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About Summer Muse

Really, there’s no deep meaning behind my name. I’m the Summer Muse because I started writing here during the summer, I absolutely adore music, and I often lose myself in my musings. I take walks with my dog, read Yahoo! Finance news, chase seagulls, and am an absolute master baker... of pecan pies. I hope to one day be a New York Times Bestselling Author... or an astrophysicist. I haven't decided yet.
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Thirty Seconds to Mars at the Hollywood Bowl: Love Lust Faith + Dreams Tour

30-Second-To-Mars-Wallpaper

Left to right: Tomo Miličević, Jared Leto, Shannon Leto

You know that feeling when you’re listening to a song and it feels really familiar? Maybe it’s playing on the radio, or a friend turned it on, but you absolutely love it and need to know who plays it. Perhaps you have heard it before, but only now are hearing it with fresh ears. That happened to me recently, when my brother put on a song called “A Beautiful Lie.” I had actually heard it many times before, but it was always hidden among many songs that I didn’t particularly like, so I would not really be listening. But this time was different. We were cleaning up the kitchen after dinner one night, and he put the song on. It was familiar to me—after all, I’d been hearing it for a few years—but I’d never really listened to it. It was incredible; I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t realized it sooner. The band was Thirty Seconds to Mars, and I was hooked. I began listening to them all the time. When I was in my dorm room, my roommates hardly ever saw me without my vFree on. So you can imagine my delight when I discovered that they would be playing at the Hollywood Bowl on October 12.

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Tomo Miličević, Shannon Leto, and Jared Leto onstage for “Conquistador”

The concert was absolutely amazing. It was brilliant, a breathtakingly beautiful performance. Tomo Miličević was on guitar and keyboards, Shannon Leto on drums and percussion, and Jared Leto with his amazing voice. Leto’s vocals were transcendental, ranging from low and visceral to high and angelic, and everything in between. His voice has the power to make you feel any emotion, bringing tears to your eyes with sorrow or joy, making you curl your fists in anger, causing you to sing with him about dreams as your eyes well up in hope.

The show opened with a band from Copenhagen called New Politics. Then came Panic! at the Disco, who played some songs from their new album interspersed among some of their better-known songs, such as “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” and “The Ballad of Mona Lisa.” At this point, the crowd was fired up and excited for Thirty Seconds to Mars to take the stage. The lights dimmed, and the beginning of “Birth” began to play. As the song transitioned into “Night of the Hunter,” the band appeared on stage and the crowd went wild. The upbeat song got our blood pumping and immediately involved. We all sang as loudly as we could, lost in the moment. Then came the angry “Search and Destroy” before “This Is War.” Jared did a great job getting us involved: holding the microphone out to the audience for parts of the song, running out into the audience, along pathways, engaging with the audience. “Conquistador” followed, from their new album Love Lust Faith + Dreams.

The stage during "Closer To The Edge," with the Echelon symbol hanging high up in the air.

The stage during “Closer To The Edge,” with the Echelon symbol hanging high up in the air.

At this point, the band played “Do or Die,” “City of Angels”, “Buddha For Mary,” “Depuis Le Début,” “Pyres of Varanasi,” and “End of All Days.” “City of Angels” really hit home with the audience because it’s a song about our city and the dreams that brought us here. It’s emotional and personal, and it touched each and every one of us, even those who don’t live here. A pair of acrobats on a seesaw provided the perfect distraction for Jared Leto to sneak out into the crowd, unnoticed. All of the sudden, a spotlight shone directly onto the center of the Bowl, illuminating Jared with an acoustic guitar. The crowd went wild, my brother and I included. Jared was playing a set for us, up in the nosebleed section! He played an acoustic version of my favorite song, “Hurricane,” in such a sorrowful and moving manner as to bring tears to my eyes. It was beautiful, and I sang myself hoarse on that song. Next came “The Kill,” their most famous song, but played in a much more subdued manner. Then it was his beautiful rendition of Rihanna’s “Stay,” which sounds like it was written for his voice.

From the "City of Angels" lyric video, also used in the music video.

From the”City of Angels” lyric video, also used in the music video.

 

Jared returned to the stage then, and the band played “Kings and Queens” and “Closer to the Edge.” They told us that it was time to see the premiere of their music video for “City of Angels.” Like most of their videos, Bartholomew Cubbins (Jared Leto’s pseudonym) directed it. I can’t say much about the video (as it has yet to be released) but that it was beautiful and brought many of us to tears. It was a gift, and we are all thankful that they chose to share it with us that night.

The concert was drawing to a close, and it was time for one last song. Finally, Thirty Seconds to Mars invited members of the audience up on the stage with them as they began to play “Up In The Air.” It was the perfect song to end the night. The whole audience knew it from start to finish, and we sang our hearts out. “Up In The Air” is a single from Love Lust Faith + Dreams, and it’s an incredible song. When my brother and I left that night, we were singing that song. Hours later, at two in the morning, we were still singing.

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The band poses in front of the crowd at the Hollywood Bowl.

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Going Cordless: Bluetooth Headphones

Probably one of the most annoying things about listening to music with headphones is the cords. They tend to always be where you don’t want them to be. They get tangled up. They get wrapped around something and are pulled from your ears. I’m sure there are various “solutions” to the cord problem, but none are so effective as Bluetooth headphones. It’s the most effective because it gets rid of the problem, literally. Bluetooth removes cords from the equation completely.

Black and Silver vFree

Black and Silver vFree

The Velodyne vFree and vBold headphones embody all that is good about Bluetooth. They are perfect for many different situations. They’re great for late at night when everyone else is asleep, because you can move about without being tethered to your computer, iPod, or other device. When you’re cleaning up the house, there aren’t any cords to get in the way of whatever you’re doing. The vFree have hardly any noise leakage, so you don’t have to worry about disturbing others if you’re in a quiet location such as a library.

Satin Silver vBold

Satin Silver vBold

In case you forget to charge up your vFree or vBold headphones, there’s an audio bypass cable that allows you to connect directly to your device. This can be used while the headphones are charging up, so you’re always able to use the headphones. The sound remains crisp and clear, and the bass is as deep and resonating as ever.

 

Finally, the Velodyne vFree and vBold headphones have a sleek, modern design that can go with any outfit. They can also be accessorized with artist-designed skins. The vBold comes in two colors: matte black and satin silver. The vFree comes in three colors: black, silver, and white. Each has its merits. The black and silver lean towards a more traditional headphone look, whereas the white is bold and stands out. Whichever version you prefer, the sound and design retain their quality.

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New Device Helps Deaf People Gain Normal Hearing

A few months ago, I wrote an article that introduced a type of headphones that delivered sound in a non-traditional manner—bone conduction. At that time, it seemed little more than a curiosity. Albeit, a curiosity that allows us to listen to music underwater. But now I know bone conduction is much more revolutionary than that. Scientists have developed a device that, through bone conduction, may prove to cure an affliction that plagues people across the world—deafness.

This hearing implant effectively replaces the middle ear, and can provide functionally deaf patients with normal hearing. The implant developed at Chalmers University of Technology has been approved for a clinical study, and the first operation to implant the device occurred on 5 December 2012. It went according to plan.The technique of bone conduction was designed as a means of treating mechanical hearing loss in those who are afflicted with congenital malformations of the outer ear, auditory canal, or middle ear, chronic inflammation of the middle or outer ear, or bone disease. Because normal hearing aids rarely work for individuals with these afflictions, a new technology was needed. Bone conduction fits the bill. It is possible that the device can help those with impaired inner ear as well.

Called BCI (Bone Conduction Implant), this new hearing implant differs from other bone conduction devices in that it does not need to be attached to the skull with a titanium screw, and as a result the patient need not fear skin infections or losing the screw. The BCI is less than six centimeters long, and is attached directly to the skull bone beneath the skin behind the ear. The implant uses the skull bone to transmit sound vibrations to the inner ear, what is known as bone conduction. Researchers expect to present the first clinical results in early 2013, and if successful, the implant should be available to regular patients within two years.

There are two parts to the device: the implant beneath the skin, and the external sound processor. The sound processor can be easily attached or removed from the head, and is held in place by two magnets. It transmits sound through an inductive link to an internal receiver. The signal is then transmitted to a loudspeaker that creates the vibrations that reach the sensory organs of the cochlea. This durable and functional BCI could lead to a dramatic decrease in the amount of people suffering from deafness. So far, the Bone Anchored Hearing Aid (BAHA) technique is helping more than 100,000 patients, and with this new development, it is expected to be widely implemented in the future.

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Finding Sanity In Music

Lately, I’ve been staying up late into the night, typing up various papers, reading entire novels, frantically studying for that next midterm. The only thing that’s kept me sane throughout this quarter has been my music. And coffee. But really it’s been the music. At first I was just listening to the same old songs, the ones on the radio, the new pop songs. But after a while, I felt like I was lacking something crucial. These songs weren’t enough to keep me going night after night.

I needed to find new motivation. I searched my iTunes library, hoping for something to pop out at me. I tried Afro Celt, a unique mixture of African beats and Celtic instruments, but it couldn’t keep me up for more than an hour. Then I thought that maybe I needed to hear some of the old classics, the ones of my childhood. Which turn out to be the same songs my parents enjoyed in their youth. Soon, all that was emerging from my vFree was good old Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Queen, the Moody Blues, Rush, the Who, Boston, Kansas, the Beatles, and other classic rock. It brought back pleasant memories, and revived this wonderful fondness in me for these bands. They got me through many a late night.

But there came a time when I began yearning for something new, but not any radio pop. I wanted something new to me, but still with that classic rock feel. I guess what really helped me then was Pandora, bringing me variety, with some songs that I knew, and some that I had never heard before.

I also took a stab at watching The Voice, to see if any of the contestants had what I was looking for. One caught my attention right away. Singing the Who’s “Baba O’Riley,” Terry McDermott of Aberdeenshire, Scotland, stole the competition, at least for me. I’ve been following his work, and each song has been beautiful, especially his rendition of Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed.” I began to wonder if McDermott had any original songs to offer, and I began to search for some. It turns out he had been in multiple bands—the two most prominent being Driveblind and Lotus Crush. Driveblind was formed in Scotland, and came over to the U.S. in the early 2000s. It caught my fancy right away, and I’ve been listening to it ever since. It helped me get through my last midterm, just last Friday. Specifically, the song “Autumn Red” got me through the midterm. I did receive some pretty strange looks in the library, with my vPulse in, rocking out to my new favorite band, but I didn’t care. It helped me keep my sanity throughout this first quarter of college. I’ll always be grateful for that.

Here’s a listen to the song that brought Driveblind to America, “The Fool Rides Again.”

http://soundcloud.com/terryvox/the-fool-rides-again

Also, for a look at what he’s done on “The Voice,” here’s “Maybe I’m Amazed” (skip to 1:22 for Terry’s performance):

http://youtu.be/EAkDasYZr88

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Hearing ‘That Voice Again’ – Peter Gabriel’s Back To Front

A few months ago, I wrote an article about Peter Gabriel’s Back to Front tour and the 25th anniversary of his groundbreaking album So. On October 6, Gabriel performed at the Hollywood Bowl, where I sat in section L2, completely dumbstruck. At 62 years of age, he’s still got it. Not quite like he had it when he was in his 20s, 30s, and even 40s, but rather in a more subdued manner. Maybe he wasn’t rolling around the stage in a hamster ball, or prancing about the stage as a flower, but he was skipping, running around, and even dancing, which is a real feat considering he kept his voice unwavering throughout the performance.

Gabriel performed the concert in three stages. The first, he said, was to be as if they were rehearsing, and experimenting with new sounds. True to his word, the lights throughout the arena remained on, and he sat before the piano. A hush spread throughout the packed arena. Gabriel began to play, singing a beautiful little song, that is, as of now, still unfinished. As he finished, the crowd was getting excited for what he had in store for them. In this rehearsal stage, he (and of course the magnificent Tony Levin, Manu Katché, David Rhodes, David Sancious, Jennie Abrahamson, and Linnea Olsson) played “Come Talk To Me,” “Shock the Monkey,” and “Family Snapshot.” They were not played like the studio versions. Rather, he jazzed them up, making them into completely new acoustic versions of these songs.

Stage two was to be the second course, before the dessert, namely So in its entirety. At this point, the crowd was on its feet, so ready to sing our hearts out. Peter Gabriel performed powerful electronic versions of several of Gabriel’s classic songs, starting with “Digging in the Dirt,” “Secret World,” and “The Family and the Fishing Net,” and finishing with “No Self Control,” “Solsbury Hill,” and “Washing of the Water.” At this point, the concert became a show, with spectacular lights moving about the stage like great living creatures, amazing cinematography displayed on massive screens spaced throughout the arena, and Gabriel and the band executing some synchronized dance moves. For “Solsbury Hill,” Gabriel began skipping about the stage, involving the audience in his obvious joy, and eventually leading the rest of the band around the stage in a happy, skipping procession. The second stage concluded with an extremely powerful and beautiful rendition of “Washing of the Water,” one that literally brought tears to my eyes.

And for stage three, Peter softly announced that dessert had finally arrived. A thrum of anticipation swept throughout the crowd as we waited, breathless, for him to begin. Everything began to glow red, marking the beginning of the opening track from So, “Red Rain.” For “Sledgehammer,” the audience leapt to its feet once again, singing uproariously. At the conclusion, Abrahamson joined Gabriel in the forefront as they began to sing “Don’t Give Up.” The crowd grew silent, everyone holding their breath in anticipation. The haunting lyrics resonated throughout the Bowl, sounding inspirational at the same time.

Next thing I knew, I was hearing “That Voice Again.” The people all around me became friends, comrades, and we all sang in unison, remembering the first time we heard that voice. Then we watched Peter sink to his knees, slowly falling backwards until he lay flat on his back, staring up into the lights. The first notes of “Mercy Street” rose up from the stage, evoking images of water, rowing a boat, and family. I looked over at my father, tears welling up in his eyes as he sang along to the lyrics, “…in your daddy’s arms…” His obvious joy at all the memories the song brought back made me so thankful to Peter Gabriel for giving such a gift. Truly, only Peter could sing an entire song lying on the ground and make it a work of pure art. From there, the tone changed dramatically as he transitioned into the satirical “Big Time.” The audience laughed and sang, chanting the last 17 ‘big’s enthusiastically. Then came the dark “We Do What We’re Told,” referring to the Milgrim 37 social experiment. The lights turned red, and Peter sang with such regret and anger as to invoke the same feelings in us. He transitioned into the strange and whimsical “This Is The Picture (Excellent Birds),” and finally to the iconic “In Your Eyes.”

Before he began, however, a surprise was waiting in the wings. A man, dressed in black, wearing a baseball cap, ran out onto the stage and handed Peter a large bulky object. Peter announced gleefully, “Mr. John Cusack!” whereupon the man gave a bow and the crowd erupted in tumultuous cheering as Peter raised the boombox above his head, grinning wildly at the reaction. After the song concluded, the members left the stage one by one. We all kept cheering, eager for the encore. It came, as promised, beginning with “The Tower That Ate People.” And, for the final song, Peter sang his eulogy to Steven Biko. As each band member left the stage, we sat, enraptured, chanting the last echoes of that haunting song as Manu Katché kept the beat going. We left in a daze, without that feeling of bereavement we’re usually left with after an amazing concert. It was the perfect ending to a perfect night.

There’s nothing better than going to see your favorite artist in concert. It might be better even than listening to their studio versions with your vFree, which is saying something!

Here’s John Cusack handing Peter Gabriel the boombox:

And here’s a look at some of Peter’s elaborate costumes from his Genesis days:

Finally, here he is in one of his complex creations—a human hamster ball:

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Imagine Dragons

 

I recently discovered an indie rock band called Imagine Dragons. Based in Las Vegas, Nevada, Imagine Dragons formed in 2008, and after winning multiple battle of the band competitions, released two EPs, one called Imagine Dragons EP and the other called Hell and Silence EP in 2010. The music video for their song “It’s Time” has been nominated for an MTV Video Music Award in the category for “Best Rock Video.” The single “It’s Time” charted in the top 40 on the Billboard Alternative and Billboard Rock charts. After the music video’s release in April 2012, Imagine Dragons was named MTV PUSH Artist of the Week.

Imagine Dragons released their debut album, entitled Night Visions, on September 4, 2012, and it peaked at #2 on the Billboard 200 chart, its first week of sales exceeding 83,000 copies. They have performed on both The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Jimmy Kimmel Live! and on the TV show Glee, Darren Criss covered “It’s Time.” Their song “Lost Cause” is on the soundtrack for Frankenweenie: Unleashed!

An up-and-coming rock band, Imagine Dragons is currently on tour with electronic rock band Awolnation. Upcoming tour dates are as follows:

October 22, 2012: Nashville, TN (The Mercy Lounge)

October 23, 2012: Atlanta, GA (Tabernacle)

October 24, 2012: Tampa, FL (Ritz Ybor)

October 25, 2012: Lake Buena Vista, FL (House of Blues-Orlando)

 

In November, Imagine Dragons will be touring Europe.

 

Here’s a look at their MTV nominated music video for the song “It’s Time:”

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Back Packing with a Solar Charger

In this age of technology, we go everywhere with our electronics. Our cell phones, iPods, iPads, computers, GPS devices, and other electronics are always within reach. We don’t go anywhere without them. For many people, camping or backpacking, or even hiking, is a way to escape civilization for a time, and enjoy nature. But these activities come with the risks inherent in being alone in the wilderness. So perhaps we need not travel without some electronics, and it is really wonderful to have music for the long trek to that serene lake, mountain stream, or grassy meadow. But the charge in your GPS or iPod won’t last for the entire trip. So we need a way to charge them. It’s not practical to have another battery, because when that runs out, there’s no way to charge it either. The solution clearly presents itself as a solar charger.

If you’re just out for a day trip, perhaps you won’t need this novel device. But if you’re backpacking for a week, or two weeks, wouldn’t it be helpful to have your GPS, on the off chance you lose your way? Or your iPod to help you keep the pace on the long uphill trails? The solar charger can keep your devices charged for just those purposes.

There are many different portable solar chargers out there, and not all of them work very well. I recommend you don’t be stingy, because the cheap ones are not worth it. They break easily, they charge slowly, and they encounter all sorts of problems. If you’re going to go for it, then get a good one. They’re worth the extra money. They can charge at odd angles with the sun, inside of tents, in the shade, and even in light rain. They can survive weather, being dropped, and all manner of abuse. They are very durable. So next time you’re going camping or backpacking, make sure you pack your solar charger along with your GPS, iPod, and vPulse!

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Timbre: Emotions in Music

Timbre, also called tone color or tone quality, is the quality of a musical note that differentiates different types of sound, such as a trumpet and a guitar. When these two instruments play a note with the same loudness and pitch, they still sound different. That is because the timbre of the instruments is different. Timbre is determined by the physical characteristics of the sound, such as the spectral envelope, the rise, duration, and decay time envelope, the prefix to the sound, micro-intonation, and the range between tonal and noiselike character. Timbre is the quality of a sound that makes it different from others.

Why is it that two singers with the same range, singing the same note, at the same volume, do not sound the same? They might sound similar, but they might sound extremely different. It depends on the physical aspects of that which produces the sound, such as the vocal cords, and the method of delivery. That’s why some people have extraordinarily beautiful voices and some people, frankly, do not.

Timbre is that which makes you cry when you hear a sad song. It is what makes bagpipes so mournful. It is what makes a violin sound so beautifully sad. But it is also what makes the saxophone and flute so joyful. The pitch plays no part in the emotions associated with the sound. The timbre controls that entirely. The method in which these instruments are played also affects how they sound. For instance, the violin can sound incredibly happy and upbeat when played in an Irish folk song. And the flute can sound wistful and lonely when played slowly, with long notes stretching out sorrowfully. All of the emotions we feel when we listen to music come from the tone quality, the timbre.

Here’s an example of the mournful, yet beautiful, bagpipes at work:

And here is an example of very interesting and beautiful timbre in a voice:

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Velodyne to Host Benefit for VH1 Save the Music and R.O.C.K.S

Velodyne is sponsoring a VMA event to benefit VH1 Save The Music Foundation today in Los Angeles. We believe very strongly in restoring instrumental music education to America’s public schools. Learning to play a musical instrument, especially at a young age, offers a variety of benefits, ranging from stress relief to doing better at school. Music can benefit a child’s reading age, IQ and the development of parts of the brain integral in learning. We had 2 subwoofers custom painted by Force 129 from the Anno Domini gallery in San Jose, CA which will be donated to VH1 Save the Music and The Avril Lavigne Foundation (R.O.C.K.S.) for disadvantaged youth.

The NBA Baller Beats for Xbox 360 VMA Lounge benefiting VH1 Save The Music Foundation presented by Velodyne Acoustics features music by Ian Desdune (Regina King’s son), a special performance by Platinum-selling duo Karmin, and music by Demetrius (Timbaland’s son). At the afterparty in L.A., Timbaland will debut his new liqueur, Le Sutra, for the first time.

We can’t wait for the afterparty! Check out our tweets live from the Velodyne VMA Lounge presented by Velodyne Acoustics!
Follow us on Twitter @velodyneaudio, and check out our Facebook page as well!

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