After trying to rip some classical music CDs for my father, I readily relate to the recent Wall Street Journal article: "Highbrow Lament: Classical-Music Fans Feel Slighted in Era of the iPod."
But even if fans manage to find
the classical tracks they want online, MP3 players aren’t set up to
easily sort classical music. When a digital song is purchased from an
online site, or even "ripped" from a compact disk, it’s more than a
file containing audio information: each track also contains text that
identifies the artist, album name, track name and track number, which
software programs on PCs and in digital music players use to organize
and display songs.
Pop tunes are generally known by their original
performers and are easy to categorize. But there are hundreds of
recordings of Beethoven symphonies under different conductors with
different orchestras. Many classical-music fans often purchase more
than one version of the same work, to compare performances and build
their libraries. It’s not uncommon for an opera lover, for example, to
own several recordings of Mozart’s "The Marriage of Figaro" with
different casts or conductors, or a Baroque-music fancier to have two
or three different recordings of Bach’s "St. Matthew Passion."
And woe unto you if you corrupt your iTunes files on your desktop computer; while Apple makes it incredibly easy to move music from your desktop to your iPod, trying to move the music back from the iPod to your desktop is an incredible chore. The limitation is designed to prevent privacy, but it is yet another example of a company arrogantly deciding what you can do with music that you might have already legally purchased. Additionally, if you live in Asia, you will find it difficult to buy music online from Apple. I guess the assumption is that most people living in Asia live to simply pirate music.
NewsTarget is among those pushing the iRiver flash players instead of the iPods, and The Digital Music Weblog agrees that the iPod is overhyped. A Boston Globe article says that the public’s seemingly unsatiable appetite for digital music is drawing additional attention from the cellphone companies. (Brett’s Blog looks at one such offering from Sony Ericsson.)
Update 4/13/2005: Fazal Majid has a good discussion of the issues for iPod owners who want to listen to classical music.