If you lived through an era of music on LPs to CDs to now MP3s, you may be experiencing a syndrome I have felt myself… you’re listening nicely to a song on your digital music player, and your past patterns of listening to the order of songs on a fixed medium cause you to expect the next song on an album to show up, and BAM! You get a different song by a different artist! I deem this syndrome Audiosequentialdisruptus.

Like I might be listening to my collection of ancient rock songs– I get to the end of Baba O’Riley on Who’s Next, and my mind is fully expecting to launch into the next track. But instead of sliding into Bargain I get, unexpectedly, the Clash belting out Magnificent Seven! My audio sequencing has been disrupted!

It is a bit dis-orienting! You even begin to sing the next song and end of horribly mis-matched. You’ve been programmed to receive music in a fixed order, and that whole world has been rip-mixed / mashed up to a more random stew.

But how random are the mixes? On my iPod Shuffle, I regularly do the Autofill to get a mix (which provides some secret weighting according to my ratings), and I play it usually in shuffle mode, but at least a few times I have gotten three songs in a row by the same artist. The new iTunes 5.x offers a new “smart playlist” that has a slide to adjust a preference to give more or less probability of getting two tracks in a row from the same album…. I’l be trying it out. Still the algorithm of shuffling seems mysterious, and I am wondering if the technology inside is some sort of Flinstones type contraption of some little bird inside manually pulling songs from a playlist.

More randomness, good thing or not?

The post "Audiosequentialdisruptus" was originally pulled like taffy through a needle's eye at CogDogBlog (http://cogdogblog.com/2005/10/audiosequentialdisruptus/) on October 7, 2005.