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Saturday, 04 July 2009


Romantic (Beethovan to Rachnamanov). It would be nice to have a little Willie Nelson and The Beatles, too, though.

I'm not sure what genre they are, but The Battlefield Band would keep me feeling like I was home.


Baroque. Period. Nothing else.

I envy those who can enjoy the pop music that plays in public places. I shop online to avoid spending time in stores with loud music. About 15-20% of the population is like this.

(Business owners take note. One person in five will walk out of your business if you play loud music.)

I'd take a guitar. Really, it's too hard a choice to make.


More specifically, "modern" jazz (which ain't so modern any longer). But most of the lights'd still be on if you 'forced' me to take any other subset of jazz.

And, yeah, it just *works* for me, no explaining it.

pax / Ctein

Early electric blues - not so early that it's electrified delta music, and not so late that it's become R&B or rock and roll. Chicago, Memphis, St. Louis, Kansas City, New Orleans. Highway 61.

That was an excellent Nova program. For me it's definitely baroque.

Easier than that, I decided decades ago that I could easily survive on Beethoven and Chopin Piano music alone. I also feel that Chopin keyboard works are in the direction where Beethoven was heading.When Beethoven's later pieces 109,110,111 are played not as showboat pieces but as mature works (Schnabel)The lead in to Chopin is staggering.
On the other side I could easily live without bluegrass, Doc Watson aside. Personal mystery? Tom Waits is astounding and No mystery that Oscar Petersen has never misplaced a note.


John Hartford, David Bromberg, David Grissman

Mozart. I know it's not a genre per se, but anything by Mozart.

I'd bring Glenn Gould's 1981 recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations. If I could bring more, I'd bring all of Gould's recordings of Bach's keyboard works. No one has ever played Bach like he did.


Hardcore heavy metal - like Hatebreed and the like. I can't get enough of it.

I shoot lots of weddings, and I wonder what the brides would think of me editing their beautiful moments while jamming out to the most intense, heavy, hardcore tunes out there.

I have a couple of candidate genres I guess. But to be honest, right now I would not bring any at all. I would bring silence. Enforced non-music, other than what you can make yourself.

I've been feeling a sort of music overload for some years now. There's music everywhere I go, at all times and all places, and whatever I do. Everything from the supermarket to the local electronics district to the news to the subway to the bar have their signature and mood music. I spend most of my day hearing music not of my choice.

After hearing that all day long, sometimes I just don't feel like listening to anything at all. But this latest period of non-interest have lasted for years now. I've come to associate music - any music - with stress and annoyance as much as anything joyful. When I'm at home, the last thing I want is to add even more of it.

I may snap out of it one day, or I may not and my music collection will remain unplayed. But right now there is nothing so luxurious as sitting in silence.

Hello Mike,

If I bring "Jazz Impressions of French Classics: by Debussy - Faure - Ravel - Poulenc and Satie" would that be cheating?

EMI CDC 7 49561 2 Fred Hersch, piano, Eddie Daniels, clarinet, Kevin Eubanks, guitar, James Newton, flute and Toots Thielemans, harmonica.

Easy answer for me: classical. There's nothing else that really lights up my "emotion center" like it.

One style? Easy.

James Brown.

Ain't it Funky Now, Live at the Olympia.
Catfish Collins will melt your face.

And if you'll give me Funk, I will add George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic, Lonnie Smith, Isaac Hayes, Curtis Mayfield, late King Curtis, Sharon Jones, Lee Fields, and a thousand unheralded funkateers whose one or two singles were magical but never quite enough.

Funk. Free your mind, your a** will follow.

sadly, i don't know.

My musical tastes are very eclectic. So, I'll narrow it down this way...tenor sax pieces if jazz (Rollins, not Coltrane) or cello pieces if classical (Bach Cello Suites, for example). In the right hands, either instrument is capable moving me like no other. Some say each instrument produces sounds closest to the human voice...so maybe that's the company I need on my desert island.

'60s garage band music would be my pick, i.e. songs off 45s made by the thousands of mid 1960s teenagers who formed groups after hearing the Beatles/Rolling Stones/Kinks/Byrds etc. I do like jazz & classical, but '60s garage is #1.

I say "late 1970s hard rock", but what I mean is the Osbourne-era discography of Black Sabbath and AC/DC 1976-1986.
...and if the desert island has electricity (which I have to assume it does, or what would we listen to the music with) I'd like to bring along a Gibson Les Paul and an Ampeg V4 and 4X12 cabinet.

...no current? my Vantage 6-string acoustic.

80's indy rock: Replacements, Husker Du, Pixies, Happy Mondays, My Bloody Valentine, Jesus and Mary Chain ...

The list alone makes me smile.

Manouche or Gypsy Jazz ala Django Reinhardt or Romane.

I'll be ok with the complete recordings of Django.

I will buck the trend above and say post-punk (1977 to early 80s) — should I even mention groups?

I have for many years is loved anything by Beethoven or Mozart and do to this day. Dave Brubeck, Les McCann and Stan Getz sneak in there often as do much of the music of the great slack key guitar players in and around this state of Hawaii. E

Jazz, specifically Bebop and Free Jazz. And yes, 'trane would be prominently featured, as would be Coleman.

Hi Mike, On this topic, check out "Desert Island Discs" on BBC Radio 4.

Música popular Brasileira, c. 1958-1984 or so. Nothing else comes close for me.

For me, answering this question is kind of like asking which of my hands I would be wiling to have amputated...I love almost every kind of music except for most hip-hop. But my answer would have to be Classical music.

I actually participated in this kind of exercise during the early 90's. I had appreciated classical music and attended many concerts during my life. The music affected me both emotionally and aesthetically, and I really enjoyed it. However, I did not understand it from a structural, historical, or intellectual standpoint. So I walked into SKR Classical Records in Ann Arbor (of blessed memory) and told Jim Leonard (the manager, and later the owner--a walking encyclopedia of the nuances of every classical recording in existence) this very question: "If you were going to a desert island and could only bring 20-30 classical recordings with you, what would they be?". We spent the rest of the day discussing this question and choosing CDs. I then listened to those recordings over and over again, until I knew every aspect of every note played by every instrument. At the same time I immersed myself in books about classical music theory and history, and attended as many live performances as I could. I came out a few months later a changed person.

Now when I am lucky enough to hear a performance of one of those pieces either live or as a recording, I am transported in a way that is hard to describe. Like meeting a very old friend, or lover again after a long absence, and renewing my acquaintance. I am sure my amygdala is dancing....

Romantic -- particularly Mahler.

Either Jazz of the modern style, esp. the 60s "Blue Note" style, or the middle to late Romantic composers, Brahms to Mahler.

Jazz - Oscar Peterson.

Oh, man. A crushingly hard choice, and so many great suggestions so far. I'm especially sympathetic to romantic classical music; as much as I love Bach, it would be harder for me to live without Beethoven, Brahms and Schubert. But such a collection would have to get me up in the morning. I'll have go with alt-rock from 1977-1987.

A set of everything that Brian Eno produced or played on might serve as a useful proxy for this era, and would include much of the best work by U2, Roxy Music, Talking Heads, and several other bands, and Eno's own solo work as well. There is enough conceptual coherence that you could call that a genre.

Miles, Late 50's early 60's, with and without Coltrane. The music comes to my ear with just a thought.

Bebop! Or "modern" jazz from mid- 1940's to the mid- 1950's. I first heard it at my parents' home over fifty years ago. Being a kid then, I didn't pay much attention to it. 40 years later it hit me: I have always liked this music. So I could pack three quarters of my collection of CD's and have a great time on the island.

No doubt, it would be Salsa for me.

When I used to do all night coding sessions, I would tune the radio to a Latin music program such as Con Salsa! ( www.consalsa.org ). I do not understand a word of it, but the code flowed from my fingers like magic.

Anything playable on a theatre pipe organ;
oh and the vinyl discs with a tubed amp,
preamp and electrostatic speakers.

West Coast jazz.

Oops - regarding my previous post: It is the _lyrics of Salsa_ that I do not understand. The code that I wrote with the help of Salsa is easy to understand.

Pre-Reformation polyphony. But I'd soon hate it for not being all the other types of music I love but would never hear again.

First of all, I love the way you've posted this question. It's tough to wriggle out of.

I'm going with Early 20th century classical. Gershwin/Copeland/Shostakovich/Rimsky-Korsakov, et al.

My wife can't live without lyrics, and I think that's terribly limiting, but she's decided to go with '60's rock. That way she'll get the Beatles, Hendrix, the Stones, Janis, and all the rest. It was truly a revolutionary moment in music, so I won't argue.

Great question!

My answer would be Celtic fusion, heavy on the harp, guitar and hammered dulcimer, light on the fiddle. I love the stuff!

First a comment...
> In an FMRI scanner, Sacks's amygdala lit up while he was being played Bach, but not when he listened to an outwardly similar piece by Beethoven.

Another variable in the equation, especially for Bach : the performer - more especially for some instrumental works that are very demanding (cello suites, keyboard toccatas...).

For the desert island, I'd hesitate between bach and Renaissance vocal music (I'm especially fond of Josquin Desprez)...
But as James McDermott, I'd hate not having a bit of trip-hop, some good Chopin or Noir Désir at hand for other moments.

Well, I can try and cheat my way to get a real answer to this question and, define my own category (keeping it neither too broad nor too narrow) ;)

So here it goes: strong-rhythm-energetic-with-strong-but-not-too-harsh-vocals-and-not-too-simple. this would fit things like: Sting, Metallica, Byonce, Cesaria Evora, Michael Jacson, James Brown, Synergy, Appolo440, Skriabin, Musorgskiy, Backh (yes I love opera and choirs) to name a few.

Something with guitars. It includes lots of different people, from indie-rock like Pixies and The Hives to heavy rock like Guns 'n' Roses and Shiny Toy Guns. But if we can agree on "guitar rock" as a meta-genre, that would be it.

Renaissance, early Baroque, early XXth century and Black Metal.

Bach and Mozart leave me completely cold!

Baroque, or more simply "there is great music and then there is Bach!" No idea who said that (or something like that) but it's certainly true for me.

The Beatles - hands down.

OK, they are not a genre of their own, just the best Pop has ever brought to light [consider this: apart from their very first album anything they published could be done today without being in retro mode or on the oldies circuit]. To include a genre:

Southern Soul

Has the big advantage of being very varied even with only one label [Stax, of course] but has the advantage of several more, like Malaco and Hi Records. Very extensive body of music with a lot of variation, having something for every mood.

Schubert, Ravel, Rolling Stones, Dexter Gordon or Grappelli/Reinhardt all vie for attention but if it really has to be one genre then 70's Reggae (especially raw dub) always moves me.

For me, the works of Ry Cooder, who is a kind of genre all on his own.

Horrible to be limited to one genre, especially if it has to be narrower than "Classical" or "Jazz" or "Country". Forced into a corner, I'd have to say "late romantic" so that I could listen to some Wagner, some Mahler, Richard Strauss's 4 Last Songs, some early Schoenberg etc.

I browsed through the comments wondering what my fellow TOP readers would listen to -

@ Jerred: You made may day. The setting you describe is perfect, should I ever have the chance of including a scene with a editing wedding photographer in a movie, I now know what to do. Thanks for sharing!

@ Janne: You nailed it. I experience the same and often wondered why I almost don't listen to music anymore, I think you answered it for me. Living in a city, I am drowned in noise of all kinds, ranging from traffic to ubiquitous music. Silence.. have not enjoyed that for a long time. When I first saw headphones with active noise cancellation and I immediately imagined walking through a mall in perfect silence *lol* Unfortunately, I learned that they don't work that way.

So, what would I bring? Baroque. Although I enjoy many genres of music, I always return to baroque, especially Bach and Vivaldi.

Marty McAuliff wrote: and if the desert island has electricity (which I have to assume it does, or what would we listen to the music with)
A wind-up gramaphone. It's the device on which the Desert Island Disks premise is based.

As to answering the question, it's tricky. Usually I'd go with loud guitar music, heavy rock or similar but maybe the complete works of David Gedge (Wedding Present, Cinerama) would be better.

One strange response I generally have to music is that loud, angry music seems to have a far more calming influence on me than supposedly soothing stuff.

Miles Davis.

i listen to music, not a genre invented by restricted minds to sort CDs in a record store. so.. i'll take my last.fm profile with me, just drop the long tail and thats it.
finally all that scrobbling would be good for something. :)

Just Nick Drake, "Folk Rock" I guess.


My tastes cover almost everything so it's difficult to narrow things down so much but early c20th classical orchestral music does it for me more than anything else, I guess. That and prog rock. :0)

If I was to be pressed really hard, my collection would have to include choice works by Ravel, Debussy, Sibelius, Mahler and Stravinsky as a bare minimum....

Mozart. Punk, Pop, Beat and Hip Hop can be great. But in the end there is but one.

Miles Davis second quintet (the one with Wayne Shorter, Tony Williams, Herbie Hancock and Ron Carter). And Bach. I know, that's cheating but I thought I'd make up for it by letting you know that Oliver Sacks has an entire book dedicated to music-related neurological pathology. i'm working my way through it these days.

Classical Classical. I'd get Mozart, Schubert, Haydn, and Beethoven. Collectively that's probably more music than I could listen to even if I tried.

I'm going to weasel my way to an answer the same way a few others have: by choosing a single musician/composer. My choice would be Frank Zappa, who had a tremendous output covering just about any style you could name. It also doesn't hurt that he had a sense of humour too!

Interesting that there seems to be little or no affinity with musical theatre works. So, I will add the collected works of Gilbert and Sullivan and those of Franz Lehar

I'd bringt a selection of classic beatless ambient from artists like Brian Eno, Biosphere, Tuu, Alio Die, Robert Rich, Matt Hillier...

The Bach and Mozart catalogs, what more could one need or want?

Check out this fascinating podcast from WNYC's Radio Lab that explores the connection between the brain and music.

Lucas Davenport's "Best Songs of the Rock Era" from John Sandford's novel "Broken Prey". His top 100 songs for a road trip starting with ZZ Top and ending with Dmitri Shostakovich.

Melodic Metal. Nightwish, Within Temptation, Epica and similar. Wonderful stuff that I can listen to for hours on end.

Johnston, I hate you. That is cruel and unusual punishment to ask a "MUSIC LOVER" to make that choice. OK, OK - if I had to live with only one kind of music in my ear it would be "classical" - excluding opera; the music and choruses are fine but I can't handle the screeching and groaning.

Now ... could I get an occasional take out order of New Age, Jazz, Flamenco, Brazilian with a little Eastern on the side please?

Jazz - New Orleans

If you had asked for three artists/groups - my answer would be: Mozart, Beatles and Keith Jarrett (containing countless of genres).

But you didn`t ask for that. My iTunes library consists of ca 12 GB jazz, 12 GB rock and 12 GB classical - a reflection of my eclectic tastes. It would be impossible to pick one genre - or: the choice would feel random.

How about MJQ, Miles, Oscar Peterson or maybe New Orleans music such as; Dr. John, Fats Domino, Louis Armstrong, Jack Teagarden, Huey Smith and Buckwheat Zydeco Or Ccuntry/Buegrass Ricky Skaggs, Del McCoury, Steve Earle,Bill Monroe, Doc Watson,Lucinda Williams and Lyle Lovett. Oh the pain.......

Radiohead, and I'm 42

I have always been a fan of all kinds of music, but they just do it for me.

Tough question.

I could think of a couple of things I'd be equally happy with:

"Singer Songwriter" which would include Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and maybe I'd squeeze The Band in there.

But I think I could do pretty well with the keyboard and string works of Bach. Pretty infinite in their depths. Throw in Gibbons and Byrd and I'm sold.

Oddly enough I'm a Irish fiddle player and love that music but I don't think I could live on it exclusively.

Ravel, Faure chamber music, broadening out to Tango. Anything classical with cello and piano right up to Preisner.

After only six months of Sirius Radio, I can tell you the Grateful Dead Channel, 24x7 would keep me going, give me hope.

Silence. Perhaps easy to find on a desert island, but in this hectic age, it's what I treasure most.

A dominant feature of the music that we love is that it takes us to a place far away from where we currently are. My advice then would be to take whatever music you think will take you as far as possible from a beautiful and pleasant island. Human nature being what it is, I think it wouldn't be long before we were craving yet another island with its own but rather different qualities of beauty and "pleasance"; our music would serve to lighten our longing. As it does now, in this place where we are now.

It depends on the time of day, the mood, the phase of the moon etc.
I would have to go with anything that can be played by an instrument or sung. I can't really choose between genres of music since it is all music. Today it might be Salsa, tomorrow it would be early 80's alt-rock (early REM, the dB's, Pixies etc.) and the next day it might be James Brown or maybe even some electronica.

I've never explored this in depth, but on the surface I find that most genre's of music by themselves lead me to boredom with the possible exception of baroque and classical.

P.S. Talking about sameness leading to boredom, what ever happened to "Open Mike"? Seems like last entry was, like last year...

Seriously? And the next day it's opera recitatives from the early 1900s, and the next day it's The Best of American Idol, and the next Gregorian Chant, and the day after that 12-tone music, and the day after that it's a full dose of Wierd Al Yankovic? What about children's music, say, Raffi, or songs from Sesame Street? Followed by some thrash metal? Then Chinese lute music? Then Lawrence Welk? Tex-Mex? Where does John Cage fit in? And you like it all equally, just depending on your mood?

I don't mean to be hostile. I just get suspicious when people say they like all kinds of music. Acknowledging, of course, that you might well be telling it like it is for you.

In which case, we have an all polka all the time station here in Wisconsin I'm sure you'd like too. [g]


P.S. How to commit the perfect murder: lock me in a 20th-story hotel room and pipe in that polka station. [g]

I thought this would be a slam dunk. Jazz, end of story.
That didn't do well after I started reading some of the posts here. In fact it has me headed to the basement to dust off some of my favorite vinyl.
The 1981 Gould recording of the Goldberg Variations, John Hartfords riverboat album (criminally unavailiable on CD) and a stack of Ry Cooder are going to make it very hard to mow the lawn today as originally planned.
So I'm stumped. I can't come up with a genre that includes Ben Webster and Doc Watson so I'll have to sit this one out.

"P.S. Talking about sameness leading to boredom, what ever happened to 'Open Mike'? Seems like last entry was, like last year..."

Actually it was last month, June 7th to be exact.


P.S. I struggled mightily all day yesterday not to put up a political post. I did it. But it was hard.

I'm very music tolerant but do admit to having a hard time with a fair amount of jazz and bluegrass. Do especially like "good" blues and creative progressives like Emerson Lake and Palmer.

Baroque Keyboard, chamber and orchestral music by J.S. Bach, Vivaldi, Corelli, Corelli- Geminiani, and Handel. While recovering from a open heart surgery, I listened to a half dozen different versions of the Goldberg Variations for hours on end.

My choice of genre is "music I like", which goes all the way from baroque to recent pop. You're free to define "genre" any other way you want, of course.

The closest I've come to answering that question has come on board a sailboat. I sailed and raced -much of it offshore- for decades, obviously prior to moving to Arizona.
My preferences now are opera [live, on stage], plus symphonic and chamber music. I also listen to older blues, jazz and classical guitar but can't stomach rock.

Much of that is not satisfying in the peaceful silence of sailing -which would be most comparable to the desert island. I found that either string quartets and perhaps incongruously Mahler symphonies were the CDs that wound up being brought on board and played the most.
If a single composer were the criterion it has to be Mozart because of the sheer number and diversity of his compositions.

.... Or the Dooby Brothers/Eagles. Then I'd hate music so much I wouldn't miss everything I'd left behind.

Although I must say my work compatriots and I have developed a strange fascination for the musical stylings of David Hasslehoff, which create a sort of surreal, ironic, delirious humor at 2 AM during this insane software implementation project.

"jump to my car..."

What an original "desert island" question, and for me quite unfair (my favorite music doesn't seem to break down well into genres). Perhaps if Stax/Muscle Shoals/Daptone could be defined as a genre... but could I live without all that other stuff?

But what great comments, especially Jeff's, which has me thinking for the first time that my needs on a desert island might be different from my needs in ordinary life. This deserves more thought.

OK, I've now come up with a way to cheat: "Dance", into which I think I can justify a great a majority of my favorite music, frome gigues to jitterbugs to blues to hip-hop and even a bunch of jazz.

I'm not being entirely facetious. To riff off Bill, above: move your a** and your soul will follow.


With all of the open worm cans around, what's one more. Might as well add religion or politics to the brew.

Classical, composers active early 20th, not restricted to symphonic, current favorite, R.V. Williams, all 9 symphonies. The density of the experience warrants repeated listening.

Well, how about if we take a different approach.
In mathematics, there is the so-called Erdős number. Anyone who ever co-authored a paper with Erdős has an Erdős number of 1. Anyone who co-authored a paper with someone whose Erdős number is 1 has an Erdős number of 2. Etc.

Basically, I'd take anyone with a Tom Waits number of 3 or less.

Lots of types of music light up my brain, from all genres. But the element of choosing one and only one genre to listen to for the rest of my days would have to be something that will continue to surprise me with its unexpected turns and lingerings. A good proof test is choosing a playlist and, even if only out of sheer laziness, only listening to that one list over and over while immersed in a project like staining a porch or laying up shingle siding. You learn really quickly what becomes predictable to your ear after that much exposure, ie, almost all popular music, unfortunately. With that in mind, I'll go with classical, but since I also like a good tune I can hum along with, I'll choose Brahms. There is enough in his repertoire alone to keep me guessing AND humming along with the lyrical themes.

It's a freakin island! Doesn't it have to be reggae?

But really - Blues, in any incarnation.

It's an impossible choice - there is too much that I love.

There is one good cheat - If I pick current jazz (i.e., jazz of the 21st century) I can get everything from chamber music to big bands to David Grisman who brought bluegrass instrumentation into the jazz fold.

For me it is possible to pick a favorite musician though - the great jazz musician Anat Cohen, an Israeli reed player currently living in New York. Her melodic powers and the immense scope of her work create a universe I could live in for the rest of my life.

An existance with one I-pod (containing the best of the past) one radio station (past and future) A computer program (Acquine) to generate your music ?

I'm torn between Baroque and "post-rock" (specifically Mogwai followed by some Explosions in the Sky and Tristeza). I would be hard-pressed to retain sanity without Mogwai, but there are tims when nothing surpasses Bach's Cello suites. Narrowing it down to the one genre I would have to go with post-rock.

But the thought makes me sad.

Even cheating and insisting on the two leaves me without Shostakovitch (I see someone else likes his work!), Philip Glass, Paul Simon, Fugazi, The Pixies, Talking Heads, The Coup, Gogol Bordello, and an enormous assortment of other genres. Something I cherish about living in the Information Age is the tremenduous variety available to us in every arena of life. We have the opportunity to experience so many different ideas and styles of expression and to hand-select our own custom collecitons (of music, movies, thought provoking websites like TOP! images, etc).

So for me this mental game feels very very limiting. It's like asking if you could only take one book...

That's easy: post-punk.

The most experimental, political, genre-mashing, feel-good, feel-bad, feel-indifferent, motivated and outre music ever made, incorporating everything from jazz squonking, dub, guitar feedback, electronic experimentation and romantic pop.

This would include, but not be limited to PIL, Gang of Four, Raincoats, Wire, Human League, Cocteau Twins, Cindytalk, DAF, I'm So Hollow, Faith Global, Girls At Our Best, Scars, Josef K, Joy Division, Blue Aeroplanes, Algebra Suicide, Pink Industry, Au Pairs, Buzzcocks, Dalek I Love You, Crime & the City Solution, Durutti Column and a few hundred more obscure acts.

Come to think of it, if you throw in the history of electro-acoustic music, post-rock and Scott Walker, plus music from Bulgaria, Corsica and musicians I know from down the street, I am living on that island! Though it's more like an archipelago.

By the way, the Oliver Sacks book you really need to read is "Musicophilia".

P.S. "Classical" music only interested me when I was on stage playing it. Complete boredom sets in when I can predict what a piece is going to do next. Drone music (Koner, Niblock) excepted I suppose, but that's not classical.

P.P.S. Coltrane was a God. Especially on "Living Space".

I am not the same person as "Robin P" above, but agree with him about dub, though only the most out there experiments.

I would memorize one song and sing it aloud everyday on my desert island. That way I would not have to worry about electricity. It is the old Eric Idle chestnut:

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