Do you listen by album, or by individual work?

Started by clarity82, April 29, 2022, 12:31:01 PM

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clarity82

As someone who lived during/through the 'CD era,' my general approach is album-based. That is, I tend to listen to an album from beginning to end. But, I've found myself changing approach now that streaming and/or purchasing individual digital files is an option. For example, during my CD collection days, I struggled for weeks trying to decide between these two:

vs

Karajan's Prokofiev 5th is considered a classic, but his Rite of Spring is not. Neither is his Prokofiev 1st, but I remember choosing the latter because it was a 'better' choice than the former.

Now, however, I think I would just listen to the 5th and not listen to the other pieces regardless of which 'album' I was using! The advantage: No duplication of works or recordings you don't actually want. The disadvantage: Not being exposed to potentially-good recordings or works because you're no longer 'forced' to hear them.

Anyone else re-imagining or figuring out their approach to listening with the new possibilities available?

Symphonic Addict

I seldom hear a complete album or CD, instead I prefer to select works and create a playlist.
Music is life, and like it, inextinguishable.

I love the vast surface of silence; and it is my chief delight to break it.

Carl Nielsen

Mirror Image

"Humility is society's greatest misconception."

My "Top 5" Favorite Composers: Debussy, Mahler, Strauss, Sibelius and Bartók


Biffo

I have always listened by 'work', even in LP days. Sometimes I will listen to a whole CD if it is a recital but not often, even then - I tend to split them up.

vandermolen

#4
I listen almost exclusively to CDs. I grew up in the LP era and occasionally listen to LPs. It depends on the CD. For example at the moment I'm listening to a 'British Music Collection' double CD set of music by Arthur Bliss, in which the first CD contains three works that I like - 'Introduction and Allegro', Cello Concerto and the eloquent 'Meditations on a Theme by John Blow'. So, in this case I will listen to the CD from beginning to end (unless, of course, I'm instructed to HOOVER THE CARPET in the middle of it)  ???
In the case of the Prokofiev I would definitely skip the 'Classical Symphony' which is a work that I dislike.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Jo498

As someone who started with LPs (and cassettes, although admittedly only for a few years, CDs took over very quickly) and still uses almost only CDs, no "playlists", streaming etc. I probably listen to whole discs most often. However, there are both very long CDs, sometimes with rather different pieces, so of course I will also frequently listen only to one or a selection of works on a disc. For easier shelving, I'd prefer the all Prokofiev disc in the example above.
I have bought several recordings in different issues and coupling although this was usually not for the coupling but for hope for better remasterings or because of cheap boxes. E.g. I first bought Maazel's 1960s recording of the Franck symphony in a cheap issue with an organ piece as filler. Then I got the "originals" issue with Mendelssohn's 5th and gave the older one way. Again later, I got a box with early Maazel recordings that included the Mendelssohn 5th but not the Franck. After some time I swapped the Originals disc for the cheap issue to avoid doubling the Mendelssohn... (As I don't much care for that organ piece, it would not have been necessary but...)
Tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos, dans une chambre.
- Blaise Pascal

steve ridgway

I went off listening to whole albums once I encountered CDs like these. :'(






Madiel

#7
When it comes to classical music, I listen almost entirely by work.  Or group of works, when the composer conceived them as a group.

I'm very much a believer in paying attention to the conception of the composer. Which means for pop music I do listen to albums, not individual/favourite songs. But for classical, I'm not usually looking to listen to works that might have been written decades apart.

I do sometimes listen to something like a song recital where there's evidence of the performers having really thought about a programme.

The other aspect, though, of the original post is about simply not listening to other works on the same album that are not desired. I'm highly unlikely to do that in the longer term. If something has made it into my collection, then I'm liable to listen to it, within whatever 'system' of choosing works to listen to that I'm operating in. And for classical I don't think there's an example of me purchasing some parts of an album for download and leaving other bits unpurchased (I much prefer buying CDs wherever possible anyway).
I am now working on a discography of the works of Vagn Holmboe. Please visit and also contribute!

Iota

By work. It was true when I started listening with LPs, and remains so with CDs and streaming.
Rock albums were always different, the whole thing was the 'work'.  Though much more these days I will listen to just a few tracks, depending on mood.

DavidW

I don't see album listening as an artifact of the cd era.  Remember that we had programmable cd players forever.  Combine that with the carousel or magazine changer and you have yourself a playlist!  And going back to lps and audio cassettes, you don't have to flip the side!  You could simply switch to something else.

That being said if the album has works that go together that I like equally, or it is one massive work then yeah I'll listen to the whole thing.  If not, then just individual works.  Also those comments are for intense listening at home on the stereo.  For background listening at work I tend to prefer albums so I don't have to put time or energy into selecting the next thing.

Florestan

At first listen --- album always, even if it implies highly disparate works.

On repeat --- sometimes album, sometimes work: on a case by case basis.



"Art is no excuse for boring people." - Jules Renard

Biffo

Quote from: Florestan on April 30, 2022, 06:56:25 AM
At first listen --- album always, even if it implies highly disparate works.

On repeat --- sometimes album, sometimes work: on a case by case basis.

I must admit to doing that but not always; it is probably a hangover from LP days when you had to check a disc for flaws in case you had to return it to the shop. Out of the thousands of CDs I have purchased only a handful have been faulty, this was not the case with LPs.

Mapman

I almost always listen by work. Much of this is probably because I mostly listen from my computer (in my current apartment, my only CD players are in my computers, so it makes as much sense to listen from iTunes). I also have always liked listening to my music on shuffle, so I don't even listen to entire works. When I want to listen more "seriously", I often follow along in the score.

The idea of an "album" is mostly meaningless to me, especially since I have boxes where each CD contains works that were originally released independently.

foxandpeng

Even though I listen via Spotify usually, I habitually play the entire album. No reason beyond habit. I will be deliberately less predictable going forward as a result of this thread, I think!
"A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people ... then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one's neighbour — such is my idea of happiness"

Tolstoy

Olias

I mostly have CDs but still listen by work.  Sometimes I love the works on the CD but not the pairing so I'll burn a CD with my preferred pairing.
"It is the artists of the world, the feelers, and the thinkers who will ultimately save us." - Leonard Bernstein

Madiel

Quote from: Florestan on April 30, 2022, 06:56:25 AM
At first listen --- album always, even if it implies highly disparate works.

On repeat --- sometimes album, sometimes work: on a case by case basis.

I often found I've split an album up over many months on first listen. Sometimes I feel really guilty and decide I ought to go back and listen to the whole thing together.
I am now working on a discography of the works of Vagn Holmboe. Please visit and also contribute!

Jo498

Quote from: DavidW on April 30, 2022, 05:18:27 AM
I don't see album listening as an artifact of the cd era.  Remember that we had programmable cd players forever.  Combine that with the carousel or magazine changer and you have yourself a playlist!  And going back to lps and audio cassettes, you don't have to flip the side!  You could simply switch to something else.
I'd say it's an artifact of the LP era for popular music and maybe some classical anthologies. But relevant here seems the relative frequency that classical works roughly match LP length, LP side length or CD length. On LP, a large scale symphony or concerto like Brahms or Tchaikovsky was usually "one LP" and a middle size piece like a Bach cantata, Beethoven sonata or Haydn symphony was about one LP side. In the 2-3 years LPs and cassettes were most or still a considerable amount of my listening I rarely bothered listening to less than one LP side. (With self-recorded 90 min cassettes one would more often listen to only one piece when two or more were on one side). Now, this is a bit different since CD took over and often became better filled. Nevertheless, I never had a magazine changer and used programming basically for one purpose only: When I was listening with headphones already lying in bed and not willing to get up to skip tracks and this was almost always with cycles or collections of short pieces (I distinctly remember this for Lieder by Schubert and Mahler) when I knew I would not have time for an hour of music.
It all depends. Of course, I do not feel compelled to listen to a second or third work on a CD if I already heard one substantial piece. But often I just let the disc play although maybe I won't pay full attention after the "main piece" or the one I wanted to listen to, is over.
Tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos, dans une chambre.
- Blaise Pascal

Maestro267


clarity82

Really enjoying everyone's perspectives here.

Madiel's last paragraph caught my eye in particular: "The other aspect, though, of the original post is about simply not listening to other works on the same album that are not desired. I'm highly unlikely to do that in the longer term. If something has made it into my collection, then I'm liable to listen to it, within whatever 'system' of choosing works to listen to that I'm operating in. And for classical I don't think there's an example of me purchasing some parts of an album for download and leaving other bits unpurchased (I much prefer buying CDs wherever possible anyway)."

I think this captures some of my own habits, even with streaming: If I add an 'album,' it feels like part of my 'collection' and, at some point, I plan on listening to all the works and performances in my collection. It feels similar to having books on a shelf in that regard: If I have a collection of plays, for example, because I wanted to read one of them, I am likely to read the remainder of the collection at some point for the sake of completion!

steve ridgway

True, I did once play the Violin Concerto. ;)