Song and Chapter Arrangements

I received the new Sara Bareilles CD yesterday and have been listening to it almost non-stop. Kaleidoscope Heart is amazing, and I’m not surprised because I’ve listened to my copy of Little Voice more times than I can count.

When I first turned on the new CD, my iTunes had shuffle on and I rushed to stop it and re-start from the first song. While I shuffle my music all the time, it’s important to me to hear a new album in the order in which it was intended.

I don’t know much about the music recording process–ok, I don’t know anything about the music recording process–so this is purely speculation. I assume that the arrangement of songs in an album is a lot like chapters in a book. Authors put a lot of thought into how the sequence of chapters will impact the reader. They might want a light chapter to follow a dark one, or a short chapter to break up some long ones. I know that it’s not arbitrary; if they didn’t want the plot to be broken up in a deliberate way, there wouldn’t be chapters. We would read through and stop wherever we wanted instead of where breaks are provided. Certainly some books are formatted so that you do just that, and other times you may ignore chapter breaks and stop wherever you want.

Similarly, I think a music artist and production team probably consider how the arrangement of tracks will impact the listener. It seems wrong to listen out of order for the first time. I feel like I might be missing out on the full impact of the experience.

Once I know the album well, I am happy to revisit my favorite tracks like I might go back to favorite chapters or quotes in a book, but I’d never read a book out of order for the first time. I don’t even peek at endings.

What do you think? Do you listen to music in order or are you a shuffler? Do you stop at chapter breaks or pick your own stopping points? Do you peek at the end of the book first?

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