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"Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent."
--Victor Hugo

"Girl you're every woman in the world to me - you're my fantasy, you're my reality."
--Air Supply

Art may be the single most powerful bond between humans, something that transcends all of the other forces that seem conspired to divide us -- geography, culture, language, role-playing games. Yet, in the last 50 years or so, art trends have moved toward a sort of academic coldness. What we're often left with, as we try to find something to bring us closer together, is just not very sexy.

This is why we should all be so grateful for music.

Love Rocks:
Mix Tapes 2000

or, Awww, You Ripped This Just for Me?

by Todd Levin

Music has a way of living under your skin. Whether it's a heart-wrenching aria or sticky little pop song, it gets inside you. And unlike all other forms of art, you can dance to it. It's the food of love, nourishing you from your first junior high school dance/rollerskating party to the carefully selected song that accompanies your wedding dance. (You can always default to "Up Where We Belong," but why would you?) Music can be a sideways glance or a carefully calculated conversation jump-starter, and its inspiration can come from the weirdest places. One of my most fondly remembered relationships grew from common interest in a Daniel Johnston song. Bless that crazy man.

For a long time, if you wanted to meet someone and music was your preferred means of attraction, you had a handful of choices. You could labor over a mix tape, or you could really put yourself on the line, roll the FM dice, and request a song on a radio. Now, thanks to the Internet (or, if you're over 50, "America Online") and its enormous arsenal of resources, there are new ways to use a common love of music to tell that special someone-to-be, "Sometimes when we touch, the honesty's too much."

It Goes a Little Something Like This...

I know that no matter how entertaining my friends may find me, no one has ever quoted me next to their high school senior picture. However, judging by their lyrical prevalence in my high school yearbook, Aerosmith clearly touched more than a few of my peers' souls. If you're having trouble finding the right words, why not summon the masters of recording common experience - pop stars? You can find any number of transcribed song lyrics online, using search engines like Lyrics World. If you can't break the ice, maybe Hall and Oates can. Of course, you want to make sure that you don't become the victim of a mondegreen: that's a misheard lyric to you and me. That could sink you before you start, so study up.

It's Got a Good Beat, and I Can Dance To It...

Have you ever typed your favorite band's name into a search engine? If you do, you'll find -- scattered between the millions of online music retailers -- dozens of personal Web pages. You just typed a couple of words and you've instantly found people who share your interests in music. (See, the Web even allows you to read people's thoughts.) And maybe your mutual love for Rammstein is just enough to make you fire off an email to that person and find out what else you have in common.

A good music compilation can be a life-altering event for a music lover. As Rob Fleming, the protagonist in Nick Hornby's [excellent. -ed.] novel High Fidelity says, "Making a mix tape is like writing a love letter." But, unless you're an aerobics instructor, the days of cassettes are nearly over. Now, many of us have been passive consumers of CDs for a long time. But if you're a truly millennial human being, you probably have a recordable CD deck, which means now you can create your carefully constructed compilations digitally.

If this kind of equipment is a little too high-tech for you, or if your own record collection isn't as ambitious as your compilation selections, you can still log on to sites like Music Maker or CDNow and -- for a modest fee -- build your own custom CDs from their amply endowed music libraries. For the extremely personal touch, you have to design your own CD label or booklet for the mix. You can even download shareware software right off the Web to get you started - for Mac or PC.

Getting Down with MP3

Everyone loves a rebel. And nothing screams "rebel" more than drag racing your hot rod off a cliff, and leaping out at the very last second as your car plummets 500 feet and explodes violently against an outcropping of rocks. Since this is difficult to maneuver from behind your computer, ripping some MP3s is really (sadly) the next best thing.

Sure, they're in a legal gray area, but they're still the best way to send music back and forth along the Internet. Emailing MP3s is like creating that great compilation, one track at a time. Community software programs like Napster and Macster -- controversial in their own right -- allow you to share multiple MP3s with other users all over the world, and peer at each other's music collections. Be nice; share your MP3s today, and who knows what you'll be sharing tomorrow.

If MP3 is too sketchy for you, or if bandwidth is not on your side, you can always send a small shout-out from one of the Web's dozens of MIDI servers, like the musically rich 80s MIDI Archive. Of course, MIDI's bleepy, nasal sound quality does have a way of turning the most beloved pop song into a bar-mitzvah band remix. Sending a MIDI song is somewhat loaded, though. At the very least, it will let you know instantly if your future mate likes music and has a sense of humor.

If you're really ambitious, and if you have the skills to back it up, why not take it up to eleven? Instead of playing DJ, record your own song, MP3 it, and post it online. Sites like Listen.com and MP3.com would be happy to showcase your musical talent. When it comes to impressing your future someone, no amount of borrowed tunes can beat a handmade serenade.

And honestly, who doesn't love a rock star?

Todd Levin's online persona inhabits www.tremble.com. His analog self is loose in New York. This is his first Big To Do, and with what he knows about Team BG's MP3 habits, not the last.

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