Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The statistics

Townes Van Zandt
25.5" x 19"
oil on wood, 2010

    The painting, fairly big, a little awkward, is of Townes Van Zandt, the newest entry in this year's 100. Townes Van Zandt has been in a Top 100 multiple times so I'm not going to write a whole lot about him other than to mention that the documentary film by Margaret Brown Be Here to Love Me is really worth seeing... And that the song in the Top 100 will be Waiting Around to Die, one of his classics, with unforgettable lyrics from the category, in his own words: "The songs are not so much sad, they're kinda like hopeless".
    What I do want to write about is in line with the last one (Games, Games, Games) as I make the obvious jump from games to their statistics.Just a few days ago I found out that maintaining a blog comes with a whole set of statistics that the publisher, blogspot.com, automatically updates with every new visit. Now that's something that as list keeper is right up my alley. Now that there are 40 songs somewhat certain of inclusion in the list I deem it due time to forward the statistics. I would love to use the same beautiful graphs and pie charts as blogspot.com uses, but I don't know how. Anyway, the first statistic is of the countries from which the 40 songs originate. There are no less than 16 different countries and it won't surprise anyone that the majority of recordings come from the United States: 18 (three of which are from 'ethnic' groups, sung in different languages than English). Next is Norway (black metal) with 4, 3 from England, two from Australia and India, and Spain, France, Sweden, Barbados, Nigeria, Mali, South Africa, Mexico, and Vietnam all have 1 each. 22 from North America but none from South America, 10 from Europe, three from Africa and Asia, and two from Australia. Next up is the format of the music, the format of how it originally came to m: Vinyl, 19 (15 LPs, 4 singles); digital, 13 (6 from YouTube, 5 from Last FM, 2 from other sites); 8 recordings come from the CD format of which 4 were tucked into a book as an illustration to the text). I should mention here that the numbers 1, 2, and 3 from the list all come from the last category, and coincidentally all originate from England. Next up is the division of the music into genres. In doing so I first make the division between commercial (recorded with the intention to profit) and field (recorded with the intention to document), the ratio is 33 to 7. It changes a little bit when shifting the categories from Western as opposed to World Music, here the ratio is 25 to 15. Dividing up the 25 commercial western tracks gives the following result: Metal-7, Folk (singer-songwriter)-7, Popular (general, singers/performers, for lack of a better term)-5, Jazz-3, Alternative-3. Several genres that are usually represented are missing: Blues, Classical, and Hip-Hop/Rap. Last statistic is the division between recording dates, by decades: 1890s-1; 1910s-1; 1950s-4; 1960s-9; 1970s-7; 1980s-5; 1990s-4; 2000s-9.
   People call my tastes/interests eclectic but I don't like the term, it implies such a serious attitude (like the word connaisseur) when I'm really just a musical tourist. I am interested in all of it, all genres, all instruments (I still have a hard time with the vuvuzela), all cultures, all ages. Obviously I like one recording at one time better than an other (that's the premise of the Top 100).

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