The Aardvark Speaks : essence, effervescence, obscurity. Established 2002. A weblog by Horst Prillinger. ISSN 1726-5320

February 02, 2006

Long Play Records

Observation 1: The ideal length of a long play album is between about 36 and 42 minutes. Incidentally, this happens to be the average length of a vinyl record in the 1960s and 1970s. Interestingly, this is not just the length of a recording that you can fit on a vinyl disc without compromising the sound quality too much (if you don't care about sound, a vinyl record can carry well over 60 minutes of music), it also seems to be about the amount of music that an averagely gifted musician can produce in the course of a year (the Beatles, who made two l.p. records per year, or Mozart, who composed a lot more, are of course not considered "average").

However, this optimum record length has become a problem in the age of the compact disc, when you can fit about 80 minutes of music on a disc and most musicians therefore feel compelled to fill their discs with at least 55 minutes of music. With very few exceptions, all of these tend to drag. Actually, most CDs feel like they're at least ten minutes too long. I think this is because whatever you are listening to, everybody needs a break after 45 minutes. It's probably not a coincidence that classes at school and university are usually 45 minutes long.

Observation 2: I rarely listen to song lyrics. I appreciate their presence, but I usually notice them only if they're particularly good or particularly bad. Since I don't pay full attention, it might take me a while to understand song lyrics. Some I understand instantly and they make sense, more or less; some take a few listens until I get them. Some seem to be just jumbled sounds, and I might understand them at some point, or never. For example, I don't think I'll ever be able to fully understand what Mark E. Smith is mumbling.

Sometimes, however, I will suddenly understand lyrics that I've been unable to decipher for ridiculously long periods. For example, it was only yesterday that I understood that on "Another Girl", Paul McCartney is singing "Through thick and thin she will always be my friend". This realisation struck me no less than 26 years after I bought the record and first listened to that song.

Observation 3: You can still play a vinyl long play record if you accidentally spill yoghurt on it, but a CD that has been in contact with yoghurt will refuse to play.

Posted by Horst on February 2, 2006 07:52 AM to books & bookkeeping | Tell-a-friend

dieter said on February 3, 2006 10:39 AM:

@3rd observation. I did like my vinyl records, but i still think CDs are easier in handling (no yoghurt, so far). However, I have also made the bitter experience of losing a whole CD, apparently due to rotten data layer. Guess, we will just have to wait for the mass production of data cristals...

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