Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Sing the Body Eclectic

I use last.fm a lot and my new years resolution from 2004 was to be less full of shit, and my new years resolution from 2005 was to try to be nicer to be people--so with that preface, I'm pretty much showing how much of a hypocritical asshole I am. I think my new years resolution this year is to not be so hard on myself, but also not be full of shit and also be nicer to other people. This is all very difficult. But I've just befriended someone and I've cut and pasted their "about me" write-up here:

My Music Library (will be updated periodically): 01-26-2009

I created that HTML page using foobar 2000. It is the greatest media player of all time hands down.

My library consists of 41793 songs as of February 13th 2009. Only 0.6% of my music library is lossy. The remainder is composed of lossless formats, predominantly FLAC, but also wav, monkey's audio, and wavpack.

I take great pride in my tagging as I try my best to use official names for artists and albums. With english, I follow strict rules of capitalization with titles. Languages such as French use different title formats so i'm doing that as best as i can too.

I'm constantly fighting with last.fm's tagging. Artists like "Smashing Pumpkins", "Tommy Dorsey & Frank Sinatra", "Queenadreena" etc. last.fm has "Smashing Pumpkins" as "The Smashing Pumpkins" and "Tommy Dorsey & Frank Sinatra" as "Frank Sinatra & Tommy Dorsey" to name two examples. Forget about this new auto-correct thing. It's ridiculous. If they are going to auto-correct they need to figure out official names and stick to that.

We have some elitists, people who strategically scrobble and or a combination of both on last.fm. I am neither of those. I stay true to my musical taste. You might ask yourself why I have more than one profile. The answer to that is simply because I go through different musical moods every now and then so I like to scrobble artists that are new to me so I can have an accurate picture of what my mood is that week or month. I also do it for the recommendations.

As I'm sure you have noticed by looking at any one of my profiles, my musical taste is very eclectic to say the least. I like to think that I know a lot about any given genre or period of music, so don't be afraid to ask me questions if you have any. It annoys me when someone thinks they have eclectic taste or that they "listen to everything" when it really seems that they listen to different sub-genres of the same genre and maybe a classical music artist here and there.

Anyhow, I sent him a shout asking him what was the most eclectic thing he's ever listened to. That, of course, was a jerky thing to do. But at least I've recognized it as being a jerky thing. But reveling in the jerkiness of it goes against my 2005 new year's resolution of trying to be nicer to people. But, surely, one elitist is allowed to be jerky to another elitist about being elistist, are we not?

People always say that they have pretty eclectic taste in music, and, post 90s I think that is we live in the age of eclecticism. Napster and Limewire started making music exploring a lot easier. Actually, it was necessary. I remember looking for Waylon Jennings tracks and finding all sorts of stuff that I still don't know what it is. Most of it sucked. I remember searching for 'drone' and 'noise' and 'drum samples' and found some mic in stuff and other intriguing crap. Some of it was weird. I keep it all because I am a digital packrat. And now via piratebay.org you can download the AC/DC discography and everything Jack Johnson ever did; you buy Bitches's Brew and maybe Jack Johnson mentions Ali Farke Toure and now all of the sudden you have an eclectic selection of tunes in your iTunes library. Oh, and you listen to some Mozart (as my new fellow eclectic last.fm friend writes about), so you are a bonafide eclectic. Or you can just own everything Tom Waits did; and that's basically being eclectic right there because his style of music is basically like every style ever done. (That's the voice of the asshole that I'm supposed to be working on reducing pursuant the 2005 resolution.)

With last.fm you can get some idea of how eclectic your tastes are. Objectively. I've found an eclectic test and now there's even a SUPER eclectic meter. How do you measure eclecticism? From what I've gathered is that they measure how related (via the tags) the different artists you listen to most. If you have a big spread, your more eclectic. Firstly, I think you should have eclectic taste. Diversity is the seasoning of existence. Secondly, I think that the greater variety that your taste exhibits, the more likely you have a better idea of what is good and what isn't good. But I download a lot of stuff, and a lot of it is crap, and last.fm keeps track of it all. (You can erase your tracks, so to speak. And I sometimes erase my meltmaster leavings because I listen to it more often than I quite like to let others know. But who gives a damn? The digital life is strange.) Anyhow, the eclectic taste score can be taken here.

Take your top 20 artists. For each of these artists, collect the top 5 similar artists. The resulting number of unique artists is your [b]eclectic score[/b]. If the score is small (extreme = 5) your musical preferences are very limited, and if it is large (larger than 80, extreme = 100), then you have an eclectic musical preference. You can compute your own score at http://anthony.liekens.net/pub/scripts/last.fm/eclectic.php

My eclectic score is currently 83/100

And then here's the SECOND level of eclecticism. I'll dive right into it to see, quantitatively, objectively, just how SUPER-ECLECTIC I am. Here we go. Pray for my hipster soul:

meltmaster's super-eclectic score is


As this number is larger, you have a more eclectic musical preference. People with scores over 700 have bragging rights. People whose score is below 400 should consider more musical styles!

The following are the artists with the most occurences in your list

* Magazine (8)
* Wire (8)
* Public Image Ltd. (7)
* The Sound (6)
* Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band (6)
* The Fall (6)
* Pere Ubu (5)
* Echo & the Bunnymen (5)
* Gang of Four (5)
* Mission of Burma (5)
* Silver Apples (5)
* Television (5)
* Amon Düül II (4)
* Harmonia (4)
* Neu! (4)
* Faust (4)
* Lou Reed (4)
* Can (4)
* Boredoms (4)
* Cluster (4)

UPDATE: Okay. I've got a response from my new last.fm friend. I feel like an ever greater asshole now. He responded to my jerky question with sincerity.

thats an interesting question. the thing about my listening habits is that im all over the place. my library and what i listen to is probably more eclectic than ur above average listener with eclectic taste. i dont listen to one genre more than the other and i listen to many different genres. so a question like "what is the most eclectic thing" couldn't really be answered as i listen to everything and anything equally. in my case u can call the most popular artist "eclectic" because i listen to that just as much as i listen to lesser known and or artists that are considered obscure by popular standards.

And thus the quantification and qualification of eclecticism becomes ever the more elusive! (And I'm still full of shit.)

Feel free to post in comments the most eclectic thing you've ever listened to.


Eclectic Ero said...

I like you.

Anonymous said...

Given that capitalism has in one way or another in many ways destroyed people's 'place-based' identities (see Marx on Indian villages (and yes, this could be considered an elitist response)), we now attempt to fill the voids left in our souls with consumption.

For example, in Mongolia thod feels like she wants to buy everything because she feels some sort of deep-seated need not to own Mongolia, but to feel like she can show that she understands Mongolia through material possessions. At least in part this sentiment is due to her desire to be perceived as 'worldly' and 'knowledgeable.' This is of course absolutely ridiculous, but it's this feeling that she harbors.

In regards to people's music tastes, because consumption of music is commonly perceived as a way to get to understand someone (see into their soul?), and you live in a culture obsessed with diversity and multiculturalism (and consumption), in order to 'fit in' one must either a) conform their identity to the genre (i.e. hipsters and subset rockabillies) or b) claim a multifacted identity to fit into the demands of a multicultural consumer culture. Of course there is variation, but that's my general perception.

So in sum, unless you listen to arias based on the works of Marx that are accompanied by oboe and bassoon, you are an inauthentic superficial faker.

--Mama X

sarcasmus said...

Eclairo: Thank you. I need that. And I like you too.

Mama X aka thod: You've given me food for thought. There is always going to be products, and we will always attach meaning to these artifacts, and I don't think that is a terrible thing. But I really do think that your point about placed-based identities is on target. Both you and I have become these physical and cultural nomads (or possibly pseudo-nomads, I guess), and I think what we do is symptomatic of global capitalism. I mean. Duh. I'm teaching English in Korea. To somehow lubricate Korean birth canal into the global marketplace. (Sorry about that image.)

But, man, they got some great hats in mongolia. And nobody gets born with those. You got to make them. And have some style to boot.

baikinange said...

I can't wait until you publicly make fun of MY last.fm habits!

sarcasmus said...

B: I wouldn't know where to start.

Randy said...

Wow. Suddenly I feel as if merely "loving to listen to lots of music" isn't enough. In the face of such scientific categorization and classification, I'm simply not qualified to enjoy a variety of musical genres as profoundly and deeply as those that can live up to the rigorous demands of properly eclectic collections. Now, having caught a glimpse of what my listening life should be like, having my media player on the shuffle setting tastes like a mouthful of ash. Its as if, using the allegory of the cave, I've been shown the sun but too quickly rechained. How can I possibly escape my bondage? Oh yeah, I know...don't listen to elitist normative jerks who are mean to people. It may just turn out that the "sun" is actually a giant obnoxious flashlight being used to fool the victim into thinking there's something divine behind the sky instead of someone's devious attempts at apotheosis through community brainwashing to achieve the popular vote into godhood. I reject your striving to best another's opinions by wielding polysyllabic weapons of mass demeaning! Long live personal taste and heartfelt favor, however meager and uninformed your life may be! Hehe.

sarcasmus said...

I just want the whole world to realize how much they suck. Is that a crime?

Randy said...

hm! well, when you put it that way, I guess guerilla social warfare is acceptable to me. Just make sure you're using your powers for good!