Archive for January, 2011

PLATINUM NOTES

27 January 2011

I like playing guitar along with my hifi.  It often means I have to figure out the key of the song or tune. That’s OK, and while I have done dozens of songs in my collection, I still have zillions of MP3s not done.  I can listen to a couple of hours’ worth of stuff in D major for example.

But the thing I dislike the most is when a track is between keys — off pitch. Eugh!  I use to correct this by ear using Audacity, this can change the pitch yet keep the beats per minute the same — but the trouble with that is the preview is just the starting few seconds, and on some tracks the music proper doesn’t start for quite a while.

Now I have found Platinum Notes — a great bit of software.  It fixes the volume and audio graphs (clipping etc), and tweaks the whole track to the nearest proper pitch key.  It makes the mp3 file size jump to about double, but what a difference it makes!  It doesn’t overwrite — it makes a new audio file adding _pn to the filename.  All you do is delete the original later, and remove the _pn to be good to go. It really is worth doing, and is a LOT easier than doing this stuff my ear.

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THE SARTRE JOKE

20 January 2011

This is one of my vary favourite jokes, even though some people don’t seem to find it funny or witty.

The French existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre was sitting at a café table working. A waiter approached him

‘Can I get you something to drink, Monsieur Sartre?’ he asked.
‘Yes, I’d like a cup of coffee with sugar, but no cream’, the philosopher replied.

A few minutes later, however, the water returned and said,

‘I’m sorry, Monsieur Sartre, we are all out of cream — how about with no milk?’

What’s not to love about this?  You do not need to know who Sartre was, or what he stood-for or wrote about. The joke still works: only if the café had cream in stock, could it not serve it —  the fact that they do have milk allows them to not serve that instead  Brilliant. Maybe it’s me, but this joke tickles places in me a lot of jokes don’t reach. This joke has made me laugh again and again over the years, because jokes do that — they circulate.  I look forward to hearing it again in a few years’ time, and enjoying it all over again. Blokes are like that with jokes, especially with Monty Python.

— Of course, it is even funnier when you DO know Sartre’s Being and Nothingness and the origin of negation

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JEFF BUCKLEY

12 January 2011

[Picture of the Grace album cover]I love it when you see something by chance on the TV, that stops you in your tracks — and you just have to have more.  This is exactly what happened with the video promo for “Grace” by Jeff Buckley.

I immediately went out and bought the album “Grace“. Thing is, he’d recently died (by accidental drowning in the Wolf River in Memphis USA), so there would be no further wonderfully crafted original music from Scotty Moorehead (his “real” name).  I think there’s a Chet Baker legacy for the quieter ballads, but in the rock music side of things, Buckley is out there on his own — perhaps influenced by Robert Plant, but with lots of added extra influences, possibly black women such as Aretha Franklin.  You listen, you decide!

Over the years I have rediscovered Grace” again and again for the usual reasons — switching from CD to a computer file, the renewed interest in the media (mainly around “Hallelujah” and Cohen, Elisa, Burke etc) a couple of years ago.  But  I have no idea why I didn’t think of looking up YouTube until now.

[Embedded video clip from YouTube of The Last Goodbye]

His voice can give me chills and thrills, and he never plays it safe — the element of right on the edge vocals brings such amazement to me, really — I’ve sung live, I’ve taken chances and they have (luckily) paid off to my eternal immense relief — but to see someone totally risk everything, to squeeze every last drop of emotion, to face public disgrace and humiliation by singing flat or sharp or out of time (or all of the above). OMG. Just wow. It’s crazy, it’s wild, it’s utterly Buckley.

[Embedded video clip from YouTube of Grace – Live]

What a voice — what a guitar player, and what a song-writer!  Clearly Buckley has been a huge influence on Gregory Hoskins and loads more, such as The Antlers.  I can’t listen to “So Real” without thinking of Grizzly Bear, it’s the chords, the mood or something, y’know? But this guy is the original.  I saw a TV documentary about him a couple of years ago — and they reckon he was a blend of Robert Plant and Jimmy Page — now THAT’S an absolutely massive compliment right there, and possibly the best epitaph, I’ll leave it there.

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BENTE MILTENBURG

5 January 2011

[Painting by Miltenburg]Lately I have been reviewing my old graphic works, and trying to figure out where they “fit in” in my life. I don’t suppose I will find that answer, but the question led me to looking at the cross-over between what-I-do-for-a-living and what-else-I-do.

This in turn led me to an artist called Bente Miltenburg. His work resembled what I was doing some year ago.  Obviously, though, he’s a proper artist and his stuff is better.  No question. I make the remark in a spirit of understanding and camaraderie; we must have similarities!

My idea at the time was to try — somehow to get architecture into art, in the sense of beautiful things to enjoy that have no pragmatism.  I am able to admire the beauty of good draughtsmanship in a technical drawing, as much as architectural renderings.  Many an architect whose work I dislike has been rescued in my estimation by their watercolours or other artistic traits (for example, CR Mackintosh).

Bente Miltenberg’s vignettes are of that ilk — views of people-less domestic scenes, rooms in isometric perspective that can (somehow) easily be read as abstract art or as architectural rendering.  A bit like some practical 3D CAD software images — equally and ambivalently true and false, for people but without presence.

I enjoy Bente’s work and would recommend it to all —

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