Category Archives: Music

The Voice of an Angel – Grown Up

It was at a fundraiser for KCET or some similar TV station many years ago that I learned about the – then – 13 year old Charlotte Church. I was amazed and even though I usually don’t think highly of fan-dom of any artist or star I ordered – to support KCET, you know – her CD and Video.

Recently I stumbled over her CD in my collection and I wondered what had become of her. Thanks to Google I found out quickly. Here is a before and after (so-to-speak)…

charlotte church then and nowAfter some more investigative work I found out that it is rather quiet around her now, the last album released dates back to 2005 and it is very different in that it went away from the opera repertoire she had before into the land of pop, where she has to face quite a bit of competition. I personally like her new music but it is not something that would get me up and buy her CD.

One of the songs on that CD gives an idea why she went away from the arena where she was so amazingly successful. The title is “Finding my Own Way,” where she tells her fans in poetic form, that they might disagree with her and that it might be a mistake, but that she has the right to make her own choices and possibly  mistakes and that that’s OK.

I believe that is a very honorable thing to do. There is the temptation of riding the wave of safe continued admiration and she has chosen a way that is not so safe but is her own. So, she does not fall into the trap I described when I mused about the curse of good looks.

For me the old and the new Charlotte are just two different worlds and I fortunately have the choice where I spend my time. I want to share one song I found on Youtube that is a neat combination of John Lennon, the master song writer, and Charlotte Church, a singer that can make my tears flow freely…

Over the Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole

What a beautiful song – so take five, relax and enjoy!

Never forget what this is all about – it’s not running after fame and fortune, it’s about enjoying the “Right NOW” where all the rest of the world can handle its own affairs for a little while…

Changing the World with Music

“Change” seems to be all the hype right now. Even the presidential campaign was won with this slogan. There seems to be so much people don’t like and want to change (or have changed for them) that simply using ‘change’ as a buzz word will get attention.

Now mostly change is not really what we want. Maybe we have something in mind that is so far beyond everything we can imagine, that simple an end of the current situation looks appealing. But, in my own experience, the universe has a strange kind of humor. It tries to comply but if the goal of the change is not clearly specified we will get a change but the new situation might not be what we really had in mind – hidden back there in the crevices, afraid to verbalize.

Let’s take a look at politics right now – we will have a president that will implement change – he did not say what the change will be so this is a pretty smart move as now everybody has a very own version of that change he or she envisions in mind and thinks that’s what will come. And if that’s not what will get implemented then it becomes obvious why not – because it was never even promised. And something is always changed, so the promise is kept.

If we want a situation to be different we have to be specific in what we want the outcome of the change to be otherwise the change itself will be the outcome and this is certainly not what we want. It reminds me of the sign at the bar stating “Tomorrow free Beer” – obviously attractive so that patrons return, but of no consequence and cost for the proprietor – he is keeping his promise.

In other words – change is not what we want and we have to be honest with what we actually want, take away the attention from what is and see the outcome now. Remember Mahatma Gandhi’s quote “You must be the change you want to see in the world” with the stress on BE.

Change has become an emotionally loaded word and the following video is definitely a prime example. It made me cry (in a positive way, I might add)…

This is from Playing for Change, a project to ‘bring change’ through music. I can imagine that this project could benefit from clearly stating what the outcome will be after the change is accomplished.

Other videos on this foundation’s web site do show what the change will be – eduction, building, improving situations through music, etc, so the outcome is stated and the video with it’s emotion caused me to look, so I guess it all worked out OK.

Japanese Music Video Update

Who would ever forget the Hinoi Team I told you about some time ago?

For reason of variety – not that this is any better than the Hinoi Team – I would like to pass on another find…

(watch in higher quality)

Watching these Japanese videos – and other Japanese TV clips on YouTube – I notice that most of the girls really look like girls, don’t they. I mean in contrast to women.

I can not imagine that these girls are really as young as they appear to (western) eyes, so I am wondering if the Japanese culture has bread its women looking so young-girl-ish. There seems to be an ideal woman type that is noticable different in different cultures. How else could you tell, on first glance, that this is a german woman, the next one is from Mexico and yet one over this girl (!) is from Thailand?

But maybe we don’t have to think too much about this as over time McDonald will make them all the same – I noticed that when hanging out at the Thai temple, that more and more young Thai girls look like the good BigMac fed American girl. Any insights…

Brian Greene explains Superstring Theory at TED

In 2005 Brian Greene explained superstring theory to the TED audience in laymen’s terms in a very engaging presentation.

Three years ago the Hadron collider at CERN, which has one if its goals to confirm string theory, was still a few year away from completion. But now we are nearly there. Interestingly the public is taking notice now as voices have been raised that this machine might be dangerous. Loud voices actually, so that the CERN website for the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) has to address these concerns and dispel them…

TGVs and mosquitoes

The total energy in each beam of protons in the LHC is equivalent to a 400 tonne train (like the French TGV) travelling at 150 km/h. However, only an infinitesimal part of this energy is released in each particle collision – roughly equivalent to the energy of a dozen flying mosquitoes. In fact, whenever you try to swat a mosquito by clapping your hands together, you create a collision energy much higher than the protons inside the LHC. The LHC’s speciality is its impressive ability to concentrate this collision energy into a minuscule area on a subatomic scale. But even this capability is just a pale shadow of what Nature achieves routinely in cosmic-ray collisions.

During part of its operation, the LHC will collide beams of lead nuclei, which have a greater collision energy, equivalent to just over a thousand mosquitoes. However, this will be much more spread out than the energy produced in the proton collisions, and also presents no risk.

Microscopic black holes will not eat you…

Massive black holes are created in the Universe by the collapse of massive stars, which contain enormous amounts of gravitational energy that pulls in surrounding matter. The gravitational pull of a black hole is related to the amount of matter or energy it contains – the less there is, the weaker the pull. Some physicists suggest that microscopic black holes could be produced in the collisions at the LHC. However, these would only be created with the energies of the colliding particles (equivalent to the energies of mosquitoes), so no microscopic black holes produced inside the LHC could generate a strong enough gravitational force to pull in surrounding matter.

If the LHC can produce microscopic black holes, cosmic rays of much higher energies would already have produced many more. Since the Earth is still here, there is no reason to believe that collisions inside the LHC are harmful.

By all probability these concerns are in the same category as the fears that people would die when going more than 50 miles an hour on this devil’s machine called train. But there have been experiments in the past that seemed rather harmless and turned out to be deadly. I am thinking of Pierre and Marie Curie,
who discovered radioactivity. They did not know that this new phenomenon they had discovered was poisoning them during their work and I remember the anecdote of demonstrating their discovery to friends at a party by circulating a vial with this new substance which you could see with your eyes closed.

So, there is a chance that this microscopic black hole that might be created by the LHC does indeed attract matter and energy from its surrounding, grows and swallows the universe as we know it.

I am actually sure that this will happen, at least in a number of parallel worlds. These parallel worlds are, as far as I know, also postulated by string theory, so we are really approaching the unified theory of life, the universe and everything, a theory that contains its own annihilation – cool!

I have worked at CERN for a little bit, being involved with the old myon-neutrino experiments and I have to admit that it would be a fascinating experience to be at CERN for the first activation of the LHC. I imagine a scene similar to the setting in Douglas Adam’s ‘Restaurant at the End of the Universe‘ – everybody is seated in an exquisite restaurant expecting a great show watching the universe to end.

And, you know what – in one of the parallel worlds according to the string theory to be tested – that will be so!

Tommy Emmanuel and Edgar Cruz, Guitar

While working on the new Joomla site NoFearIRS.com, testing some new media plugin for the new Joomla 1.5, I found this fascinating little video of Tommy Emmanuel playing the Guitar Boogie…

…and as I don’t want to just leave you with this feeling of inadequacy, here some lesson that will get you on the way to play just as well – in a few years or decades…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZ9jrBg4Lwc

This is Edgar Cruz showing you how to play Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody.

Nothing’s gonna change my world – Jai guru deva – OM

Was working on content for a new web site www.UniversalSerenity.com and I had finally figured out how to do the recordings that I needed for that.

I had tried many different combinations of microphones and pre-amps, USB interfaces etc and had settled down to recording onto the laptop with a Plantronics USB headset. That worked OK but even though the laptop is pretty quiet, it does have a fan and is was audible in the recording so I had this extra step of removing the noise.

I had experimented with my iRiver H340 and the sound recording with the built-in microphone was pretty good, but unfortunately this mike also picks up the hard drive when it starts up to write some recorded data onto it. There is an external microphone for this mp3 player (which by the way can do mp3 encoding on the fly when recording) but I have not managed to get one – the only place apparently selling them is in the UK and they just don’t want to talk to me.

Finally I managed to use a good dynamic phone with a pre-amp feeding into the line-in of my iRiver and that works like a charm.

That’s what I did this morning – recording a training session to groove in ‘create and destroy’ – and it worked nicely.

Now, having the mike connected to the iRiver and monitoring with headphones when I was done I just looked around my music collection which calls the iRiver its home I ran into the Beatles song ‘Across The Universe’ – a song that has some impact on me. I still remember the emotion I had listening to it many, many years ago when I just finished a science fiction novel from the Perry Rhodan series. This story, the song and the emotion of huge space of multiple dimension is – since then – intricately entwined.

Today, after finishing my recording, I listened to this song for the first time with headsets. I can listen to lyrics much better when they are crooned directly into my ears – believe it or not – this was the first time I really listened to the lyrics!

And I was fascinated. It was such a surprising match to what I had just done before – training to create my own world, and then listening to the Beatles telling me from a time rift of 40 years that nobody can change that creation – I suppose they implied ‘except for I myself’ in contrast to an external force.

So, thank you, John, Paul, George and Ringo for telling me – it only took me 40 years to get what you said – a short time, all things considered.

Words are flying out like
endless rain into a paper cup
They slither while they pass
They slip away across the universe
Pools of sorrow waves of joy
are drifting thorough my opened mind
Possessing and caressing me

Jai guru deva om
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world

Images of broken light which
dance before me like a million eyes
That call me on and on across the universe
Thoughts meander like a
restless wind inside a letter box
they tumble blindly as
they make their way across the universe

Jai guru deva om
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world

Sounds of laughter shades of life
are ringing through my open ears
exciting and inviting me
Limitless undying love which
shines around me like a million suns
It calls me on and on across the universe

Jai guru deva om
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Jai guru deva
Jai guru deva
Jai guru deva

I had to look up “Jai guru deva OM.” The internet, through some of it’s representatives, told me that it means something like “Hail to God Devine” with “OM” representing the vibration of the universe used in meditation.

One or Two Tubatrons – Flaming Tubas

Watching boing boing tv today I leaned that it is David Silverman, the Simpson’s director, who mans this most dangerous instrument.

I had seen and enjoyed a video clip from what looks like burning man of a man playing “Oops I did it again” (Britney Spears). The accompanying text on the YouTube video does not mention David Silverman, so I am now wondering if Silverman is really the only Tubatron player in the world, or if there is another doing this at burning man.

But whoever it is – it’s definitely worth watching.

Weired Al Yankovic – The Saga Begins for me

Today I learned about Weired Al Yankovic – it was a good day!

I have only seen a few of his works so far, but this already convinces me that I will probably waste some quality time on YouTube over the next few days. Here is one example…

(if this above does not work, try directly at YouYube)

As there is nearly no other way but to sing along, here are the lyrics to make that a bit simpler.

The Saga Begins

A long, long time ago
In a galaxy far away
Naboo was under an attack
And I thought me and Qui-Gon Jinn
Could talk the federation into
Maybe cutting them a little slack
But their response, it didn’t thrill us
They locked the doors and tried to kill us
We escaped from that gas
Then met Jar Jar and Boss Nass
We took a bongo from the scene
And we went to Theed to see the Queen
We all wound up on Tatooine
That’s where we found this boy…

Oh my my this here Anakin guy
May be Vader someday later – now he’s just a small fry
And he left his home and kissed his mommy goodbye
Sayin’ “Soon I’m gonna be a Jedi”
“Soon I’m gonna be a Jedi”

Did you know this junkyard slave
Isn’t even old enough to shave
But he can use the Force, they say
Ahh, do you see him hitting on the queen
Though he’s just nine and she’s fourteen
Yah, he’s probably gonna marry her someday
Well, I know he built C-3PO
And I’ve heard how fast his pod can go
And we were broke, it’s true
So we made a wager or two
He was a prepubescent flyin’ ace
And the minute Jabba started off that race
Well, I knew who would win first place
Oh yes, it was our boy

We started singin’ …
My my this here Anakin guy
May be Vader someday later – now he’s just a small fry
And he left his home and kissed his mommy goodbye
Sayin’ “Soon I’m gonna be a Jedi”
“Soon I’m gonna be a Jedi”

Now we finally got to Coruscant
The Jedi Council we knew would want
To see how good the boy could be
So we took him there and we told the tale
How his midi-chlorians were off the scale
And he might fulfill that prophecy
Oh, the Council was impressed, of course
Could he bring balance to the Force?
They interview the kid
Oh, training they forbid
Because Yoda sensed in him much fear
And Qui-Gon said “Now listen here”
“Just stick it in your pointy ear”
“I still will teach this boy”

He was singin’ …
My my this here Anakin guy
May be Vader someday later – now he’s just a small fry
And he left his home and kissed his mommy goodbye
Sayin’ “Soon I’m gonna be a Jedi”
“Soon I’m gonna be a Jedi”

We caught a ride back to Naboo
‘Cause Queen Amidala wanted to
I frankly would’ve liked to stay
We all fought in that epic war
And it wasn’t long at all before
Little Hotshot flew his plane and saved the day
And in the end some Gunguns died
Some ships blew up and some pilots fried
A lot of folks were croakin’
The battle droids were broken
And the Jedi I admire most
Met up with Darth Maul and now he’s toast
Well, I’m still here and he’s a ghost
I guess I’ll train this boy

And I was singin’ …
My my this here Anakin guy
May be Vader someday later – now he’s just a small fry
And he left his home and kissed his mommy goodbye
Sayin’ “Soon I’m gonna be a Jedi”
“Soon I’m gonna be a Jedi”

We were singin’ …
My my this here Anakin guy
May be Vader someday later – now he’s just a small fry
And he left his home and kissed his mommy goodbye
Sayin’ “Soon I’m gonna be a Jedi”

Pink Floyd Twenty Years Later

Pink Floyd albums where very early members of my album collection, and they were plentiful. It all started in college where some smart marketer started to sell music albums for sometimes up to 25% cheaper than the going price in music stores.

At this time of growing up, hanging with friends, drinking beer and listening to music, being cool, Pink Floyd was definitely one of the favorite musics. The right stuff to totally space out.

Running into a video of  a Pink Floyd concert from 1988 on YouTube today brought these memories back and for all of you who like their music, here is what I found…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_DODKTN3O2s

Believe it or not, up to now I never listened to the lyrics of the songs except some snippets that you could not miss, like “Teachers, leave us kids alone” from The Wall.

That shall be remedied today with the lyrics of the song above,  “On The Turning Away”

On the turning away
From the pale and downtrodden
And the words they say
Which we won’t understand
“Don’t accept that what’s happening
Is just a case of others’ suffering
Or you’ll find that you’re joining in
The turning away”
It’s a sin that somehow
Light is changing to shadow
And casting it’s shroud
Over all we have known
Unaware how the ranks have grown
Driven on by a heart of stone
We could find that we’re all alone
In the dream of the proud
On the wings of the night
As the daytime is stirring
Where the speechless unite
In a silent accord
Using words you will find are strange
And mesmerized as they light the flame
Feel the new wind of change
On the wings of the night
No more turning away
From the weak and the weary
No more turning away
From the coldness inside
Just a world that we all must share
It’s not enough just to stand and stare
Is it only a dream that there’ll be
No more turning away?

Blows your mind, doesn’t it?

And, by the way, I still have those vinyl albums.