Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Glenn Gould playing in your living room?

New technologies promise us new rich musical experiences, says John Walker in his talk at the EG conference 2007, which I found at In his talk Walker shows a piano that re-creates, like a pianola, a performance by Glenn Gould's 'Bach Variations'.

A pianola uses very little data. The technology Walker shows is different. First you take a performance from the past, then you analyse it in detail (including the power of the fingers on the keys and that of the feet on the pedals). This gives you lots of data. Software and technology can use this data to make a piano re-play the performance with every detail brought back to life. The dream goes on: maybe in future we can have a complete string quartet in our living room without musicians but with the full effect of live music!

Which performance would you choose to have in your living room?

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Listen with your eyes!

At concerts I listen with my ears and my eyes. It's a remarkable brain thing that if you watch the drummer, the drums suddenly can be heard clearer, become a little louder even, than the rest of the instruments. Then, if you move your focus to the sax player, the same thing happens to the sax sounds in the music.

If you listen to music on a cd, you can get close to this effect, just by concentrating on a certain instrument, but the effect is not as strong.

Strange that some people, especially at jazz and classical music concerts, close their eyes while listening. In my opinion they miss something valuable, the joy of listening in multiple dimensions. Or do I miss an even more exiting aspect of the music, because I keep my eyes open?

By the way... I am reading dr. Oliver Sacks' book Musicophilia at the moment, which is about all kinds of brain things in relation to music. Fascinating!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Back to the original

Kid Rock's summerhit 'All Summer Long' (click for the music video) is carried by a theme that brings back fine memories. The theme is from the 1978 Warren Zevon song 'Werewolves of London' (see video above), a song that should be in the Top 2000 (but isn't). Ahoooooo!

The Kid Rock song also has samples from Lynyrd Skynyrd's 'Sweet home Alabama'.

Friday, June 27, 2008

A passionate speaker on classical music

The best 20 minutes introduction to classical music ever, given by Benjamin Zander at TED 2008. Chopin with a smile.

How to: track list from iTunes to booklet

In iTunes you can burn cd's from a play list. To generate a track list with just the titles and artist names of the tracks on the cd:
1. copy all text in the play list window
2. open an empty document in Word and paste all text from the clipboard (Ctrl-V)
3. select all text and in the 'Table' menu choose 'Convert', 'Text to table'
4. now you can remove unwanted information, such as 'genre' or 'album' by selecting the columns, right click and choose 'delete columns'
5. select the entire table, and in the 'Table' menu choose 'Convert', 'Table to text'.

A ready made Word document in which you can make a cd booklet can be downloaded here.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

You can't judge a song by the original

In fact, it's hard to judge a song by its own merits. That's what makes different interpretations by different artists of the same song so interesting. I love covers and originals, love to compare them. An example (the original of course was recorded by Lionel Richie)...

Coverville is a podcast, totally dedicated to covers in rock music. You'll hear surprising interpretations of famous and less famous songs by famous and less famous artists. Worth listening to!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Song of the day...

With more than forty years of music in my mind, I wake up almost every morning with a song in my head. It's generally, but not always a song that I particularly like. Sometimes I can explain the choice for the song of the day: some sparkle of information started an association. The morning after the Russian football team knocked out the Dutch team in the 2008 European Championship I woke up with Sting, singing 'I hope the Russians love their children too'. And after I read the sad news that jazz pianist Esbjörn Svensson died in a diving accident, a few days in a row his tunes captivated my mind. Sometimes however, I have a song on my mind without knowing why that particular song has chosen this particular moment to manifest itself... What a strange force of music and melody.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The composer's signature

The Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich had a subtile musical signature, which he hid in some of his compositions. He used his initials (written as DSCH) which he translated into the notes D - E♭ - C - B.

After listening for years to Shostakovich's music I found out today how the phrase sounds, simply by playing it on my guitar. I immediately recognized it.

Now I wonder, are there more examples of composers, who put a signature into one ore more of their works...