Monday, January 14, 2019

anonymous, or teacher's revenge

There was the time when my teacher wanted me to listen to a recording of a piece I was working on. I did, and at the next lesson he asked about it. Who was the pianist? I couldn't remember. He told me that he hoped that some day I made a recording and nobody could remember my name.

I think it is fair to say he has been avenged many times over by my freshman neglect. There is probably somebody somewhere in the world right now listening to me play the piano who has no idea who I am and does not care. Or  have an uphill battle to find out even if they did.

Back in the halcyon days before Google bought out Webalyzer, I could find out who in the world was listening to my music, what country they were from, what they listened to, how much of it they listened to, and whether or not they ever visited my web site.

The last part may seem like a bit of a head scratcher, until I explain that there are many services on the web which serve to connect listeners with whatever they want to listen to, without themselves providing any of the content. If somebody types in "Schubert," they provide lots of links to recordings of something by Schubert from all over the web. Hot links, we call them. This is because you can then listen to those files without ever leaving the host's website. You can then play the content from the site you--er, borrowed the content from, such as pianonoise, and never actually visit the site itself. They don't ask the webmasters' permission to include the files, they just gather them from all over the internet. I don't consider that particularly ethical, especially if they don't mention their source and give the listener at least a fair chance to go to that site if they liked the content, but it would be an entirely new epoch in human history if most people didn't do whatever they could get away with for their own benefit. 

At any rate, the bulk of my listeners come through these mega-sites, which, considering the recordings are free anyway, does at least mean my music is being shared with a larger public than I could get it to myself. And quite a few of these people might never be able to communicate with my written words anyway because they aren't from English speaking countries. For some reason, I noticed several years ago, I seem to be fairly popular in China.

At least, that is the way it was. Now that Google has taken over everything, I no longer have the ability to measure some of these things, and have a lot fuzzier idea about who is listening and to what. It is only when I go and look at the daily log files (which is a pain in the butt and is the reason there are analytics programs that are supposed to summarize all the information in easy chart form) that I get an idea that I might still have thousands of listeners after all. No idea where they are from anymore. Or whether they liked anything.

A lot has changed since the nineties, but much has not. Most human communication is still relatively anonymous. Of all the persons of history, few even have names. Most have their stories misrepresented, or told for the benefit of the tellers. Most authors never meet their readers, nor do their readers know anything about them. The bulk of the music on this site was written by people I'll never meet because they are dead. And although I am the odd fish who generally does some research to find out who these people were (and with age have developed a better capacity to store, and know about, the various names and biographies of the persons who bring the music to me), some of them still elude my sleuthing and remain anonymous. 

For example, who wrote this number, one of the oldest pieces on the site, composed around 1360, for the organ? None of us will ever know, though I'm glad they did. 

listen to Estampie from the Robertsbridge Codex by anonymous

If you haven't had your Monday morning coffee yet, you might be also.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I don't bite...mostly.