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6 July, 2008

Who's counting: what?

Buying an iPod last October gave me access to far more information about my listening habits than was provided by my old (but otherwise perfectly adequate, apart from capacity) Creative Zen.  For one thing, it allowed me to hear the entire contents of my player, as I knew which had and hadn't been played.  Surprisingly, that took a full six months.

Overall, I have 3,595 tracks, which would take 13.8 days to play back-to-back. All tracks are in .mp3 format, the vast majority at 192 kbps.
Though the ability to carry videos certainly wasn't a selling point, the facility came with the iPod. However, the novelty of being able to watch Sigur Rós' 'Viðrar vel til loftárása' on a train soon wore off, so my player now 'only' contains 26.54 GB of music plus 224.7 MB of metadata & cover images. That's quite an impressive increase on the ~19.5 GB stored in my Creative Zen eight months ago.

Perhaps the most significant immediate addition was a large amount of 'classical' music – over a gigabyte – as I now have the space to carry, say, six hours of Beethoven symphonies.
For much the same reason (abundant space), I've added quite a few individual tracks by artists I don't otherwise like. For instance, if I like one song by The Stranglers, I'll add it, irrespective of my opinion (indeed, or awareness) of their career as a whole.
These isolated tracks are also possibly the most vulnerable: on a whim, I might add a sample track offered for download by an unsigned band like The Noun, but I might delete it just as easily.

Nominally, 478 albums are featured, but many are individual tracks, and as I clear out tracks I don't particularly like (see below), the album count could drop sharply.
I can't think of an easy way to determine the number of artists, other than manually counting them; anyone?

By definition, every single track has been played at least once, but 2,264 have been played only once and 1,064 haven't been heard within the past six months.
Conversely, I've only played 541 (15%) more than twice and only 71 (2%) more than five times. My most-played tracks are Fovea Hex's 'Allure' and Emilie Autumn's 'Chambermaid (Space Mountain Mix)', with 10 plays each.

The expected correlation between track rating and play frequency may be beginning to appear, but it's still masked by the effect of my repeatedly playing new albums to discover whether I like them. For example, Pure Reason Revolution's 'The Dark Third' accounts for three places on my 'Top 25 Most Played' list, though I've since become tempted to delete the whole album.

As that suggests, I've been able to very roughly rate my music, on a crude 1-5 scale. I'd have to question the validity and consistancy of the results, but if '1' indicates tracks I'm unlikely to want to hear again, '2' indicates tracks I'm more likely to skip than not, '3' indicates tracks I'd be happy to hear, '4' indicates tracks I'd actively choose to play and '5' indicates favourites, then I have:

  • Rated 1/5: 113
  • Rated 2/5: 752
  • Rated 3/5: 1,997
  • Rated 4/5: 628
  • Rated 5/5: 105
That's a fairly even normal distribution, though I'm likely to double-check and probably delete the lowest-rated tracks, unless they're essential for the tracklists of 'contiguous-composition' albums such as 'The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway'.

That's more than enough statistics p*rn for now, but just one more parameter: eras of music I choose to hear:

  • Pre-1960: 154 tracks – Anton Karas' 'Third Man' theme is the only one post-1939, and the only one unclassifiable as 'Classical' music.
  • 1960s: 38 tracks – 'Abbey Road', Nick Drake's 'Five Leaves Left', 13 Sandy Denny songs and The Animals' rendition of 'The House Of The Rising Sun'.
  • 1970s: 358 tracks.
  • 1980s: 333 tracks.
  • 1990s: 1,176 tracks.
  • 2000s: 1,536 tracks – so the largest proportion is from the current decade, with 2½ years still to go.


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