Archive for May, 2009

MUSICBRAINZ PICARD

26 May 2009

Organising music for media players of various types can be difficult, especially when dealing with databases online.

I have always used the same, basic system for years.

I don’t really care much about underscrores, capitals, or anything too fussy. This means that there is a lot of leeway.

Each file (track) I name like this:

  • 1 – key- name of track – artist.mp3

In Mediamonkey I use the mood tags for the song key so I can group tracks by key signature, but I still need the key in the file name for my phone and mp3 players that don’t go on tags.

When I have not worked out the key, the track/ file will look like this:

  • 1 – name of track – artist.mp3.

As I said, I don’t care very much if the artist is David Bowie or Bowie or David Bowie.  Life’s too short; it is only a file name.  As long as the ID3 tags are consistent, everything is fine.

I know for sure that grouping artists by surname is rare, but I don’t care; it makes more sense to me to have surname/first name. If the artist is known by one name, I’ll use that.  For groups, I think it crazy that so many people would file “The Who” under “T” — along with all the other groups beginning with “The”.

My preference is to name albums/ folders like this:

  • artist surname, artist first name (album name, year, record label);
  • GROUP, The (album name, year, record label).

I downloaded MusicBrainz Picard tonight.  It’s opensource and free, and it is strongly recommended by the followers of the Lifehacker site who voted it into their review listing.

I am going to play around with this to see if I can tweak things to save me some bother, or maybe to help me organise things.  I seriously doubt that it will be of use with respect to keys, but it might tolerate surname/ first name and move “the”.  We shall see…!

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MELODY GARDOT

23 May 2009

Boris Johnson twittered that time is running out to vote for London as Jazz Capital of Europe by visiting this website: londonjazz.blogspot.com/ — then (in the top left side bar) simply click on the city and then click to submit the vote.

I just did this, and London is way out in front (probably thanks to the Mayor of London) with only a few days remaining, so it looks to be in the bag.

Serendipitously, I read a review of Melody Gardot.  Now I have been listening to her album for a couple of months, and it’s very nice. According to LondonJazz there’s a bit of a media fuss about her being commercial and fake:

“Gardot shifts product. Her albums are currently at No.2 and No.4 in both the Official UK Jazz charts and the Billboard US Jazz charts. These jazz charts are a comfort zone through-and-through: – the top five places are inhabited almost exclusively by Diana Krall, Madeleine Peyroux and Gardot.”

— this is fascinating!  In the first place, had no idea Melody was such a commercial success, but then that wouldn’t bother me. Next, I had no idea there could still be a fuss and hoohah about commercial success.

Back in the day, “selling out” was an accusation, but that was more about turning your back on your core fans, or about compromising musical genre or ideological stance.

This is quite different from commercial success; you could be a commercial success as, say, a heavy metal band, and sell-out by suddenly changing to appeal to a broader audience, or a different audience — by making a classical music, pop, country, or even a hip-hop record!

There even seems to be a suggestion that Melody is only successful because of her terrible accident — and that maybe she doesn’t really need that walking stick (it’s all trademarked, all fake, affectation, a gimmick etc).

Worrisome Heart (G min) and Love Me Like A River Does (C minor) are my current faves from her Worrisome Heart album (which I don’t love, but which I like a lot) without knowing anything other than the music.  Some people might dislike this music, others might really love it.  It’s not a million miles away from what-is-happening just now in the female Jazz vocal scene since Eva Cassidy, Norah Jones and Corrine Bailey-Rae. I just don’t believe that this market would give a damn about “her story”; this is not “American idol” or “The X-Factor”.  No tears need to be jerked from anything other than the music itself.

Sure, everyone knows what happened to Eva, and to Corrine’s husband, and also who Norah’s dad is — but can background alone account for their record sales?

What is it about making that kind of connection?  As far as I am concerned, music, architecture, sculpture, painting  (etc), are connected to the individual more than to the people responsible for it — the patron, commissioner, maker, designer, creator, artist, owner, client, sponsor, visionary, assistants, artisans (etc).

So I think the intention, the background story behind the product is of passing and mild interest, and definitely of secondary importance to the way the thing relates to me.

I can’t see myself hating something (such as a piece of music or a painting), and then loving it because I discovered that the artist was blind, young, old, disabled, poor or whatever.

Similarly, I cannot see myself no longer enjoying something just because the artist has become commercially successful!

Can everyone else be so different from me in that respect?  can Melody Gardot be selling recordings and gigs simply on the back story (fake or not)?

Hmmm. I wonder.
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POETRY RETURNS

7 May 2009

I have a real passion for poetry — and I always have.  Poetry is something that comforted me as a child, and that grew along with me into adulthood.  I have written and read screeds of poems throughout my life, and I even studied it at university level, which made me too much of a critic for too long.

The poems that earned me money, the great many that were actually published over the years, were not, in my opinion, my best work.  Very far from it. In fact, I developed a bit of a chip on my shoulder about what I had done, and I began a long period of trying to distance myself from “all that”! I used to spend hours on-line, quarrelling with people about their poetry, conjuring up my daemonic “Rhyme-Rage” on occasion!

But I have since changed my stance, I have softened, perhaps worn down by time. I have recently allowed myself to accept myself in this respect, and to accept what other people are doing; poetry ought to be maintained, encouraged and relished once more.

Those of you reading this may remember my original web site had a great deal of poetry, and since that site died, I have been trying to transfer everything over to this site (including the comments).  So far (according to my tag cloud), Poetry is my biggest category here — and that’s quite right, for what is dave devine without poetry?  Everyone who knows me, knows how important poetry and language is and has been to me.  Here’s a list of what I have available on site right now:

Sadly, that is all I have managed to do since starting this new site back in November 2008.  There is so much still to do, and I promise that I will do as much as my busy life will allow.  Please be patient, and keep checking back from time to time — remember RSS feeds probably won’t work, and neither will search engines like Google — because I am deliberately trying to date each one according to the old site’s structure.

Anyway, having explained all that, we can now turn to the subject of this post — POETRY IS BACK.

Poetry Season is an initiative to bring poetry to the forefront for a while, and the BBC (and celebs) are behind it.  The season climaxes on National Poetry Day in October, and (according to the BBC’s press release)  it all begins next Monday — 18 May 2009.  Please check out the website: bbc.co.uk/poetryseason.

On top of that, history was made recently — Ms.Carol Ann Duffy OBE has become the first female Poet Laureate in the post’s 341-year history.  She’s the latest in a line of poets which began with John Dryden and has included such famous poets as William Wordsworth, Alfred Lord Tennyson and John Betjeman. It used to be a job for life, but new rules mean that it has a ten-year tenure: Andrew Motion was Poet laureate from 1999 – 2009.

Not only is she the first female, but the 53-year old, was raised as a Roman Catholic in Glasgow.

This is an outstanding achievement in so many ways, a woman was unthinkable for so many years, let alone a Scot, but a Roman Catholic is a revolution (the last Roman Catholic was Dryden, and he was sacked as a result) — and it is simply because she is so good; she is a poetry superstar!

So to celebrate, here’s my favourite Duffy…

Mrs Lazarus

I had grieved. I had wept for a night and a day
over my loss, ripped the cloth I was married in
from my breasts, howled, shrieked, clawed
at the burial stones until my hands bled, retched
his name over and over again, dead, dead.

Gone home. Gutted the place. Slept in a single cot,
widow, one empty glove, white femur
in the dust, half. Stuffed dark suits
into black bags, shuffled in a dead man’s shoes,
noosed the double knot of a tie around my bare neck,

gaunt nun in the mirror, touching herself. I learnt
the Stations of Bereavement, the icon of my face
in each bleak frame; but all those months
he was going away from me, dwindling
to the shrunk size of a snapshot, going,

going. Till his name was no longer a certain spell
for his face. The last hair on his head
floated out from a book. His scent went from the house.
The will was read. See, he was vanishing
to the small zero held by the gold of my ring.

Then he was gone. Then he was legend, language;
my arm on the arm of the schoolteacher-the shock
of a man’s strength under the sleeve of his coat-
along the hedgerows. But I was faithful
for as long as it took. Until he was memory.

So I could stand that evening in the field
in a shawl of fine air, healed, able
to watch the edge of the moon occur to the sky
and a hare thump from a hedge; then notice
the village men running towards me, shouting,

behind them the women and children, barking dogs,
and I knew. I knew by the sly light
on the blacksmith’s face, the shrill eyes
of the barmaid, the sudden hands bearing me
into the hot tang of the crowd parting before me.

He lived. I saw the horror on his face.
I heard his mother’s crazy song. I breathed
his stench; my bridegroom in his rotting shroud,
moist and dishevelled from the grave’s slack chew,
croaking his cuckold name, disinherited, out of his time.

The new Poet Laureate has her own website: www.carolannduffy.co.uk, please visit and support her. She is not restricted to poetry, and is well known as a children’s author, playwright and lyricist!

Who knows, maybe the new Poet laureate and this year’s Poetry Season will create something really special.  I do hope so.

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ED PASCHKE

3 May 2009

Picture of painting by Paschke - Jackie-o]I like to paint on a canvas.  Why not? It’s fun. That is until the critics arrive (and everyone’s a critic)!

I guess the good thing about giving painting a go is that it provides an insight into what “proper” full-time fine artists have to put up with from the general public, art critics, and the press.

“What’s that supposed to be?”

“It’s a boat”

“It doesn’t look much like a boat to me!”

***

“What is it?”

“It’s an abstract boat”

“Ah, well I bet a 4-year old could do better!”

***

I admire painters for putting up with this, and I appreciate it must be hard from within as well; the artist is his own strictest critic.

From comparison with peers, to trying to reach for the original, the special, the personal unique signature style… the artist is ever striving, constantly in flux.

[Picture of painting by Paschke - Gestapo]It is perhaps only once there is a lifetime body of work to appraise as a whole, that an artist can be truly seen as a major personality.

This is what I think of the great Ed Paschke. Sure, each piece is of itself, and stands alone as such, but (I think), and this seems to me to be especially true of Paschke, looking at a number of these big oil paintings in the same room, gallery, website or whatever, teases out something else; en masse, the works assault the senses.  Just look at those colours!

Picture of painting by Paschke - Espiritule]This guy is an absolute genius, and a massive influence on the art world.  His work is immediately striking as individual and different, and that is an achievement by itself. There is a slight hint of Warhol in the coloured photograph or screen-print effect, but this is more, much more, this is a style.  This is a darker side, the bondage, gimp art.  It is Batman’s Joker, it is Marilyn Manson, it looks computer generated somehow.  There’s white noise, TV-like bands and lines, neon, and day-glo — so it is work firmly of this modern time and place, yet so other-worldly!  Cheerful in colour terms, but creepy.  With Ed it’s one juxtaposition after another.

I would have loved to have been around to hear the criticisms, boy would they have been off-the-wall.

embedded video:

Anyway, I LOVE Ed Paschke because he gives me nightmares, he scares me.  I would fret and be unable to sleep in a room (or a house) that has one of his paintings on show. Brilliant!

Do yourself a favour, check out a Google Image Search:

http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&um=1&sa=1&q=Ed+Paschke&btnG=Search+Images&aq=f&oq=
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