Musique Non Stop

Tuesday I got my little esp8266 board wired up and, after spending most of the day screwing around with it (excepting a few hours here at the cigar lounge) I ended up getting it running at 10 to midnight, having thought I wouldn’t get it all set up until the morning.

I was pretty surprised it was such a byzantine process to get it all set up. The code loaded on the thing was no big deal. Just a simple couple-line script for blinking the on-board LED, the Hello World of SBCs (single board computers.)

For the last couple days I’ve been pretty addicted to Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space.” It’s a great little song that hits me just right, so I’ve been looping it.

Interesting thing about that is I’m pretty much always looping SOMEthing. It’s one thing if it’s something I’m coding or writing to. I’ve thought that was its own phenomenon. But lately I’m not so sure.

When I’m working away at something I pretty much always have to have something going on in my ears.

The criteria is something like this:

  • at least mildly rhythmic: I don’t know how to explain why this is important, which is interesting enough on its own. But it has to be something that my head will literally bob to.
  • not terribly complex: Music that’s too interesting, let’s use classical as a gimme, requires focused attention to appreciate. More than that, it actually demands it. It’d be like listening to someone brilliant lecturing “in the background.” Can’t do it.
  • meaningful tonal variance (i.e. it can’t be a single droning tone like those “Theta wave concentration” tracks. I find them absolutely mind-numbingly dull, which I suppose might be the literal point.)
  • I PREFER female vocals. But there are some counter examples. Girls just sound better singing. I certainly CAN listen to instrumentals. But singing, now that I think about it a little, tends to keep things light in a way I haven’t yet explored thoroughly enough to explain.
  • Re: Vocals. There’s an interesting point about language. Lyrically, songs don’t really tend to be very complicated. So I tend towards English language singing over foreign languages, which I actually enjoy when I’m coding, which is a different thing.

Here are some concrete examples:


Now those are all from my writing playlist that I titled “Fun-3” because…well…that’s what it started as. (I don’t like putting multiple tracks from the same artist on a playlist. But Halsey and StrawHatz are special.)

From the outside I’m guessing it probably seems a bit bouncy to work to. But it’s just right.

So it’s really the repetition is something that has given me more pause over time, more so lately.

Even when I’m just noodling around my house I can listen to (as I have been this week) Taylor Swift or Halsey or Purple Disco Machine on a loop for literally hours. Then I’ll stop and I can actually feel my head (my gut really, but wtf does that even means is a fascinating and wholly different conversation) pulling me to kickoff the loop again.

And it’s not just music:

There’s something I get out of repetitive immersion in the same things over and over. I’ve watched the Avengers movies dozens of times. I can recite the full dialog to Big Trouble In Little China (a movie I’ve seen hundreds, yes actually hundreds of times) from memory (yeah I get tripped up over some scene sequencing sometimes. But it’s all there if I get the right cue.)

I read the same books over and over again. I listen to the same audiobooks repeatedly. The Bobiverse trilogy I’ve listened to no less than a dozen times, probably 15. They’ve only been out a couple years. The Honor Harrington series. Christopher Moore’s first 10 or so books. Neal Stephenson, Neil Gaiman. G.K. Chesteron…anything.

I have a library containing probably a few thousand books at this point (note to self: Count ’em.) I can’t possibly read them all in any appreciable amount of time. NOT that they’re all to be read. A lot are reference material and such. But that’s an aside.

Video games. I just play the same ones over and over and over again, doing the exact same things. Even the ones that are replayable in different styles. Nope. Exact same things.

There’s a self-aggrandizing take I could make on this, that “I’m looking for something in this media that keeps me coming back.” But, as true as that is about a lot of things, it would be pretty fucking disingenuous. In these cases I want immersion in the familiarity. The repetition is somehow strengthening.

Maybe that’s it. Maybe what I’m doing is retreating from Chaos into the familiar. I sure like the ring that has. I’d sure LIKE to think there’s more to it than that and my ego certainly has a knee-jerk “you’re more interesting than that” reaction. But wanting a thing doesn’t make it so.

I don’t really think it’s a problem that needs a solution. Resisting the temptation to get upside down in my own head about everything I think is…becoming easier.

Just an interesting observation.