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Category Archives: Music

Small Change, Profound Difference

It is not often I extoll the virtues of technology and it’s even more rare for such to bring a tear to the eye. Let me explain.

Across the decades I have amassed a significant music collection on my Mac, a mixture of uploaded cd’s, downloaded purchases from Amazon/iTunes and independent offerings. If I was to press play and let it run on unabashed it would take a month to get through. When I was spending every morning at my desk I could merrily listen to my tunes, mixing Mozart with Madness, a touch of Mancini mingled with Marmalade, Zakk moshing with ZZ Top, as I whittled some html coding, wrangled a bit of number crunching, wrestled with photo editing and such like. It was entertaining and uplifting, seeing as my brain seems to be mostly filled with lyrics and set to Kareoke mode.

With the loss of my mobility I became separated from this mentally motivating activity and I have so missed it, time spent at my desk has become seriously dwindled. I had considered streaming services but felt resentful at having to pay money to hear music I have already spent monies upon.

I had procrastinated about searching for an answer, I had dawdled over posting on the MacForum for a suggestion. I had hoped Siri could help but my Mac is too old. I started seeing adverts for the new HomePod mini and the sown seed slowly germinated, maybe one of these could access and play my music. It spurred me on to ask on the forum if this could work with my particular kit, I hit publish and waited for a potentially helpful reply.

To my delight and surprise a helpful bod answered my post and introduced me to the app “iTunes Remote” as a potential solution. Google and I spent an evening reading and researching, could this be the answer? Could it really be that straightforward? Well, dear reader, in short, yes!

So yesterday after carer had positioned me at my desk I set to. Slightly pessimistic because things that class themselves as quick or easy rarely are. I followed the instructions with a tingle of anticipatory expectation.

  • App Store, download free app iTunes Remote to iPad
  • Open app, select manual set up (4-digit code appears)
  • Open music app on Mac
  • From Devices list select iPad
  • Enter iPads 4-digit code
  • Done, sorted, connected.

It really was that easy!!!

Okay so far so good…..but…….. now to test the theory. From the iPad app I selected a track and hit play and music sprung forth from my Mac ✅ …… I adjusted the volume, skipped forward and backward. Alright…..but…… I put my Mac to sleep, counted to twenty, opened the app and selected a track and again the swinging piano vibes exuded from my dozing Mac ✅✅. Right then, the big test, shut down and restart both the Mac and the iPad, open app and select a tune, without hesitation the dulcet tones of the lyrical warbler wafted across the room ✅✅✅. Another test, this morning I opened the app and selected a play list annddd it’s playing ✅✅✅✅.

I am reconnected to my music, my smile could not be wider, I’m busting my (sat down) moves, twerking so much I’m gonna give my buttocks whiplash, I have gone from famine to feast ….. so much choice, it’s almost overwhelming. Brain is fizzing as it sings along to tracks it hasn’t heard for years.

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2020 in Music, Review, Tech

 

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Tim Minchin

It’s not very often that my ear worm chooses a whole artist but recently while lazing in bed or pootling on the iPad I suddenly get the urge to sing “……fuck I love boobs though…..”, maybe it’s just as well I am not out and about in public!

Tim Minchin describes himself as a musician, but this underplays his artistry, his creative skills and his often dark humour. How he analyses the things that make you think, how he dissects and interprets thoughts, ideas, philosophies and puts them into a song that hooks you in linguistically, musically, emotionally and mentally. But what is it about his creations that seem to appeal to me.

Maybe it is his acrobatic linguistics and agility, in songs like Prejudice or his piano whimsy of Rock & Roll Nerd, maybe it is the poignancy of I’ll Take Lonely Tonight or the deep thought of Not Perfect, perhaps it’s the pure risqué amusement of Inflatable You or the musicians amusement of F Sharp, he performs a couple of beat poems which take you on a journey so adroitly, especially Storm. It could be the absurdity that he sees meets with me.

Now I should add a warning here, he uses language some don’t care for and he has opinions that some would not agree with, especially on the controversial topics like religion, creationism. It is not a mocking attitude, more of an “I’ve read and listened but still don’t understand how people wholeheartedly believe ‘this'”.

I enjoy watching his live performances as his expressions and timings add another layer of language, there are few piano players that almost mesmerise me, Jools Holland is another, Tim seems to throw his hands (and sometimes feet) at the keys and they always hit the right notes, the right way at the right time, he cannot sit still as he plays (unless it’s a serious song). He tends to perform barefoot, a throwback to early experimental days where going barefoot helped him feel confident and quelled the stage nerves.

It took me a while to decide which song to link here, I make no apology if you find yourself merrily, absentmindedly singing “…..fuck I like boobs though….”

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2020 in Music, people, Review

 

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Behind The Screen

This blog is a little different to my usual because it is being written with the intention of adding a link elsewhere to try and explain/highlight what has happened ‘behind the screen’ to bring a web page together.

As some may know I administrate, edit and manage a web site about a particular musician and have done for many many years. It is an on-going, complex, multi-layered learning experience that gathers information into one place. I do it for my own satisfaction, to have a one-stop place that collates his work, for the fans and those interested to visit. Yes, it costs me money, but what hobby doesn’t.

Recently he was interviewed by Dom Familaro for The Sessions Artist Series published to YouTube. If you are interested in the workings of the music industry, the various musicians that back, support, perform with many A-list names, perhaps you play an instrument, these interviews are entertaining and interesting to hear so many peoples different life stories, how music became their profession and where that profession has taken them and things they’ve learnt and experienced on the way. But I digress…..

The website has a few interview transcripts and it occurred to me that even though YouTube has the ‘captions’ option (akin to on the go subtitles in language of your choice), there is still a section of the world wide audience who are missing out, so I decided to transcribe the thirty-eight minute interview and find a way it can be translated, thus broadening it’s reach. Sounds reasonably straightforward, doesn’t it. Ha!

Step 1. Using a mix of shorthand, speed writing and longhand I begin taking down the dialogue. Gone are the days when I could audio-type thanks to my depleted dexterity. So it’s listen intently, stop video, write, reread, rewind and listen again, correct script, add punctuation. Continue to listen, pause it, write it down, check it, relisten to the passage, make corrections and proceed ….. you get the idea. It took a few days, working an hour or two per day.

Step 2. Thanks to my muscle disease rendering my fingers/hands/wrists so weak the easiest way to transcribe the written word is to use dictation, no more confidently typing at between 70-75 wpm for me anymore. I create a fresh document, hit the microphone and speak clearly, deciphering my scrawl as I go. Stopping after a couple of paragraphs to read over the dictation, correct the errors, add the punctuation, capitalise names etc. Hit save and carry on. It takes a couple of days but at the end there are nine pages of crisp type, each paragraph a persons dialogue, all checked, proofed and corrected.

Step 3. Now it gets a little technical because I need to add the HTML tags that make it show on the eventual web page. Each paragraph needs a <p> at the beginning. It makes visual sense to have the interviewers dialogue in a different colour to the interviewees, so I add a font=“colornumber” to those lines. I also have to add the speakers name to each paragraph to make it easier to follow who is saying or asking what. So that’s added, all in capitals for emphasise.

Step 4. Using a specific software program I create the webpage, it’s basic style set to match the myriad of pages already there. I add the techie bit of code to embed the YouTube video, making sure it sits comfortably and is the correct size. I add the tab heading and explanation. Then in chunks I add the coded interview transcription. Crossing my fingers I hit the ‘test’ function to see what it looks like as a web page. I am reasonably pleased with the result except the colour is way way off, neon lime green, the hex code is a shade of red! Hmm……that needs investigating, it works on other pages already published.

Step 5. Thanks to an excellent web site that walks you through, teaches and shows how to grapple with HTML coding I can put together the five or six lines of instruction to add a button to bring up a menu of languages that Google will then translate the whole page. Wow! I add it at the top of the transcription coding and hit ‘test’. It’s there, and what’s more……it works! Victory! By chance it answers my query about the text colour coding, I think the issue is that versions of HTML change things, and that’s what has happened here, the code for changing the font colour is now a script command within the <p> notation, so I will need to put together the new bit of code, then copy and paste it at the beginning of each of the interviewers dialogue.

Step 6. I confidently upload the new page to the server, add the link to the main media page so viewers can get to it and voila….well no, not quite yet, actually. I forgot the special text snaffoo, you see when you type characters like & ( ‘ ) “ and then copy/paste them into a coding page, things go a little bit odd, it turns a ‘ into ’ . So I need to go through the entire transcript and remove the gobbledygook and replace the appropriate punctuation mark.

Next time I am at my desk, I will have to go through the coding, change the font colour code and correct the ‘ (oh I hope the find and replace will help me). That a rough idea of what is involved for just one page. I intend to add the translation script to every page of the site, a mere thirty or so. Like the Forth Bridge, there is always something that needs working on to improve.

Link to the interview ….. The Sessions Artist Interview

Link to the website http://www.stcgibb.com

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2020 in Music, people, Tech, Website

 

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Zaberdak

In these odd days ahead I’m trying to find things that my brain wanders to and muses over. Such as, how come I know all the ‘words’ to Zaberdak by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Titch, although I remember seeing Marmalade perform it live.

Dave Dee wrote it to illustrate that at the time (mid 1960’s) “any garbage can get into the charts”, it means nothing, has a good melody and has been copied by others.

For those intrigued the English words over laying the made up sounds are “Look for meaning, not in words, but in the way you’re feeling. If it’s love, we’ll understand, for love is all revealing”.

Quite poetic. Enjoy!

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2020 in Music

 

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