Archive for the 'music' Category
A recent newsletter by one of my favorite authors, Simon Singh, included a link to the following YouTube video. Singh writes excellent books that explain complex topics in terms that are both interesting and easy to understand. He ranks high on my hypothetical dinner party invitation list. Consequently, it’s not surprising that the video introduced me to a musician/comedian that I turned out to like a lot.
Tim Minchin might be the result if Eddie Izzard and Elton John had an Australian love child. Add a bit of Tom Lehrer influence and you’ll start to get the idea. If you like this video, check out more on YouTube.
I’ve been going out to see a lot of live music lately. Tonight, I had the pleasure of seeing Bitter:Sweet at the Parish. The show apparently started much earlier than I’m used to. I got to the club a little after eleven, expecting to have missed just a few songs. Instead, the door man said that he’d only charge me $5 since it was so late. I only got to see half a dozen songs or so, but I was very glad I did get to catch the band.
The sound at the club was a bit disappointing, but the band still put on a great show. I wasn’t too familiar with the background of the band, except that their publicity photos show just two people; however, there were six people on stage: a DJ, guitarist/trumpeter, bass player, drummer, violinist, and lead singer/keyboard player.
Smashing Magazine recently linked to a bunch of creativity inspiring music videos. Besides the OK Go video I’ve blogged about before, two of my favorites were the Bat for Lashes video for the song “What’s A Girl To Do” and the RJD2 song “Work It Out.”
After discussing those two videos with my friend Steve, he recommended a video by a bluegrass band called Uncle Earl. The video for “Streak O’ Lean, Streak O’ Fat” is a mind-bending mix of genres that I’ll call “Bluegrass Tiger, Hidden River Dance.”
Bat for Lashes — What’s A Girl To Do
RJD2 – Work It Out
Uncle Earl – Streak O’ Lean, Streak O’ Fat
I’m a huge fan of music, but very little of what I listen to is mainstream enough to make it onto corporate radio stations. There are some good community radio stations in Austin, but even those can’t come close to the variety of music that’s currently available online.
Thanks to Internet radio, I’ve been introduced to a wide variety of new musical genres. I’m able to keep up with Hawaiian, ska, Asian underground, and electronic music. I’m also able to discover new music through streaming services like Pandora.
Unfortunately, the governing body in charge of copyright royalties recently decided to more than triple the rates Internet broadcasters must pay. Put simply, the rates are more than the total revenue for some stations and will likely cause stations and streaming services to cease online streaming altogether. PC World posted a story yesterday covering the latest developments in the fight to keep Internet radio alive. Hopefully it won’t be too-little-too-late, but please join me and take a moment to sign a petition to help save Internet radio.
I’m a big fan of the streaming music service Pandora. I’ve been turned onto a variety of new bands through their customized stations. In addition, they recently started offering a Pandora Podcast to provides fans with a bit of music theory to help enrich their the listening experience.
The most recent episode, on “Reggae, Ska, Rocksteady and Dub” was especially interesting to me. I’m a long time fan of ska, the that episode will help me next time someone asks me “What is ska exactly?”
Ever wonder how a band creates its unique “sound,” or what makes a particular song so distinctive?
As we spend our days dissecting tracks for the Music Genome Project, it occurs to us that most people don’t get to hear songs before they’re finished. We thought it might be interesting for folks to learn more about what goes into songwriting. These podcasts are our attempt to give you an inside look at the techniques musicians use to put their signature on the music they write and perform.
We do get into a little music theory, but we’ve tried to make it interesting and understandable for anyone who’s even just a little curious about music.
I’ve done all my SXSW research. I’ve read the descriptions for the Interactive panels. I’ve watched the trailers for the documentaries that are part of the Film festival. And I’ve listened to at least a short snippet of each of the songs in the 2007 SXSW music bittorrent.
Here’s a short list of some of the stuff I’m most looking forward to:
- Kathy Sierra Opening Remarks
- Open Content, Remix Culture and the Sharing Economy
- How to Make Your Ideas Stick
- TWISTED: A Balloonamentary
- Big Rig
- This is another niche subculture documentary, about truckers. It’s by the same people who did the excellent documentary Scratch.
Overall, I’m a bit disappointed by the music this year. While Jim Bianco and Golem are artists I got turned onto by listening to the mp3s, most of the artists I’m looking forward to seeing are ones I was already familiar with. The interactive festival is bigger and better this year though, so it may make up for the disappointment of the music.
My friend Jeremy just sent me the link to the 2007 bittorrent of South By Southwest music from various artists performing at this year’s music festival. It works out to be just over 3GB of free music. It’s a lot to weed through, but there are always some gems to be discovered. I previously posted some tips for making it through all the music in time for SXSW.
It’s a good idea to check the official SXSW site from time to time because they usually post another batch of additional music, as the festival approaches. And a batch of trailers for the film festival should be posted soon too.
I found the following video via populicio.us. I don’t know the story behind the video, but I’m impressed to see what someone with no musical talent can do with the aid of some technology and a little creativity.
I was very happy recently to run across a New Orleans brass band show on Austin’s KOOP radio. I have been a fan of brass band music for a long time, but it’s a rarity in these days of commercial radio.
After getting hooked to the weekly brass band show on WWOZ while working for a few months in New Orleans, I used to record the show via streaming audio. I was so disappointed a few years ago when they cancelled the show that I wrote a letter to the WWOZ management to complain. The last time I checked, the show still hadn’t been brought back.
On the bright side, one of the New Orleanians relocated to Austin post-Katrina has brought a brass band show to Austin. Brass Band Brother airs on Wednesdays from 3:00 to 3:30 pm. For any brass band fans not in the Austin area, KOOP has an online stream. Now if only I could find a gypsy brass band radio show.
UPDATE: Sadly, broadcasts of the Brass Band Brother show ended in 2006.
I’ve been using free Windows utilities for months now to record some of my favorite online radio shows—ones that aren’t available as podcasts. I had previously used Total Recorder, but the solution I’ll explain below uses only free software and does the recording in the background, so you’re free to record multiple shows at once or listen to other things while recording.
Download the Necessary Utilities
Start by downloading the following four programs:
close into a directory that is in your path. With the files in the path, you can reference them in batch files without having to specify a directory every time. You can either use a directory that is already in the path, such as
c:\winnt, or set aside a new directory specifically for such tools. I usually create a directory called
c:\bin and add that to the path.
Wget the Playlist File
You will need to create a file that specifies where to find a given station’s stream. In a browser, open the web site for a station you’d like to record. Right click on the playlist link (often called “listen”) and choosed “Copy Link Location” or “Copy Shortcut.”
Choose a directory where you’d like to store the recorded files, such as
c:\radio. Create a subdirectory called
\stations to store the playlist files for each station. From that directory, use wget to download a copy of the playlist file, using the URL copied above.
I then rename the playlist to something more meaningful.
ren mp3.m3u wbez.txt
Note: You may be able to specify the stream directly on the mplayer command line, but I have read of possible problems using that method.
The Recording Script
Save the following text to a .bat or .cmd file in the same directory where you’d like to store your recorded audio. I named mine
for /F "tokens=2-4 delims=/ " %%i in ('date /t') do set DATEFORMATTED=%%k%%i%%j
start "%2" /min c:\etc\mplayer\mplayer -playlist .\stations\%1 -dumpstream -dumpfile %2%DATEFORMATTED%.mp3 -vc dummy -vo null
set /a SECONDS=%3 * 60
You may need to adjust the second line of the script to reference the correct
stations directories you created above.
Schedule the Script
Open the Scheduled Tasks utility (Start | Programs | Accessories | System Tools | Schedules Tasks). Choose File | New | Scheduled Task to create a new task. Selec tthe Schedule tab and specify a start time and the appropriate day (or days) you want the recording to run. Next, select the Task tab and enter a command on the “Run:” line, similar to the following:
c:\radio\recordradio.cmd station.txt ShowName #Minutes
The arguments after the command file specify the playlist file, name for the output file, and the number of minutes to record. For instance, you might use the following to record WBEZ, to capture “This American Life” for 60 minutes.
c:\radio\recordradio.cmd wbez.txt ThisAmericanLife 60
Test the Scheduled Task
Verify that the scheduled task will record properly by right-clicking the task and selecting “Run.” This will open two command line windows, one running the script and another running the recording process. Let the recording run for 30 seconds or so, then hit the space bar in the script window to cancel the wait command and end the recording.
You should then see a new file in the
\radio directory, such as
ThisAmericanLife20060724.mp3. The numbers represent the date the program was recorded, formatted for easier sorting.
This may seem like a hassle the first time you set it up, but adding additional shows is much easier once you’re passed the initial configuration. To find shows to record, check out my article on finding the best of online radio. Some of my favorites include Fresh Air, This American Life, and Solid Steel Radio.
For the best results, sync your computer with a time server to ensure consistent start and stop times. You may want to add a minute or two to the start and end of each recording to allow for shows that don’t start exactly on time.
Bandwidth costs for radio stations can be expensive. Consider donating to the stations you listen to regularly.
I realize that it’s not the most elegant solution, so I’d love to hear suggestions for possible improvements. Feel free to leave comments. And check back here soon, I’ll be posting another script in a few days that records and converts Windows Media and RealAudio streams.
- Gerador Zero – #!/bin/bash (more info)
- Hot Bitch Arsenal – You Bet I Will (more info)
- Jonathan Coulton – Code Monkey (more info)
- Blackberry – Monster’s Paradise (more info)
I ran across the following video via populicio.us. I’m not the biggest Nirvana fan, but I have to admit that this version of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is catchy.
I ran across this video via populicio.us recently.
You can watch more clips and purchase DVDs at the Animusic site.
Yahoo! News has an article about Napster’s move to once again offer free music—only this time it’s legal.
In launching a new ad-supported service, Napster “becomes the first legal digital music service to offer music fans free, on-demand listening to over two million major and independent-label tracks,” according to a company statement Monday.
The catch is that users will be able to listen to songs only five times before being prompted to pay 99 cents for a download or about 10 dollars a month for a subscription. The free songs are in a “streaming” format that cannot be copied or downloaded to another device.
In a similar vein, just yesterday I signed up for a free trial of eMusic. The files are standard MP3s that can be played on just about any computer or portable music player, they’re DRM free, and beyond the trial tracks they’re $.25 or less. I’ve known about the service for a long time, but reading some good word-of-mouth via Ask MetaFilter was what made me give it a try.
One of my favorite blogs, Creating Passionate Users, has a great post and discussion going on about using music to increase performance. When trying to be productive, I’m partial to up-beat or electronic music that is either instrumental or in a foreign language. Some favorites include:
Check out the comments and trackbacks for lots of pointers to good music from others.
My friend Jeremy, a SXSW volunteer, just sent me a link to the 2006 Bittorrent of SXSW music. It’s a great way to help decide what bands to try to catch at this year’s festival. But even if you’re not braving the crowds at SXSW, it’s also good for some free/guilt-free music. And chances are you’ll find a few bands you hadn’t heard of before.
If listening to 700+ songs seems daunting, check out my tips from last year on weeding through the SXSW MP3s.
Update: The official SXSW bittorrent page is now live. And they’ve included a bittorrent of this year’s movie trailers. Keep an eye out for more music releases too. They released an update last year, as the festival got closer.
In OS X 10.4, iTunes comes with a decent stack of Automator actions (including several designed for use with iPods) you might like to play around with.
It’s easy, using Automator, to create a workflow that looks out for important mail messages, or those filtered in any way you choose, combines them into a new text file, and syncs it to your iPod every time you plug it in.