4.07.2008

beta diversity

In ecology we talk about the diversity of species in a few different ways. Alpha diversity is your general total number of different types of organisms in one place at one time; what most people think of when you say "biodiversity". But we also consider other ways of calculating diversity. Beta diversity is the turnover in species diversity as you move from one point to another-- i.e. the "suite" of species might change as you travel across a state or country, or even a single forest.

I was thinking about this concept of beta-diversity the other day when I ran across a CD mix that I made in 2004. I had no idea what to expect when I put in in the CD player, and it is interesting to note the diversity of bands that I was listening to in 2004 compared to today. In certain ways there has been quite a bit of turnover; beta diversity is high. But there were several notable exceptions to this... long lived and adaptable bands that have remained on my playlists through today-- the generalist species, found in a wide array of habitats.

Here's a brief run-down of what I was apparently listening to in the fall of 2004, in order of how they appeared on the mix:

1. Bishop Allen

2. Blonde Redhead

3. The Shins (Goosestep - which is still the best Shins song if you ask me)

4. Blonde Redhead. Apparently I was in the throes of a B.R. revival in that fall.

5. Harpswell Sound. From Portland, ME. Currently dis-banded. This was a really, really great album.

6. Death Vessel. Also from Southern Maine. We had just moved back to NY after 2 years in Portland, so I was feeling the Maine love. The singer sounds like a girl and looks like a 12 year old boy, but actually is probably a 30 year old man. Enticing?

7. Rush. I have no explanation for my brief but intense Rush phase.

8. Some song by some band that I swear that I have never heard before and I can't figure out how it ended up on this mix. The CD just says 2004 so I don't know who on earth it could be. Also, this song (and the band playing it) are terrible. Apparently in the fall of 2004 I was exercising some poor judgment in my quest for new music.

9. The Decemberists. Wow. I really liked them in 2004. Now... not so much.

10. RJD2. I totally forgot about how much I loved RJD2. What a great show.

11. Kid Koala. See #11.

12. Songs: Ohio.

14 & 15. T. Rex. I love me some glam rock. Telegram Sam and Jeepster back to back.

15. The Stone Roses. Was I having a Stone Roses throw-back phase in 2004? Adam just told me that it's never a bad time for the the Stone Roses. So, there.

16. Monade. I must have made this right before we went to see the new band formed by the woman from Stereolab. We saw them in Hudson, NY and it nearly bored me to tears.

17. Black Mountain. And, well, if you've been keeping up with things around here you know that I am still listening to them.

18. Joan Jett & the Blackhearts-- covering Crimson & Clover. What a great song about god knows what, but it is just vaguely dirty enough for Joan Jett to feel like rocking it out.

19. Niel Young -- My My, Hey Hey. Who ISN'T still listening to this song? I need to have a word with that person.

20. The Cars (My Best Friend's Girl). Rick Ocasek might be the world's ugliest man but he can sling a killer keyboard riff.

There is another premise in ecology that basically says that the longer and harder you look in one area, the more species you will find. It's one of those seemingly obvious ideas that we all try to ignore when planning sampling methods into our experimental designs.

Well, it's the same thing for finding new music, and lately I've been exercising little to no effort, so most of the lack of turnover in what I listen to now compared to 2004 is mostly due to lack of initiative on my part. But that is going to change! And someday when it does I'll let you know what I'm listening to now/then for a true measure of my beta-diversity of bands.

1 comment:

fort nest said...

harpswell sound! ron & trey are back with 2 other members in Honey Clouds...http://www.peapodrecordings.com/honeyclouds.php