If I choose a selection of music to listen to on my phone, it helpfully tells me the sequence number of the track in the selection I have made. For example, on an album of 12 songs it might show that I am listening to “1 of 12” when the first track is playing. This may be useful if you have memorised the sequence of songs on the album and can’t be bothered to glance down the screen to see the title of the one you are listening to.

This evening I chose to listen to Belle and Sebastian. I was happy to let the phone decide on the order of play and selected “shuffle”. As the music started, I glanced at the screen and saw that I was listening to track number….

-2147483648 of 0. It was the minus that really surprised me. My music collection has occupied an unknown dimension, like anti-matter.

This suggests that I have a Belle and Sebastian song-debt of over two billion.  At an average song length (I’m guessing) of two and a half minutes I would have to listen to them non-stop for over 10,000 years to re-establish an equilibrium in the universe. I didn’t even know that they had not-recorded that many songs.

The space-time implications of listening to negative songs are mind-boggling. Do I have to go back into the past to start playing them? Once I have listened to them will I not be able to get the tune into my head?…

PS By an extraordinary coincidence, -2147483648 is the largest negative 32-bit integer. I always knew that Scottish bands had a fine sense of mathematical humour.

2 Responses to “Tigermilk”

  1. 1 Mike S

    Sounds like you might have trapped a tiny piece of anti-matter when inserting your headphone jack. You want to remove the jack, and blow in the socket – that should sort it out.
    The same thing sometimes happens when I insert my USB mouse – plays havoc with my spreadsheets.
    PS Have you worked out how much in royalties B&S must owe you?

  2. Big as that number is, it must just be a tiny proportion of the number of songs that Bell and Sebastian haven’t recorded.

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