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A Magazine for Sheffield

Portable Music.

I have absolutely no qualms in admitting I dance to car alarms. I've been known to 'box some beat' to an assortment of birdsong and have hummed away merrily to the drone of a fruit juicer. I spent the run up to my formative years being referred to as "Biffer" due to my penchant for drumming on tables/pets/family members with a squeaky blue hammer and I 100% agree that baked beans are "the musical fruit". I do believe "the cacophonous legume" would be more apt but Heinz have been ignoring my emails. If, like myself, you have a constant 4/4 beat running through your head then you can hear music wherever you are. It's that idea of providing a soundtrack to everyday life that everyone finds so tantalising and subsequently why there are over 300 million Apple branded music players sitting in people's pockets, quietly waiting to break the day after the warranty expires. I remember my first Walkman clear as day. It was my stepdad's and it lived in the shed. The Walkman that is, not Alan. It was covered in sawdust and the pause button didn't work properly, but it was systematically placed in my possession and subsequently returned to the shed until it eventually became mine. I loved it like fat kid loves cake. The thrill of taking music wherever I wanted never wore thin. Unfortunately, the thrill of only having one tape waned fairly sharpish. After that I was utterly hooked and over the next 12 years accumulated what can only be described as a gaggle of assorted portable media devices: 3 portable cassette players 2 Discmans/men/persons 3 Minidisc players 2 non-descript MP3 devices 2 boom boxes A grand total of 4 iPods. I often fall foul to the 'charms' of my laptop's speakers instead of taking that three-foot stretch to plug her into a set of lovely Yamahas, and it's because of that ease of use provided by a portable medium that we find more and more music geared towards al fresco listening. People are now able to create music in the great outdoors with entire production suites that fit in the palm of your hand. Admittedly it has to be an abnormally large hand, but who are you to judge? At some point the ability to hold three ruby red grapefruits in one span is going to come in really useful and the cries of 'Big Mitts Belshaw' will fall on deaf ears. Being able to purchase music from iTunes while out and about was something that always irked me though, mainly because the adverts propagated the idea of buying Jack Johnson and Norah Jones on the fly. No-one should be given the opportunity to do that. It's a matter of ethics. Also, allowing a major corporation access to your listening habits and inviting them to provide you with inspiration is only going to end in tears. It pains me that people like tubby hipster James 'LCD Soundsystem' Murphy can decide to produce an album (2006's 45:33) in collaboration with a major footwear company whose single purpose is to provide the soundtrack to a perfect workout. The excitement that surrounds portable tunage is that you can take music from home out of its domain, drown out the mundane diegetic sounds of life and score your own as you see fit, create exquisite juxtapositions of clamour and serene vistas and provide yourself with a level of escapism that the confines of your home could not see fit to loan you - not run through your town centre's mandatory fountain complex, quaffing a Starbucks while you consume the bastard love child of corporate idiocy and trend humping in which a podgy sell-out merchant paradoxically tells you the best way to shed a few pounds. Like a bomb in a bookshop, certain people just want to destroy something novel. It makes no real odds to me though. I'm totally under the influence. These days I can't imagine being without music on my person. There is a generation emerging that were practically born with an iPod in their hands and the phenomenon knows no class boundaries. It provides to all and sundry, one and all, and eventually people will begin to take it all for granted. But if you can remember the time you left your girlfriend and her mates at the campsite, took a 30-minute walk through sharp bushes and winding rock paths, perched yourself in a throne of boulders and watched the sun set into the sea with 'Narayan' by the Prodigy as your soundtrack, then you remember why you got so excited when you blew the sawdust away and pressed play for the first time. )

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