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Until high school, almost all of the music that I owned and listened to on the radio, and most of the music that I listened to at other times, was instrumental (mostly classical and chamber music). (At that point, my sisters decided that I'd been deprived and started introducing me to classic rock, which stuck pretty well.)

Anyway, I don't know if this is cause or effect, but I tend not to really be aware of most of the lyrics of most popular music that I listen to. It's not that I was never curious, but if I'm not specifically trying to pick out the lyrics (and often even if I am), it's not what I hear. (I also learn music much faster than I learn lyrics when I'm studying it to perform.)

Slow accretion of lyrical knowledge, plus the more recent introduction of a smartphone that can both identify songs and look up lyrics, have changed this somewhat. As a result, I've become more aware that while there's a lot of music out there that I like, much of it has lyrics that are either banal or distasteful. (E.g., I like most of Elton John's music quite a lot but hardly any of Bernie Taupin's lyrics.)

How do you listen to music? What do you pay attention to? How do you decide whether you like a given piece of music?
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Pretty good choice of integrating existing tracks from the original recording and using original material.

The 1080p version looks pretty good full-screen, too, which is a nice change for YouTube videos.

My one regret is spoileriffic. )
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Star Wars Uncut: what happens when someone gets the looney tunes idea to recreate the original movie, shot-for-shot...crowdsourced.

Japanese cafe service as performance art:

Ornithology as performance art...in reverse:

And to finish up, a music video involving Carl Sagan and autotuning...which is much cooler than it sounds:
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Haven't read the whole thing yet, but it looks interesting and includes some findings that I wouldn't have expected.
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in a cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama":


There are other, longer versions of this on YouTube (including
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0UuFJoexdlU, which involves someone rocking a
Wagner tuba) but in this one you can actually hear the choir and get
closeups of them.

This would be pretty surreal even without the band's hairdos (if that
is the word) and glasses.

*quietly boggles*
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with choir-generated rain sound effects:


The 'special effects' at the beginning were very well done, and I salute them for making the fact that choral risers are often noisy into a feature. :) I found the actual singing part somewhat lackluster, though; they could have done a lot more with it (e.g., increased the dynamic range, maybe kicked up the tempo just slightly and/or added some rubato in spots).
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snagged from [livejournal.com profile] maradydd:

Put your music player on shuffle, and write down the first line of the first twenty songs. Post the poem that results. The first line of the twenty-first song is the title.


  • I've got a lot of instrumental music, and it seemed a shame to leave it out entirely. So I've left it in where it occurred, but didn't count them as part of the 21 songs.
  • I took some liberties with arrangement into stanzas.
  • I left out the 2 tracks of French language lessons.

Personally, I think that Meredith's worked much better as poetry, but the title of mine kicks ass in this context. I'm just sayin'.

"Tell Me, Who's That Writing?"

Only a woman's heart
Send your love
Fear no more the heat o' the sun
Did you see the frightened ones?
Here am I

[instrumental: sub-Saharan]

I saw you dancing out the ocean
I don't want to spend the rest of my life
Oh, Mary, don't you weep
[percussion solo]
[piano solo]
Today...find my way

[Celtic instrumental]
[orchestral instrumental]

There's a calm surrender to the rush of day
[orchestral instrumental]
You come out at night
Domineo veniteo sacramentum

I am just an aging drummer boy
When John Henry was a little baby

[brass ensemble plays "Summertime" from Porgy and Bess]
Hey girl
Send your love
Climbing under
I see me with you and all the things you do

[brass ensemble instrumental]

This is the day
[percussion solo]
Seven weeks have passed now since she left me

I think this constitutes adequate background information for the reason that I typically create playlists. (Often playlists consisting of several hundred songs, but playlists nonetheless.)
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("'Yakety Sax!'--don't talk back.")

They've got a point.

The comments have lots of other good stuff (including mine at #54 mentioning one of my personal favorites).
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I found this a couple of years ago and then lost it again; I just ran across it again. It makes me happy, so I'm posting it here so that I can find it again.


Click on the white rectangle a few times. Some of the musical accompaniment works better than others...but there aren't any particularly bad ones. Enjoy.
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I'm reserving my opinion until I get a chance to take a more detailed look...but it's an interesting idea, anyway.
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So I had my conducting debut this past weekend (see http://jrtom.livejournal.com/225901.html for details if you have no idea what I'm talking about). It went very well: all sorts of people (in and out of the choir) came up and told me that they thought I'd done an excellent job, I enjoyed it, and I'm told that one could hardly see the marionette strings coming from the cathedral ceiling. :)

There were a couple of things that I would have done differently if I'd had more rehearsal time; I would have liked to add a third repetition (to the Ukrainian and English lyric reps) with 'scat' syllables simulating bell tones, and it would have been nice if they'd actually put my name in the program (although they did announce me in the concert).

The biggest bummer, though, is that Megan wasn't able to make it: this past weekend she caught whatever sickness that the kids had had the previous week, and she was exhausted both from that and from riding herd on the kids by herself this weekend. I feel pretty bad that I was gone at a time that she really needed help. :(

However, my brother- and father-in-law both taped the second performance (in addition to the more professional taping from a different angle), so at least we'll have that...and I think there's a good chance that neither of them would have attended if they hadn't felt bad about the fact that Megan couldn't attend.

For the occasion, I wore my tuxedo (tails, white tie, vest, the works); this caused at least one person to remark that I definitely looked the part of a conductor. I replied that while I figured that they wouldn't necessarily bar me from the conductor's podium if I showed up in grimy jeans and sweatshirt clutching an AK-47 (well, maybe the assault rifle would present a problem) that I thought it was probably better to look like a conductor than a resistor, regardless. :)
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Several years ago, when I was living in Portland, I sang in the
Portland Symphonic Choir for a few years. It's an amateur* choir of
about 130 voices which does concerts with the Oregon Symphony, its own
concert series, and tours every couple of years. It's a good choir
and generally does an interesting mix of 'classical' and newer

During that time, they auctioned off an opportunity to conduct the
choir. I lost the auction, but at least I had the satisfaction that
I'd driven the price way up. :)

Earlier this year, shortly before the twins were born, they auctioned
this opportunity off again. This time, my friend Kathy (who was in
the PSC then, and has been ever since, almost) won the auction...and
subsequently ceded the opportunity to me.

The upshot is that I'll be conducting "Carol of the Bells" (aka
"Ukrainian Bell Carol", or, in the original Ukrainian, "Shchedrik")
this coming Saturday (7:30 PM) and Sunday (2:30 PM) in Portland.

It's not a terribly demanding piece, either to sing or to conduct.
But absent a radical shift in my career goals, this may be the only
chance that I get to conduct a semi-pro large choir...and I think that
it could be fun.

OK, fine, I'm not fooling anyone. It'll be a blast. :) :) :)

Most of you are not in any position to attend the concert, and many of
the remainder may not be that interested in choral music. But the
rest of you are encouraged to attend, and watch me get 6 of my 15
minutes of fame. :) Details (including ticketing info) are here:

Anyway, I hope to see at least a few of you there--and please feel free to forward
this around to others who would be interested (and aren't on LJ).

*'Amateur' in the sense that the choir members don't get paid to
participate. A number of them are or have been professional or
semi-pro musicians and/or music educators, though.
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Vegetable Orchestra (courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] gwyd): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpfYt7vRHuY

Sweeney Todd clips:

(My initial reaction to the ST remake: eh. Neither Helena Bonham Carter nor Johnny Depp are really making it work with the vocals. The acting might carry it, though.)
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Hmm. I'll be interested to see how that works for them. (Ditto for that company that prices tracks according to how many copies they've sold...although the fact that I can't remember their name is not a good sign.)
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The money quote:

I’m here to tell you today that I for one am no longer going to fall into this trap. If the licensing labels offer their content to Yahoo! put more barriers in front of the users, I’m not interested. Do what you feel you need to do for your business, I’ll be polite, say thank you, and decline to sign. I won’t let Yahoo! invest any more money in consumer inconvenience. I will tell Yahoo! to give the money they were going to give me to build awesome media applications to Yahoo! Mail or Answers or some other deserving endeavor. I personally don’t have any more time to give and can’t bear to see any more money spent on pathetic attempts for control instead of building consumer value. Life’s too short. I want to delight consumers, not bum them out.

Now let's see if Yahoo! backs him up...
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Total Eclipse of the Heart: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zzfN3fCHAdM

Quite well done, really. Pretty good connection with the themes of the show on one hand, and with the song lyrics on the other.

Brokeback Babylon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gyvuf29gUnY

To paraphrase what one of the commenters said, despite the fact that this is quite impressive, it's hard to know how much credit to give the creator given that JMS practically handed this out for free. (Not that I believe that there was actually such a relationship; the character of this relationship in Bab5 was complex and deep and painful and rewarding but almost certainly nonsexual for a variety of reasons...not that that's stopped the Bab5 slash, I'm sure.)
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Not new in essential concept, although the idea of doing nearest-neighbor searches on the hums themselves is interesting. I'll have to check this out.
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(I thought it was kinder than spamming my friendslist with 10 or 15 posts in a row. Going to make the tags interesting, though...)

The Redistricting Game: http://www.redistrictinggame.com/

Haven't played it yet, but the concept--teaching about redistricting and gerrymandering by making a game out of it--is very interesting.

Kinetic Sculpture: http://www.glumbert.com/media/kineticsculpture [video]

Very cool. Actually, "kinetic" doesn't really convey it: think "auto-mobile".

Singing Tesla Coil: http://www.hauntedfrog.com/gt/movies/2007/duckon/SingingTeslaShow.html

What else need I say?

US States "renamed" for countries with similar GDPs: http://strangemaps.wordpress.com/2007/06/10/131-us-states-renamed-for-countries-with-similar-gdps/

A very interesting and informative visualization: it actually tells me about as much about the US as it does about the respective countries. The table at the bottom may be useful to give some context.

Gay Bomb: The Porno Flick [safe for work]: http://blog.wired.com/defense/2007/06/gay-bomb-the--1.html

Gay Bomb will take us into the future and the year 2012. George the Second has refused to step down as leader of the "free world", and the nations of Europe have banded together to fight the new American military dictatorship. Desperate to fend off its attackers, the US launches the experimental "gay bomb", designed to make the enemy forces drop their guns and turn fag. But the winds of fate blow in a different direction, and soon America is brought to its knees.

This is the best part: it appears that this has been seriously proposed...

Recent news headlines revealed that Pentagon insiders admitted to having truly considered the "gay bomb" as an example of non-lethal chemical warfare in the Iraq War. The Air Force asked for a $7.5 million grant to develop the idea, which was proposed to the government's highest scientific authority.

("Some people you don't need to satirize--you just quote 'em.")


A dedicated SETI effort, i.e., one with its own facility.


A mechanical binary adder, with a video of it at work. Very nicely done.


The winner of Bruce Schneier's second annual Movie-Plot Threat Contest...which makes a plausible case for banning water from airplanes.


A very silly music video. Requires a bit of patience; wait until it's about a minute in before you give up on it, and about 2 minutes in it gets impressive.


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May 2011

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