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Music Monday – Neil Young and Crazy Horse

Psychedelic Pill, the forcoming release from Neil Young and Crazy Horse

It’s Music Monday – What are you listening to? Sitting at my desk working, I’ve had my vPulse headphones in and buzzing along to Jack White, Foster the People, The Flaming Lips. Usually my musical choices are chosen on a whim but not this time. I’m getting very excited for The Bridge School Benefit concert next weekend!

You may not know that Neil Young, iconic singer-songwriter who has a career spanning over 40 years and – count ‘em – TWO inductions into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame has two sons with cerebral palsy. In 1986, Neil and his wife Pegi helped start The Bridge School, which specializes in educating children with severe speech, communication and physical impairments. Twenty-six years ago, the first Bridge School Benefit Concert was held, with performers including Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Nils Lofgren, Don Henley, Tom Petty, Robin Williams, and Bruce Springsteen raising the funds necessary to open the school in 1987. Every year since, with the exception of the year the school opened, a benefit concert has been held with a performance by Neil Young – with the full line-up playing acoustic instruments.

This year, the concert is the weekend of October 20-21, 2012. Here are the artists scheduled to perform:

As always, this line-up is impressive and the night will likely be legendary. I couldn’t be more excited to attend a killer concert while contributing to a great cause. Enjoy this video of “Ramada Inn” by Neil Young with Crazy Horse; it’s got that raw, unmistakeable, rockin’ signature Neil Young sound I have grown up with and respected my entire life. Enjoy the rest of your Music Monday!

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“Pin It To Win It” Pink v-Pulse Giveaway

The new pink vPulse are in stock now. Three lucky people will have a chance to win a pair of these highly coveted in-ear headphones which retail at $99. It’s easy to enter – just go to our website,  and pin the pink vPulse image to one of your pinboards to get started. Complete the rafflecopter below and you will be entered to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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How to get stuff done

  1. Go to a public place, preferably where caffeinated hot beverages are served.
  2. Drink a hot beverage.
  3. Play John Mayer’s album Battle Studies (or music of equivalent mellowness) through noise-reducing headphones, thereby creating for yourself a private world of focused concentration.
  4. Start.

The rest will take care of itself. Take it from someone who knows.

 

-Benevolent Siren

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Velodyne Supports the Community: Music Matters Family Festival

 

The Surf Spot in Pacifica, CA will be holding its first annual Music Matters Family Festival September 23, 2012. 100% of the proceeds will go to Music Matters in Pacifica. MMiP is a new program of the Pacifica Education Foundation that advocates and raises funds to support the instrumental music program for 6th through 8th graders in the Pacifica School District.
 The Surf Spot is hosting performances by The Refugees (Tom Petty Tribute Band), Curt Yagi and The People Standing Behind Me, 5D and Green Room Music. There will be a special guest deejay. Doors open at noon and there is a $5 admission – 100% of the proceeds will be donated to Pacifica’s Music Matters Foundation.We hope you and your families can come out and support children’s music programs, while enjoying the fun  lineup of bands, games, food and drinks! Velodyne has donated a few “swag bags” that Curt Yagi & The People Standing Behind Me will be giving away. You could walk away with a pair of vPulse in-ear headphones that retail at $99!

Good swag for a good cause!

Surf Spot Restaurant. 4627 Coast Highway. http://surfspoteats.com/ For more information on Music Matters in Pacifica visit http://www.musicmattersinpacifica.org/.

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It may be September, but I’m listening to Christmas music anyway.

Why? Because Christmas music is lovely, and it’s finally starting to get cool in Massachusetts (from whence I am now blogging). As I haven’t lived through an East Coast winter in a decade, the cool seasons are a single unit in my sense memory; cool weather simultaneously means Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. And since Halloween music is goofy and the soundtrack to Thanksgiving is usually just a chorus of killjoys reminding me that the pilgrims were actually jerks to the native people, Christmas music is my go-to source for cool-weather jams.

 

This kitten in a Santa hat doesn't stop being cute just because it isn't December.

 

Here are 5 beautiful Christmas-y songs that are good enough to listen to all year long.

  1. River, cover by Sarah McLachlan
  2. All That I Want by The Weepies
  3. O Holy Night as performed, a capella, by ‘NSYNC
  4. Better Days by The Goo Goo Dolls
  5. Where Are You Christmas by Faith Hill (from Dr. Seuss’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas)

 

Who else out there is bucking society’s oppressive rules regarding seasonal song selection? Can I get an amen?

 

-Benevolent Siren

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How to work through the pain of a breakup…

…A band breakup, that is. When your favorite musical group parts ways or retires, a very real grieving process starts to take place. And darn it, you should grieve. You know who isn’t sad when their favorite band goes away? Robots, and no one else.

 

Anyway, here are the 5 stages of grief seen through the lens of a band breakup.

  1. Denial.  Do you find yourself saying, “REMluvr67 must be misinformed. What does the moderator of an R.E.M. fan message board know about R.E.M. breaking up??” If so, you’re in denial. Don’t worry, this won’t last; the band frontperson will confirm the rumors soon enough. All you have to do at this stage is go about your day until the official news sources start reporting the band’s demise.
  2. Anger. How dare the artist in question do this to you? Doesn’t he/she/they know that you NEED THEIR MUSIC TO SURVIVE? They clearly must not have considered the consequences to you personally. Jerks. You should boycott the fan message boards and temporarily stop listening to their music in protest.
  3. Bargaining. Incessantly inundate the band’s official Twitter feed with requests for one last show. Inform the Internet ether that you’ll donate your kidney if they’ll just do one last studio album. Yell at the Internet about it all you want. You’re going through something here, and if your friends care about you, they’ll listen. (Or ignore you. You’ll never know–it’s the Internet.) After your 50th tweet or 8th status update (whichever comes first), let yourself fall into step 4:
  4. Depression. Make a playlist of the band’s saddest songs. Title it “END OF THE WORLD” and listen on repeat. Curl up on your bed clutching one of their albums, sobbing “whyyy??” over and over. Feel sorry for yourself. Wallow. Wear sweatpants. Eat ice cream. Don’t shower. Maybe take a mental health day. Make sure to put a cap on how long you allow yourself to do this, though; maybe make it a long weekend.
  5. Acceptance. This one takes some doing, and it’s the hardest, but it’s also the most gratifying. After you’ve handled your depression, set aside a block of time to hold a vigil. Collect all your band memorabilia in one comfortable and private place, invest in a killer pair of headphones, and make sure everyone knows you’re not to be interrupted. (Also, if you’re inclined to wear eye makeup usually, maybe don’t during the vigil. You’ll want to be sob-proof.) Listen to their entire discography in order, taking time to remember all the times in your life that each song/album got you through. Remember the first time you saw them live. Remember the bad breakup that had you crying onto their metaphorical shoulder as you listened to that one song on repeat. Remember the happiest they’ve ever made you. Bring up the memories methodically, allow them to take you back to each moment in succession, and live briefly in the emotion of those moments. Smile. Cry. Breathe deeply. Write, if you’re so inclined. And then remind yourself that you’ll always have those memories, and the music that scored them.

And if that fails, tell yourself they weren’t that great anyway. Sniff.

 

-Benevolent Siren

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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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Nokia Design Contest Winners’ Designs Actually Produced

In 2008, a contest was set before artists and designers. The challenge was to design headphones based on a song title. The contest, entitled the Nokia Music Almighty Headset Competition, has spurred the creation of numerous unique headphones.

A particularly inspired design came from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” The headphones, called “The Graveyard Shift,” features zombies, tombstones, werewolves, and other aspects of horror. The adornments flow together seamlessly, creating a very natural and aesthetic feel to the headphones.

Another memorable design is that of G Smith, inspired by Daft Punk’s “Robot Rock.” The sleek silver headphones are a work of art, transforming the wearer into a being reminiscent of a robot.

Another exceptional design comes from R. Kelly’s song “I Believe I Can Fly.” Designed by Rodshakur, the “I’m Flying” headset design evokes images of angels, of the snow-white wings of a dove, or perhaps of the Greek god Hermes. They flash electric blue sparingly along the inside, and golden pipes and trumpets adorn the earpieces. This headset is truly a heavenly creation.

Another two designs were produced, bringing the total number of winners to five. Maria Lecanda created the “Free Willy” headset, inspired by Michael Jackson’s “Will You Be There.”

Rufige Kru’s “Dark Metal” inspired the final headset. It is called the “CF Flex” headset, created by Mr. G.

Over 8000 designs were submitted over a three-month period. The amount of creativity and ingenuity these entrants have shown is inspiring. Only one headset for each winning design was produced, to be displayed by Nokia, and then to be given to the designer. But numerous people have expressed interest in these headsets, albeit displayed as works of art rather than used for listening. It makes you wonder if there will be more to come for these unique designs.

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Music Between the Generations

There have always been great chasms separating generations, but none so much as right now. We live in the era of technology, the Technocratic Age, and we youngsters are eager to adopt new technologies. The older generation, namely our grandparents, has more trouble with them. Perhaps they don’t want them, perhaps they don’t like them, perhaps they don’t understand the need for them. But the fact remains that while the younger generation embraces new technology, the older generation keeps its distance.

I don’t claim that technology is the sole perpetrator of creating the chasm, but merely of widening it. Music can be a great dividing force.

When was the last time you saw an elderly man rapping along with Pit Bull? When was the last time you saw a high school student belting out one of Andrea Bocelli’s operas? I’m not saying that this never happens, but in general, the elder generation sticks with classical, opera, etc., while the younger generation sticks with pop, hip-hop, rap, etc.

When my family goes to my grandparents’ house for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or a birthday, my grandfather always breaks into song before we sit down to dinner. He is a very good singer, to tell the truth, but his style clashes with all of his grandchildren’s preferences. My younger siblings all groan as he begins to sing, and they all shout loudly in efforts to drown him out. All in good fun, of course.

It is true that music preferences vary greatly among all types of people, but the greatest difference lies between age groups, between the generations. There will always be something separating the generations. This time, it’s music.

I have to say, though, that classical music and younger people can mix well. Seriously. Check out Chris Mann from “The Voice” :

http://youtu.be/F6wG0zRhKB0

Rap and older people can mix too. Seriously. Case in point, Betty White”

http://youtu.be/5phqDvrWNZc

Music can also be a uniting force between the generations too.  We just have to be willing to step out of our comfort zones and give it a try!

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