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Monday, January 30, 2006

Start Your iPods

This work week, we start with:

  1. Adrian Belew - The Ideal Woman
  2. Robyn Hitchcock - Beautiful Queen
  3. The Replacements - Gary's Got a Boner
  4. The Cars - Let's Go
  5. Jimi Hendrix - Wind Cries Mary
  6. Tortoise - Spiderwebbed
  7. Cassandra Wilson - Tea For Two
  8. Pavement - Two States (live)
  9. Colorblind James Experience - She Took The Ring Off The Dead Man's Finger
  10. Pavement - Perfume-V (live)
  11. Bonus : Steven Jesse Bernstein - This Clouded Heart

Just a note... that Tortoise song, like many Tortoise songs, runs into the song the follows it: there's no discrete end. But, in an MP3, there has to be a discrete end; and in this case, it's abrupt and ugly - not even a fade-out, just a CHOP.

So, what I'd like to see is an "alpha channel" for sound. What's an alpha channel, Precious ? Well, a 24-bit image is made of 3 channels (Red, Blue and Green) with 8 bits of color information per channel. A 32-bit image has Red, Blue, Green and Alpha channels, where the Alpha channel controls the transparency for that pixel. So, using the alpha channel, you can blend or mask one image onto another smoothly, without sharp edges. An alpha channel in an MP3 could be used to control how the sound blends with other sounds; for example, you could have the end of a song gradually become 'transparent'. This would need one other little addition: the ability to put a marker in an MP3 that tells the player when to start the next song (even if that's before the current song has ended). The player would see that marker, start the next song, and then blend the two songs together using the alpha values of the ending song.

I know some players can do something like this automatically, for every song; but it'd be nice if the song itself could control it; that way, songs that were intended to run together on the original record (like that Tortoise song) could run together in MP3 form, too.

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