October 01, 2008

Son's Guitar Recital

Here's what he looked like a few years ago shortly after he got his electric guitar.

Rock on.

Posted by JohnL at 10:21 AM | Comments (1) |
June 11, 2008

Childhood Song

My favorite song as a young child, and one that I still sing to my 8-year-old daughter, is My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean.

Posted by JohnL at 08:44 PM | Comments (0) |
May 23, 2008

New (To Me) Prog

I have recently discovered (and highly recommend) Liquid Tension Experiment.

Posted by JohnL at 08:40 PM | Comments (0) |
February 19, 2008

Hammond Cheese

This just defies description.

The high heels on the pedal board. The room full of like-attired women. The tambourines that come out of nowhere.

Click the video to go to the source page at YouTube and enjoy the comments.

Posted by JohnL at 10:12 PM | Comments (1) |
February 14, 2008

The February Mix

Here's my mix CD for this month:

1. Morgenspaziergang, Kraftwerk
2. Praeludium und Fuga, a moll, Georg Böhm
3. Growing Up, Peter Gabriel
4. Baker Street, Foo Fighters (covering Gerry Rafferty)
5. 2112 Overture, The Vitamin String Quartet (covering Rush)
6. Prelude and Fugue in D Major (BWV 532), J.S. Bach
7. Flesh for Fantasy, Billy Idol
8. Darkness, Peter Gabriel
9. Magic Power, Triumph
10. The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys, Traffic

(Ten Songs, 1 hour, 68.5MB)

This is one of the more eclectic mixes to fall out of my music library. It makes a good driving mix. I have to say that Bach's D Major Fugue here is one of the happiest pieces of music in the organ literature. The recording I have is Helmut Walcha's, a nicely articulated and beautifully registered version: maybe not historically "authentic" enough for some prissy scholars, but eminently listenable.

If I weren't such a lazy blogger, I'd provide links to Amazon or iTunes, but you can use a search engine as easily as I.


Here's a video of a stunningly fast rendition of BWV 532:

Posted by JohnL at 08:26 PM | Comments (1) |
January 16, 2008

What's in Your iPod?

So, Fred has gotten himself an iPod. I haven't gotten any audio books yet (I'm still attached to paper versions). But I do have several gigs of music on my hard drive.

Typically, I take luck-of-the-draw when synching my iPod, but I also like to cut a variety of mix CDs to match my mood. These are usually for car rides only (the interior of my car is hard on CDs, so I like to use disposable, homemade, CDs rather than originals).

Here's my January 2008 mix:

1. Battleflag, Lo Fidelity All Stars
2. Pretty Pink Rose, Adrian Belew
3. The Main Monkey Business, Rush
4. Every Day is Exactly the Same, Nine Inch Nails
5. The Ecstasy of Gold, Ennio Morricone
6. Man With a Gun, Jerry Harrison
7. Ah! Leah!, Donnie Iris
8. Judith, A Perfect Circle
9. Baker Street, Gerry Rafferty
10. The Analog Kid, Rush
11. The Hand That Feeds, Nine Inch Nails
12. Malignant Narcissism, Rush
13. I Still Believe, The Call
14. Turn The Page, Rush
15. Synchronicity 2, The Police
16. Astradyne, Ultravox

A bit of this, a bit of that.

Posted by JohnL at 09:04 PM | Comments (1) |
May 10, 2007

Phantom Bach Music

Robbo has an interesting bit up today about the Bach Toccata and Fugue in d minor (not the far-superior Dorian one, mind you).

First, I have to disagree with Rob's reflexive dismissal of the Bach:Led Zeppelin analogy that Camille Paglia makes in the article he's initially discussing. I know it's a matter of taste, but I at least have experienced emotions inspired by the "heaviness" ("darkness"?) of the organ literature that are very similar to emotions prompted by hard rock and electric blues in the Zeppelin tradition. And I know plenty of rock musicians and metal fans who also like heavy baroque music.

Second, I share Rob's dislike for the Stokowski version of the T&F in d.

Finally, unlike Rob, for the reasons laid out in another article he cites (and which I cited about a year ago), I still believe that the T&F in d was not authored by Bach, at least not as an organ work. I had the privilege of attending a master class with Peter Williams back in 1999, and he delivered quite a persuasive argument that it was not a Bach organ work. Even when compared with other "youthful" Bach organ works, it just sticks out like a sore thumb. Williams then presented his compelling case that the T&F in d was most likely a transcription from a piece for solo violin.

For further reading, this article expands on Williams' core idea, but explains how the T&F can be "suspiciously" easy to re-transcribe for play on a 5-string cello.

Posted by JohnL at 11:27 AM | Comments (3) |
February 26, 2007

Therapeutic Rush

Greetings faithful readers. Sorry for the thin gruel served up around here recently.

When you don't have original material, what do you do? Borrow!

Here's a Rush lyric that has some significance to me these days:

Open Secrets

It went right by me
At the time it went over my head
I was looking out the window
I should have looked
At your face instead.

It went right by me
Just another wall
There should have been a moment
When we let our barriers fall
I never meant what you're thinking
That is not what I meant at all.

Well I guess we all have these feelings
We can't leave unreconciled
Some of them burned on our ceilings
Some of them learned as a child
The things that we're concealing
Will never let us grow
Time will do its healing, You've got to let it go.

Closed for my protection
Opened to your scorn
Between these two directions
My heart is sometimes torn.

I lie awake with my secrets
Spinning around my head
Something that somehow escaped me
Something you shouldn't have said
I was looking out the window
I should have looked at your face instead.

Well I guess we all have these feelings
We can't leave unreconciled
Some of them burned on our ceilings
Some of them learned as a child
The things that we're concealing
Will never let us grow
Time will do its healing, You've got to let it go.

I find no absolution
In my rational point of view
Maybe some things are instinctive
But there’s one thing you could do
You could try to understand me
I could try to understand you.

From 1987's Hold Your Fire, an album that I was too immature to appreciate fully when it came out. Now that I'm about the same age Neil Peart was when he penned those lyrics, I completely understand where he's coming from. Nice nod to The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock in there, too.

Posted by JohnL at 09:24 PM | Comments (1976) | | TrackBack
December 20, 2006

Deep Purple No No No

Jon Lord, of Deep Purple (for most of its history), is the apotheosis of a hard-rock organist. And he's probably the greatest influence on my own Hammond style.

Sure, Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman each had a better classical technique. But Emerson was much more of a Jazzer, and Wakeman was just, well, kind of effete, what with his flourishes and ornamentation. Both fantastically talented, but neither really representative of rock and roll.

Lord, on the other hand, manhandled the Hammond organ. Made it a coequal to Blackmore's overdriven guitar and Ian Gillan's wailing vocals.

Check out this classic video of a riff-based jam, entitled "No, No, No." Lord's solo kicks in at around 3:45 and the song just builds from there:


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October 17, 2006

Ben Folds Five - Philosophy

I've previously mentioned in passing that Ben Folds is one of my favorite contemporary musicians. His first group was a hard-rocking piano trio (piano-bass-drums) known as the Ben Folds Five.

I first learned about them when I saw them play "Song for the Dumped" on David Letterman. (Hilarious song, at least for guys). Ironically, it was that performance that triggered (or at least coincided with) their decision to break up.

Anyway, check out this amazing 1998 performance of their song "Philosophy," available on this DVD:

Posted by JohnL at 11:09 PM | Comments (2) | | TrackBack
September 14, 2006

The Ecstasy of Gold

One of my favorite musical themes of all time, Ennio Morricone's masterful The Ecstasy of Gold from his soundtrack for The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly:

My favorite version is the one performed by Yo Yo Ma on his Yo Yo Ma Plays Ennio Morricone album.

Posted by JohnL at 11:20 PM | Comments (4) | | TrackBack
September 12, 2006

Anticipating the Rush

This article has me more excited than usual about Rush's new studio release due in early 2007. This extended quote from drummer and lyricist Neil Peart especially piqued my interest:

"You try to put your own way of seeing the world into some kind of congruence with other peoples, and that's difficult for me... I mean, I see the world in what I think to be a perfectly obvious and rational way, but when you go out into it and see the way other people think and behave, and express themselves on church signs, you realize, 'Well, I'm not really part of this club....'"

"I looked for the good side of faith.... To me it ought to be your armor, something to protect you and something to console you in dark times. But it's more often being turned into a sword, and that's one big theme I'm messing with."

What particularly interests me about this is that he has already touched on the "faith as sword" theme in the song Peaceable Kingdom from Vapor Trails (lyrics and some commentary here), which was a pretty obvious condemnation of jihadist Islam.

Peart is familiar with the church signs he mentions based on his wide-ranging motorcycle tours of North America (chronicled here and here -- the latter one notably recounting his painful journey through the continent to deal with the grief of losing his wife and daughter within a year of each other.)

Posted by JohnL at 09:30 PM | Comments (1) | | TrackBack
August 23, 2006

The Time of the Season

Wow. This is too cool. A video that accompanies one of my favorite songs from the psychedelic 60s, Time of the Season by the Zombies:

That video is WAY ahead of its time, long before MTV and music videos were standard in the industry. Check out the fashions, some of which would still look good today. Then remember that many of those nice looking models are likely grandmas by now. Ha.

(By the way, the song was recorded at Abbey Road studios the year before I was born and then released in 1968, the year of my birth.)

Posted by JohnL at 11:29 PM | Comments (1) | | TrackBack
August 07, 2006


How could I have missed a blog devoted to my favorite band all this time?

Thanks to fellow Rush-head Free Will for the pointer.

Posted by JohnL at 10:47 PM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack
July 25, 2006

Some Gothic Music

Go check out the unplugged video version of Peter Murphy's A Strange Kind of Love, as performed by Trent Reznor (of Nine Inch Nails), Jeordie White (of Marilyn Manson and A Perfect Circle), and Murphy himself (Bauhaus and solo).

Via Bill INDC Ardolino.

I had to google Jeordie White to find out he is the bass player for A Perfect Circle. But before Jeordie, APC had quite a striking bassist: Paz Lenchantin. Great player, but check out her especially unique move from around 1:50 to 2:05 in Judith:

Posted by JohnL at 11:29 PM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack
July 14, 2006

Wizard of Floyd

INDCent Bill found a clip on YouTube illustrating the famous synchronicity between the Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon and The Wizard of Oz.

I particularly love how the spinning Leslie in "The Great Gig in the Sky" mirrors the spinning tornado in Oz.

I guess this is as good a place as any to note the recent passing of Floyd founder Syd Barrett, who gave Pink Floyd their name and whose LSD-and-fame-fueled descent into insanity colored all of the band's subsequent output.

Posted by JohnL at 11:13 PM | Comments (2) | | TrackBack
June 24, 2006

Medeski Martin and Wood's Uninvisible

I was first introduced to acid jazz trio Medeski Martin & Wood about 4 years ago when a bass player in my old group who knew that I liked Emerson Lake & Palmer loaned me his Uninvisible CD. John Medeski, the organist, is one of the best (if not *the* best) Hammond organ players working these days. Check out this super trippy video of the song Uninvisible:

Posted by JohnL at 07:19 PM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack
April 13, 2006

Thin Wall

One of my all-time favorite bands, Ultravox, with a fine specimen of early-1980s New Wave:

Posted by JohnL at 10:22 PM | Comments (2) | | TrackBack
March 29, 2006

Music Video: Asperges Me - Kyrie Cantico Cybernetico

Reminds me of a hybrid between Kraftwerk and Cirque du Soleil. Very interesting. And check out the real Mellotron.

Posted by JohnL at 10:51 PM | Comments (1) | | TrackBack
February 21, 2006

Top Ten Music Game

All the cool kids are doing it again.

Here are the top-10 songs (by play count) in my folder in iTunes:

1. "Halo" by O'Donnell/Salvatori - (Yes, the original theme from the best video game I have ever played).
2. "Blurry" by Puddle of Mudd - this is a good song, but it ranks so highly because I bought it from iTunes and only play it on the computer or my iPod. (A lot of songs that I play over and over are still stranded on their original CDs and haven't been imported into the computer just yet).
3. "The Current" by Blue Man Group and Gavin Rossdale - I know many see them as a gimmick group, a bit too contrived and self-aware, but I don't care. I love the BMG.
4. "Don't Change" by INXS - one of the few songs in my library imported from a CD. It was all downhill from here for INXS (Shabooh Shoobah is one of my top-10 favorite albums).
5. "African Trilogy" by Neil Diamond - I dare you to diss Neil. Go ahead... do ya feel lucky, punk?
6. "Above" by Blue Man Group - BMG also ranks highly because theirs was one of the first "albums" I downloaded from iTunes.
7. "I Feel Love" by Blue Man Group, Tracy Bonham, and Rob Swift.
8. "Lazarus Raised" by Peter Gabriel - from Passion (the original soundtrack to The Last Temptation of Christ).
9. "I Ran" by A Flock of Seagulls - Love the 1980s.
10. "Imagine" by A Perfect Circle - (I don't know why this ranks higher than Judith, a far superior original A Perfect Circle song. Still, this cover tops the original flaccid Lennon crap).

And now, to revisit the classic meme (as Hucbald did), here are the first ten songs to pop up in iTunes in shuffle mode:

1. "Wake Up" by Doctors' Mob (My favorite live band in Austin during my college years).
2. "Honky Tonk Women" by the Rolling Stones
3. "Where I Live" by Doctors' Mob
4. "Without You" by Asia
5. Prelude in G-Sharp Minor, Op. 16, No. 2 by Scriabin
6. "God Rest You Merry Gentlemen" (from Readers Digest's Joyous Music of Christmastime)
7. "I Stand Alone" by Wetton and Downes (Eww. This one reeks).
8. "Vertigo" by U2
9. "Hymn" by Ultravox (one of the most underrated and criminally forgotten bands of the 1980s)
10. "The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Wimoweh)" by The Tokens

Hey, this is fun! Ten more under the fold:

11. "Summit" by Vangelis
12. "African Trilogy" by Neil Diamond
13. "The James Bond Theme" performed by The Ventures
14. "Journey of the Sorcerer" by The Eagles (Quick - what series was this the theme music for? No googling allowed ;-)
15. "Dream On" by Aerosmith
16. "Night Fever" by The Bee Gees
17. "God Bless America" performed by Ray Charles
18. "Children of the Sun" by Billy Thorpe
19. "The Current" by the Blue Man Group
20. "Sole Survivor" by Asia

Posted by JohnL at 08:50 PM | Comments (4) | | TrackBack

Radiohead Video

Check out this really cool Radiohead video.

(Hat tip: INDCent Bill).

Posted by JohnL at 01:02 AM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack
February 16, 2006

Willie Nelson, Dan Rather, and Bach

Hucbald the West-Texas musical monk with a thing for redheads posted a nice review of Willie Nelson's concert to benefit the public radio station in Alpine, Texas. Turns out that Dan Rather was there to introduce Willie. Bizarre.

Also, to Hucbald, you're not the first one to find it doubtful that J.S. Bach authored the T&F in d minor for organ.

Posted by JohnL at 10:37 PM | Comments (2) | | TrackBack
January 30, 2006

Lawyers, Libel, and Music Criticism

Check out this fun article about lawyers fact-checking the claims of a music critic.

In my job, a paralegal and I have to clear press releases (usually just for proper trademark usage, but also for factual claims that could count as representations). The lawyers in this article seem a bit cautious to me.

Here's a taste, but be sure to read the whole thing (the lawyers' critiques are in italics):

The author alleges the band KISS badly mimed "Beth" and "Detroit Rock City" on "The Paul Lynde Variety Special." Evidence?

I realize the words "KISS" and "Paul Lynde" don't normally appear together in the same sentence. But such a TV-variety special did air in 1977, on which KISS was the musical guest. As for my predicate "badly mimed," consider that during the performance of "Beth," the drummer miraculously played the piano by positioning his fingers 6 inches above the keyboard. You do the math.

Really. What 1970s musical variety show wasn't badly mimed?

(Hat tip: Lynn S. at A Sweet, Familiar Dissonance)

Posted by JohnL at 11:03 PM | Comments (3) | | TrackBack

New Music Carnival Host

Please go and congratulate John Salmon at Magritte's Apple for stepping up to host the Carnival of Music from now on.

I will keep the old archive page up indefinitely, and for the near future, the online drop box will remain active.

Thanks for your previous support. Let's help John make this successful.

Posted by JohnL at 10:29 PM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack
January 25, 2006

Beans, Beans the Musical Fruit...

I discovered a new and very fun-to-read music blog: Terminal Degree.

The author is a music teacher. I discovered her thanks to this fantastic comment she left at The Phantom Professor's recently:

The unhealthy trend I see in my students is over-programming -- they try to "do it all." (I teach music privately and at a university, so my students are from age 8 to adult.) Parents will call to ask about lessons and then tell me their kids are taking soccer, ballet, karate, French lessons, and in Girl Scouts, and they now want to add music lessons to the mix. (I don't take those kids as students -- it's not fair to them to expect them to be Superkids.)

By the time they reach university, they're either burned out, OR they're so overprogrammed that they try to take 18 credits, work a part-time job, do an internship, and join three clubs, all in the same semester. Some get by on four hours of sleep.

By their junior year, they start to go a little nuts as a result.

But the irony is that by this point they are used to juggling so many things that it's hard to concentrate on just one or two priorities--because their attention spans haven't been developing all along.

I'm not really critical of my students, who don't know any better. It's their parents, who let them do so many activities when they're younger, who get my criticism. And the irony is that the parents are doing this (usually) because they want the BEST for their kids.

Luckily, some of my students' parents are resisting this trend. In one family, for example, each kid can pick one art activity (such as music) and one sport. No more. I think it's a very healthy way to live, and those kids seem to be a lot happier -- and a lot more like KIDS.

I felt that was addressed directly to my overachieving Plano, Texas strive-more crowd. In fact, the last paragraph is something my family has already done: we have severely curtailed all three kids' activities this year. No more sports this school year, and nothing extra beyond Scouting and music lessons. I know it runs counter to the "enrichment" mentality so endemic around here, but our kids seem much happier having the freedom to just paint at the kitchen table, play in the driveway, ride bikes, or read. Heck, even to watch some TV or play some video games with me. Not everything needs to be regimented and supervised.

Anyway, what does any of this have to do with the title of this blog post? To find out, go read this entertaining story of a day in the life of a music teacher. I swear that could be my second son.

Posted by JohnL at 10:50 PM | Comments (3) | | TrackBack
January 16, 2006

Carnival of Music - Silver Anniversary Swan Song

Please check out the 25th installment of the Carnival of Music at Pilgrimage to Parnassus. It is a nicely classically-centered affair this week.

Despite the optimistic tone of this week's host, I have not received enough sustained interest to keep the Carnival going. Effective now, the Carnival is on an indefinite hiatus. I will keep the archive page up so that random surfers can find and enjoy the many worthy efforts of the fine hosts and contributors.

Maybe I will resurrect the idea in the future, maybe not.

In the meantime, if you are interested in assuming control of this carnival theme, please let me know. Thanks!

Posted by JohnL at 08:41 PM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack
January 09, 2006

Carnival of Music

The next Carnival of Music will take place next Monday (16 January 2006) at Pilgrimage to Parnassus.

If anyone is interested in assuming the Carnival of Music, I would be happy to turn it over to a new owner. Please leave a comment or send me an email.

I don't have time to implement the many wonderful ideas proposed previously to revive the concept, and it has been caught in the doldrums for a couple of months now. If no one steps forward, I will put it on indefinite hiatus.

In the meantime send your musical links to the online drop box, and I'll see that they get to Daniel at Pilgrimage to Parnassus for inclusion in the next Carnival. Thanks!

Posted by JohnL at 09:52 PM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack
December 19, 2005

Musical Carnival Musings

This week's Carnival finds its emergency home this week here, where it all began on my blog. I hope this is not where it will end.

Structurally, I think I have done everything necessary to make the Carnival a success. We are listed on a couple of Blog Carnival referral pages, and for most of the carnivals I have notified the major bloggers.

I wonder what I am doing wrong. I certainly cannot blame the submitters and wonderful volunteer hosts, whose fine efforts have distinguished the Carnival of Music as one of the most interesting in the blogosphere.

Is the blogosphere just oversaturated with carnivals? Is the topic of "music" too broad? Does there need to be a Carnival of Jazz, or Composers, or Rock??

I have not been as engaged in the Carnival over the last few weeks as I should be, and I'm sure that hasn't helped much. Still, it seems like the Carnival hasn't ever reached that critical mass of readers to stimulate volunteers for hosting and posting.

I would be interested in any suggestions.

In the meantime, please spread the word and check out the many fine submissions we have received over the last 2 weeks in Carnival of Music #24.

Posted by JohnL at 09:15 PM | Comments (4) | | TrackBack

Carnival of Music #24

This week's carnival is a bit of a rushed affair, as I wasn't planning to host this week. Nevertheless, there were a good number of posts waiting in the drop box. Please check out these fine entries:

Elisa Camahort has been filling in the gaps in her music collection with iTunes. Elisa also has a post at The Browster Blog asking Who Will Deliver Me My Nirvana? As Google has introduced music search, Elisa explores what she wants from music search and compares Google, Yahoo, and the iTunes Music Store.

Andrew Ian Dodge at GoD: blog presents Now we have gone & done it. What is "it?" Go see.

Turns out that Coldplay is to Jon Pearce at Dodgeblogium like Kryptonite to Superman.

Doug Mataconis at Below The Beltway presents Happy Birthday Ol' Blue Eyes. Doug grew up listening to Frank Sinatra. It wasn't because his parents were particularly Sinatra fans. Instead, growing up in New Jersey he really couldn't help it. In big ways and small, Sinatra was everywhere. On the radio. Blaring over the speakers at Yankee Stadium at the end of a game. In Atlantic City. You get the idea.

Back in July, Starling David Hunter took note of an announcement by MTV that it had purchased Neopets, the parent company of popular website Neopets.com, for an undisclosed sum. Here's the strategic logic behind the acquisition: Virtual Pet Shop Boys

Adam at Sophistpundit examines intellectual property, and what the future might hold for artistic expression.

Prent Rodgers at Microtonal Music Podcasts invites you to listen to four different microtonal pieces by four different composers, all for solo piano. Each was done using a different set of techniques to retune the piano, with different intonation systems, and all showcase the world between the 1:1 and the 2:1. Check it out.

Please check out the archive page for previous Carnivals, to submit posts for inclusion in future carnivals, and to volunteer to host.

Posted by JohnL at 08:58 PM | Comments (1) | | TrackBack
December 14, 2005

The End of Western Civilization

Is Humps by The Black Eyed Peas really that bad?

Oh yes, indeed. Pure dagnasty evil, it is.

From Hua Hsu's article in Slate:

As a piece of music, "My Humps" is a stunning assemblage of awful ideas. The song's playful pogo and coke-thin, ring-tone synth line interpolate Sexual Harassment's 1982 left-field electro hit, "I Need A Freak". But where the original trafficked in something icky, sinister, and darkly sexual, the Peas' call-and-response courtship fails to titillate—in fact, it's enough to convince one to never, ever ogle again. The "humps" in question belong to Fergie, who brandishes her "lovely lady lumps" for the purpose of procuring various gifts from men who, one would assume, find the prospect of "lumps" very exciting—one lump begetting another lump, if you will.

"What you gon' do with all that ass/ All that ass inside them jeans? … What you gon' do wit all that breast?/ All that breast inside that shirt?" rapper Will.I.Am teases in response, rendering literal what had heretofore been pretty much literal. It's a song that tries to evoke a coquettish nudge and wink, but head-butts and bloodies the target instead. It isolates sectors of the female anatomy that obsessive young men have been inventing language for since their skulls fused, and yet it emerges only with "humps" and "lumps"—at least "Milkshake" sounded delicious.


When we moved into the new house this summer, we finally got cable TV again, after an 11-year abstinence therefrom. I have since then caught brief snippets of truly bad videos on MTV, VH1, and BET while surfing channels. (Until I saw My Humps, I thought the worst music video I had ever seen was Missy Elliott's Lose Control. So bad, it almost forces you to watch. And what's up with slappy clappy happy slaves dancing in sexually suggestive ways in mid-1800s costumes? Must have some sort of "deep" meaning to it, but it went right past me).

Hat tip to Mediocre Fred for pointing me to these awful noises and images. (Gee, thanks).

Posted by JohnL at 10:58 PM | Comments (4) | | TrackBack

Happy Birthday, Dave Brubeck

I had no clue that jazz master Dave Brubeck was still alive, much less touring at his age.

Last week, on December 6, he turned 85.

Read more here about his life and influences. (You know you're getting old when your birthday wishes start to read like obituaries - in fact, I bet this author took out his canned obit and put a different intro and conclusion to it for the birthday piece).

Keith Emerson cites Dave Brubeck as one of his influences, and Brubeck is thus indirectly one of my influences.

Here's wishing him continued health and long(er) life.

(Via Rand Simberg)

Posted by JohnL at 10:37 PM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack
December 07, 2005

Dueling Disco Playlists

Bookish Gardener Chan provides an exquisitely economical review of Camille Paglia's latest on Madonna.

Be sure to compare and contrast Paglia's essential disco playlist with Chan's.

Posted by JohnL at 10:40 PM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack
December 05, 2005

Carnival of Music #23

This week's edition of the Carnival of Music is taking place over at Starling Hunter's The Business of America is Business (great name for a blog!)

Drop by and check it out.

Posted by JohnL at 08:32 PM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack
November 29, 2005

Carnival of Music Submissions Needed

The 23rd Carnival of Music has a host! Starling Hunter at The Business of America is Business will be hosting our next edition of the Carnival, next Monday (December 5).

Please submit posts here.

Also, we REALLY need some more hosts for future editions of the Carnival. This is more than a link-whoring traffic-generator for the participants involved. It has so far been a remarkably diverse celebration of all kinds of music, from the highbrow to the low, the player's perspective to the listerner's, the composer's to the critic's. Please help make this Carnival a lasting success and volunteer here.

Spread the word!


Posted by JohnL at 06:38 PM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack
November 23, 2005

Carnival of Music #22

Sorry for the belated posting. Please check out Brian Sacawa's Thanksgiving edition of the Carnival, posted two days ago at Brian's Sounds Like Now.

We'll be on temporary hiatus next Monday, but I hope to have a host lined up by the first Monday in December.

As always, go to the Carnival's home page to peruse earlier editions and for more information about hosting or submitting posts for the Carnival.

Thanks, and have a happy Thanksgiving!

Posted by JohnL at 09:44 PM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack
November 15, 2005

Music Carnival Number 21

The Music Carnival turned 21 yesterday at Owlish's place. I like how he visited the blogs of past hosts to find some additional linkable material. Check it out.

The 22nd Carnival will be held at Brian Sacawa: Sounds Like Now next Monday.

Please volunteer to host future carnivals and submit your posts for next week's carnival here.

Posted by JohnL at 09:38 AM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack
November 08, 2005

Nice Tribute to Bob Moog

Ray Kurzweil offers this nice eulogy of one of the twentieth century's most influential inventors.

(Via Mixolydian Don).

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November 07, 2005

Random Thoughts Musickal

Have you ever listened to Neil Diamond's Tap Root Manuscript? Do yourself a favor and get a copy.

I have been listening to it as long as I can remember (it was released when I was in my terrible two's), and I have long associated it with fun family road trips to Colorado, other parts of the Southwest and Rocky Mountain states, and Canada. (Yes, Canada. We drove 3 days from Texas to visit family in Ontario at Wasaga Beach on the Georgian Bay of Lake Huron).

Putting aside nostalgia, and acknowledging that this marks me as tragically unhip, this album by Neil Diamond is one of my top-25. The high point of the album is the African Trilogy (actually 7 discrete songs), which I would cover in an instant, were I a progressive metal band. The instrumental Madrigal could certainly stand up to some re-arrangement for performance by a group like Yes or Rush.

(Yes, I am procrastinating on the novel).

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Carnival of Music #20

Please be sure to visit Elisa Camahort's Personal Weblog to review this week's edition of the Carnival of Music.

She has put together a nice arrangement of diverse themes, including a couple of posts from yours truly.

Next week the Carnival returns to Owlish Mutterings for an encore performance.

As always, check out the archive page for previous editions and to submit posts or volunteer to host.

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October 31, 2005

Carnival of Music #19

Buckethead and his perfidious minions have hosted a "prime" nineteenth Carnival of Music.

Go check it out, and be sure to review the many fine articles linked therein.

Some favorites:

Be sure to check the archive page to read earlier entries in the Carnival, to submit a post, or volunteer to host. Many thanks in advance to Elisa Camahort for hosting our 20th Carnival next week.

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October 26, 2005

More Musical Fun

Funny how you'll buy things you normally wouldn't as long as it's not really your own money being spent. (This is such a basic human impulse that I'm surprised anyone would be surprised by bloated government spending).

I recently got a $10 iTunes gift certificate as well as an iTunes Music Store card good for 10 songs. As the result, I purchased the William Shatner spoken word collection entitled Has Been.

I never thought I would say this about a Shat album, but, well, GET THIS ALBUM. It is produced by one of my favorite contemporary musicians, pianist Ben Folds, and features such noted guests as Joe Jackson and Aimee Mann.

In particular, check out the song "Common People." It starts off with a great retro new-wave riff straight out of the late 70s/early 80s (high bass guitar, Vox/Farfisa organ bleeping), and Shatner sets the stage with an atypically restrained reading of these lyrics:

She came from Greece,
She had a thirst for knowledge.
She studied sculpture at St. Martin's college.
That's where I
caught her eye.

She told me that her dad was loaded.
I said,
"In that case I'll have a rum and Coca Cola."
She said, "Fine."
And in 30 seconds' time she said:

"I want to live like common people.
I want to do whatever Common People do.
I want to sleep with Common People --
I want to sleep with Common People like you."

Well, what else could I do?
I said,
"I'll see what I can do."

And it just gets better from there, with a strong punk/new wave vibe, a children's choir, Joe Jackson singing, and Shatner emoting as only he can.

Check it out. You won't regret it.

Update: I should note that "Common People" was originally written and recorded in 1995 by the UK band, Pulp, on their Different Class album.

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Fun With iTunes

If you have iTunes installed on your computer, go to the Music Store and look in the lower left for the category Celebrity Playlists. Be sure to click "see all" to access all 180 of the lists.

The songs themselves are fun enough to check out. But even better are the comments that the list authors add to explain why they picked the songs on their lists. (It's very bloggy).

Turns out that Penn Jillette (a libertarian comedian whom I shamefully confused with Al Franken for many years) has a playlist. Number one on his list, Sie Glauben Nicht from Alban Berg's opera Lulu, made me laugh out loud for this commentary: "Sometimes you just got to listen to really depressing, 20th Century 12 tone music. If you start thinking that rock 'n roll got far out, listen to this and shut up."

I love it.

The playlists served their purpose, as I found and bought (using a 10-free-tunes code) a few new songs from the Blue Man Group's playlist.

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October 23, 2005


The Carnival of Music remains in hiatus until we can find someone to host it.

Meanwhile, you may recall that I highlighted the very cool ukulele-ist Jake Shimabukuro in the second Carnival of Music.

Well, INDCent Bill has linked to a very nice video of Jake covering the Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." Check it out.

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New Pipe Organ in France

Check out this article on the new Silbermann/Bach-style pipe organ recently completed in Paris.

I have played both electromechanical and tracker (i.e., analog) organs and found the action of trackers to be more immediate and satisfying than the fly-by-wire organ consoles.

Via Lynn (at her nicely redesigned and renamed blog, A Sweet, Familiar Dissonance).

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October 10, 2005

Carnival of Music #18

Devin Hurd is this week's host for the Carnival of Music, now in its 18th installment.

I continue to be amazed and entertained by the breadth of musical subjects, from discussions of microtonal music to Jessica Simpson videos. Keep up the good work, people!

We don't yet have hosts for the next several weeks. I would like to point out that our last Music Carnival in October will fall on Hallowe'en. I'm certain someone would like to solicit and publish some posts about spooky music through the ages... Anyone? Anyone?

Volunteer to host or send your submissions for the next Carnival here. Use The Conservative Cat's handy online submission form here. And check out the archives here.

Posted by JohnL at 10:20 PM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack
October 03, 2005

Carnival of Music #17

Bart Collins at The Well-Tempered Blog turns in a brilliant performance this week for the Seventeenth Carnival of Music.

HurdAudio is up to host next week, and after that we have an open schedule. Check out the main archive for links to past carnivals, to learn about hosting, and other useful information about the carnival.

Please volunteer to host here. Send submissions to the same address, or use the convenient online submission form at Conservative Cat's site.

Enjoy some good music!

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September 26, 2005

Carnival of Music #16

Where does the time go? Has it really been four months since we started the Carnival of Music?

Please check out Professor Spiegelberg's poetic entry this week.

I have updated the main carnival page, addressing the questions of just what is a blog carnival and what does one have to do to host. Check it out, and submit your links to musical posts and your offers to host here.

Thanks for your support!

Posted by JohnL at 11:11 PM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack
September 15, 2005

Wintermute Playlist

Thought I'd put this up while we're on the subject of Neuromancer.

William Gibson's coinage of the word "cyberspace" and his ultra-hip future-pop-culture style led to the description of a lot of fiction in the 80s and 90s as "cyberpunk." There was even a temporary streak of some musical acts that were described as cyberpunk. Most of it noise, which didn't tolerate multiple listenings.

I recently put together a play list of some familiar and not-so-familiar songs, which created a Neuromancer-y vibe for me. I dubbed this playlist "Wintermute" in iTunes. None of these are cyberpunk, though I might call a couple "cybergoth." I think the CD makes for a good walking soundtrack (playing time: almost exactly 1:15).

Presentation Format: Song - Artist - Album (Notes)

There are probably hundreds of other combinations of songs that would evoke the cool, grungy, electronic, trippy world of Neuromancer, so let me know what your playlist would be...

Posted by JohnL at 11:32 PM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack
September 13, 2005

Carnival of Music #15

Jolly good, I say. Jolly good. Mind the soccer hooligans as you make your way to this week's cricket-themed Carnival of Music at The Rambler.

I was most moved by Helen's account of her visit to Auschwitz.

We need hosts for future carnivals. I would love to see some new faces here. The carnival has grown nicely, and is a good way to showcase both your blog and other bloggers. If you author or run across a post about music that you would like to see in a future carnival submit it here. Likewise, if you would like to host a future carnival, please volunteer here.


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9-11 Memorial

I've been not-very-motivated to blog recently. A number of factors contribute. Perhaps more later.

But before we get too far past September 11, I wanted to note how I observed the date. Our church choir performed Memorial by Rene Clausen. Our sanctuary choir was accompanied by full orchestra, and I played the Glockenspiel and Chimes via the organ console (using sampled sounds).

If you haven't heard this piece, it is a powerful recreation of that awful day 4 years ago. Modern, but tonal with numerous lush romantic gestures and chillingly visual representations of the attacks. It was a perfect way to mark the occasion.

You can purchase a recording of the piece here.

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September 05, 2005

Carnival of Music #14

Like the recapitulation of themes in the last movement of a symphony, Owlish has addressed the dearth of voluntary submissions to this week's Carnival of Music by picking musical posts from the many previous hosts of the Carnival.

The Rambler is hosting next week, and is promising an "ecumenical" carnival, so get your submissions on a wide variety of music to the Carnival's "drop box." We need more hosts, so please volunteer!

Posted by JohnL at 10:22 PM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack
August 29, 2005

Carnival of Music #13

Even if you're triskaidekaphobic, you should find something to like at Chan's edition of the Carnival of Music this week.

Follow all of her links, and discover some new bloggers, some new musical knowledge, or both.

We need volunteers to host future carnivals. It's easy and fun! Sign up here.

Posted by JohnL at 10:26 PM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack
August 23, 2005

Carnival of Music #12

Head on over the pond to Musicircus to check out the 12th installment of the Carnival of Music.

I especially liked the linked articles discussing programming of new music, critiquing copyright extension, and listing a huge number of jazz blogs.

Thanks, Rob, for hosting this week. Great job!

If you would like to host, we have an opening on September 5, and then a wide open schedule from September 19 on. Please let me know if you have a link to include in a future carnival, or if you would like to host.

Posted by JohnL at 08:33 AM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack
August 22, 2005

Robert Moog, RIP

Robert_Moog.jpgI was saddened to read today that Robert Moog, inventor of the line of electronic synthesizers bearing his name, died yesterday of a brain tumor.moog_3c.jpg

Moog instruments play prominent roles in much of my favorite music from my childhood and teen years: from the Moog Taurus pedals and MiniMoogs that brought to life the Rush albums from 1977 through 1981, to the Moog III that Keith Emerson took on tour, to the eerie soundscapes that Wendy Carlos evoked in her soundtrack to A Clockwork Orange.Liberation.jpg

I own a Moog synthesizer, the Liberation.

Mr. Moog will be missed. I have been meaning to buy the Fjellestad biography, and will now make a point of doing so.

Posted by JohnL at 09:21 PM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack
August 21, 2005


You know those awful tunes that stick with you, even though you loathe them?

"We Built This City" by Starship is one of those for me.

It seems that this awful bit of "music" also had an annoying enough video to have stuck with John (no relation) at SFSignal. John had trouble finding a clip of the worst part of the video. I was able to find and excerpt the wretched moment for his viewing "pleasure."

Here you go, John.

Posted by JohnL at 05:54 PM | Comments (5) | | TrackBack
August 15, 2005

Carnival of Music #11

Be sure to check out the lovely job that Lynn has done with the 11th Carnival of Music.

Posted by JohnL at 10:37 PM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack
August 11, 2005

Recommended Album

I had never heard (or even heard of) jazz pianist Ted Howe until two mornings ago.

The local University radio station plays an all-jazz format (except for Saturday morning mariachi music and some classical on Sunday). Driving into work on Tuesday I was really digging a solo piano version of It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing) by Duke Ellington. I had never heard the arrangement and was visualizing myself trying to learn it by ear. (Ha.)

Anyway, the announcer came on and, instead of blabbing about something else, immediately and helpfully shared the name of the performer and CD: Ellington, by Ted Howe.

When I got home from work that night I downloaded the song from iTunes and previewed the rest of the album. What a wonderful discovery! Excellent piano technique and original arrangements of Duke Ellington standards.

Buy this album. Here's a link to assist you (and I'll leave the link in the sidebar for a while, too):

Posted by JohnL at 10:54 PM | Comments (2) | | TrackBack
August 09, 2005

Blogroll Editing

Please note that I have added a musical section to my blogroll. In addition to moving a couple of long-time residents of the general part of my blogroll, I have included several new music bloggers with whom I have become acquainted thanks to the Carnival of Music.

Please check out all of these fine bloggers:

Update: Late addition! A Monk's Musical Musings.

Posted by JohnL at 11:31 PM | Comments (2) | | TrackBack
August 08, 2005

Carnival of Music #10

The tenth Carnival of Music is happening at solitude.in.music this week.

Check it out for some melodious bloggy goodness.

As always, check the archive page to visit past carnivals, to scope out future hosts, and to submit articles or volunteer to host.

Posted by JohnL at 10:35 PM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack
August 01, 2005

Carnival of Music #9

Professor Scott Spiegelberg has created a nice tribute to Harry Potter with this week's Carnival of Music, the ninth installment to date. Please drop by and leave a comment.

We need some more volunteers to host. If you're interested, it's an easy and fun way to gain some exposure for your blog. Please send an email here to volunteer to host or submit a post. If you have any other questions, visit the main Carnival Page.

Posted by JohnL at 10:13 PM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack
July 25, 2005

Carnival of Music #8

Rob the Llamabutcher has done a fine job hosting the eighth Carnival of Music over at the butcher shop. Drop by and leave some tasty bits in the Llama Butcher mailbag to let Rob know how you liked it.

Next week's carnival will be held at Musical Perceptions. Check the archive page for future hosts and previous entries in the carnival.

Posted by JohnL at 03:05 PM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack
July 18, 2005

Carnival of Music #7

This week's Carnival of Music is being hosted at Podcast Bumper Music. The site's proprietor, Prent Rodgers, has assembled a fine collection of tuneful bloggy goodness.

Our submissions were still low this week, but we had some late entries that really rounded things out nicely. If you have written or read an interesting post about music, please send the link to our Carnival drop-box. As always, check the archive for future hosts and to browse earlier carnivals.

Posted by JohnL at 09:24 PM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack
July 12, 2005


Don (whose blog is a continuous Carnival of Music in its own right) found this site with a link to an amazing animated video of a Neil Peart avatar performing one of my favorite rock instrumentals, YYZ. I especially like the drumstick twirls, which are a nice touch.

(For you non-Rush fans, the basic motive of the piece is based on the morse code Y-Y-Z, which is the international code for Toronto's airport).

I'm sure Jeff, who pointed me to the P.E.A.R.T. drum robot, should really dig this.

Posted by JohnL at 11:53 PM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack
July 11, 2005

Carnival of Music #6

Fred Himebaugh has put together a fine Carnival of Music this week.

I particularly love the Sci-Fi theme. Great job!

We have hosts lined up for the next 3 weeks, but we need more submissions of musical posts. You can submit your own post, or send along a link to someone else's post about anything musical.

Read more about the carnival's purpose, check out past carnivals, and look for future hosts here.

In the meantime, get over to Fred's place, and leave him a comment.

Posted by JohnL at 11:48 AM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack
July 07, 2005

Carnival of Music #5

The house move has kept me offline this week, so I am only now able to link to this week's Carnival of Music, over at Sissy's blog, And What Next.

Go check it out. Also, get your submissions in so that Fred can put on a good Carnival #6 next Monday.

As always, consult the archive page to read earlier carnivals and to volunteer to host or to submit a post.

Posted by JohnL at 09:07 AM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack
June 29, 2005

Music Meme From Gunner

Gunner tagged me with a music meme last week. Things have been a bit crazy here, so I'm just now getting around to answering it.

Here's the game: What are your top three songs to listen to whilst running? And if you have the server space, will you post one or all of them for the rest of us to download? (If running is not your preferred method of exercise – which more or less guarantees your intelligence – well, songs that you would listen to are just fine.)

I usually don't listen to music while doing my nightly walk/run with the dog. I like to talk to him, and my suburban neighborhood straddles a creek and is covered with trees, so the nighttime chorus of toads and crickets makes a great soundtrack.

I do frequently listen to music while (whilst?) mowing the lawn, and my current favorites are:

I have to say, though, that I have several mix CDs I listen to during yardwork, so this list would definitely change from week to week.

Posted by JohnL at 12:04 AM | Comments (3) |
June 27, 2005

Carnival of Music #4

Owlish has posted the fourth installment of the Carnival of Music.

A nice eclectic mix of stuff there, so go check it out.

Posted by JohnL at 10:06 AM | Comments (0) |
June 20, 2005

Carnival of Music # 3

Administrative stuff first: I have put together an archive page for the carnival with FAQs, a schedule of future carnival hosts, and a list of previous carnivals. We need hosts! It's fun and easy and a great way to learn from a large selection of bloggers about a subject you love. Owlish has volunteered to host, and I have penciled him in for next week's carnival.

Please email me to submit a post for inclusion in a future carnival or to let me know that you would like to host one.

Without further ado, we start this week's program with an assortment of favorite springtime CDs, offered up by the HeadGirl at the Common Room.

Bart at the Well-Tempered Blog recommends a CD of Iren Marik playing Bartok as his tip of the week. Bart also provides a free link to an mp3 of Marik performing a piece by Debussy.

Michele at A Small Victory started another one of her trademark music lists today, after seeking input on the 20 best songs from the past 20 years. She was of course responding to the silly list put out by Spin magazine, reported here.

Every musician has a store of "war stories" -- things gone wrong in a performance. Harpist Helen Radice shares a funny one regarding a bird, a turd, and a word. (Rhyme inspired by the third and very funny comment to her post).

Brian Sacawa of Sounds Like Now has posted an mp3 sample of a live performance of pastlife laptops and attic instruments for alto saxophone, turntables, and electronics. If you like experimental saxophone electronica or abstract impressionist jazz, you will like this number.

For the past year, my Munuvian sponsor, Ted "RocketJones" has been receiving comments on this classic 2004 post on Stripper Music. Earlier this year, he put together a master list here.

Speaking of moving to music, Talvi of Of Music and Men doesn't like it. And, curmudgeonly as it sounds, I don't either. My organ teacher discouraged all extraneous movement, not only because it distracted from the music, but also because it hampered proper technique. Flailing around may look dramatic, and large arm movements may appear artistic, but they are really excess motions that can throw off your balance and timing while performing.

Fred is a vocalist who has discovered the humbling experience of learning from a recording of himself. I agree that a microphone can be a great teacher. Remember, however, that the musician is rarely an objective critic (either too harsh or too lenient) and a teacher can help recommend techniques to fix the perceived problems.

Finally, Music Thing posts about Paia, a do-it-yourself synth kit maker since 1967. The post features a very nifty photo of a synthesizer and effects installed in a drill case. (I once owned a broken-but-reapairable Paia modular synth but had to abandon it shortly after marriage during one of our moves. Lack of storage space has been the continual bane of my music hobby).

I hope you've enjoyed this week's carnival. For earlier carnivals, please remember to check the archive page. Thanks!

Posted by JohnL at 11:04 PM | Comments (0) |
June 13, 2005

Carnival of Music Number 2

Nobody stepped forward volunteering to host this week, but that's understandable since this is a new feature. Please let me know of any blog entries you would like to see included next week. From highbrow to lowbrow, we've got you covered this week.

James Lileks deconstructs Bobby ("Mack the Knife") Darin, including as portrayed in a movie by Kevin Spacey. Who knew that the swingin' singer of Mack was a hippie sympathizer?

Speaking of hippie sympathizers, one of Devo's founding members, Jerry Casale, was a hippie at Kent State. His experience at the riot/shooting so disillusioned him on the whole hippie-positive-vibe naivete that he became a radicalized devolutionist (DEVOlution, get it?) I'm sure hardcore fans of Devo already knew that, but it was an eye-opener for this casual fan. (And did you know that Head Like A Hole, popularized by Nine Inch Nails was originally donecovered by Devo? I only recently heard the originalDevo's remake, which kicks the remake'soriginal's rear end). (Hat tip - BoingBoing). (Thanks go to commenter Peter S. for setting me straight on Head Like A Hole).

And while we're at BoingBoing, check out Party Ben's "Drop It Like It's a Whole Lotta Love"
-- a mashup of Snoop Dogg and Led Zeppelin. Surprisingly effective, as I love Zep and loathe rap.

Neues von Bach! Big news for the music snobs this week. Something new from Poppa Bach. (I am a music snob, btw). Naturally Lynn and Rob Llama were all over this. I look forward to hearing this work once it's recorded (especially if they can get a good Baroque-style soprano who can throttle back her vibrato as appropriate for that era).

The next big thing? Ukulele. Well, maybe not, but Jake Shimabukuro, the "Jimi Hendrix of Hawaii," made the front page of Yahoo News, and will be touring with Jimmy Buffet this summer. Check out some of the samples from Jake's CDs here. "Sunday Morning" brings a smile to my face, as does his own rhapsody on a theme by Paganini ("Selections from Caprice No. 24").

And, to cleanse the palate, enjoy Bach's BWV 594 (Concerto in C Major after Vivaldi) and ask yourself whether overly aggressive copyright laws really are good for the creative arts.

Check for the carnival again next week. If you want to contribute or host, please send me an email.

Posted by JohnL at 10:41 PM | Comments (3) |
June 06, 2005

Carnival of Music (Number 1?)

Variations on a theme. I don't know if this will take off as a real "Carnival," but I have run across several interesting musical posts in the last few days.

aTypical Joe notes a recent New Yorker article on the effect of listening primarily to recorded music. Interesting, though I'm not sure it's all as bleak as the critic in the New Yorker makes it seem. I do know that listening to a symphony or an organist on CD is nothing compared to the immediate, physical experience of the music first-hand.

Chan the Bookish Gardener points us to the BBC's Beethoven Experience, taking place this week.

Caltechgirl similarly notes the BBC Beethoven Experience, and sends us to the page where free and legal copies of each of Beethoven's symphonies are available for download.

Music Thing (one of my new favorite reads) introduces us to Peter Pringle, King of the Theremin. (Article includes an mp3 of Peter playing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow").

Finally, Robert and Lynn discuss the hazards of introducing classical music as primarily a representational art form, when in fact much great music is not strictly programmatic.

I hope you enjoyed this little carnival. If you would like some more, send me links to notable musical posts. If you would like to host a carnival or two yourself, perhaps we can launch yet another Internet carnival.

Posted by JohnL at 09:37 PM | Comments (3) |
May 31, 2005

Silly Song Game

The Llama Butchers unearthed a fun game at Impenetrable Prose and Poesy.

1. Take the lyrics to a favorite song.
2. Go to Babelfish, translate the lyrics into German, then from German to French, and finally from French back into English.
3. Post the results verbatim.
4. Invite friends to guess the song based on the interesting new lyrics.

Here goes:

There is unrest in the forest,
There is disorder with the trees,
For the maples want more sunlight lamp
And the oaks is unaware of to their pleas.

The disturbs with the maples,
(And they' Re quite convinced they' Re right)
They say the oaks are just too lofty
And they grab up all the light.
Drank the oaks can' T help to their feelings
If they like the way they' Re made.
And they wonder why the maples
Can' T Be happy in their shade.

There is disorder in the forest,
And the creatures all cuts fled,
Have the maples scream "Oppression!"
And the oaks just shake to their heads
So the maples formed has union
And demanded equal rights.

"The oaks are just too greedy;
Give We will make them custom light."
Now there' S No more oak oppression,
For they passed has noble law,
And the trees are all kept equal
By hatchet, axis, and saw.

Answer (and original lyrics) below the fold:

This actually wasn't too garbled. It's The Trees by Rush:

There is unrest in the forest,
There is trouble with the trees,
For the maples want more sunlight
And the oaks ignore their pleas.

The trouble with the maples,
(And they're quite convinced they're right)
They say the oaks are just too lofty
And they grab up all the light.
But the oaks can't help their feelings
If they like the way they're made.
And they wonder why the maples
Can't be happy in their shade.

There is trouble in the forest,
And the creatures all have fled,
As the maples scream "Oppression!"
And the oaks just shake their heads

So the maples formed a union
And demanded equal rights.
"The oaks are just too greedy;
We will make them give us light."
Now there's no more oak oppression,
For they passed a noble law,
And the trees are all kept equal
By hatchet, axe, and saw.

I think this song is gravely misinterpreted as a simplistic critique of socialism. I think there is a more meaningful subtext, but that is the topic of another post (yet to come).

Posted by JohnL at 11:35 PM | Comments (2) |
May 26, 2005

Future Rock Musicians

Rob the Llama Butcher recounts a cute "from the mouths of babes" story about his 5-year-old's desire to be a rock star someday.

My second son also would like to be a rock star someday, and I've got pictures to prove it (one below the fold).

Don't worry, Rob, he's only eight, so he probably won't be interested in your daughter and her van full of guitars for another 10 years or so. [This is where I would insert a smiley-wink if Rob believed in emoticons, but he doesn't, so I won't, enjoying the fact that he will now lie awake at night worrying about the designs of 18-year-old rock musicians on his 15 year old daughter]


Posted by JohnL at 09:08 PM | Comments (0) |
May 25, 2005

Cool Music Blog

I recently discovered Music thing (thanks, BoingBoing!) Lots of very-cool vintage gear and odd bits of music technology on parade at this site. A random sampling:

Build your own analog synth for around $100.

A psychedelic French modular synthesizer for kids. (Really).

Some first-rate pR0n for synthesists. (Mmm. Electronic cheesecake...)

And lots of other really super-neat stuff.

Posted by JohnL at 11:20 PM | Comments (0) |
May 24, 2005

Sharing the Hate

The Crack Young Staff at The Hatemonger's Quarterly really hit it out of the park with their critique of country music. Excerpt:

As far as we’re concerned, it’s complete rubbish.

All the songs strike us as sub-par nursery rhymes sung with an irksome twang.

There's plenty more where that came from so read the whole thing.

Posted by JohnL at 11:50 PM | Comments (0) |
April 21, 2005

Electronic Music Studios (London)

If, like me, you have any interest in electronic music, synthesizers, or classic technology, you must visit this site. In particular, check out the history page, which features many interesting links and drool-worthy pictures of old many-knobbed analog synthesizers haloed in patch cords.

This company's best-known synthesizer was the VCS3, used by Pink Floyd on many of their early albums (highlighted most famously in "On the Run" from The Dark Side of the Moon).

The reason I found this site? A delightful posting by Chan today regarding the Doctor Who theme and the until-recently-uncredited contribution of electronic music pioneer Delia Derbyshire to that theme.

What can I say? Like Chan, I enjoy being a geek.

Posted by JohnL at 10:42 PM | Comments (0) |
April 07, 2005

Another Music List

I fired up iTunes tonight to listen to the latest installment of Lileks' Diner, and left it running while blogging that novella I just put up about shopping centers. As usual, it is set on shuffle, and here are the ten songs that have come up:

1. Aerosmith - Rare live version of Sweet Emotion
2. New Christy Minstrels - A Travelin' Man
3. Ronald Reagan - Operation Coffee Cup (I didn't listen to more than the first few minutes before scanning to the next)
4. Pat Boone - Metallica's Enter the Sandman
5. Red Army Choir - Moscow Nights (a beautiful folk song)
6. Van Halen - The Cradle Will Rock
7. Bad Company - Feel Like Makin' Love
8. Mel Carter - Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me
9. Neil Diamond - Cracklin' Rosie
10. Fear Factory/Gary Numan - Cars Remix

Weird. I wonder how my coworkers (or you) would judge me by my iTunes playlist? (Via GeekPress).

Posted by JohnL at 12:31 AM | Comments (1) |
April 04, 2005

In Prog We Trust

Via Gravity Lens, a great article in The Grauniad about the dinosaurs that everyone loves (or at least loved) to hate: prog rockers.

I used to be very heavily into Emerson Lake & Palmer, Yes (in all its sundry incarnations), Genesis (especially the obscure early stuff), the Moody Blues, and early King Crimson. I credit prog (especially and almost exclusively Emerson Lake and Palmer) with stimulating in me a deep appreciation for both classical and jazz music. I first learned of Bartok, Ginastera, Copland, and Janacek from Keith Emerson's arrangements of their pieces.

If you like progressive rock or want to sample some, there is a cool web radio station named Aural Moon. You can pick up a stream at their site, and they are listed under the Radio section of iTunes, too.

Posted by JohnL at 10:45 PM | Comments (1) |
February 21, 2005

Minimally Musical

Lynn at Reflections in d minor posts a funny joke at the expense of one of the better-known minimalists of the latter 20th century. This would be my version of the joke:

While repetitive, I actually enjoy Philip Glass.
While repetitive, I actually enjoy Philip Glass.
While repetitive, I actually enjoy Philip Glass.
While repetitive, I actually enjoy Philip Glass.
While repetitive, I enjoy Philip Glass' music. And it evolves.
While repetitive, I enjoy Philip Glass' music. And it evolves.
While repetitive, I enjoy Philip Glass' music. And it evolves.
While repetitive, I enjoy Philip Glass' music. And it evolves.
It's tonal, while repetitive, and it evolves, so I enjoy Philip Glass' music.
It's tonal, while repetitive, and it evolves, so I enjoy Philip Glass' music.
It's tonal, while repetitive, and it evolves, so I enjoy Philip Glass' music.
It's tonal, while repetitive, and it evolves, so I enjoy Philip Glass' music.


I first encountered Glass in his soundtrack to the visually stimulating Koyaanisqatsi. Glass is a polarizing figure, as I later discovered while a music student at UT Austin. I went to see him in concert (on solo piano). Before the concert, the theory-comp majors all slammed him as a gimmicky composer with no real talent (as though their atonal screeches were superior, somehow). Then, at the concert, were the rich and snobby non-musician hangers-on who pretended to have their moments of greatness, some even air-kissing (I'm serious!) when they met him. Gag.

When I met him briefly, he was friendly, warm, and quite unassuming. So I won't judge him too harshly as a person. As a composer, he made tonal music popular again, even if in the context of minimalism. One CD that I play about every three months to clear my mind is Passages (with Ravi Shankar). Hypnotic, lovely melodies that repeat, develop, intertwine, and resolve themselves. Music at its simple -- minimalist -- best.

Posted by JohnL at 10:51 PM | Comments (6) |
February 11, 2005

RIP Jimmy Smith

Orin Kerr at the Volokh Conspiracy points out that great jazz organist Jimmy Smith passed away this week at the age of 79.

I've excerpted part of his New York Times obituary in the extended entry.

Jimmy Smith, who made the Hammond organ one of the most popular sounds in jazz beginning in the mid-1950's, died on Tuesday at his home in Phoenix. He was 76.

He died of unspecified natural causes, said his stepson and former manager, Michael Ward, who also said that his age of 76 was based on his birth certificate and not the birth date found in most reference books.

Before Jimmy Smith, the electric organ had been nearly a novelty in jazz; it was he who made it an important instrument in the genre and influenced nearly every subsequent notable organist in jazz and rock, including Jimmy McGriff, Jack McDuff, Larry Young, Shirley Scott, Al Kooper and Joey DeFrancesco.

By 1955 - which coincidentally was the year Hammond introduced its most popular model, the B-3 - he had an organ trio with a new sound that would thereafter become the model for groups in what became known as "organ rooms," the urban bars up and down the East Coast specializing in precisely the kind of blues-oriented, swinging, funky music that Mr. Smith epitomized. He continued touring and recording until just before his death.

Born in 1928, Mr. Smith grew up in a musical family in Norristown, Pa., near Philadelphia; by his early teens he was competently playing stride piano and performing as a dancer in a team with his father, a day-laboring plasterer who also played piano at night.

He left school in the eighth grade, never to return, and joined the Navy at the age of 15. When he finished his service in 1947, he played professionally and studied music for two years on the G.I. bill at the Ornstein School of Music.

In the early 1950's he worked around Philadelphia, playing rhythm and blues with Don Gardner's Sonotones. In 1952, or perhaps 1953, he met Wild Bill Davis, the organ player who pioneered the organ-trio format, at a club. Mr. Smith asked him how long it would take to learn the organ; Davis replied that it would take years to learn the pedals alone. (In Mr. Smith's retelling, the number of years varied between 4 and 15.) Playing piano at night and practicing organ during the day, Mr. Smith studied a chart of the instrument's 25 foot pedals and claimed that he played fluent walking-bass lines with his feet within three months.

By 1955 he was on his way to making his new organ trio sound pervasive.

Like many other great jazz musicians, Mr. Smith insisted that the key to finding his own sound was through studying musicians who did not play his instrument.

"While others think of the organ as a full orchestra," he wrote in a short piece for The Hammond Times in 1964, "I think of it as a horn. I've always been an admirer of Charlie Parker, and I try to sound like him. I wanted that single-line sound like a trumpet, a tenor or an alto saxophone."

He also made heavy use of the B-3's "percussion" sound, a circuit controlled by one of its drawbar switches that gives it a leaner tone, closer to that of a piano.

[In 1956], Mr. Smith was signed to the Blue Note label. . . some well-received gigs that year at the Cafe Bohemia in New York heightened the excitement about his new sound.

He made many popular records for Blue Note and Verve, among them "Groovin' at Small's Paradise," "The Cat" (with the arranger Lalo Schifrin), a few records with the guitarist Wes Montgomery and in 1965 his vocal version of "Got My Mojo Workin'," arranged by Oliver Nelson.

[H]is survivors include a son, Jimmy Jr., and a daughter, Jia, both of Philadelphia, as well as two sisters, Anita Johnson and Janet Smith, also of Philadelphia....

One musician Jimmy Smith clearly influenced was rock keyboardist Keith Emerson, whose earliest works were on a Hammond L-100 (the "mini B"). Emerson's works later inspired me to become a keyboardist as well.

Requiescat in pacem.

Posted by JohnL at 08:54 PM | Comments (1) |
February 04, 2005

Speaking of Music...

Norman Geras has posted the results of his "greatest songs of rock 'n roll" poll.

Yours truly submitted a list of ten, and Norm was gracious enough to post a link back to me with his results.

Go check out his list, topped by "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" by the Rolling Stones. I can't really argue that the top 10 belong there any more than mine did, although I have to say that my list attempted to identify "non-standard" standards.

Only 2 of mine even made his top "not-quite-100": #17 - A Day in the Life (Beatles) and #61, Nights in White Satin (Moody Blues).

Go check out the whole thing.

Posted by JohnL at 09:53 PM | Comments (0) |
February 03, 2005

A Musical Amusement

Rob tagged me with this music meme several days ago, but I'm just now getting around to answering it:

Random Ten

Let's see -- first, open iTunes. Next, hit "shuffle" in the "Library" playlist. Hit Play. Write down song info. Hit Next. Repeat. Etc. Voila:

1. What is the total amount of music files on your computer?

Somewhere between 4 and 5 GBs at last count.

2. The last CD you bought is:

Presto, by Rush, about two weeks ago.

3. What is the song you last listened to before this message?

Led Zeppelin's Immigrant Song (on the radio on the drive home from work)

4. Five songs you often listen to or that mean a lot to you.

Rob broke the rules here by listing five nice classical pieces. None of them were really "songs." As you can tell from the random list above, my tastes are incredibly varied, so I've chosen five that mean a lot to me, and not all are "pop" songs:

5. Who are you gonna pass this stick to (five persons and why)?

Nobody. I waited too long and many of the five I would forward this to have already done it. Please feel free to do it yourself, though, and trackback here.

Posted by JohnL at 09:43 PM | Comments (2) |
February 02, 2005

I'm A Paperback Believer Writer

BoingBoing points to this excellent mashup of the Beatles' Paperback Writer and Neil Diamond's I'm A Believer (as performed by the Monkees).

The video and audio are virtually seamless, an inspired combo of a couple of treacly 60s pop songs.

Posted by JohnL at 09:43 PM | Comments (0) |
January 19, 2005

Der Ring des Niebelungen

Via Crooked Timber, yet another reason (#957?) to love the Internet:

I'm not a huge fan of Wagner, but the Goethe Institute has prepared an interactive multimedia site covering his Ring of the Niebelungen. While aimed at youth, the site is quite rewarding (and presented in German or English).

I paged through some of the comic strip version in German and found it quite entertaining and interesting. This would definitely be a great resource for anyone seeking greater familiarity with the Ring, with the German language, or both.

Posted by JohnL at 11:51 PM | Comments (1) |
January 10, 2005

Music List

Chan and Don are doing it, so I might as well throw my hat in the ring, too, on the top-ten greatest rock/pop songs of all time. I toyed with the idea of listing my 10 subjective favorites and then offering an objective list, but soon realized the "objective" list would be nothing more than a lawyered-up subjective list with appeals to authority.

Without further ado, and in order of preference:

1. The Ocean, Led Zeppelin (Houses of the Holy). Most such lists include Stairway to Heaven, but this song completely blows just about every other Zeppelin song away. Killer riff rock with a nod to doo-wop at the end. How much better can rock get?

2. Tom Sawyer, Rush (Moving Pictures). A defining moment: the 70s are over. Welcome to the 80s. Searing synthesizer filter-sweep destined for future sampling. Great lines: "Though his mind is not for rent/To any god or government/Always hopeful yet discontent/He knows changes aren't permanent/But change is."

3. Purple Haze, Jimi Hendrix (Are You Experienced?). Like "The Ocean," the opening riff of this song is simply legendary.

4. A Day in the Life, The Beatles (Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band). Incredible orchestration for a pop song. The E-chord on the three grand pianos at the end is but the cherry on this mega-ice-cream sundae.

5. South Side of the Sky, Yes (Fragile). This song doesn't merely kick in after the soft, melodic interlude -- it kicks ass.

6. Tarkus, Emerson, Lake, and Palmer (Tarkus). The apotheosis of prog rock. The best version of this is the live one on Welcome Back My Friends to the Show That Never Ends, Ladies and Gentlemen... A 20-minute-long SF-flavored epic with killer keyboards and drums.

7. Nights in White Satin, The Moody Blues (Days of Future Passed). Was ever a better make-out song written?

8. Back in Black, AC/DC (Back in Black). No comment necessary. Really.

9. Baker Street, Gerry Rafferty (City to City). Everyone knows the sax riff, and I bet most everyone plays "air guitar" during the sweet guitar solo.

10. Plush, Stone Temple Pilots (Core). One test of a great rock song is how good it sounds "unplugged." This song passes that test, and nicely represents the sound of the early 90s.

Update: This meme originated (this time around, at least) with Norman Geras, whom both Chan and Don cited. Submit your choices to Norman by January 16.

Posted by JohnL at 10:35 PM | Comments (2) |
January 06, 2005

A Little Bit Country, A Little Bit Ray and Roast

I'm no fan of country music. And that is a significant understatement.

Yesterday's Achewood rang (twanged?) true with me.

Posted by JohnL at 10:15 PM | Comments (0) |
November 15, 2004

A Musical Offering

About 15 years ago, when I was still a music student and not yet a corporate lawyer, I performed a full-faculty recital on the big Piet Visser organ at UT-Austin. The works I performed were Cesar Franck's Piece Heroique, Jean Langlais' Epilogue (Pedal Solo) from Hommage a Frescobaldi, and Dietrich Buxtehude's Praeludium et Fuga in g moll (BuxWV 149).

The Buxtehude piece was my favorite, perhaps because it was the most difficult to learn (and therefore the most rewarding to play). My professor had done a great deal of research on baroque ornamentation and performance practice, and we ended up playing the piece much more highly ornamented and quickly than most mainstream performers.

Although to my eternal regret I have no recordings of my live organ performances in my prime, I did create a contemporaneous "Switched on Buxtehude" version of the piece on my synthesizers which I transferred to mp3 a couple of years ago (to protect against damage or loss to the old audio cassette).

Download my recording here, and please let me know what you think. (The music is public domain, but the performance and recording are mine; please give me performance and arrangement credit if you reproduce it. Thanks!)

P.S. (Here are a couple of decent "traditional" - limited ornamentation - virtual performances using samples from real organs for contrast's sake).

Posted by JohnL at 08:55 PM | Comments (6) |
October 18, 2004

P.E.A.R.T. Drums

This is just too cool. Figures that Jeff at Gravity Lens would beat me to it.

As any good Rush fan will be happy to tell you (at great length if you allow them), Neil Peart is a drum god. It's therefore fitting that these students would name their drum-playing robot after Peart (Pneumatic and Electronic Actuated RoboT).

The site has a definite DIY feel to it, with an outline of how the robot works, a nice collection of assembly pictures, and some videos of the robot in action.


Posted by JohnL at 09:47 PM | Comments (0) |
October 15, 2004

Another 80s Playlist

Random Penseur in comments to this post mentioned some more stereotypically "80s" groups than the rock groups I listed.

I couldn't find my 80s "pop" mix in the car, but poking around in iTunes, I put together as much of the mix as possible from memory:

1. Miami Vice Theme - Jan Hammer
2. Call Me - Blondie
3. Video Killed the Radio Star - The Buggles
4. The One Thing - INXS
5. Fascination - Human League
6. Obsession - Animotion
7. Cars - Gary Numan
8. Doctor Doctor - Thompson Twins
9. Metro - Berlin
10. On the Loose - Saga
11. Red Skies at Night - The Fixx
12. I Ran - A Flock of Seagulls
13. Beverly Hills Cop Theme - Harold Faltermeyer
14. Safety Dance - Men Without Hats
15. Airlane - Gary Numan
16. Whip It - Devo
17. She Blinded Me With Science - Thomas Dolby
18. Don't Change - INXS
19. Astradyne - Ultravox

I just burned it and now have a replacement disc!

Most people have probably heard of many of these but probably not all. Airlane and Astradyne in particular are two obscure but great synthesizer-based instrumentals that perfectly capture the peak of the analog synth sound before "digital" became the next big thing.

Update: I should note again that Ace set this meme in motion with his pop quiz the other day.

Posted by JohnL at 11:41 PM | Comments (5) |
October 14, 2004

80s Pop Culture Sample

Ace put up a pop-culture quiz yesterday (I'm not telling my score, except to say that even though the questions <whiny teen voice>weren't fair</whiny teen voice>, I did much better than Robert).

This isn't a quiz, but more of a music sampler. I put together a road-trip CD earlier this year when I took my sons to the USS Lexington. It's simply entitled "80s Rock." Kind of a dream mix of the rock songs of my youth to make a 9-hour drive go more quickly (and many of these weren't necessarily my favorites back then). This isn't 80s pop, a separate CD of which I burned, but rock.

What would be your "road trip" mix of 80s rock? Let me know.

Open the extended entry to view the song list.

1. Tom Sawyer - Rush
2. Jukebox Hero - Foreigner
3. For Those About to Rock (We Salute You) - ACDC
4. The Cradle Will Rock - Van Halen
5. Games People Play - Alan Parsons Project
6. Sultans of Swing - Dire Straits
7. Baker Street - Gerry Rafferty
8. Ah Leah! - Donnie Iris
9. Children of the Sun - Billy Thorpe
10. You've Got Another Thing Comin' - Judas Priest
11. Eyes Without a Face - Billy Idol
12. Life is Just a Fantasy - Aldo Nova
13. Synchronicity 2 - Police
14. Magic Power - Triumph
15. Take Me Home - Phil Collins (remix with Peter Gabriel and Sting)

Posted by JohnL at 08:29 AM | Comments (13) |
October 06, 2004

Musical Imprinting

Via Mixolydian Mode, I found this essay at Outer Life relating the imposition of a parent's musical tastes upon the child. I had a very similar experience with imprinting, at least to the extent that my parents also fed me a steady diet of Neil Diamond, John Denver, and the Kingston Trio (and Chad Mitchell, Herb Alpert, the Smothers Brothers, and others) when I was a child. Says Outer Life:

"I inherited a musical legacy from my parents that I've spent most of my life trying, without success, to forget. . . .

"Along the way, my father threw in heaping helpings of Jesus Christ Superstar every year during the Lent/Easter season. That rock opera imprinted itself in my brain to such an extent that today, thirty years later, I can still sing every word of every song. Many's the time I wondered why -- why! -- we couldn't have played more wholesome fare like Bach's Mass in B Minor or Handel's Messiah, works I never heard until well into my adulthood. . . ."

Unlike Mr. Outer Life, I still honestly enjoy the music of my parents (especially Neil Diamond) as reminders of a happy childhood that included very cool road trips to Colorado and Canada. I guess I differ from him in that my parents also loved classical music, so I got the "wholesome fare" in addition to the lighter fare. (And believe me, I got lots of unwholesome fare, as my parents' broad tastes extended to - <retch> - country and western music).

As I've written before, throughout much of college I studied classical music (I was a performance major in Organ), so I think I have the "street cred" to be a music snob. But I've found life's a lot more fun if I drop the snobbery (except as to country music -- blecch).

To Mr. Outer Life, who felt embarrassed to admit that the first album he bought was Kiss Alive, I'm proud to admit mine was Moving Pictures by Rush. To be fair, though, I was pretty sheltered growing up and didn't have to buy my "first" album, which was Spirits Having Flown by the BeeGees. (Hey, nothing's wrong with learning to be an intelligent consumer of pop culture. And part of learning is making mistakes!)

But even with a "mistake" like the BeeGees or Kiss, the music can still have meaning. And one of my standards for "good" music is whether it is meaningful. Of course that's a very subjective standard. Can you develop an objective standard for whether music is "good?" You can argue objectively whether music is complex in composition (based on harmonic rhythm, counterpoint, orchestration, etc.) or difficult to perform (any Trio Sonata for Organ by Bach). Do those factors make music good? Or just difficult?

Certainly, complex music can be a sublime experience when properly performed. Yet a simple folk melody can evoke tears, too.

And I think those emotional responses are driven largely by the circumstances of the musical experience. One piece of music can become so intimately entwined with all of the other senses involved in an experience that its quality - or lack thereof - is distorted by those subjective factors.

Let's stay with the BeeGees as an example. You hear a clip of the BeeGees' "Too Much Heaven." What comes to your mind?

For me, it is a vivid memory of my friend Craig's garage in fifth grade. A dance party, with about three girls and three or four guys, lightly chaperoned by Craig's parents. The music was mostly disco (I only remember the theme from SWAT and the BeeGees). Craig had a disco ball and the garage was lit with red lights. That night, I experienced my first open-mouth kiss with a girl. The soundtrack to that kiss? "Too Much Heaven." Was it great music? I don't think it compares to anything by Bach. But it helped crystallize one memory that I'm sure will stick with me well into my senility someday. Your mileage may vary on this particular song, but I bet you can think of a similar one.

Examples? Comments? Please share.

Posted by JohnL at 09:41 PM | Comments (0) |
September 21, 2004

120 Years of Electronic Music

Here's an interesting page dedicated to more than a century of electronic musical instruments.

The main page (to which I linked) branches off to numerous articles and pictures of each of the listed electronic instruments. I could easily spend a couple of hours perusing this site. And I will.


Posted by JohnL at 11:26 PM | Comments (0) |
September 09, 2004

Don Leslie, RIP

Donald J. Leslie, the man who invented the organ amplifier that bears his name, passed away last week at the age of 93.

If you like classic rock, gospel, or jazz, some of your favorite songs were most likely enhanced by a Leslie amplifier, which gave the Hammond organ its most recognized voice.

Leslie's invention was ingenious.


His amps typically contain a crossover that splits the audio signal, directing bass frequencies to a 15" speaker aimed down and the treble frequencies to a small driver facing up. Positioned below the bass speaker is a rotating drum (originally made out of plywood) and above the treble driver is a counterweighted horn. The drum and horn deflect the audio signal out through the louvres in the cabinet.


When set at slow speed (Chorale), the lower drum would rotate slowly and the horn not at all. But when switched to high speed (Tremolo), the top horn would rotate at up to 400 RPM. This produced the distinctive doppler-shifting vibrato that many associate with the classic Hammond sound.

I didn't know that Don Leslie was still alive as of last week, as he was not a major public figure. But as the proud owner of a Leslie 147 amp, I am thankful for his invention. You can read some of his obituaries here, here, and here. (Use Bugmenot for the registration-required sites).

Posted by JohnL at 10:04 PM | Comments (2) |
August 20, 2004

Worst Rock Song Lyrics

The Crack Young Staff at Hatemongers' Quarterly have posted a challenge to their readers to submit the worst rock song lyrics of all time.

I have submitted the lyrics to Touch and Go by Emerson, Lake and Powell and Neil Diamond's I Am I Said.

Funny thing is, I like both of those songs.

For me lyrics are usually incidental: just a means of carrying a melody and maybe some harmony. Rarely do bad lyrics mess up good music for me, but I cannot abide good lyrics accompanied by bad (or boring) music (cases in point: Country and Rap).

The one group whose lyrics I really tune into is Rush, because they are reliably intelligent and often libertarian. Ironically, since one of the biggest turn-offs to non-Rush fans is the singer's (Geddy Lee's) voice.

Ah, well, I can't wait to see the results of the lyric contest.

Posted by JohnL at 11:31 PM | Comments (1) |
August 11, 2004

Heavenly Stairway

I'm not ashamed to admit that, despite early exposure to classical music by my parents, I didn't really get into it until I got heavily into progressive rock music, particularly Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. Many of my first classical recordings were the originals covered by ELP (Ginastera, Copland, Janacek, Bartok, Bach, and Holst, to name a few).

So it's really fun to see the tribute flowing in the opposite direction thanks to this Australian Physics Professor, who has arranged, recorded, and posted mp3 samples of Led Zeppelin's classic Stairway to Heaven as it would have been authored by Schubert, Holst, Glenn Miller, Mahler, Bizet, Beethoven, and then a grand finale mish-mash of the styles.

A loud and obnoxious "bravo" to BoingBoing for unearthing this gem.

Posted by JohnL at 11:15 PM | Comments (1) |
July 22, 2004

80s Music

I came of age in the 1980s, graduating from high school in 1986. At the time, I didn't much like the "popular" (teenybopper) music, preferring 70s progressive rock (ELP, Yes, Pink Floyd), Rush, some metal, and other "serious" music. (That included some intelligent punk/new wave). Now, I can appreciate most 80s music from a nostalgic perspective, even the top-40 songs.

Rae at A Likely Story has compiled a long if not all-inclusive list of songs that exemplify the 80s sound. I added a couple of suggestions in comments to her list, and she's promising to extend the list soon. Check it out.

Posted by JohnL at 10:10 PM | Comments (2) |
June 24, 2004

Animated Music

Via Geekpress, a very cool, Rube Goldberg-esque animated music video. Who would have anticipated that this calculating device would be applied in such creative and fun ways.

Posted by JohnL at 09:12 PM | Comments (0) |

Rush at 30

Well, last night I took my two boys (9 and 7) to see Rush in downtown Dallas. I was happy to see that most of the rest of the crowd was about my age, similarly dressed, and that many also had their kids out. Lots of generational torch-passing going on. The Dallas Morning News reviewer noted this too, in a back-handed way:

When you do something as long as Rush has and have a following as rabid, then you deliver the expected. It transcends mere concert; it is a ritual to be shared with like-minded comrades – in this case, approximately 11,000 other white guys, average age 38. You haven't seen rock devotion until you've scanned an arena filled with beefy dudes in polo shirts, their elbows darting in the air like symphony conductors, each executing his own personal session of frenzied air drumming.

Despite the family-friendly environs (for a rock concert, that is), Rush still put on a posterior-kicking show, working their way through the more than 30 years of music in their catalogue (setlist in the extended entry below). Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart were in top form, playing an almost note-perfect show that included some nice surprises (such as a reggae ending to their pre-Peart classic, "Working Man," and a guitar solo at the end of "One Little Victory," absent from the studio version).

The visuals, while somewhat understated compared to other pop and rock acts, were effective, including lasers, smoke, pyrotechnics, and videos. Despite the gravity of many of their lyrics and their dedication to musicianship, Lee, Lifeson, and Peart always show a strong sense of humor and refuse to take themselves as seriously as their fans do. This was reflected in the humorous videos that opened and closed the show, featuring Jerry Stiller at his cranky, funny best. The Intermission video also starred bobble-head dolls in the likeness of the 70s-era Rush fighting a 3D animated dragon. My sons loved it.

There was even a nice little moment of synchronicity when Rush began to play Earthshine. When I looked up, the sky had darkened just enough that the dark side of the crescent moon was illuminated by some real earthshine. And I noticed the Jupiter - Moon conjunction, too.

June 23, 2004 Setlist for Rush, Dallas, Texas:

Posted by JohnL at 07:51 PM | Comments (1) |
June 10, 2004

Ray Charles, RIP

More sad news this week, as another American legend passes away.

One thing's for sure, the Heavenly Host are singing with more rhythm and soul tonight.

Posted by JohnL at 10:19 PM | Comments (0) |
June 09, 2004

More Trek Tunes

A few months back, I linked to a trio of Lileks' Trek tunes (Lileks keeps these and other original tunes here).

Recent commenter Stiiv points me to his own collection of ALL ORIGINAL Trek music.

I like Legal Lizard and Acts of War.

Posted by JohnL at 08:30 PM | Comments (1) |
May 24, 2004

Musical ABCs

LeeAnn at the cheese stands alone posted a challenge the other day: "for each letter of the alphabet, list a band you truly like," in her words. Here goes:

Booker T and the MGs; Bowie, David
Cream; Cure, The
Deep Purple; Doors, The; Dream Theater
Emerson, Lake, and Palmer
Folds, Ben; Foo Fighters
Genesis; Gabriel, Peter
Hendrix, Jimi
INXS; Iris, Donnie
Jackson, Joe
Kinks, The
Led Zeppelin
Numan, Gary
Orbison, Roy
Pink Floyd
Styx; Seal; Santana; Steppenwolf; Supertramp
Triumph; Traffic
Van Halen; Vangelis
Who, The; Winwood, Steve
X, Planet (OK, that's kind of cheating)
ZZ Top

Feel free to leave your list in comments, or post it and trackback to here or LeeAnn.

Posted by JohnL at 08:53 PM | Comments (1) |
May 20, 2004


I've enjoyed taking my new dog on nightly walks. The neighborhood is even prettier and more peaceful than usual. A chorus of thousands of toads is raising its voice from the creek. Birds are settling down for the night. Venus and a few stars peek through the veil of dusk.

The moon was one of my regular walking companions for the first couple of weeks that we had Jake. But it disappeared a couple of weeks ago, coming out later and later. Tonight, it reappeared, low in the West -- a waxing crescent. Reflected Earthlight illuminated the night-side of the moon.

One of my favorite sights, and one that is evocatively captured in the lyrics of the Rush song Earthshine.

(Lyrics in extended entry).


On certain nights
When the angles are right
And the moon is a slender crescent,

Its circle shows
In a ghostly glow
Of earthly luminescence.

Earthshine --
A beacon in the night
I can raise my eyes to

Earthshine --
A jewel out of reach
Form a dream to rise to

Floating high
In the evening sky
I see my faint reflection.

Pale facsimile
Like what others see
When they look in my direction.

Earthshine --
Stretching out your hand
Full of starlit diamonds

Reflected light
To another's sight
And the moon tells a lover's story.

My borrowed face
And my third-hand grace
Only reflect your glory.

You're still out of reach
Form a dream to rise to
Earthshine .

Posted by JohnL at 09:52 PM | Comments (0) |
May 14, 2004

New Rush Album

This is interesting news.

Rush, which has never been known for covering other artists' material (although their very first single was a cover of Buddy Holly's Not Fade Away), is now releasing a new album to commemorate their 30 years together consisting of eight cover songs representing their earliest musical influences:

More in the extended entry. . .

If I were to do the same thing (come up with eight songs that greatly influenced my rock keyboard style), they would be:

Posted by JohnL at 11:45 PM | Comments (6) |
May 11, 2004

Rush on the Religion of Peace

I'll be sprinkling more and more Rush into my posts in the coming month-and-a-half until the big concert on June 23.

Given today's headlines, I decided to post the lyrics from their take on the "Religion of Peace," written post-9/11 (from the 2002 album, Vapor Trails):

Peaceable Kingdom

A wave toward the clearing sky

All this time we're talking and sharing our Rational View
A billion other voices are spreading other news
All this time we're living and trying to understand
Why a billion other choices are making their demands

Talk of a Peaceable Kingdom
Talk of a time without fear
The ones we wish would listen
Are never going to hear

Justice against The Hanged Man
Knight of Wands against the hour
Swords against the kingdom
Time against The Tower

All this time we're shuffling and laying out all our cards
While a billion other dealers are slipping past our guards
All this time we're hoping and praying we all might learn
While a billion other teachers are teaching them how to burn

Dream of a Peaceable Kingdom
Dream of a time without war
The ones we wish would hear us
Have heard it all before

A wave toward the clearing sky
A wave toward the clearing sky

The Hermit against The Lovers
Or the Devil against the Fool
Swords against the kingdom
The Wheel against the rules

All this time we're burning like bonfires in the dark
A billion other blazes are shooting off their sparks
Every spark a drifting ember of desire
To fall upon the earth and spark another fire

A homeward angel on the fly
A wave toward the clearing sky

Posted by JohnL at 08:25 PM | Comments (0) |
May 10, 2004

Rush Returns

I was happy to see Rush back in the news today, with a generally positive preview of their upcoming 30th-anniversary world tour and an interesting interview of all three band members.

This is a nice contrast to the recent negative headlines surrounding the extraordinarily-out-of-character behavior of guitarist Alex Zivojinovich (Lifeson) on New Year's Eve. (Over 30 years, none of these guys has ever had any kind of run-ins with the law).

Lifeson's court date is set for May 17, just a week or so before their world tour starts on May 26. This makes me think that the defense either has iron-clad video evidence substantiating Lifeson's version of events, or they have a plea arrangement worked out in advance and are waiting to formalize it in court. This is rank speculation, of course, as I am neither a criminal defense attorney nor licensed to practice in Florida.

I sure hope they've got something worked out that doesn't involve deportation proceedings or jail time, since I've already got three tickets (for my two sons and me) for the June 23 appearance in Dallas. At ages 7 and 9, this will be the boys' first rock concert.

Rush exerted a huge influence on my intellectual and musical development, turning me on to Ayn Rand, libertarianism, synthesizers, and odd time signatures. If you've never seen or heard Rush, this DVD and its accompanying live CD are good places to start.

Posted by JohnL at 10:43 PM | Comments (0) |
May 01, 2004

Bob Moog Documentary

Here's a DVD I'll be looking forward to later this year.

Bob Moog's synthesizers defined the sound of much of the popular music of the 1970s and early 1980s: from progressive rock to heavy metal, pop to disco, country to new wave. My favorite groups, Rush, Yes, and ELP, all gave Moog instruments a leading role in their recordings and performances.

Then, "digital" synthesizers appeared and pushed the warm, user-friendly analog instruments to the sidelines for more than a decade.

But in the last few years, analog synthesizers in general (and Bob Moog's instruments in particular) have been making something of a comeback.

This is a real synthesizer.

And this is the anti-Moog.

Posted by JohnL at 12:58 AM | Comments (0) |
April 13, 2004

Musical Reflections

I haven't done nearly enough musical blogging recently. Thanks to my recent addition to Lynn's blogroll at Reflections in d minor, I have been inspired to share some of my musical background.

I play keyboards: piano, organ, and synthesizers. I also know a little bass guitar and can sing passably. I am trying to teach myself drums, but I don't practice consistently enough (I only have a practice pad) to be making much progress.

My parents brought me up in a house full of music. My mother and older sister both played piano as early as I can remember, and our stereo was on a fair amount (not quite as much as the TV, but enough to make a definite impression).

I started taking piano lessons in 1976 from a neighborhood teacher before I quit in frustration in 1979 or so because of my lack of progress. A few years later (late Summer of 1983, to be exact) I saw a video of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer's rendition of Fanfare for the Common Man from their Works tour. Seeing Keith Emerson playing the GX-1 synthesizer got me real interested in playing keyboards again, so I spent the next few years teaching myself how to play once more.

I acquired the classical works that Keith Emerson covered and tried to teach myself how to play them. I also memorized a couple of Bach's preludes from the Well-Tempered Clavier and most of Fuer Elise by Beethoven. Enough to play to impress my friends and have some fun.

In my senior year of High School, my parents bought me a Korg DW-8000 synthesizer for Christmas. I still have it, and it is a real gem -- very fun to program, especially for Emerson-style leads.

In the Autumn of 1986, as a freshman at the University of Texas at Austin, I read an article in the student newspaper about a performance of the silent movie The Phantom of the Opera over Hallowe'en weekend, to be accompanied by an improvised sound track on Piet Visser's gigantic tracker organ in UT's Bates Recital Hall. The article had a picture of the organ.

I said to myself, "I have to play that organ."

So I impetuously walked into the office of the music building and asked if I could play it! They laughed and directed me to the Professor of Organ, Frank Speller, whose teaching studio was conveniently located across the hall from the office. I hung around outside the studio for about half an hour until Dr. Speller concluded his lesson. I introduced myself and boldly asked if I could play the big organ. He laughed and asked if I had ever played organ before.

Not seriously, was my answer. And that was fudging things a bit!

Well, to make this long story shorter, I faked my way through the Bach WTC Prelude in c minor by memory on a piano, and Dr. Speller welcomed me into his studio.

Just two-and-a-half years later, I was performing Cesar Franck's Piece Heroique, Buxtehude's Praeludium in g, and L'Anglais' Epilogue from Hommage a Frescobaldi (Pedal Solo) on that very organ.

And how I got from there to where I am now is another, utterly boring story.

Posted by JohnL at 10:18 PM | Comments (2) |
March 30, 2004

Musician Jokes

Got this Canonical List of Musician Jokes from the Larry Niven listserv (subscribe here).

Posted by JohnL at 12:15 AM | Comments (0) |
March 29, 2004

Sunday Song Lyrics

If you're not a regular reader of the Volokh Conspiracy, you should be. Lots of smart commentary on matters of law, policy, and culture with a libertarian bent.

This year, Juan Non-Volokh has been posting a different song's lyrics each Sunday. His musical tastes seem to be as eclectic as mine. This week's selection is Prelude to a Kiss, by Duke Ellington. Go read the lyrics. If you can avoid having any sappy thoughts about someone you love or have loved as you read them, then you are hopeless.

Posted by JohnL at 10:14 PM | Comments (0) |
March 19, 2004

Washed Up Musicians Received Special Grammy Award

Details here.

(As you can see, the real headline is much funnier, but this is a family blog).

Looks like I just found a "news" site to go along with the Onion.

Posted by JohnL at 12:21 AM | Comments (0) |
February 27, 2004

Random Music

Following Vodkapundit's implementation of a suggestion by John Scalzi (who cribbed the idea from Neil Gaiman), here are the first ten tunes that pop up when I shuffle iTunes:
1. Neil Diamond - America
2. TV Theme: Star Trek TOS Main Title
3. Boston - Foreplay/Long Time
4. Movie Theme: James Bond Theme
5. Weird Al Yankovich - Yoda
6. ACDC - Hell's Bells
7. Moby - Bodyrock
8. Nine Inch Nails - Eraser
9. Genesis - Cinema Show
10. Roy Orbison - Pretty Woman

Not too embarassing, but not completely representative, either. I do have to admit that I have not ripped many of my CDs to my hard drive; most of these are just songs that I don't have elsewhere on CD, but want to include in homemade compilations. Here are the next 10, out of curiosity:

1. Snap - Dark Side of the Moog
2. Gary Numan - Are Friends Electric
3. Fear Factory w/ Gary Numan - "Cars" Remix
4. TV Theme: Logan's Run
5. Ultravox - Reap The Wild Wind
6. Human League - Keep Feelin' Fascination
7. Peter Gabriel/Thomas Dolby - Little Light of Love
8. Moby - James Bond Theme
9. Kiss - Star Spangled Banner (Hendrix cover)
10. David Bowie - See Emily Play (Pink Floyd cover)

For comparison's sake, here are the musical selections played by the Mars Rover teams (I like Opportunity's music better, but both sets are pretty decent).

Posted by JohnL at 09:33 PM | Comments (0) |
February 25, 2004

Moog Heaven

The Moon Base Clavius site logo (see post immediately below) reminded me of the cover of this classic record.

Groove to the following hits, as realized on a [then] ultra-modern Moog modular synthesizer:
"Na Na Hey Hey," "Nights in White Satin," "Sugar Sugar," "Raindrops
Keep Falling on My Head," and many more songs closely contemporaneous
with my 1968 birth year.

I actually bought a copy of this record off eBay about 2 years ago. I'm thinking about arranging some modern pop tunes using this very slick software emulation of a Moog system (free download).

Posted by JohnL at 09:37 PM | Comments (0) |
February 18, 2004

Music With Religious Themes

Interesting compilation of music containing biblical or religious references, from Billy Joel to Iron Maiden, the Indigo Girls to Simon and Garfunkel (and many many more). (Hat tip: Instapundit).

While you're there, be sure to check out the rest of Father Tucker's site. He has some interesting posts on the music and liturgy of post-Islamic Christians in Spain, brain fingerprinting, Mel Gibson's Passion, and the Jesuits, among others.

Go check the whole thing out. Despite the irritating light-text-on-a-dark-background style, I'm adding it to my permanent links on the left.

Posted by JohnL at 10:33 PM | Comments (0) |
December 12, 2003

Up Your Shaft

Is the name of Lileks' latest Trek musical offering. (Mr. Scott is the MC).

Posted by JohnL at 11:21 PM | Comments (0) |
October 21, 2003

No Posting Tonight

I picked up the Rush in Rio DVD today and have watched the first half of disc one.

I will be watching the rest tonight, so no more posts. (Thanks to some alphabetical serendipity, I picked this DVD up today, too!)

I see that Alan K. Henderson is in the spirit of the day.

Posted by JohnL at 10:44 PM | Comments (0) |
October 20, 2003

Science Fiction Soundscapes

Since music and science fiction are among my strongest passions, I would be remiss if I did not point out this site. (Link via Hobbyspace).

You will find there recordings of soundtracks inspired by science fiction. I am currently listening to the nine billion names of god, based on the story by Arthur C. Clarke.

Give it a listen.

Posted by JohnL at 11:17 PM | Comments (0) |
October 16, 2003

Rush, Not Rush

I always suffer a moment of cognitive dissonance when I hear people talking about Rush on the radio.

You see, when I grew up, Rush was almost never on the radio, (except for that summer of 1981 when they played Limelight and Tom Sawyer from this album all the time).

But now you hear about Rush on the radio all the time.

Rush is all over the news. But alas, the real news about Rush is not being widely broadcast.

My advice to Rush? Listen to Rush. Maybe Passage to Bangkok.

Oh, and Rush? Can't do the time? Don't do the crime.

Posted by JohnL at 11:15 PM | Comments (0) |
October 07, 2003

Functional Form

Virginia Postrel had a couple of interesting posts recently about the visual aesthetics of musical instruments.

I play pipe organ (solo) as well as Hammond Organ and electronic keyboards (in a band), so I have some direct experience with these matters. While I am an amateur organist, I did study four years with a great professor (Frank Speller) on one of the best and most beautiful instruments in North America at UT-Austin.

Pipe organs are each truly unique, and exist at an interesting intersection of music, architecture, interior design, history, and geography. There is no "standard" organ in the sense that there is a standard grand piano (88 keys) or acoustic guitar (6 strings). There has been a long-running debate going on in the pipe organ community about the aesthetics of a major new organ being built by Glatter-Goetz/Rosales going into the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney concert hall in Los Angeles. Gehry himself has described the organ facade he helped design as a "box of french fries."

In the context of the building, the organ design seems perfectly suited to its environment. But many organists have their drawers in a bunch because of the perceived lack
of "dignity." They have already passed judgment on it as an atrocity. Mind you, no one has yet even heard a note played on the instrument, which is likely to be on a par with other great modern concert hall organs (at the Meyerson, the Benaroya, etc.)

I just hope the sound of the organ is as bold as its visual design.

Posted by JohnL at 11:21 PM | Comments (0) |
October 03, 2003


Today would have been the 49th birthday of Stevie Ray Vaughan.

I'm not a huge fan of his, but I admire his mastery of the blues.

Plus he was a Texan, which redeems all kinds of sins.

For more on the blues, check out PBS tonight, for the Red White and Blue installment of The Blues.

Posted by JohnL at 05:52 PM | Comments (0) |
October 02, 2003

Take Off, Eh

Tired of Rush? Me too.

That's why I prefer the original Rush. Look for their new DVD in less than three weeks (October 21, to be exact).

Posted by JohnL at 10:08 PM | Comments (0) |