Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The secrets of Spotify

At the gym on my new phone I have been listening to Spotify. What an adventure!

Spotify shuffles everything. You can choose an album but you cannot choose the order in which you will listen to the tracks. That is one thing that makes it exciting. Go ahead, listen to Schubert's "Winterreise" or whatever, just accept that you will hear the songs in whatever order the robot decides to give it to you in.

Not only that, but the thing reserves the right to swap in other things!

Normally what I find they do is, they give you a few of the tracks off the album you wanted, and then it starts branching out. I was listening to my new favorite singer, Peter Schreier, singing, I don't know, Schumann. I found a Schumann album of his. They gave me a couple of songs.

Then I got Barbara Hendricks singing Bach cantatas.

Then Schreier and Edith Mathis singing the Bach "Coffee" Cantata.

Then one of Brahms' Liebeslieder Waltzes.

Periodically it would return to Schumann and give me some song out of the blue. It was out of order and jarring. But that is the game! That is what you have to expect and not let it bug you.

Sometimes giving you the Bach it would give you only the recitative.

At one point it picked me up and put me down in the middle of Wagner's "Die Meistersinger."

Another time I found myself listening to the first scene of "The Magic Flute." Schreier was Tamino and he was being chased by the huge snake.

It was not always vocals. Once I was given the last movement of the Bassoon Concerto by Hummel. That was fun, like Haydn, which is high praise in my book. Plus it is nice to know it. If your bassoonist friend announces that he or she is playing Hummel's Bassoon Concerto you may nod and say  truthfully: "Ah! A charming piece. I know it well."

Everything I heard was nice. Continuing on the second day I got more Bach, and Vivaldi, which helped to erase the cares of the day. The secret to Spotify seems to be to choose something initially that is high class and kind of arcane. Peter Schreier singing Schumann is not going to lead you into anything too weird. Whereas the other day, when I started with Jessye Norman singing Brahms, the robot insisted on giving me this jazzy version she did of the "Habanera" from "Carmen" and a few other pop things I could not stand.

Choose carefully, is my advice.

And your 40 minutes on the elliptical will fly past!

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