– Hunters and Collectors –

I have most of the works of the classical composer, Sibelius. In fact, I have two or three different versions of most of his works. Last night I went to listen to his 5th symphony, and to my surprise I could only find one version. I knew I had another, but it must have been put into the wrong folder, perhaps with Shostakovich or Stevie Wonder.

I put on my only mp3 version, and immediately found that it had been recorded from an LP record with a scratch on it. Rotation clicks could be heard: click, click, click. How damn annoying. This set me off to find another version, but none showed up on my PC. So then I started looking at music sites. Amazon, I found had many versions: different conductors, different orchestras, different countries, different decades.

I was off hunting for the best version. I felt the thrill of the chase, which of the “best” versions would I capture? The reviews were a mishmash, I could not tell which was best. Should I buy all of them?

I was actually listening to the music all the time I was searching, hunting. Then it occurred to me,  I had lost the true purpose of listening to the music. I was more interested in the hunting than the pleasure of the music. The few clicks had only lasted 20 seconds, they were gone and past. I should appreciate what I had– after all I had not listened to the 5th symphony for a year.

I decided that I should abandon the chase, the endless hunting for the sake of having a “perfect” collection of my favourite music— but not actually listening to it. If I changed my attitude, I could spend my time enjoying the music, instead of collecting.

I decided at that moment, not to be a collector, but a listener. I know others who endlessly collect, each week they add another GB of music. But do they ever find time to listen to what they collect? I doubt it.

In the end, which is the most important— having a “perfect” library of music that is never listened to, or beautiful audio experiences?

Since I wrote this, the obvious has occurred to me: that the same thing happens with most other forms of collecting— books, money, coins, stamps, paintings, cars … the collecting becomes more important than the enjoyment.

At the end of our lives, we can be certain that the cars, the clothes, the LP records will be staying behind, but just perhaps, the memories and enjoyment in our minds might go with us.

Marcus Clark 2017-03-04

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