeam by Belle and Sebastian. It’s crazy sometimes what the mind retains.

On the other side, I have deleted 30 to 40 albums. I mentioned a Metallica album (note: I kept all albums before the Black Album). Other deletions: songs and albums without complete ID3 info, mislabeled Faces albums, some of The Frogs catalog, some later AC/DC albums sans Bon Scott, Roky Erikson & The Aliens, etc etc. I could name more, but I don’t want to start a fight. I feel like deleting as I go helps the list move along. And it’s making room for new purchases and vinyl rips.

Anyway, onwards and downwards through the list. Here’s what I have to look forward to as I finish with the E’s…

The F's


  1. […] 1 votes vote Discovery and Deletion: Alphabetical Listening, Pt 2 Last month I started a listening project in which I vowed to listen to my whole iTunes library […]

    Pingback by Discovery and Deletion: Alphabetical Listening, Pt 2 — March 18, 2010 @ 8:43 am

  2. Cool listening project! Godspeed.

    Comment by Nicholas — March 18, 2010 @ 7:47 pm

  3. I do this for artists… fourth time now. This time is taking much longer due to being into too many podcasts. I’m only on Iron & Wine, and I started 1/1/2009. Usually it only takes me 9 months to get through my music. Can’t wait until M… asada. That’ll be a good week.


    Comment by POSTY McPOSTERTON — March 18, 2010 @ 8:22 pm

  4. Digital players are an amazing change. Imagine trying to listen through your collection this way, but on vinyl… Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Just sayin’.

    I’m in the middle of the most involved digital music project I’ve ever done. So far we’ve used ProTools, Logic, Garageband (in several ways), Ableton Live, Sibelius, iTunes, Final Cut Pro, Quick Time, not to mention various connectivity devices and applications. Steep learning curve, and time-consuming processes, but it’s so much more fluid and intuitive than the last time I did this. We will finally have some music in the next few months.

    One of the things that I like about the digital players is that you can arrange your listening in multiple ways. So Jim is, admirably, listening to his collection alphabetically by track name. You can also instantly rearrange by Artist name, Album name, Composer’s name, and one of the ones I like a lot, by Date Added. When dealing with multiple edits and remixes this one is really helpful – like a running history.

    What is the first track you added to your player? You could probably tell me almost instantly. Mine is ‘Yesterdays’ by Billie Holiday.

    Also, has anyone arranged their playlist by track number? In other words, a list of music files which appeared as Track 01 in their albums, followed by a list of tracks that were Track 02, etc. Nuts?

    As you were…

    Comment by Dave Douglas — March 19, 2010 @ 6:13 am

  5. After a hard drive crash in late 2008 — something I don’t like to remember — the first re-add on my comp was “The Well” by Smog.

    Date added saves so me so much time finding tunes. Recently Added is the browser I usually use actually.

    Working through these dang F’s…

    Comment by Jim Tuerk — March 19, 2010 @ 7:28 am

  6. Listening to all the music you own or possess in this age of excess and availability of so much music is terribly difficult.

    I have tried to do this in limited spurts and failed many times to listen to my whole library. It does not help that it is always growing too. I like your idea, Jim.

    Like Dave, I often listen to my iTunes library by Date Added just so I can hear the many albums I buy every month on eMusic at least once after I’ve bought them.

    But I have to say that I discover the most and best stuff when I sort my library by Play Count and then go through all the unlistened-to tracks or all the 1x listened-to and 2x listened-to and so on.

    Comment by Matt Merewitz — March 25, 2010 @ 10:07 pm

  7. The Date Added function is great. Love it. Play Count function is also cool. I have to say, though, the iTunes Genius function is totally lame. It seems like the Genius doesn’t know a lot of the songs in my library or something. Ah well, just a glorified shuffle, I guess.

    Comment by Jim Tuerk — March 26, 2010 @ 7:52 am

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