CD and Computer Blues
February 4, 2009 at 8:09 PM
[This blog was inspired by Laurie Niles's blog of January 19, 2009, "iPod Blues."]
There are blues for every electronic method of playing recorded music. I listen to music primarily on my home computer, so I know a lot about the CD and computer blues.
I have vinyl recordings, cassettes, and many CDs. I know that the vinyl recordings can be converted to CDs, but the process is very time consuming, technical, and expensive (if you hire someone). I made a deal with one of my musician friends who is also a techie. He is a collector, so he only wanted some very specific recordings that I had, i.e., Brahms Symphony #4 with a certain orchestra and conductor. I gave him the records; he made CDs of them; and he gave me a CD for each record. He doesn't do this any more, so I'm afraid that I just have to write off the rest of my vinyls.
I have a lot of cassettes, and some have material that has never been released commercially. I used to tape music from the radio, and some of it was from live, unrecorded concerts. I looked into converting tapes to CDs, and it looked surprisingly simple after I spent hours on the Internet searching for the relevant information and for people to explain it to me. You buy a cable to connect the output of your cassette player to your computer, download some free software, and move a copy of the data (music) to your computer. However, I never got around to doing it. It was going to be a joint project with a man I was dating, but after we broke up, I lost my motivation.
I've found that the best way to store and organize my CDs is to put them in books made for that purpose. Of course, you have to decide on your own system of organization. I have separate volumes for Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Vocal/Choral Music, Famous Soloists, Classical Music by Composers A-L, Classical Music by Composers M-Z, etc.
Transferring many of my CDs to my computer seemed easy. All I had to do was copy them. Unfortunately, it was not that simple. After I had a small fraction of my CDs copied to my hard drive, I had used up 99% of my c drive's space, and my computer worked very, very slowly. I bought an external drive with many Gbytes and transferred my music to it.
Then I encountered another problem. My computer is set up (not by me) so that music copied ("ripped") from a CD must be transferred to a folder on the c drive called "My Music" and from there, it is copied to or made available to Windows Media Player (WMP). I transferred all my music from my c drive to my external drive and deleted it from my c drive. For some, but not all of the recordings, the music disappeared from WMP. Ow! I got some of the lost music from Amazon.com by downloading and paying for it. I then discovered, by some haphazard investigation, that I could go to a recording on my external drive, choose "Play with WMP," and afterwards the music could be accessed directly on WMP.
I tried a couple of software packages for playing music on my computer. One of them (I don't remember which one) had the annoying habit of arranging all my "songs" (tracks) alphabetically. The result was something like this:
Violin Concerto, first movement, Bach
Violin Concerto, first movement, Beethoven
Violin Concerto, first movement, Bruch
Violin Concerto, first movement, Mendelssohn
The software packages on my computer differ in the way they compress and format the music. The situation here is analogous to the one Laurie described on mp3 players. After my explorations, I decided to stick with Windows Media Player (WMP). Now I have a lot of my CDs in my computer in WMP format and a few in Real Player format. I'd like to "translate" the ones in Real Player to WMP, but I don't know how. There must be something anologous to converting data to clean ASCII code, but I don't know what it is or how to use it. Now I'm digging up my CDs that I've already put on my computer in Real Player and recopying them in WMP format.
Then I had a nomenclature problem. When I copied a CD called "J.S. Bach, Neville Marinner with the Academy of Saint Martin in the Fields, Orchestral Suites," I didn't know where it would show up in my WMP library. It could be named and filed under "J.S. Bach," "Marinner," "Orchestral Suites," or something else beyond my imagination. I had to rename all my recordings, using nomenclature that made sense to me, and alphabetize them. Now I have everything by J.S. Bach labeled "Bach" so they're all together in alphabetical order. My computer software was not designed by anyone familiar with classical music. For the recording I just discussed, the performer might be listed as J.S. Bach or Neville Marinner. Then there's the matter of names of tracks. Sometimes I have to search for them on the Internet or type them in by hand using my CD tracklist. Sometimes the track names are given on my computer as "allegro con brio" or "andante cantabile." That leaves a lot of room for guesswork. Some of the track names appear to be assigned by music-impaired software engineers. For example, some tracks contain the entire album name and the entire track name, for example "Sibelius Symphoniy 2, Karelia Suite, Finlandia: Sibelius Symphony 2 for Orchestra in D major, Op. 43, Allegretto." That's for just one track. Of course, I had to rename it. One must be part software engineer, part knowledgeable classical music lover, and part librarian to use a PC for storing and listening to music on your home computer.
I'm NOT going to buy an mp3 player.