Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Remembering “Time Out” by the Dave Brubeck Quartet

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This is via an Open Culture post that’s worth reading in its entirety.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 August 2019 at 4:43 pm

Posted in Jazz, Music, Video

Every Noise at Once, revised and expanded

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I’ve blogged this before, but they have continued to develop it. From the link (under the now-very-large music map):

Every Noise at Once is an ongoing attempt at an algorithmically-generated, readability-adjusted scatter-plot of the musical genre-space, based on data tracked and analyzed for 3,295 genres by Spotify as of 2019-08-01. The calibration is fuzzy, but in general down is more organic, up is more mechanical and electric; left is denser and more atmospheric, right is spikier and bouncier.

Click anything to hear an example of what it sounds like.

Click the » on a genre to see a map of its artists.

Be calmly aware that this may periodically expand, contract or combust.

How We Understand Music Genres explains how this thing got started.
A Retromatic History of Music (or Love) follows these genres across years.
Spotify New Releases by Genre uses them to scour this week’s new releases.
We Built This City On follows them to their cities of origin.
Genres by Country breaks them down by strength of association with countries.
Songs From the Edges flings you through a blast-tour of the most passionate genrecults.
Songs From the Ages samples demographic groups.
Songs From the Streets samples cities.
Drunkard’s Rock wanders around for a really long time.
The Sounds of Places plots countries as if they were genres.
Spotify World Browser shows Spotify editorial programming in different countries.
Every Place at Once is an index of the distinctive listening of individual cities.
Hyperspace House Concerts looks for music playing only in particular places.
Every School at Once is an index of the distinctive listening of students by school.
Genres in Their Own Words maps genres to words found in their song titles.
The Needle tries to find songs surging towards the edges of one obscurity or another.
The Approaching Worms of Christmas tries to wrap itself around things I usually fight.
Every Demographic at Once explores listening by country, age and gender.
Or there’s a dynamically-generated daily summary of Spotify Listening Patterns by Gender.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 August 2019 at 9:00 am

Wonderful exegesis of Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke”

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Worth watching—and listening to:

Written by LeisureGuy

12 July 2019 at 5:08 pm

Posted in Jazz, Music

Serenading cows: Trombone edition

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Written by LeisureGuy

4 July 2019 at 3:19 pm

Posted in Music, Video

Flow is the Opiate of the Mediocre: Advice on Getting Better from an Accomplished Piano Player

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Cal Newport writes in his blog:

I recently received a message from an accomplished piano player. Let’s call him Jeremy.

This is someone who majored in piano performance at music school, where he was one of the top two students in the major. He won state-level competitions throughout his college career.

Jeremy wrote in response to my recent article on the surprisingly relaxed lives of elite musicians. He told me that post agreed with his experience.

“I, and the other strong students in my department, did practice less than the weaker students,” he said.

He then went on to explain exactly what he and the other strong students did differently as compared to their less accomplished peers.

I reproduced his explanation below (I added the headings and edited the text slightly), as I think it offers profound insight into the difference between the type of work most of us do and what it actually takes to become so good they can’t ignore you.

As you read Jeremy’s strategies, ask yourself what it would mean to apply these same ideas to your livelihood, be it as a writer, programmer, consultant, student, or professor. When I performed this exercise I was embarrassed by the gap between what I should be doing (if I want to maximize my ability), and what I actually do.

Good food for thought as we roll toward a new year…

Jeremy’s Strategies for Becoming Excellent…

  • Strategy #1: Avoid Flow. Do What Does Not Come Easy.
    “The mistake most weak pianists make is playing, not practicing. If you walk into a music hall at a local university, you’ll hear people ‘playing’ by running through their pieces. This is a huge mistake. Strong pianists drill the most difficult parts of their music, rarely, if ever playing through their pieces in entirety.”
  • Strategy #2: To Master a Skill, Master Something Harder.
    “Strong pianists find clever ways to ‘complicate’ the difficult parts of their music. If we have problem playing something with clarity, we complicate by playing the passage with alternating accent patterns. If we have problems with speed, we confound the rhythms.”
  • Strategy #3: Systematically Eliminate Weakness.
    “Strong pianists know our weaknesses and use them to create strength. I have sharp ears, but I am not as in touch with the physical component of piano playing. So, I practice on a mute keyboard.”
  • Strategy #4: Create Beauty, Don’t Avoid Ugliness.
    “Weak pianists make music a reactive  task, not a creative task. They start, and react to their performance, fixing problems as they go along. Strong pianists, on the other hand, have an image of what a perfect performance should be like that includes all of the relevant senses. Before we sit down, we know what the piece needs to feel, sound, and even look like in excruciating detail. In performance, weak pianists try to reactively move away from mistakes, while strong pianists move towards a perfect mental image.” . . .

Continue reading.

Newport notes later:

This post is part of my series on the deliberate practice hypothesis, which claims that applying the principles of deliberate practice to the world of knowledge work is a key strategy for building a remarkable working life.

Previous posts: . . .

Written by LeisureGuy

21 June 2019 at 8:06 am

Posted in Daily life, Education, Music

8-year-old girl lays down dynamite drum track to Led Zeppelin’s “Good Times Bad Times”

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Written by LeisureGuy

30 May 2019 at 7:40 am

Posted in Music, Video

Living with absolute pitch

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L.J. Rich has absolute pitch and synaesthesia, and he describes in a blog post what it’s like:

I was at a party last week, and a fellow dinner guest asked me what having perfect pitch [another name for absolute pitch – LG] was actually like. They wanted to know if it was just knowing what an ‘A’ was – and whether it could be learned. They were musical and seemed genuinely interested – so I decided for once to give them the full, no-holds-barred explanation. It’s complicated, and I get asked this a lot, hence this post.

Yes, having perfect pitch includes knowing whether something is an A or an A flat – that’s also the case for excellent relative pitch which is something that can be learned with time and effort. But for me perfect or absolute pitch is more than that.

With the caveat that this is my personal experience, and it might be different for fellow sufferers/carriers, this is how it feels for me to be a composer with perfect pitch.

[in post, there’s a Sound Cloud player at this point – LG] Train from Gothenburg to Stockholm is in B Major – the trees outside are beautiful. Composing on the train is a wonderful experience. I love the sound of the train and how it interacts with the landscapes. Trees and lakes and the sea are generally in major keys so it feels uplifting and inspiring to me! This music was recorded in two takes – first the strings, then the piano sound.

Now, I’d like you to imagine you’re chatting with your conversation partner. But instead of speaking and hearing the words alone, each syllable they utter has a note, sometimes more than one. They speak in tunes and I can sing back their melody. Once I know them a little bit, I can play along to their words as they speak them, accompanying them on the piano as if they’re singing an operatic recitative. They drop a glass on the floor, it plays a particular melody as it hits the tiles. I’ll play that melody back – on a piano, on anything. I can accompany that melody with harmony, chords – or perhaps compose a variation on that melody – develop it into a stupendous symphony filled with strings, or play it back in the style of Chopin, Debussy or Bob Marley. That car horn beeps an F major chord, this kettle’s in A flat, some bedside lights get thrown out because they are out of tune with other appliances. I can play along to every song on the radio whether or not I’ve heard it before, the chord progressions as open to me as if I had the sheet music in front of me. I can play other songs with the same chords and fit them with the song being played. Those bath taps squeak in E, this person sneezes in E flat. That printer’s in D mostly. The microwave is in the same key as the washing machine.

For me perfect pitch is not knowing notes, it’s about living in a world where everyone resonates, every thing has music. Everything and everyone weaves together a fantastic audio symphony that I have no choice but to absorb. For me if there isn’t music somewhere, I’ll add it in. Say someone is walking along a station platform, I almost unconsciously compose a tune fitting into their footsteps – it’ll generally be in the same key as the resonance of the station. While I hear a piece of music I generally imagine a counter-melody to complement the existing melody everyone else hears. It was only on talking to my friend Jonathan in Boston that I found out these things are not typical.

It’s odd – though I’m a composer by nature, I also love encoding the melodies and harmonies I hear in music for other people to appreciate, for example – the sound of a sunrise – or the beautiful noise of an aeroplane at 33,000 feet in D major.

I recently live-composed some classical music for each of my friend’s children at a naming ceremony. They had very different personalities and I captured them each in a short musical piece recorded for posterity. It never fails to amaze me how many people agree with my musical perception of someone – even someone young! There must be something I pick up on that is there, intrinsically, inside everyone.

When I taste things, I also hear music, mainly chords – sugar and desserts almost always in major key and chocolate and coffee are particularly complex sounds, with overtones and harmonics. I love broccoli and cauliflower which are . . .

Continue reading.

Musical samples at the link.

For an interesting book on synaesthesia, see The Man Who Tasted Shapes, by Richard Cytowic.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 April 2019 at 9:34 am

Posted in Books, Daily life, Music

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