The Art of the Segue

I’ve posted before about how the file-based sterility of MP3 listening habits blot out much of the romance of musical discovery, and how the concept of an album as an indivisible artistic totality has all but been erased (I’m not so sure that’s a bad thing – there’s a whole lot of crap on a whole lot of good records, and I scuttle dud tracks without a shred of guilt).

Adding to the discussion, Dave Mandi wonders what shuffle mode is doing to the art of the segue — the ease (and the thrill) of letting a computer or an iPod choose tracks from a collection at random is diminishing the art of the well-selected transition. In Praise of the Segue:

With MP3s becoming the de facto currency of music listening and trading, and with shuffle mode becoming a more and more common way of programming an hour of music—Apple’s recent introduction of the iPod Shuffle is pretty clear evidence of that—the art of the set and the segue is in imminent danger of dying. … We have the opportunity to create greater meta-masterpieces than ever, tailored to people’s moods, or the time of day, or the weather. Why destroy all that by getting lazy and pushing the “shuffle” button?

It’s all true, but… I love shuffle mode, not afraid to admit it. Creating thoughtful transitions is something I make time for when burning the Christmas CDs. For daily listening, accidental random musical collisions charge me up.

Music: Dandy Warhols, The :: Be In

4 Replies to “The Art of the Segue”

  1. There was a great comment by John Allen Paulos in last Thursday’s Guardian which put into slightly more scientific terms some of the stuff I’ve been thinking after hearing some great unexpected juxtapositions through shuffle play: h,13228,1415690,00.html

  2. No-one Segues anymore. Music had grown so mono-cultural that a Segue from one song to another random song is just as good as a Selected song.
    I Actually find the randomness enhances the music in ways I could have never appreciated, if I had listened in Track order, or programmed the music myself.
    Any sane programmer would never play Dead Kennedys straight after a Mellow Aphex Twin Composition, but they actually do complement and contrast each other in ways you would never have expected. I strive for utter randomness in my play order, since I listen to my iPod non-stop most days of the week. If the songs are in the exact same order, or segue seamlessly, it drains some of the excitement from the listening experience.

  3. I respect segues that are due/worth the respect. iTunes lets you rip a CD as a single track. I’ve done that with Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall, which are quite enjoyable albums to “shuffle” to. (Just finished listening to The Wall via shuffle earlier this morning.)

  4. Daniel Woods wrote: “Any sane programmer would never play Dead Kennedys straight after a Mellow Aphex Twin Composition.”

    Speak for yourself, dude!


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