Madonna, Mahler, and the gapless track

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With the release of Madonna’s new album, Confessions On a Dance Floor , comes a new wrinkle for albums sold at the iTunes Music Store—the Non-Stop Mix. Should you wish to get your groove on with Esther’s latest, you can purchase it in the usual format, which includes individual tracks, a video, and digital booklet, or buy it as a single long track that plays the album from beginning to end without annoying gaps between cuts.

This excites me in a big way.

No, I haven’t suddenly become a fan of Ms. M’s work. This interests me because it hints at good things to come.

Talk to just about any classical or jazz enthusiast (and rock and rollers keen on concept albums) and they’ll tell you that the gap of silence between album tracks purchased at the iTunes Music Store (and other digital music outlets) drives them to distraction. Some pieces of music are meant to flow seamlessly from one movement to the next, without a hiccup in-between tracks. Up to this point, it’s been impossible to purchase music from iTunes that doesn’t contain these hiccups.

Until now.

Madonna’s got the clout to insist that a version of her album be sold in gapless form. I pray that version sells well enough that Apple sees the benefit in offering non-stop versions of the music it sells—symphonies and jazz suites (and, okay, very well, Dark Side of the Moon too). Should it do so, I’d like an additional tweak to the track and a slight change to the iPod’s interface.

That tweak is to insert bookmarks in these files so, should I care to, I can press Forward or Previous to navigate through the tracks. This gives me the best of both worlds—the chance to hear the work from beginning to end without interruption and well as the opportunity to navigate through the work and pick out individual movements. As for the iPod, it will need to display the name of those bookmarks when I move to them— 2. Molto vivace and 3. Adagio molto e cantabile , for example—so I have some notion of where I am.

After all, wonderful as Madonna may be, she’s no Mozart, Miles, or Mahler. These artists deserve at least the amount of respect afforded to the Material Girl.

This story, "Madonna, Mahler, and the gapless track" was originally published by PCWorld.

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