Off the Top: Music Entries


August 8, 2011

Coming Farther Out of the Grief Fog

Today along with the past week in California at my Mom's place has finally begun feeling like another of many layers of the grief fog lifting. I was not fully prepared for the reality of taking care of my Mom’s and remainder of my Dad’s affairs. After losing my dad last Summer I was more prepared mentally for the passing of my Mom and her long struggles with good health really making it all seem like is was forever close. Yet, with all that was going on at the same time (move and transitions with work and elsewhere) it was a good struggle.

The trip out to California with my son last week really was good. My mom badly wanted to go to baseball games this Summer at some point with the two of us. She was a long time and die hard Oakland A’s game and my son got to run the bases after the game, then watched the Giants play in SF from a few rows behind home plate, went to see the Sacramento Rivercats play, and finally watched the Stockton Ports from right behind their dugout on consecutive days from funds tucked away for just that the grief fog lifted.

The past few days back (and prepping for another few trips to California to continue to go through and close things out) really started sinking in the wonder of life that has been so far. Watching Milk last evening really brought back many memories of growing up in Northern California and that really odd time of teen years sorting things out at the same time the world around me was struggling with the same thing (not sure the world ever is finished with that journey). The drives the week before from the Central Valley to the Bay Area really brought back many memories and understandings of who I’ve been and where I am.

Today I got out and went to Politics & Prose to look around and there is something about a really well curated local bookstore that you can connect with that brings the senses alive. Politics & Prose really did that for me today. I’ve long missed other Washington, DC area bookstores like Olson’s that had just the right things displayed that tickled my mind and soul bringing them to life. Pulling thoughts and glimpses of understandings (for myself and to share with others) out of the denseness of the grief fog really was wonderful. Politics and Prose had so many things out on special displays that are at the top of my Amazon wish list it really was a dangerous place to be.

Today was wrapped up by watching Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage that chronicled the existence of the band Rush from its creation to current date. My neighbor Tom Just turned me on to Rush in 1980 when he moved into the neighborhood from Chicago. Listening to “2112”, “A Farewell to Kings”, “Hemispheres”, and “Permanent Waves” really struck me from a music stand point, but also the lyrics (I pay attention to lyrics much later than the music, there are some Rush lyrics I am just getting around to listening to in full after 30 some years). But, in watching this movie tonight it brought out the love and passion the band members have for their craft and the depth to which they put their understanding and pushing the edges of it. The discussion of Neal Peart’s loss of his daughter in a tragic accident and then his wife and his struggle to find it all and put it all back together helped cement the breaking through another layer of this grief fog.

In the past few weeks I've been talking with some companies about their products and some are in fairly good shape and needing a few tweaks and pushes in the right direction, yet others are lost in a world of buzzwords and social development memes with little value. I'm really looking to getting my hands dirty again and anxious to clear through the family affairs that need addressing. I also have a good chunk of writing to do and prepping for some presentations ahead.

On a Sunday evening I am ready for this next week to begin and dig in.



March 1, 2007

The Merlin Show interview with John Vanderslice

Yowza! The Merlin Show interview with John Vanderslice is fantastic. The discussion about changes in old media, marketing, music, DRM, and the state of the music industry is fantastic. John is smart and understands the marketplace and how to make money. How to make good money.

I am completely enjoying The Merlin Show with Marlin Mann. I am not a huge fan of podcast nor video podcasts due to the attention and time they take. I do have a stack of them backlogged that I will get to the day the Internet is gone for good, but Merlin is keeping me drawn in when I can't sit down and chat with him in person.

Love ya Merlin, keep up the killer work!



February 10, 2007

Cuban Clocks and Music Long Tail Discovery

The last two trips to San Francisco I have heard a latin version of Coldplay's Clocks on KFOG and it really intrigued me. This last trip I was in the car for four songs and one of them was Coldplay's Clocks by the Cuban All Stars. I have been trying to track this track down since first hearing, but am not having great luck. This continually happens when I listen to KFOG, which is about the only regular radio station I will listen to (I much prefer XM Radio for is lack of advertising and blathering idiots spouting off while playing overplayed songs that have little merit.

What I like about this version of Clocks by the Cuban All Stars (I have seen the dashboard metadata list it as Ibrahim Ferrer, but it has not been described as such by the DJs on KFOG). This is where my music recommendations break. But, some digging on the KFOG website points me to Rhythms Del Mundo as the source (but their Flash site seems horribly broken in all browsers as none of the links work). I have found the album on iTunes, but only a partial listing and none of the physical music store options have this in stock as it is not mainstream enough (how I miss Tower).

This all seems like far more work that should be needed. But, not if one has even slightly long tail musical interests. I had a wonderful discussion along these lines wish Cory from IODA about this and the lack of really good long tail discovery systems.

I use Last.fm to discover new things from friend#039;s lists, but the Last.fm neighbor recommendations seem to only work on more mainstream interests (Pandora really falls off on the long tail for me). Now if KFOG put their play list in KFOG, it would help greatly and I would add them to my friend list (or I could move back home to the San Francisco Bay Area).



October 10, 2006

Tower Records is No More

My musical youth has a chapter closed with the Sale and Liquidation of Tower Records. In Central California, where I went to high school there was rather little constructive to do. I was a fan of music and played in school bands and some pick-up bands. But the place where much of the discussion about music took place was Tower Records.

The Social Gathering Spot

Tower Records was one of my first non-formal social meeting places. I would meet friends there to talk about new bands and music of interest, which included things that were not quite on local radio that embraced a mono-culture of rock, more rock, some rock, and light rock. Radio did not venture too far from "Top 40" radio, but Tower Records did. Not only did I find out from friends music that could be of interest to me, but the staff was insanely knowledgeable. I had my jazz interests broadended and found out about non-American bands.

Tower Grew with Me

As I moved around to university and life beyond, Tower Records remained a resource of smart musically engaged staff that could make great recommendations or do a deep dive on nearly any genre of music. In the past few years I have been trying to find similar recommendations services that are as broad as the human staff at Tower Records, but nothing can quite match it. I still have been shopping at Tower Records as my off-center music interests can be satiated at Tower on a Saturday looking through the new music discount stack or bin. I could walk into the nearest Tower to me and have a half-brained request with remotely partial information and the staff would nail what I was seeking. I continued to discover more music of interest that I was not getting turned on to anywhere else. The prices at Tower for much of the new music farther out in the long tail met my price point metric of less than 12 US dollars.

Other Poor Options

While I would occasionally buy from Amazon or other on-line retailer, Tower was my place. Now I am heading more toward on-line only as Walmart and Best Buy have incredibly horrible staff that continually walk away rather than answer a question to get a sale. Both have the most painful customer service and I know an quick in and out trip will turn into a 45 minute lesson poor customer service and how poorly trained and unpassionate staff can ruin an experience. Tower was about people passionate about music.

Holiday Memories

One memory that will always last with me is Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. There was very little open in Stockton, California, the place that is a giant suburb, without and "urb" to be a sub of. In high school we would gather at Tower on Christmas Eve night and head there the first opportunity we had on Christmas Day to spend whatever money we had garnered or to return the Carpenters greatest hts album. In the college years it was the place to gather and see friends who did not go to the "big party". In the post college years it was the place to go when the bars seemed like they were filled with young kids home from college and so loud you could not have a conversation. Tower Records held great memories and was held together by staff with great passion for the music they sold.



September 11, 2006

Found Killer Live Music is Alive in England

I will get to d.construct in another post, but on the way up to London on the train from Brighton today I sat next to a couple guys who were going to do a jazz combo gig, but when they stepped off four guys sat in their seats along with a guy they just met. The four guys (Tomme, Laurie, Pete, and Mat) make up Bad Sandwich and were on their way to London to play at the Battle of the Bands at Rock Garden Club in Covent Garden. I really enjoyed chatting with them and their friend Robin (whom they had just met).

The Bad Sandwich guys explained they payed a heavy funk, which made me think of a band from San Francisco, the Smoking Section, that was a favorite band in the late 80s and early 90s. Tomme gave me a sticker for their band that had their MySpace page (putting it on the cover of my laptop was not smart as I had to close the lid to read it then open the lid and type). I checked out their page and sampled a little music, it was quite good and a free live concert did not sound so bad.

Bad Sandwich is a Killer Live Band

I made it to Rock Garden in time to see Soul Step and the rest of the bands (I will get to Soul Step in a moment). Bad Sandwich guys were very appreciative that I made it, but after they played I may have been the one that was happier. Bad Sandwich is killer. Utter killer! They were really tight with Pete (lead guitar), Laurie (bass), and Mat (drums) just in were in tight sync. Tomme has an insane amount of energy, is very charismatic on stage, and proved to be very good lead singer for this band. The music kept me wanting to get out of my seat and just move. My head would not stay still and I could not hold back a big smile. This guys were just fantastic. They were just heavy hard funk and really want these guys to do well as I really really want to have them making more music for me to listen to.

Soul Step Is another to Watch

The band prior to Bad Sandwich was Soul Step with a rock, soul, blues, and rockabilly all blended wonderfully. They were incredibly good showmen and served up great music. Ryan Burns (lead singer and bass) was fantastic and if Roland Orzibal (Tears for Fears) were to have done similar music in his early days Ryan is channeling that showmanship. Joseph Warwick on lead guitar was really really good and kept showed an excellent range. The drummer, Krissi Carter had the showmanship skills of a big band drimmer, she was just stellar and their music really showed off her talent. All together this trio made music I wanted to buy on the spot and keep listening to (unfortunately the music on their site does not do justice to their live experience and a good studio session could make them equal or better than their live performance. I really with them well as I really want to want to keep listening to their music as well.

Two Killer Bands to Follow, One Good Night

The Battle of the Bands involved a vote, which went to a heavy metal band most in the club were grumbling about. I don't quite feel bad about Bad Sandwich or Soul Step not getting voted forward as they were really impressive. Bad Sandwich seems to have a decent following and all the other bands really thought they were excellent. I can not wait for these two band to get good recordings out as I really want to buy them. I also really want to see them live, again and again.

Go give them an ear and if you are lucky enough to be in England they are well work going to see them as well.



August 22, 2006

The Tension of Sharing

In today's culture there is a serious tension between creative types, publishers & owner of rights, and other creative types. Society and culture has traditionally been handed down through generations and each innovation is built upon. Today we are living in a world that is trying to monetize this sharing and handing from one creator to another, which is placing money as a higher value than advancing culture and society. Today in the New York Times the latest iteration of the clamping down is presented in the article, Now the Music Industry Wants Guitarists to Stop Sharing, which is about sharing guitar tabs online.

We Can Advance Culture and Society Faster Today Than Ever Before

This sharing of guitar tabs has always been around, as has sharing most other music insights from one musician to another. This sharing is how nearly all of us have learned, embraced, and improved our skills. Not only do musicians learn this way, just as they always have, but it also how designers learn and share. The web not only made this quicker and easier, but web designers and developers have always been able to peek at the under pinnings of each others markup and design. This sharing helped move the web along more quickly than many technologies and mediums that came before it. The web is built on a creative culture mindset of free sharing. Part of this extension is nearly all creative cultures have advanced in recent years because of the web. Creativity has been democratized and the ability to get from zero to 7 is made very easy. It has been a time of immense innovation and a vast spreading of innovation.

One of the odd things is the corporate culture, which does not move at as fast of a pace (look at the ironic juxtaposition of Microsoft, which enabled innovation and was incredibly innovative, often by using the innovation of others (bought or "borrowed") is not a big corporation that is very slow moving and more reactive than innovative (on a whole, as I do realize there are some incredibly innovative segments inside Microsoft - particularly in the Live area and things that Ray Ozzie touches). It is the corporate culture of those that do not create but try and "own" what is the result of the creative process that are trying to stand in the way of traditional sharing in society and culture. It is ironic that what they spend their time suing to inhibit is what created the items of value they are claiming they are protecting.

Creativity Needs Sharing and It will Find Ways Around Control

There are many ironies in the top-down control industry, in that they are trying to kill what makes them money. The RIAA has tried to kill peer-to-peer sharing, but with the horrible state of radio the best way to learn about new music is to use peer-to-peer services. Recent studies show nearly all of the music on in iTunes and iPods is actually owned by the person using that device. Research around how people find the music they purchase points to open sharing of that music. That is how I do it and many of the others that I know.

Let me illustrate... Recently I ran across a Steely Dan making of Peg video on YouTube, which I really enjoyed. It was about the deep geek side of musicians sharing how they recorded and produced their hit song Peg. They were sharing their secrets, for a small price. But in this instance it was free on YouTube. I doubt that Steely Dan or anybody related to the DVD that this video came from authorized its use. But, because of watching the YouTube segment I bought the Steely Dan Aja DVD. I would have never known about it had I not run across the sample on YouTube. Not only did I buy it but in my circle of friends I know seven others that did the exact same thing, watched it on YouTube and then bought it.

This is a story of free sharing about musicians sharing their craft with others so to improve upon the whole of the craft. This is the thing that the New York Times article highlights as being a problem. But, it is the corporations around creativity that have put a noose around their prospective industries by getting their friends in U.S. Congress to regulate sharing and creativity and make it a crime in the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (PDF).

I am finding that much of the music I enjoy is not coming out of the corporations, but the creators and innovators who are connecting with their audience directly. Last evening I watched a video on YouTube that we are interested in picking up. I clicked a little bit on YouTube and discovered The Dualers from London, who I am quite impressed with. The Dualers are a ska/raggae duo/band who do not have backing of a record company, but made it into the pop charts in 2004 and stayed there for a bit. Ska/raggae is a type of music that is out of fashion with the record companies, but still has a large following. It is music that still resonates not too far out in the long tail. YouTube is one of the means that The Dualers promote their works. They have sold over 35,000 CDs, which is atleast $350,000 if they are sold for $10 a pop, which would be much better than a deal a record company could offer them starting out.

How to Ease the Tension?

A large part of fixing the current problem is fixing the laws and getting people in upper management and in control of the media companies organization that litigate rather than adapt. We need to return to embracing creativity and sharing. We need to do this in a manner that creators can make a living, which may include cutting back on the role of the middle men. I see a shift toward media outlets that can innovate, iterate, and help support the creators as well as support the media outlets. The radio industry is in serious trouble in its current iteration and may need to move to a more segmented and broader distribution like XM and/or Yahoo Music and LastFM and MySpace as social means of finding new music and connecting directly with bands/creators.

I have been quite interested in some of the stories about EMI and how they have added value, creativity, and innovation for Gorillaz and even Coldplay. It seems that EMI pays attention to the community and lets the artists connect with their audience, which then helps shape their music and creativity. This sounds like the smart leadership that is needed. I have only heard these stories anecdotally, so I am not sure how much is really done by the community with interest or the artists. But, I can hope.



May 22, 2005

Musical Baton

Livia passed me the Musical Baton. I have a somewhat broad collection of music that narrowing is extremely tough. I may answer this very differently in a week, month, or year. But, as of today...

Total volume of music on my computer

I have 6003 songs taking up 31.5 GB on my hard drive. This encompasses around 700 artists (give or take odd variants that become multipliers).

The last CD I bought

It turns out that I picked up a stack of CDs today, which included: Kem Album II, Midival Punditz Midival Times, Dave Matthews Band Stand Up, Bruce Springsteen Devils & Dust, among a handful of backfill disks.

Song playing right now

Blue Nile The Days of Our Lives

Five songs I listen to a lot, or that mean a lot to me

  1. Dizzy Gilespie Man from Monterey
  2. T.J. Baden Sureal
  3. Youssou N'Dour Shaking the Tree
  4. Lyle Lovett Can't Resist It (live)
  5. Peter Gabriel Solsbury Hill

Five people to whom I'm passing the baton

  1. Dan Brown
  2. Andrew Otwell
  3. Dan Hill
  4. Molly Steensen
  5. George Kelly


March 22, 2005

Audio Spatial Relationships in Jazz Trio Recordings

This morning on the way into work I was listening to some music from the jazz pianist Benny Green. There was something that seemed quite odd. It took me a few minutes to put my finger on it, but I finally got it. The audio image was backwards, that is to say left was right and vice versa. Having played the piano for years the sound was mapped completely wrong for me. I expect to have the bass notes in the left ear and the treble in the right, just as it would be were I sitting at the piano.

Since I have had my Sure E2C (the best mobile headphones I have ever owned) I have had to re-rip many CDs to get a better sound quality as the music sounded clipped. I am a huge fan of jazz music and particularly big band and trios each for vastly different reasons. I love big band jazz because of the breadth and depth of the sound. A large horn section can really move me with volume and richness, but a really tight big band (one that move swiftly as one) has me in awe. A trio is the opposite for me, the individuals stand out in the purity of each of the player's talents working together to blend as one. In the trio individual textures are readily apparent like grains of wood showing through in a polished piece of fine furniture.

So why did the "incorrect" sound mapping bother me? When listening to jazz on headphones the only place a spatial separation can be heard in the manner represented is sitting at the keyboard. With a grand piano or at an upright the sound emitting from the piano is greatly diffused, even by the short distance, and the sound can only be heard as one voice from coming out of the piano, not the individual strings nor the left and right.

The problem is most likely attributed to the mike placement during recording. Most often piano is recorded from within the body, with the mike(s) facing the player, hence reversing the spatial relationship. The only way to replicate this sound in person is to sit in the body of a grand piano, which is not usual, nor recommended seating.

Is there a program that will reverse the left and right channels? This is going to bug me to no end. I can not put my headphones in the wrong ears as they do not fit and really do not work that way.



December 17, 2004

Destroyed Good Only To Get Great

Earlier this week we sheared half of the head of one of our earphones off leaving it less than usable as a earbud. Hence I went out that same evening and picked up a set of Shure E2C earphones. I have heard rave reviews about them and some friends really enjoy their set.

After picking them up and getting them home, I was feeling like these better rock for the money, which is nearly what I paid three years prior for my set just I had destroyed. I commute to work and have ample time to listen to music and downloaded BBC and Studio360 radio segments.

The E2C come with two different types of ear pieces and three different sizes of each set. I tried a couple different sizes of each and found one size of the foam (most outside sound dampening of the two kinds, not that sound dampening was my primary goal) that seemed to work best. But, after 10 minutes of trying to read the directions and trying different contortions I could not get a decent bass sound out of the earphones. But, finally I did it just right and I got full range. I listened for a moment or two to what ever I had playing and was in utter awe. I was hearing pieces in music I had owned for nearly 10 years that I had never heard before.

The remainder of this week I have been listening to music with acoustic instruments as there is much richness to that type of music. I have heard bowing on acoustic bass during songs on bass lines I never noticed. I also heard quiet undertones I had never heard that now were readily apparent. One of the things I noticed today, while listening to Dave Brubeck's Take Five, was I could approximate the room size during the drum solo as the reverberations of the sound had texture and echo of music rooms and studios I had played in. I have a new love for the music I have and it is a great joy to listen and take in the subtleties on my commute.

The ear phones I had before had very good sound, but the E2C may be some of the best earphones or speakers I have ever listened to music with. The E2C wires are not as lithe as the Sony wires, which would make more active listening a little more difficult, I imagine. I am not too worried about active listening at this point, but just being transformed to new places through the music.



July 4, 2004

What Goes In Your Ears

Tim Bray brings to life a point I recently discovered, compression on MP3 is rather poor sound quality. I unintentionally ripped a disk this past week at the lossless sound quality in Apple iTunes and ended up with 23 MB to 30 MB files in the Apple file format. I dumped the songs in my iPod and hit the road. That evening on my way home I listened to my disk I ripped, Danny Wilson's Meet Danny Wilson, and was utterly blown away by the lush tones finding their way to my ears through the Sony in-ear fontopia headset. I have been ripping my collection over the past couple years at 160 bits in the Apple format or in MP3 and getting 4 to 5 MB per song. Since my experience I am now ripping at 192 bits, but still not getting the lush sounds, although the quality is improved. I will run out of space at some point, but I will have much better sounding bits to listen.

Not everything needs the better sound quality, but there are many things in my collection that I may go back and re-rip so I have better travel versions with me.



May 22, 2004

iTunes on External Drive

I finally moved my iTunes repository, all 18GB of it, off my TiBook (40GB hard drive) to my external firewire hard drive (120GB). By changing the iTune directory to the external drive in iTunes preferences then going into Advanced an set iTunes to "consolodate" iTunes files everything will be properly copied to the external drive. After ripping a disk and finding the disk only loaded on the external drive I knew I had success. I then deleted the iTunes on the TiBook.

I have now successfully synched my iPod connecting to the external drive through the same firewire hub. I now have 20GB of free hard drive available on my laptop, which is a nice relief.



March 14, 2004

iPod still missing music

I have been loving my iPod for some months now. But, I am continually amazed that in the 4,000 songs I currently have stored I don't always have what I want to hear. Not only do I not have the one or two songs, but I do not have anything by that artist or composer and I own four or five CDs by that person. I just realized that I did not have any Eric Clapton, but that was only when I was grabbing the Holy Cole Trio to rip. Eric Clapton August lived in my Walkman for years at the end of the 80s. It was part of what framed living in Oxford and traveling into London on Thursdays or Fridays.

I had been thinking that the iPod would be much like having a Walkman again, but it is much more than that. A Walkman took pre-cognitive measures before heading out to ensure that the music you wanted was loaded or in another pocket. I always traveled with three or four tapes, usually mix tapes to get my space worth. Now I always have something I am not tired of or would like to hear (albeit not always exactly what I wanted, yet).

I am really enjoying the iPod on the train rides as it blocks out the chatter of non-regular riders who know the rules of the Metro are not to talk, but if necessary to have a conversation quietly. I really enjoy the music while waiting on the platform watching others. One night a man stepped to the edge of the platform and was practicing ballet positions in street shoes and slacks. His tapping, pointing, and placing the his feet was in perfect time to what I was listening to, which I believe was Lamb.

I do not wear the telltale white headphones as I am not a fan of the look, but also greatly prefer the sounds produced by my Sony Fontopia, which tend to block a lot of external noise.

The biggest downside of this arrangement is missing out on the sounds around me. I also am not finding the concentration reading or when knocking out ideas on my graphpad. These are things I did not notice when I was younger and had my Walkman, but I may not have felt free time so rare.



January 18, 2004

Music for Real People

The Internet, particularly the Web, has become a solid replacement for traditional radio, which most people believe only provides a service for background noise. Traditional radio in the U.S. fails the listener as a medium for finding new music, be they bands, artists, or labels that insight the users to want to own the music. (I am using ownership in a broad sense of the term, which can entail purchasing CDs or downloads as well as downloading free music offerings as defined and offered by the creator of the music.)

The Internet provides a great platform for finding new music. One means of finding new music is from others sharing what they are listening to. The sharing can be done on Macs using iChat and iTunes where iChat shows others what your are currently listening to. Others share music on their personal sites, like Dan Hill does on City of Sound in his year end review or Jeffrey Veen does in his sidebar offering of "heavy iPod rotation". People also share in their finds in their weblogs, which are more difficult to track. Other options are to peruse Amazon wishlists.

Other Internet options are listening to Internet radio broadcasts. There are many options, like Radio Paradise, that offer broadcasts of genre specific music. These stations also usually provide metadata that helps the listener know the creator of the music and the title.

Many people want to consume music, but traditional radio and even record labels have forgotten that people want to consume music, if only they could find music they want to consume. Apple's iTunes has expanded the offerings for purchasing music and also does a decent job (though not great, Amazon does a much better job suggesting related music and provides a means to store music of interest) of suggesting other music that would be of interest.



December 28, 2003

Mobile Audio

I picked up Audio Hijack Pro so I can record some of my favorite radio shows on the Internet to playback when I have time. Since I stopped driving to work and went back to taking the Metro I have been missing Marketplace on my drive home. I can also listen to Studio 360, which I plan to do tomorrow, when I have time. The Audio Hijack is like the Tivo for Internet audio, but missing the time schedules and recommendations.

The benefit of the portable audio is getting the top item on my wishlist, an iPod. I am wishing the iPod interface was slightly more malleable and offered how much information was available about the audio file, it would be good to have search functionality too. I am happy to have my full address-book and calendar tucked in the device also. I am surprised there has not been a thumb keyboard introduced for the iPod as of yet. I am even more surprised there is not a dial and click text entry component, just like the arcade games of yore.



November 21, 2003

Jack into iPod

On the ride to work on the DC Metro today I read Feel Free to Jack Into My IPod from WiredNews and loved the story. Not so much for the sharing the actual iPod, but the later discussion of integrating Bluetooth and Rendezvous into the iPod. The "jacking" an iPod is a nice social idea, but the idea of being able to listen to another's playlist on the ride to work would be a great way to find new music, as radio sucks.

I would also love for an iPod to act as a source for my laptop or desktop machine. The technology of Bluetooth is relatively small and can fit in cell phones that are much smaller than an iPod. Rendezvous is a software application (if I have understood correctly). This combination should not be that difficult to produce.

This could lead to awkward moment where one person is following another person, not to cause harm but to listen into their iPod streaming. We could end up with random acts of Stream Stalking flooding the news.



November 9, 2003

Peter Gabriel's Growing Up Live DVD is terrific

We picked up Peter Gabriel's Growing Up Live DVD yesterday. I took the first whack at it, and I have really enjoyed the DVD. The version of Red Rain from that tour is my favorite. The video does the concert we saw here in DC justice. Not only was it a great concert, but it makes for a great DVD.

The version of the concert that we saw was based on a raised circular stage in the middle of the arena. There is much going on under the stage to prepare for what comes next on stage. The video, in documentary format, spits the screen horizontally many times during the show to capture what is happening on stage as well as under. It was a very nice effect. The video representation of Downside Up was also done extremely well on the video.

If you are a Gabriel fan and missed the arena concert, the DVD is a great way to capture what was missed.



October 18, 2003

Links to artists and songs in iTunes

Do you have a song you want to share? Apple now offers a tool to link to any artist and song in the Apple Music Store - iTunes



July 27, 2003

New music written and recorded before your eyes in 24 hours

This morning I caught-up with Scott and Shannon's blogathon, which is 24 hours of postings on their site. The donations go to a great cause and they also did an amazing thing. The two of them wrote and recorded two new songs.

The wonderful parts of this are they are 3,000 miles apart, the collaboration was on line in the blog for this purpose, their auditory updates were posted throughout the 24 hours, and their two voices and guitar tracks and other instrument tracks were all pulled together for two wonderful songs. I have been humming Southdown all day. I want to spend more time reviewing each of the steps to this transparent adventure.

This may be the coolest things I have seen on the Web in quite some time.



July 9, 2003

File sharers buy more music

BBC reports file sharers buy more music. No duh! The horrible state or radio makes finding music worth buying quite difficult. The quality of the music files being shared greatly lacking and for many the shared files are just decent, but not great samples. The quality in Apple's Music store is an improvement, but not a fungible replacement for music right off a CD.



July 7, 2003

League of Extrodanary Gentlemen only from download

Apple purportedly gets the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen soundtrack for the Apple Music Store. Oddly it seems there is no physical CD rights for distribution in the U.S. To me this seems like a good step forward, it would be a great step forward if there was also a true CD quality version available for download rather than a lossy compression of the music for download. Don't get me wrong I enjoy the size and comparative sound of the Apple MP4 format, but I prefer even much less compression, particularly with music from a symphony.



June 24, 2003

BBC Proms means Summer

Summer means many things and BBC Proms are one of the highlights. Great classical music at great prices in and wonderful venue. When going to the Proms get there a little early to wander around and take in the building.



June 21, 2003

Currently listening to Lamb and Massive Attack

Currently listening to Lamb What Sound, which I picked up after extended playing at a listening station. I am really enjoying this, which has tones of early 90s euro alt rock. I also added Massive Attack 100th Window, which sounds like a matured Propaganda, but with Sinead singing.



June 11, 2003

Metheny offers relaxation

I am really enjoying Pat Metheny's new solo recording of him using baritone guitar titled One Quiet Night. (This was one of the items in the ill fated shipment.) The sound quality of the disk is fantastic. The baritone guitar has great breadth and offers a warm depth to the sounds. The music is very relaxing and has shades of New Chautauqua, which is one of my favorite acoustic guitar recordings and may have been the album that got me hooked on acoustic guitar and prepared me for Windham Hill Records. The song Over on 4th Street really brings Chautauqua to mind.



May 11, 2003

Perceived viable price for music

An unexpected moment happened this weekend as I stopped in Tower Records as it is the same parking area as another regular Saturday morning errand I found Kem Kemistry for under 10 dollars. I had stumbled across Kem in the Apple Music Store this past week and really enjoyed it. I had though about making that the first disk I downloaded from AMS, but finding the disc for less than I would have paid to Apple I was a proud owner. (Kem is a new artist that sounds much like Al Jarreau but with a little more Motown R&B).

Until AMS my maximum price for a CD was 14 US dollars (with a few exceptions), but now it seems that 10 dollars may be my new threashold. I love music and really enjoy quality production as well as clean honest music, which the recording industry has ignored of late as they throw plastic layers over talent and foster mediocrity. When I find the increasingly rare gems in regular music bins I dig to find it at a decent price. I miss the days of playing music in a band and the creative process that is fostered in small bands. I played sax and keyboard (many years of piano as a child went to something) in jazz bands, pick-up bands, concert bands, and sat in on cover bands through high school and through college, even in pick-up bands in early work years in San Francisco. There are times when listening to music I ache to play regularly and there are times when I am in awe of great talent and great musicianship. I have seen far too many great bands ruined by the music industry, which leached the blood from bands and single artists that would bring a large smile to my face for days. I finally am seeing hope with the music industry I have not seen in a long time.

With music prices possibly dropping and a levelling of the playing field for independent artist to get exposure of the interchangable Britneys, I see hope. The downside of late is seeing music programs in public schools cut back due to budget cuts. Not only is music needed for its own sake, but there is a strong corrolation between music and mathematics and sciences. Nearly every American programmer that I have known that I have considered to be above average has been a musician also, and often was formally trained. Many of the visual designers have also been musicians, but not as high a ratio as programmers.

Having music be a decent price is very important to me as I truly believe is supporting the artist that create that which gives pleasure. I wish more of the money would flow to the artist and less to the suits that ruin that with has the potential for being great.



Cover art can make a difference

In 1994 I was walking through the Washington, DC Tower Records in Foggy Bottom and saw an album cover that blew me away as a large poster on a wall. At first I just saw the continent of Africa, including Madigascar. But as I grew closer I could see a slightly contorted man in a suit. I walked backward and forward blurring my vision to get the original image I saw then stood in wonderment for a moment before tracking down the CD to buy. This may have been the first and only album or CD I bought based solely on the cover art. I was afraid I would not be able to find that disk again if I did not buy it. I really wanted the poster too, but at the time I knew it would not fit well in my studio apartment as the initial viewing and reviewing the image helps with distance.

Today I am finally ripping Manu Dibango's Wakafrika from the disc I bought years ago into my TiBook with AAC at a 160 bit rate to ensure the wonderful quality of the music. The music on the disk is equal to the cover art and I keep forgetting I do not have it to take with me on travel. Now with iTunes 4 I can also have to cover art.



May 8, 2003

AAC Internet Radio next

I am now wanting MPEG-4 streams of Internet Radio as Apple's use of AAC has me enjoying the crisp clean sound from music purchased in the Apple Music Store and ripping the music from CD. The quality is very clean and enjoyable, but Internet Radio now sounds rather muddy.



May 1, 2003


April 29, 2003

Apple Music Store has many gems but not everything

I have been having fun with the Apple Music Store in iTunes 4. The store only has 200,000 songs, which is not that many if one has eclectic tastes, but I did find Trash Can Sinatras, but did not find many other finds. I did pick-up a few songs that I have on vinyl that I have not been able to find the disc in stores. The international selection is lacking and I hope they start filling in some of the gaps in the near future. The interface is good and the quickness to start to play is fantastic as is the quality of the sample and downloads.

I may rip a CD or two with MPG4 on a higher rate to check the clarity and file size. I have a good collection of music ripped between Joy's collection and mine, which has been great on trips and just hanging out or working.

This is one of the many days I am overjoyed to have a Mac.



April 28, 2003

Apple changes music buying and bring reality to the industry

Michael Sippy expounds on Apple iTunes 4 and music store, which sounds much like my life, but I do still buy CDs (but only if they are less than $15). I have found virtually nothing coming out of the major record labels for the last 5 years that was worth buying. I can find five to 10 discs each year I am interested in buying, but very little of it is the interchangable Brittney's or the 400 Machbox 20 Wannabee's. The major labels over produce garbage by the truckful and wonder why they can't sell music. Things get so bad for the industry they hire a mindless shill to point fingers at pirates. Ever look at what many of these folks have downloaded? Much of it is not forsale in the local record store. Now with Apple it looks like there is no need for the major labels if Apple starts picking up indi artists. It looks like somebody is finally smart enough to make money on in the music industry. Mabye the shrill shill will go away and take her lawsuits with her.



February 14, 2003

Rap Master Plushie

For your Valentine entertainment pleasure Hip Hop Plushies, in DJ Format's video. [hat tip Cory]



January 11, 2003

Groov'n to midival punditz

I am groving to Midival Punditz, which I picked up today. The midival punditz have remixed Tabla Beat Science, whom I also really enjoy. There are touches of aural passages in the midival punditz work that are very reminicent of Peter Gabiel's work.


December 11, 2002

Liars want more money to for blank media

IT Buisiness writes, "Media levy hike may force vendors to drop products", which seems to be part of my problem with the proposed increase in price of any medium to false levels that are not set my the market. In a sense the increase is being proposed by folks who are not creative, are finding they are not creating value, they have nothing productive to contribute, and have found a means to slip their overly padded pockets before the consumer again. The reasons given for the increases are the same poor lies about the starving artists. The artists are starving because of the middle men. The liars in this case have added notthing to society and want to force folks to pay their unproductive behinds more money to copy my own content I created or content I bought and would like to have fair use (my own edit of a movie or a mixed CD I can play in my car). The liars want to point fingers at you when they should point fingers at themselves. Every new media was the downfall of a media's industry. The liars cry "poor me" at each and every turn, but they are replaced with folks that learn to take advantage of the medium and create compelling content. The current band of unsuccessful business must bereplaced with a breed that understands how to take advantage of the medium. The liars know their days are numbered in their own jobs, because they are incapable of doing their jobs.



December 9, 2002

NPR finds music gems

Running errands this past weekend I heard a snippet on NPR about the All Songs Considered 2 CD. There were a few songs played and discussed that really intrigued me. This meant Saturday night I spent nearly three hours digging through the All Songs Considered site listening to the archives. I found many obscure bands that I new really want to listen to more. I often have caught bits and pieces of ASC while in the car, but never can remember who it was that piqued my interest.

This site, like many others on NPR really augments the radio experience, bringing it into an explorative medium with memory, which has been my complaint with radio for years. Radio is transitory and fleeting. Remembering a song or discussion while changing lanes, answering the phone, draining the pasta, etc inhibits structured listening that augments aural memory.

I was once embarrassed that I picked up much of my new music finds from NPR, but with much of the commercial radio market serving up untalented pablum (or perhaps misproduced talent) I have an outlet. I have found John Mayer before many others I considered to be well plugged in. There is a depth of music talent and spectrum that is missing in the overly corporate regulated airways.

A few finds from this weekends digging are The Frames who gave up the over produced song and started their own record label. Metaphor, Damien Gough/Badly Drawn Boy reminding me of Prefab Sprout, and Lanterna. Lanterna is a rather unknown band that is from Champaign, Illinois and one of the members works as a sound engineer for an NPR station, unknown to the folks at ASC.

Following this thread to music that I really enjoy from a relatively unknown... It is rumored that The Walkingbirds have received air play on an NPR site in Pennsylvania. This is great news if it is true. I have really enjoyed Scott's music that he contributes to Walkingbirds. It seems that NPR finds the gems in the rough terrain that great music is forced to walk in by the corporations that produce musical mediocrity. I am happy that NPR has blessed the gem of Walkingbirds. This has been a good few days for finding music.



November 25, 2002

Gabriel puts on a great creative show

We saw Peter Gabriel at the MCI Arena tonight (11/24), which was a great show. It was wonderful sound and as usual the show and theatrics were stunning. If you are remotely a fan of Gabriel it is well worth the price. Tony Levin is touring with him again. (Tony is also keeping a road journal that includes pictures from the show and pictures of the audience. We were sitting right in front of Tony (40 to 50 feet away). Peter is also touring with his daugher Melanie (backup vocals), David Rhodes (guitar), Rachael Z. (keyboards), Ged Lynch (drums), and Richard Evans (guitar and flute). The creativity and design of the show, as it is with most Gabriel shows, is stunning. Joy and I are talking about where we can see this tour again.


November 1, 2002

Gabriel Videos

Peter Gabriel's site has a video section with full versions from So, such as In Your Eyes, which I had never seen. This song really reminds me of the summer of 1986 when I was living in Berkeley, CA and listening to the So album driving through the Berkeley and Oakland hills to get to work in Moraga. I had listened to Gabriel from his early albums, but So really was wonderful and now brings back great memories. So also opened the world of Youssou N'Dour to me, which is some of my favorite grounding music.


October 2, 2002

Gabriel Live

We now have tickets for the November 11th November 24th Peter Gabriel show at MCI Center. I have only seen Gabriel as a part of festival shows like WOMAD and the Amnesty Internationl Tour. I am so ready to see a full show.


October 1, 2002

Scott and Peter return

I am very happy Scott is posting again. His observations are always very welcome and helpful. In today's scottandrew post he notes the joy that Peter Gabriel's new album, UP brings. I agree wholely. UP brings back memories of the first 3 Gabriel albums as well as So. I picked up the album on Saturday, while running house errands and really enjoyed listening in the car and then in my home stereo. I was so impressed.


August 1, 2002

Vote MP3

Would you vote MP3?


July 25, 2002

Tabla Beat Science

Tabla Beat Science is completely new to me, but one song has me wanting more, much more. I heard Sacred Channel (an mp3) this morning and I am very entranced. Interesting Monstah, in a July 22, 2002 posting, included this track in a review of World techno/jazz/instramental/etc songs. It seems Karsh Kale of TBS is playing in Baltimore on Saturday July 27 at 3pm at the Artscape Festival. Hmmm. [hat tip Bill]


May 28, 2002

John Mayer found on NPR

This evening on the way home NPR was interviewing John Mayer and I now have a new musician to follow. One does get to feel out of touch when one learns of an enjoyable pop musician from NPR. Oh, well, I consider myself fortunate. It also seems Mayer was the bell of the ball at SXSW 2000.


May 21, 2002

Headphone review

I tried my new headphones on my recent trip and really enjoyed them. They were great on the plane as they blocked out a lot of the extraneous noise and in those quiet times they provided fantastic sound. I was incredibly impressed.


May 16, 2002

Creative Commons comes to life

The Creative Commons is up for our perusal. This seems to be a much better approach to digital rights management than the Hollywood and music industry approach, and light years better than DCMA.


May 4, 2002

Peter Gabriel new site

Peter Gabriel has his own distinct site up. This site is offering previews of his new albulm due out in at least four more moon cycles. Join the full moon club and get previews of the album and news. The scenescapes in the videos are rather comforting.


April 15, 2002

The WSJ's Thomas Weber has an opion I strongly believe in, Record Companies Should Attempt To Compete for Music Fans' Loyalty. I have a strong belief in competition of the marketplace. Media companies have poor business leaders who do not know how to compete and take advantage of changing parameters of their business environment. When VHS came out movie companies complained that it would take away sales. Solid business minds learned not to cry wolf, but to compete. The record companies have failed in the marketplace and learning to take advantage of a changed marketplace.


April 11, 2002

Wired magazine's article on Moby delivers good insight on not only the person, but also the brand. This may be the first article by Wired that I have really liked in a long long time. Moby continually intrigues me with his morphing genre styles. I also like this techical approach and innovation. This article gave me better appreciation of the man and the brand. (There is an indirect comparison to Puff Daddy - or what ever he thinks will sell a record.)


April 7, 2002

Beeb also offers an insight into the Rocket Network, which is a collaboration tool that unites musicians virtually. The network lets artist collaborate anywhere in the world, but that is the same story for anything that touches the Internet.


February 22, 2002

There may be some hope for the sharing of digital music. I found more new music through Napster and the like then in turn bought the stuff I liked and kept listening to. In the past year I have bought very little new music as the radio stations in my area play little music that is worth buying, IMHO. I have had many friends in bands that received record deals, which in turn ruined their creativity and ability to create music. Most were happiest the day their contract ended. In turn the music I loved to go hear was rarely recorded as the music companies thought they knew best.


February 21, 2002


February 19, 2002

Scott releases another winner to download from his site. I am really wishing this one was of higher quality, but it is free and one can't have everything.


February 2, 2002

Trying to play music CDs on your computer and they don't work? Neil McAllister explains the music labels don't want you to in the SF Chronicle. Those of us that like our music and believe we do have our "fair-use" rights to record music like we always have, from the days of albums and tapes to CDs and MP3s, should buy as much music that we can (keeping in mind the lack of the notice "Compact Disc Digital Audio"). Then return it and rightly state it is broken, as we can not play it on our computer. Who does not play music on their computer?


January 27, 2002

Studio360 examines emergence with Steven Johnson (having Real Player will help with your enjoyment of the show). Steven Johnson is the author of EMERGENCE: The Connected Lives Of Ants, Brains, Cities, And Software, which has me quite intrigued (and Amazon seems to think the same for me as it is my top recommended book).


December 24, 2001

The Beeb and local public radio stations have been running The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, live from King's College Chapel, Cambridge, England. To me it is a wonderful preparation for Christmas Day, while doing my final wrapping of presents. It plays again on Christmas Day.

I wish everybody safe and peaceful travels and a wonderful holiday season.



December 8, 2001

Sting's All This Time DVD Success

Yesterday I purchased the Sting's "All This Time" DVD and have been so happy for the purchase. I caught snippets of this performance and documentary (recorded before and on September 11, 2001 in Tuscany, Italy). The documentary reminds me of "Bring on the Night" video of the assembly and rehersals of the first Sting band. Both the BotN and All This Time offer a great insight into music rehersals and musicianship of some amazing musicians. Watching either digs at that itch to get my sax and keyboard out of the closet and just play.

The "All This Time" provides some wonderful rearrangements of Sting and Police tunes. The performace portion of the DVD offers fantastic music to dig into. One of my favorite jazz bass players, Christian McBride, has joined the Sting ensemble for this DVD and co-released CD.

I did not know there was a DVD that had been released, but was so hoping there would be one. I was overjoyed to find it in the store yesterday. (Not so much Joy as she is having to return one of my Christmas gifts).


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