March 13, 2005

Why I ordered an iPod shuffle.

I've never wanted an iPod, because I'm really not that interested in listening to music, other than in my car, where I'm quite happy with the satellite radio. But I often want to read or work in a café, and though I usually don't want to cut myself off from the sound of the room -- I'm happy hearing voices and the piped in music -- sometimes I totally lose my concentration. It's partly the effect of caffeine, which unlocks the door of irritability, but it takes something more -- either the music or the people -- to make me want to insulate myself. What kind of music? Well, maybe something really happy and peppy with trumpets. I glance over to the baristas with my are-you-kidding look, but they never respond in the sorry-what-were-we-thinking way I'm hoping for. What kind of people? Well, maybe the café is nearly empty, but there's one table of six that keeps laughing a lot and squealing. Anyway, I don't need a regular iPod with a meticulously assembled music collection to fiddle with. I just want an iPod Shuffle to load up with music that facilitates reading.

If readers send me their ideas for music that most helps a person concentrate on reading, I'll do an update and list some things. I have several requirements. It can't have a persistent beat, blaring brass, or any singing in English. It can't be bombastic or annoying in any way. I'm aware of the collections like "Music to Read By" or whatever, so no need to tell me about those. And no need to tell me about some really intrusive music that you somehow find helpful. I'm soliciting suggestions of high quality, specific pieces that would help an ordinary person maintain the concentration to read or study.

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