Posts Tagged ‘Classical Music’

iTunes 11 annoyances

December 1, 2012

I upgraded to iTunes 11 tonight, and I am not impressed. This is not a tech blog, but I know that some people who read this blog also use iTunes.

There are some real annoyances:

Search and filter: Apple has “upgraded” the behaviour of the master search-and-filter box. It now generates a drop-down menu showing songs, albums, and artists matching one’s search term.

  • First problem: it is far too slow. Mine churns away for ten or twenty seconds before showing me results matching the first letter of my search term; it is too slow even to catch the subsequent keystrokes. My library is over 500 GB, so this feature may work better with smaller libraries.
  • Second problem: it shows only results matching songs, albums, and artists, not composers. So the new search function is unable to find all of one’s music written by a particular composer. This is absurd. The “Composer View”, which was present in iTunes 10 and would have allowed one another route to that music, is also gone. The search box has an option to search by composer; it doesn’t work. Apparently no-one at Apple cares about classical music.
  • Third problem: the new search box is a global search, not a filter. If one is viewing a particular playlist, or even just looking at all of one’s songs, entering a search term will not filter those results to show matches, as it used to do. It starts from scratch every time, churning away while it searches through all the music for the first letter of whatever search string one tried. Useless.

Solution: Happily, I found a solution to this problem. If one opens the search box options, one can disable something called “Search Entire Library”. This causes the functionality of the search box to revert to what it was in iTunes 10; namely, a context-specific filter. It becomes possible once again to search the “Composer” field. (And, yes, it is odd that one has to turn off the “Search Entire Library” feature to enable searches of the entire library.)

**

Cover Flow is gone: Cover Flow was a really nice feature of iTunes that allowed one to see both detailed information about tracks and album art in one view. It is gone. It was especially useful when adding new music to one’s library: one could sort the music by date added — so as to conveniently see the new music — and view the artwork while reviewing the other tags associated with the new files.

Now, however, it seems that one can either sort by date (in the list view) or see the artwork (in the grid view), but not both. Annoying.

**

Grid View useless. ‘Grid View’ shows one a view of one’s library by tiling the album art across the screen. It is a nice way to see a lot of albums at once. In iTunes 10 one could click on the album art to drill into the details: to pick a particular track, for instance, or to see what composer’s music was on that album. No more. Now clicking on the album art simply starts playing the album. Annoying.

Overall, I am not very happy with the upgrade.

MacMillan on musical modernisms

March 20, 2012

A couple of weeks ago, the wonderful Scottish composer James MacMillan gave a talk at the church of St. Mary Magdalene, Brighton on the topic “The Future of Music, Modernity and the Sacred”. The talk turns out to have relatively little to say about the future, but it does provide an illuminating overview of the music of the twentieth-century, and of the competing interpretations of what musical modernism means.

His basic view on this period is similar to that set forth in Robert Reilly’s splendid book: a radical, ideologically driven, anti-traditional movement dominated the narrative, and it sidelined those composers who resisted. Yet in MacMillan’s view the dominance of that group is slowly but surely being overturned, in part because of the ineliminable element of craft in musical composition.

If the thought of a cage match between Pierre Boulez and Charles Ives sets your heart racing, this talk is definitely for you. In any case, it’s a very enjoyable survey of what has been happening in music over the past century.

(Hat-tip: The Chant Cafe)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 125 other followers