Saturday, January 31, 2015

3½ minutes

Bad Plus pianist Ethan Iverson had a fun riff going over on the Twitter, which was to find iconic jazz tracks that were basically exactly 3½ minutes long; he was limiting it to music released during the LP era— roughly 1950 and after. I ran with that a little bit and put together a YouTube playlist/survey of things of that length.

Going through my own library, it's an interesting exercise to listen to a whole lot of things with that exact format; it's basically the shortest you can perform a “real”, fully developed jazz tune. A lot of jazz 78s are three minutes long, which always feels too short. A lot of jazz vocal numbers are also three minutes. 3½ minutes is a standard length for pop singles, slightly on the longer side, just enough time to lose yourself in the track a little bit before it wraps up. The Milton Nascimento song I included, and Hey Joe by Jimi Hendrix are like that— they feel long.

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