Monday, August 21, 2006

Two and a half subjects

Since multitasking is au courant, today I divide my post into two and a half subjects to concurrently continue one discussion and begin another.

Subject 1 – Classical Music
Ken's right; the field of classical music covers everything from 10th century Gregorian Chant to the next month's performance of Isang Yun. The important thing to remember is that you can jump in anyplace and make your own connections; just like you would with any other music.

Think about listening to rock, for example. The average person isn't intimidated by the half-century of recorded rock music — especially as a barrier to listening. Do you have to be familiar with Buddy Holly before you buy a 311 song? Is it important to understand the structure of late 1950's doo-wop before going to a Polyphonic Spree concert?

Of course not. You hear a song that you like, and start building from there. The song may lead to investigating other songs by the same group, which lead to other groups with a similar style, and then on into the farther reaches of the subgenre. Classical can be the same way. I started in high school with David Munroe's soundtrack to the Six Wives of Henry VIII, and the Shostakovich 5th Symphony, which we played in band. Shortly after that, I discovered PDQ Bach.

From that, I soon expanded out into the English Renaissance, other tonal 20th Century composers, and the Baroque period. In college I gained a greater appreciation of the other styles and genres, and here I am, some (mumblety-mumble) years later, enjoying the full range of classical music. And all the while continuing to enjoy top 40 and an increasing number of popular music subgenres.

As they say, the best way to learn how to write is to write a lot. And the best way to listen to classical music is just to listen a lot.

Subject 2 – Car Tunes
So this weekend I spent most of the time in the car, driving up and down the Shenandoah Valley for various reasons. We drove across the mountains to Harrisonburg, then to Northern Virginia, and then (the following day) down to Radford. And, as readers of my first post know, not once did I listen to commercial radio. It was the iPod all the way, using a DLO TransPod.

Now the TransPod's a great solution for me most of the time. I can move it from vehicle to vehicle. It plays through the car's radio, so I don't have to fool with any kind of connections. But on long trips, it does have some drawbacks. If I wanted to change menus, I had to pull the iPod out of the dock and use the player's Click Wheel. I couldn't see what was playing (and with over 3300 tunes loaded, sometimes I couldn't place the artist). As I drove in and out of different coverage areas, the frequency I used sometimes got interference or static. And sometimes fidelity was less than ideal.

Ken knows far more about car audio than I do, so my question to him (and our gentle readers) is this.
What kind of setup would you recommend to address some of those issues? And – if there's more than one recommendation — which would be the optimal tradeoff between features gained and simplicity of setup?

Subject 2.5 – Big Words
"Writing Off Reading," an article in Sunday's Washington Post by Michael Skube notes the decline of vocabulary along with voluntary reading among our brightest and best. Hope I didn't lose any one by using the phrase au courant. 8-)
- Ralph

No comments:

Post a Comment