Friday, May 31, 2013

A Linguist Explains The Annoying Sounds Teens Make

I'm already hearing some of these things from my 2- and 7-year olds.  I have no idea how this dude does this with a straight face.

Fat Friday Feature: Emory Gordy Jr. On Billy Joel's "Captain Jack"

I periodically showcase my favorite bass players and bass parts on Fridays.  Today, I think you should dig on Emory Gordy Jr.'s bass work on Billy Joel's "Captain Jack".  Kick ass tone on an incredibly engaging bass line.  Should've showcased this one sooner.  It's a doozie.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Songs I Haven't Listened To In A Long Ass Time

. . . . probably not since, like, high school or college, you guys.
The Fall - "Spoilt Victorian Child"

David Gilmour - "Blue Light"

The Friends of Dean Martinez - "All The Pretty Horses"

Another Favorite Pedal Steel Tune

I've written before about how very fond I am of great pedal steel guitar.  Few things can kick a song from "okay" to "fuck yeah" like brilliant pedal steel part.  That's why I wanted to show case another beauty, this time from the "Team America World Police" soundtrack.  Check out the lyrics to this tune as well - it's pretty damn close to perfect.  Even if you disagree with the satire in this tune, you can't argue that this is a shitty pedal steel part.  Because it's not.  So check it, yo.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Presented Without Comment: "Punk" Compilation

Well, some comment - this is from the comments on You Tube:

Friday, May 24, 2013

A Stream Of Consciousness Ramble For Stream Of Consciousness Music

I keep seeing shit about the Boards of Canada and bands of a similar style.  Are we seeing a synth-psychedelia/kraut rock revival?  Because I feel like Tangerine Dream did this stuff already.  I'm not necessarily dissing Boards of Canada.  I feel like the slow unfolding minimalism of their music is a healthy counterpoint to the '80s revival I've been hearing in music (and fashion for that matter).*  But at the same time, it's just kind of. . . boring.  When Tangerine Dream was doing it, at least it was kind of new sounding.  Both bands feel a little too self important to me - that is bloated, serious, and technical.  They have these characteristics in common with their prog music forefathers.  I guess as long as you don't take it too seriously, the Boards of Canada are just fine, but it's not really my cup of tea.

I do hope that if there's ever another "Mad Max" movie that Boards of Canada are doing the sound track.  Or maybe a "Risky Business 2".  That seems like the proper context for their music.

* - I tend to think that the hallmarks of '80s music are:  synth heavy, busy as hell, very trebley and artificial sounding.  Basically, all the stuff that makes it lousy in live situations.

Let's Get It On

Marvin Gaye and Jesse Jackson shooting hoops.  (Source.)

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Photography Of Nikki Sixx

I could not give a single damn about Motely Crue and their exploits.  Their music is terrible, their rep is even worse and their personal lives seem to be nothing but TMZ fodder.  Sure, there was the time I was tempted to read Nikki Sixx's book, but I'm sure that thought disappeared from my brain pan as fast it flashed into it. The rise/fall/redemption stories will always be interesting to me, but I probably figured there were other junkie stories that were executed better.

But check out ol' Nikki's latest artistic foray:
If you check out his Tumblr blog, it is full of spectacular work.  Not to make too much of it, but I was shocked to find myself thinking that his work reminded me of one of my favorite photographers - Eugene Richards.  I think Sixx's struggles with addiction have given him the great eye and likely the network of endlessly interesting subjects.  I have to say I'm super impressed with what I've seen there.  And if I sound suprised, it's because I am.  Sixx is producing interesting, meaningful art.  Who'd a thunk?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Presented Without Comment: I'm Da Bessssssss

Fat Friday Feature: Jethro Tull's Jeffrey Hammond On "Aqualung"

You might know that (occasionally) on Fridays, I feature a bass part or bass player that is truly outstanding. Today's feature is Jeffrey Hammond's playing on "Aqualung".

In a way, Hammond's playing on "Aqualung" is unremarkable: it's just a good old fashioned walking bass line.  However, I have always been drawn to this bass line because a brisk paced, 4/4 walking bass line - though common in other genres like jazz - is not quite as common in rock, specifically riff heavy '70s rock.  The other reason I like it so much is that it provides an great anchor for the guitar work on this tune, especially when the solo takes flight.  In a sense, it is the opposite of the dog-fight type situations I typically go in for.  The steady but rapid playing are the gears that propel the song forward all the while providing the framework for the guitar player to do his guitar-like things.  Dig it.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Comics + 80s Post Punk = Amazing

The two things I enjoyed the most in junior high and high school (that is, comics and 80s college rock/post punk) are combined here for pure awesomeness.*  I love that these are period appropriate covers too - nice touch!  [Source.]

* - I'm trying really, really hard to stop using the words "awesome" and "bad ass" (and their variants both real and made up) so much.  But it's going to take some time, so bear with me.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

I'll Be Working From The Beach Today

Today this website popped up in one of my blog feeds.  It allows you to mix various nature sounds together and even download your finished product. I tried mixing in some sounds with the beach sound, but I have found I am perfectly content just listening to the waves of the beach.  I've been doing my work with this sound filling my ears via my headphones; and I have to admit this is relaxing to me.  (I've done some similar sounds here at History Lesson Pt. 2 here and here)

The downside of listening to the waves coming into my ears is that it puts me into even more of a vacation mindset, and I have a way to go before the first day of vacation (July 3rd) gets here.  I've already put in for vacation (extra long this time), lined up transportation so we can bring a ton of stuff, and started a packing list.  I've made a note to bring the four track recorder, so hopefully I'll be uploading some cool sounds from vacation.

Guest Post: Peter Miksza On Musical Experiences

My buddy Pete has started a blog which I have found to be quite thought provoking.  There's a lot of great stuff to digest there, and I've wanted to repost at least two different entries from that blog. The piece entitled "Beauty, Motion, and Home - Listening To Music" fits nicely into this blog's stated mission of "pondering the audio input in my life"; except that when Pete reflects about the audio input in his life, it is far more articulate than what I've written elsewhere in this blog.  Note that unlike me, he doesn't use the words "awesome" or "bad ass" (two frequently used descriptors for me) anywhere in his entry, opting instead for more precise language for maximum impact.

At any rate, I found this piece had great resonance with me - read on and see what you think.

One of the most exhilarating yet, enigmatic things about teaching, learning and researching music is trying to comprehend the sheer variety of ways that musical experiences can be meaningful to people.
Over the past few months I’ve found myself coming back again and again to three “tunes” that have been part of my listening repertoire for years. I love each of these pieces of music and have found all three to be deep reservoirs of personally meaningful experience. Thinking about “how” and/or “why” each of these tunes might be meaningful is icing on the experiential cake.
Here are some of my experiences and ‘blips’ of potential explanations for how they might arise… …read on into the references if you’re curious for more…

Sometimes it’s simply being in the presence of beauty

I can listen to great performances of Massenet’s Meditation from Thai over and over and will consistently find myself in awe. The particular combinations and orderings of sounds that make up this melody and the tenderness that’s possible in its performance are simply, aestheticallybeautiful to me. The tune appears during a transcendent moment in a larger operatic work (read about it here).
One compelling discussion of how this type of response to music comes about has been put forth by the psychologist - Konečni (2008) – who describes how being moved, experiencing thrills, and recognizing a sense of the sublime in music might occur. With his, Aesthetic Trinity Theory, he argues that these types of experiences may be what he calls the “most genuine and profound music-related emotional states” (Konečni, 2008, p. 115).
This is an amazing recording from 1919 by Mischa Elman, violin; Josef Bonime, piano:

Sometimes it’s tapping into a sense of primordial motion

Another tune that strikes me at my core time and again is Janáček’s brass fanfare from Sinfonietta.When I listen to this piece I feel a heightened sense of space and motion – volume in the sense of filling up the air around me with rocking and swaying undulations of sound. For me, musical experiences like this reveal a certain basic premise of life, a connection to a larger world that sometimes seems hidden to everyday sensation. This is especially the case when I hear this piece live and I was fortunate to have recently had an opportunity to hear the IU Brass Choir play the heck out it.
Some psychological notions of the embodied nature of consciousness seem to capture this phenomenon well. McGuiness and Overy (2011) present a fascinating discussion of how music listening experiences can consist of a linking of “innate bodily responses to musical gestures” (p. 2). They describe how, at a pre-conscious level, people might relate to musical sounds as physical gesture and that this ability to relate to sound in this way may be a primary means for connecting with others through shared experiences in music.  McGuiness and Overy’s discussion is truly interdisciplinary, drawing from neuroscience, music theory, psychology, cognitive science, ethnomusicology, and philosophy.
Here’s a recording with constant motion in the foreground… ;)

Sometimes it’s reflecting on the past or making a visit home

George Harrison’s Beware of Darkness, from his first solo album All Things Must Pass, will always have a special place in my heart. In contrast to the descriptions of abstract experience above, my experience with this tune is about home and what’s familiar. For me this song captures memories of listening to the Beatles and other classic rock as a kid with my parents in New Jersey. It’sEarthy, elemental, and introspective yet, warm and approachable. In short, it’s like a great trip home to see family.
One of the overwhelmingly consistent findings of research that delves into what kinds of music people prefer – is that we tend to prefer the familiar. A classic study by North and Hargreaves (1995) documented this correlation quite clearly. It seems that for me, the familiar is a powerful preference factor as well.
Here’s George at The Concert for Bangladesh with special guest, Leon Russell who does, in my opinion, the coolest version of this tune…


As a music teacher who’s also a researcher I’m often left wondering after listening to this music… …did I do enough to provide my students with opportunities for these kinds of experiences? I sure hope so.
Konečni, V. J. (2008). Does music induce emotion? A theoretical and methodological analysis.Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 2, 115-129.
McGuiness, A., & Overy, K. (2011). Music, consciousness, and the brainMusic as shared experience of an embodied present. In D. Clarke & E. Clarke (Eds.), Music and consciousness: Philosophical, psychological, and cultural perspectives (pp. 245-263). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
North, A. C., & Hargreaves, D. J. (1995). Subjective complexity, familiarity, and liking for popular music. Psychomusicology, 14, 77-93.

Friday, May 3, 2013

It Is Fitting

This is great - a small but meaningful gesture in Brooklyn Heights, NY.
Other Yauch/MCA links here and here.

File Under: No Shit

Netflix is claiming that pirating drops in every country it switches on it's servers.  Furthermore - and this is something I feel like the unwashed masses have been saying since the Napster days - Netflix's Chief Content Officer says that if you want to combat piracy, you have to offer a better product.

According to Netflix’s Ted Sarandos, this is because “…people are mostly honest.” Sarandos went on to tell Stuff that: “The best way to combat piracy isn’t legislatively or criminally but by giving good options. One of the side effects of growth of content is an expectation to have access to it. You can’t use the Internet as a marketing vehicle and then not as a delivery vehicle.”
Suffice to say this goes for music as well.