Monthly Archives: January 2005

Tutorial: Using Your Brain (Part 4)

In Part 3 of this series I talked about the three two-note bass lines you need memorize. In this part we’ll discuss what goes “on top” of those bass notes.

How about if I told you that you only need to ‘hear’ eight chords in your brain. That’s right, not 8,000, just eight. There are variations on those eight buy they make sense so don’t be intimated by that. Your goal is to get these eight in your brain so that you can sing all the way up and down them (‘arpeggiate’ as they say in wine country), recognize them when played and conjure them when creating music. People do it every day.
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Tutorial: Using Your Brain (Part 3)

This is Part 3 of an article about using your brain as your main musical instrument. If you missed it, you should start at Part 1 or at least Part 2. Otherwise you’re a cheater.

At the same time you’re teaching your brain about sounds played together (a.k.a. chords) there are three two-note bass-lines you should immediately memorize. That’s right, three bass-lines with two notes each. It turns out if you can hear these three lines you will recognize the bass lines of 99% of pop music and all related genres and that includes jazz.
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Tutorial: Using Your Brain (Part 2)

This is Part 2 of a series about techniques for embedding sounds into your head. Sounds painful and it might be, you have been warned. Part I is here.

Here’s a test: compose a piece of music completely in your head. Can’t do it? Just write the first four bars, the first phrase. Compose the melody and harmonize it (figure out the chords). It’s not easy but that’s what musicians do. The instrument (piano, guitar, sequencer) then becomes a validation and recorder.
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Tutorial: Using Your Brain (Part 1)

Woody Allen famously said that his brain is his second favorite organ. When people ask me what instrument I play I’m beyond tempted to paraphrase that line. The question of what instrument a musician is proficient at usually reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of what creating music is all about.

While there is no formula for how music is created here is, in my very humble breakdown, the way it should happen:
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WebJay’s New Look

The hippest site on the web got a new look. This is really a great accomplishment considering how much information is on that screen, yet at no time do I feel overwhelmed by it.

And keeping with my seemingly implicit New Year’s resolution, no post to to this site can go too long without coming back to…. well, me. Near the top of today’s popular lists is a playlist called Eclectic #1 (subtitled ‘KCRW wannabes’) which features Kruder & Dorfmeister, Nancy Sinatra, a brilliant mash up of Elvis Presley and the Wailers and then there’s my (uncredited) Brilliant Day (Eine Kleine Mix).

Acid: The Original

Apparently, back before there was software called ACID and a genre of music called acid house there was a little tab of paper some hippie degenerates used to put on their tongues to experience euphoric celestial navel explorations with the occasional fire-breathing dragon, disappearing ceilings, spontaneous Catskills comedy routines and VW bugs doing donuts on freeway exits. In Santa Monica. In the middle of rush hour. Apparently.

I wouldn’t know anything about that, but it seems this type of “acid” was celebrated by a nine hour commercial free radio broadcast on (what else) KPFA some 40 years ago. Don Joyce of Negativeland and The Professor have posted half of that broadcast, called The Trip Receptacles and features many informed luminaries in this field including Albert Hoffman, D. M. Turner, Sasha Shulgin and (who else) Dr. Timothy Leary of Harvard.

Culling samples ahoy.

[via Dave]

Compression Bit Rates

What do you set your bitrate to when you make your MP3s? More and more MP3s I encounter are using the VBR encode settings and that has sent me back to take another look at the “128 or bust” approach I’ve been taking. Here is a very good, well written, easy to understand article on the whole question with lots of good pros/cons. It’s written from an Ogg/Vorbis point of view but these are universal attributes and MP3 is used as a comparison so it’s well worth the minutes. Section 7. speakes specifically about CBR, VBR and ABR.

[UPDATE] AAC (Apple) compared to MP3