I walk. It’s one of the few healthy things I do. At the moment. I have plans to change that.
For now, I walk. Over 5,000,000 steps in 2017.
After some trial and error and more trials and even more errors, I discovered that what inspires me best when I walk, and in those moments when I jog or run at a speed that challenges a sundial to measure, is music. Which leads to the topic of playlists.
At first I tried using my iTunes on shuffle. The challenge involved tempo. Many songs on my iTunes are too slow for walking, let alone for those moments when jogging/running at a speed that threatens to leave banana slugs in the dust.
Playlists became my solution: selecting the songs that I want to listen to each day. I create daily playlists that are about 1 hour long.
Of playlist types, there are four (at the moment):
Memorial playlists. Often, but not every time, when an artist dies, I create a playlist of songs by that artist. Sometimes I will include covers of the artist’s songs as well. At times this means purchasing songs to build, or supplement, the playlist; other times I have the needed songs.
Special day playlists. For days that have speak to me in a special way, I create playlists. These are days I choose to commemorate. Usually I have songs that fit the day; occasionally songs are added to supplement what is already in my iTunes library. Examples are: Roberto Clemente’s birthday, my birthday and anniversary, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Human Rights Day, the Winter Solstice, and Women’s Day.
Seasonal playlists. Current playlists mark two seasons. During Advent and Christmas, playlists are built of Advent and Christmas songs on the Sundays and then from December 24 through January 6, Christmas songs fill the playlists. The week or two before and after St. Patrick’s Day bring playlists of Irish and Irish-American music. Fitzgerald on my mother’s side. Playlists created during each season follow, as far as possible, the rules of regular playlists and involve the creation of Christmas and Irish source playlists.
Regular playlists. I create a playlist folder in iTunes with all the songs in the library except for Christmas. This becomes the master playlist with the incredibly creative name of “Gym.” A playlist folder for each day is then created: “Gym 02 November” for example. I then go back into the master playlist, set it on shuffle, and start a song. I don’t use that song, but do a fast-forward to the next song. If the tempo is right, I add it to the daily playlist and then delete it from the master playlist and then repeat the process. If the tempo is too slow, it is simply deleted and the fast-forward takes place. This continues for about 7 or 8 songs which is somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes. At that point, I look at the playlist in terms of diversity of the artists. The remaining songs are chosen using the fast-forward shuffle to ensure that there is a measure of diversity (gender and race) in the list. Two additional rules: only one song per artist per playlist (which is waived if an artist was a member of multiple groups) and no repeats of the same song even by different artists. Songs that are not included because they do not fit the rules at the moment remain in the list. Only slow songs and used songs are deleted. Should it reach the point where all the songs have been used or deleted, then the “Gym” master playlist would be rebuilt.
One potential tweak lies ahead. I have purchased the 2018 Peace Calendar from the Syracuse Cultural Workers. In addition to being a source for special day playlists, it may well allow the addition of a song or two on appropriate days.
Creating playlists consumes time. It often happens late at night with a mindless movie on the television. And I have come to realize that this is a discipline that feeds me in some way I cannot describe. And that is good.
See you along the Trail.