Sunday, February 21, 2010

Moe. No.

I'm watching a concert on HDNet - it's a band called moe..  Never heard of them before.  I was been enjoying their rock sound, very good musicians, some nice on-stage energy, interesting progressions and catchy rhythms. Then I heard one of their singers.  Sorry dudes, that's probably why I haven't heard of you.  No offense, especially from this bloke who can't sing happy birthday, but vocals are very poor.  I'm not drawn to singers, nor pay a lot of attention to lyrical content, but holding these guys up as an example, it just shows how important a good voice is to the success of any band.  I sampled a few tracks on their web site, big on the instrumental laden tracks, vocals again weak.  Another singer now singing on HDNet.  No better.  If these guys had a decent voice up front, we'd probably hear more from them.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Music menu

One of the ways I align my (wide) music tastes with my life is to listen to specific genres and tempos at specific times of the day.  I don't always do this and not always have my say in what music is played at home, but when I do have the turntable, and when I'm not fussy on specific bands or newer versus older tracks, then I switch on a few large, tailored playlists to fill the specific music gap in the day.   To do this my way, you need to have a pretty good grasp on genre assignments and upbeat/mellow settings.  For instance, I've been able to narrow the number of genres down to 22 and I use the Grouping attribute to indicate whether the track is mellow or upbeat.  My library isn't perfect and I don't necessarily categorize and rate tracks my wife or kids download, but for me it works quite well.

My music genres (with some examples) are:
  • Rock/pop - U2, Robbie Williams
  • Rock and Punk - AC/DC, The Clash
  • Modern Rock and Alternative - Arctic Monkeys, Metric
  • New Wave and Early Alternative - New Order, Talking Heads
  • Pop, Idol and Kids -Spice Girls, Miley Cyrus
  • Pop/Rock - The Script, The Beatles
  • Folk/Rock - Devendra Banhart, Diane Birch
  • Country - Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton
  • Electronica - Thievery Corporation, Morcheeba
  • Dance - Tiesto, Madonna
  • Hip Hop and Rap - Timbaland, Lauryn Hill
  • R&B - Mary J. Blige, James Morrison
  • Reggae and World Music - UB40, Matisyahu
  • Jazz vocal - Madelaine Peyroux, Ella Fitzgerald
  • Jazz instrumental - Chris Botti, John Coltrane
  • Blues - B.B. King, Susan Tedeschi
  • Soul - Joss Stone, Duffy
  • Soundrack - instrumental scores mostly, like Big Night and Snatch
  • Classical
  • Opera
  • Comedy
  • Christmas
So, for instance in the morning, the playlist is of course mellow, and I exclude genres like R&B, Hip Hop and Electronica.  Late/easy evenings is mellow again, but excluding Folk/Rock and most Rock categories.  For me, I can't picture listening to Madonna on a quiet Sunday morning or The Beatles when I'm tired and having a night cap.  Of course, there are many more times in the day and music appropriate for different mealtimes, e.g. some get up and go music on a weekday morning (upbeat rock/pop for instance); heading to your hockey or ultimate game (upbeat dance or punk); or jazz instrumental and mellow soul during dinner.

So how about the following menu for this coming Friday ?
  • Some gentle mellow folk/rock to greet the day, then changing folk/.rock to upbeat mode during breakfast time and some upbeat new wave for the commute.  
  • Over lunch, we go with the blues.  
  • Heading home we get urban with some upbeat hip hop & rap, but change to mellow R&B as appertizers are prepared.  
  • Some jazz vocal and mellow modern rock and alternative (to keep the kids interested) over dinner, followed by some upbeat soul for dessert.  
  • Drinks with candlelight with mellow electronica to finish your day.  
Custom music menus available by request.  Bon Appetit.

Where I find new (old) music: Part 3 - iTunes Genius

I just switched on iTunes Genius.  I have used it in the past, but haven't used it since getting our MacBook over a year ago.  There a few people who think that sharing your iTunes library is a little concerning (including my wife), but I don't see any big worry, especially considering all the other stuff I share online about myself.  The one thing I do do (yes, I said do do) is to clear the comments field for the music I have purchased from gray Russian sites.

So, with Genius, you can simply pick a track and hit the Genius button and it will create a new playlist from your library based on a set of magical and mystical attributes from iTunes users world wide.  For me, with a iTunes library that is large, but not very fat, it gives me a refreshing way to create a fresh playlist with forgotten old tracks, mixed with new tracks looking for a home.  It also has a sidebar with purchase recommendations that is good for those people who don't have a large library or those looking for new stuff.
The latest release of iTunes also creates some automatic genre based Genius Mixes with funky names like Neo-Soul, Surf/Garage Revival and Electro-Pop

I think the feature is definitely worth switching on and playing with for big music fans.

Another feature in iTunes that I haven't used much is the iTunes iMix, I've uploaded one as a test, but not published yet.  I may spend a little time composing a few if there is an audience out there for my tastes in music.