Posts Tagged ‘music’

Guitar strumming patterns

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014 | News

One of the frustrating things I have found as a beginner guitarist is that it is easy to find out the chords used in a song, but the strumming pattern is rarely discussed.

Worse, if anyone does dare ask about it, they are usually shot down but a swell of unhelpful comments suggesting that they should just “listen to the song and work it out”. This is not a particularly satisfying answer as why would you not assume the same is true for the chords? Surely someone is looking for a tab precisely because they do not know how to play the song.

Video tutorials are often a lot more helpful but do not translate into something that is easy to find. As a consequence, I have started a guitar strumming patterns database. It is very small at the moment but will hopefully grow over time.

West Indian Carnival

Sunday, July 20th, 2014 | Photos

West-Indian-Carnival

Briggate, Leeds. 6 July 2014.

My Sonos Playbar died

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014 | Reviews, Tech

sonos-playbar

Pretty gutted that after seven months of having my Sonos Playbar, it died.

Sonos were very good about it. I spoke to them on the phone and we tried a few things to no response. After that they send me through a return request that came with a pre-paid UPS sticker, so I just had to wrap it up and schedule a collection from UPS. They even shipped me a new one straight away, though that did require a credit card pre-authorisation.

Pretty annoying though, if that happens just after the warranty runs out, I will be very unhappy.

Learning to Read Music

Thursday, July 10th, 2014 | Books

For once I went out and actually bought an old-fashioned printed book. For some things, it is nice to have a physical reference than you can scribble on and twist into various shapes for convenient viewing. This was one of those times.

The book was pretty short, explaining what I wanted to know in a concise manner. This was great because I got through it all in an afternoon and can use it as a reference going forward as well. Top marks.

Learning-to-read-music

Eurovision 2014 semi final 1

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014 | Distractions

eurovision-2014

I did not watch the first semi final as I do not want to spoil all the songs for Saturday (I am sure many of you feel the same way…). The results are in though. The qualifiers are…

  • Armenia
  • Sweden
  • Iceland
  • Russia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Ukraine
  • San Marino
  • The Netherlands
  • Montenegro
  • Hungary

While those eliminated are…

  • Latvia
  • Estonia
  • Albania
  • Belgium
  • Moldova
  • Portugal

The Russian entry was booed when they made it through. That is a little unpleasant for the contestants themselves, and I feel sorry for them. However, in the grand scheme of things, Eurovision is a good place for the general public to make their voices heard (ironically probably more so than parliament). And they did. Which is no surprise as if you are going to attack the LGBT community, you shouldn’t then enter the campest song contest in the world.

It’a a shame Estonia and Moldova did not make it through. Both have songs still in my rotation. Moldova’s 2011 entry “So Lucky” was a fairy on a unicycle…

While Estonia had a plastic doll. It was very effective, you couldn’t even see the strings…

*Sigh* 2011 was a good year for Eurovision. 2012 was a bit rubbish, while 2013 was a bit better. But I’m hoping for better things this year.

Great to see San Marino made it in for once. Sweden too. Speaking of which, it might be time for some Loreen…

Sonos and AirPlay

Saturday, January 18th, 2014 | Tech

I’m really enjoying my Sonos system. Being able to play music throughout the whole house is amazing as I regularly move from room to room.

However the support for Audible audiobooks is not very good. The way it works is that you link your Audible account to your Sonos. Then, every time you buy an audiobook, you have to download it, load it into your music library and then you can play it. It then just treats it like a song so it does not remember your place or understand any of the meta data.

Compared to the Audible software, where new books just appear on the list and download and playing with one click, it is just an unusably bad experience. Audible also has chapter and marker supports and remembers your place in each audiobook that you are listening to.

Luckily, there is a solution. If you have a line-in on one of your components, such as the Sonos PLAY:5, and an Apple AirPort Express, you can take the line-out from your AirPort Express and then feed it into your Sonos.

SonosPlay5 AirPortExpress

Once this is done, you can use AirPlay to direct the output from your iPhone, iPad or Mac and it goes into your Sonos and plays through all of your Sonos system – not just the one you fed it into. This means you can use the Audible software and still play it across your entire Sonos.

There is a definitely delay added by the latency of the two systems combined. It takes a few seconds between me pressing play or stop on my iPhone for it to actually happen. But that seems to be the only drawback, and is not really much of one.

Using AirPort Utility, you can name the AirPort Express line-out anything you want. I have now renamed it to Sonos, so that is what I get on the list on AirPlay.

iphone-airplay

The Marshall Mathers LP 2

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013 | Distractions

Eminem has courted no lack of controversy over the years. A lot of his songs are about murdering women and doing drugs, two topics which young people seem to identity with to a worrying large extent.

The problem is, it is hard to deny Eminem produces really great music though. He has received almost universal praise from critics and the public alike. He has remained consistently at the top of the charts for the past fifteen years and was the biggest selling artist of last decade. Even The Guardian likes his music.

I haven’t listened to him much since he released The Marshall Mathers LP, but with the release of The Marshall Mathers LP 2 I decided to give it a listen. It’s good. Really good. Enough to overcome the fact that I am not really a fan of hip hop music and make me listen to it.

His lyrics have matured, no surprise given he will turn 42 this year. The subjects haven’t changed too much, and the style remains the same. The lyrics still come thick and fast and delivered with perfection. But the album feels far more reflective than his earlier albums.

Tenacious D

Friday, December 20th, 2013 | Music, Reviews

I’ve never walked out of a gig before because it was so bad. That is, until I went to see Tenacious D.

The gig was really late. It was billed as starting at 7pm but when I arrived at 8pm the support act was still on and didn’t disappear until 8:25. This meant it was nearly 9pm by the time Tenacious D took to the stage.

The venue certainly didn’t help. Leeds Academy sell more tickets than they actually have seats for on the balcony with the end result being that a lot of people are standing. Because you face down towards the stage, this means if you’re not right at the front you can’t see anything.

I could barely see Jack Black and when I tried to ask the staff where I could actually see the whole stage, which seemed a fair enough question for the £35 I paid, they physically pushed me away and just said “not there”.

Not that it was a specular spectacle to behold anyway. With the description of a stripped-back acoustic session I expected an atmosphere that felt intimate and low-key. What they actually seemed to mean was that Jack and Kyle simply cannot keep up anymore.

Between every song there would be a few minutes of silence while they tried to get their breath back, had a drink and towelled off their sweating faces. No continuation, no stage presence, it could barely be called a show.

After half an hour I just couldn’t take anymore. Heart-breaking.

photo 1 photo 2 photo 3

Nickelback

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013 | Distractions

Last month I went to see Nickelback in Leeds. It was the first time I had been to the Leeds Arena. It was pretty good. Nothing amazing, but it is quite a nice layout.

Nickelback were entertaining live. They weren’t a band where you come away from the show thinking “that was absolutely amazing”, but they were a lot of fun on stage and far less serious than I imagined them to be.

I didn’t get any good photos.

IMG_0760 IMG_0756

I did finally get a chance to use my massive goth boots to see over everyone’s heads though. Well worth the investment!

BaGjYNUIMAAwNBE

Lady Gaga – ARTPOP

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013 | Music, Reviews

I can’t stop listening to Lady Gaga’s new album. It is excellent.

It is a bit of a departure from her previous albums is that it is almost a rock opera. But that is probably being far too generous as it is nowhere near as polished as say American Idiot. But there is a loose journey that progresses through the album.

It is probably not an album for those that aren’t already Gaga fans. But for those that are, you won’t be disappointed.

Lady-Gaga-artpop