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Peter Gabriel’s Back to Front: So Live Tour

Beginning in September, world-renowned musician Peter Gabriel will be touring North America for the 25th anniversary of his groundbreaking, iconic album So. Called the Back to Front Tour, Gabriel will begin in Canada, continue on to the East Coast, then the West Coast. Some tour dates are as follows:

2 October HP Pavilion, San Jose, CA

5 October Planet Hollywood Showroom, Las Vegas, NV

6 October Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles, CA

9 October Santa Barbara Bowl, Santa Barbara, CA

Gabriel will be performing the album So in its entirety, along with some of his biggest hits. The tour will feature Gabriel with many of the band members he toured with 25 years ago during So‘s debut tour.

The album begins with “Red Rain.” He wrote the song after having a recurring dream in which he swam in a blood-red sea. The lyrics portray a sense of vulnerability, especially the words, “I come to you, defences down, with the trust of a child.” Peter Gabriel links the songs of the album together with the wandering stranger Mozo, who he conceived originally as the concept for a movie.

His most popular single, “Sledgehammer,” appears as the second song of the album, famously using the shakuhachi. It hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on 26 July 1986 and number four in the UK singles chart. The music video for “Sledgehammer” holds the record of nine MTV Awards at the 1987 MTV Video Music Awards. As of 2011, “Sledgehammer” is the most played music video in the history of MTV.

Tracks 3-9 are as follows: “Don’t Give Up” (feat. Kate Bush), “That Voice Again,” “In Your Eyes,” “Mercy Street,” “Big Time,” “We Do What We’re Told (Milgram’s 37),” and “This Is the Picture (Excellent Birds).”

Released in 1986, So charted at number 1 in the UK album chart, and number 2 on the Billboard 200 in the US. It is certified triple platinum in the UK and 5x Platinum in the US, and it is ranked at #14 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of “Top 100 Albums of the Eighties.” So is also included in 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Peter Gabriel’s Back to Front: So Live Tour is a must-see. As it is the 25th anniversary of So, it may be the last time he plays the album in its entirety. If you are a Peter Gabriel fan, you can’t miss it!

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What should be done about illegal music downloading?

Recently, David Lowery of The Trichordist penned a thoughtful, impassioned and well-reasoned response to NPR’s All Things Considered intern Emily White, who stated on her employer’s blog that she engaged in illegal downloading and filesharing. Lowery laid out the anti-torrenting argument as well as I’ve seen anyone do it, highlighting its negative impact on the future of the music industry and the devastating effects it has on the >99% of music artists that aren’t dominating the radio waves. That said, I’m not sure any quantity of cogent arguments will be enough to fix this problem. Here’s why:

Simply put, people are motivated by incentives and disincentives. The incentives to download illegally are obvious; it’s free, easy and fast. The disincentives, which include a (very remote) chance of legal ramifications, poor audio quality and a moral tangle, are not always strong enough to overcome the incentives. In order to affect behavior on a large scale, one must manipulate incentives and disincentives.

This brings me to the practical side of this debate: assuming the goal is the elimination of illegal downloading, which disincentives should be magnified, and which incentives tempered? Just as crucially, whose job is it to do this? Looking at the dis/incentives laid out above, those who are losing money due to illegal downloading (i.e. the entire music industry) have a few options. It’s like a choose-your-own-adventure novel, but without all the cool dragons and stuff:

Option A: Reduce the incentive to download illegally by making it harder. In other words, take away the widespread availability of illegal mp3s by targeting filesharing sites. This option has been explored by the government as well as the music industry; Metallica (followed by large record companies and other industry leaders) famously sued filesharing platform Napster in 2000, while the US Justice Department brought Megaupload to its knees in January of this year. Alas, this hasn’t stopped illegal downloading, and new sites will continue to crop up as long as filesharing continues to be profitable (i.e. forever).

Option B: Increase the legal risk of illegal downloading. This has been tried too; according to the New York Times, the industry sued thousands between 2003 and 2008, but ended up losing money due to litigation fees despite collecting handsome fines. Plus, making an example out of a few did nothing to stop the many; illegal downloads continued, and the industry gave up this approach in 2009.

Option C: Bring morality to the forefront. This is what David Lowery does masterfully in his article, and it’s what ads such as the one below attempt to do. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the message hasn’t really hit home on a wide enough scale to make a difference. I’m sure you can think of plenty of examples of money trumping morals, and the reality is it would take, at the very least, a much more well-funded campaign of these ads to make anyone feel genuine remorse for their torrenting transgressions.

Option D: Add a new disincentive. Surprise: the industry’s trying this one too. As of July 2011, internet service providers such as Time Warner, Comcast, AT&T and Verizon have joined the fight by threatening noncompliant customers with numerous warning notices and slower service (info via NYT). I personally know someone who’s been on the receiving end of one of these warnings, and so far it does appear to have made an impact on her. Still, it remains to be seen whether this will be effective enough to save the bottom line of the music industry. I’m personally not very optimistic. Unless these warnings are consistently backed by more concrete consequences, which they aren’t as far as I can tell, my guess is they won’t have enough clout to overcome the allure of unlimited free music.


The moral of the story is this: the industry has explored a wide variety of avenues in its attempts to eliminate illegal downloading, with largely discouraging results. Maybe the next step is to look for a new revenue model. This would be a dramatic and painful paradigm shift in the music industry, but those happen all the time in response to new technology and consumer activities. Instead of fighting the tide of illegal downloading, the music industry might do well to evolve new ways of monetizing its product. For instance, artists can preempt illegal downloads by offering name-your-own-price high-quality MP3s on their own sites, generating a high volume of site traffic (which can be monetized with ad revenues). Also, while Kickstarter success stories aren’t the norm, the site can still be a powerful way to get projects off the ground. Finally, while touring revenues for smaller artists aren’t very profitable in their current form (as David Lowery explains), live music in some form might prove to be a better source of income if the model is reexamined.

Ultimately, I’m not sure what the answer is, but I’m inclined to think the onus of change will ultimately fall on the shoulders of those who stand to lose the most money. And the sooner the music industry embraces the tides of change, the better its chances of remaining relevant–and therefore, profitable.


Benevolent Siren

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Enter for a Chance to Win 2 Tickets to our Exclusive Party in NYC!



If you are in or near the NYC area, you and a friend could win tickets to one of the hottest parties of 2012. Velodyne Acoustics will be presenting a night of “Real Music Pure Sound” at The Avenue in NYC on June 28th, 2012. We will be featuring The Magnificent DJ Jazzy Jeff with our Special Guests Kat DeLuna, Ashanti Floyd and DJ Francisco Lozano. How do you win?

Complete the Rafflecopter below. Winner will be announced the morning of Tuesday, June 26. See you in New York!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Defining the Doppler Effect

Have you ever noticed the way sound changes as it passes by you? The sound of a car horn as the car drives past? Notice how the pitch changes? This is what is known as the Doppler Effect.

The frequency of the sound waves determines the pitch. Sound travels at a constant velocity of 340.29 m/s, but since the wavelength of the sound wave can change, so can the frequency. When an object is stationary, the sound waves that emanate from the object all have the same wavelength, and so therefore have the same frequency. But when an object is moving, the wavelengths of the sound waves moving in the same direction as the object shorten, resulting in the a higher frequency. You perceive this as a higher-pitched sound. After the object passes you and begin to move away, the wavelengths lengthen, resulting in a lower frequency and pitch.

The Doppler Effect is the sound of this transition from high to low pitch as a result of the object’s movement. The same concept applies to breaking the sound barrier. When an object moves at 340.29 m/s, it is traveling at the speed of sound. Once it moves faster than the speed of sound, the waves overlap, resulting in constructive interference. This is what creates a sonic boom.

When one begins to understand how sound works, it becomes evident that sound is not always what it seems. Suppose you’re driving, and your favorite song comes on the radio. You begin singing at the top of your lungs, at a note you perceive to be 465 Hz. But a passerby hears the note at 473 Hz. What you perceive to be 465 Hz is as true as the passerby’s perception of it being 473 Hz. The same sound can be perceived in an infinite number of ways, depending on the motion of the object and the one perceiving it. So really, sound comes down to perception.

Of course, only in relation to pitch. The loudness and timbre are not controlled by motion. The speaker controls that.

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Win A Velodyne “Real Music – Pure Sound” T-Shirt!


Black short sleeve T. Watch not included.


Latest design - Soundwave Logo

Here at Velodyne we always have creative ideas brewing. Check out our latest and greatest t-shirt design. This is a comfortable, high-quality, American Apparel cotton t-shirt with our iconic Velodyne logo on the front. On the back, we feature our unique soundwave design.  Comes in black only and size S, M, L and XL. You want it? You know what to do. Fill out the Rafflecopter below and we’ll announce a winner on Monday, June 25, 2012.  May the most rockin’ person win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Many thanks to our Customer Service Associate Daniel Berkley for modeling.

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Part 2 of Our Unique Instruments Feature

Enjoy our continuation of our unique instruments feature. It’s been fun to learn about these rarely seen and heard instruments.

6. Serpent
The Serpent is an ancient wind instrument related to the modern Baritone, Tuba, and Euphonium. The mouthpiece is very similar to that of a trombone or Euphonium/Baritone. When played softly, it has a firm yet serene timbre. At medium volume, the Serpent produces a robust sound that sounds like a mixture of a tuba, bassoon, and French horn. When played loudly, it can produce unpleasant sounds that are similar to animals in distress. The Serpent has a range from C below the bass clef to at least a half octave above middle C. While the Serpent is historically made from wood, modern Serpents often are made from materials such as synthetic foam resins, fiberglass, plastic, and paper maché.

7. Shakuhachi Flute
The Shakuhachi is an end-blown flute tuned to a pentatonic (5-note) scale. The design of the mouthpiece consists of a slanted edge that enables the player to control the pitch produced by altering the angle at which the flute is being blown. This produces a slight change of intonation—a swelling or bending of notes distinctive in the traditional music.
By various fingerings—covering the holes partially—and by controlling the angle of mouthpiece, all twelve tones of the western chromatic scale can be achieved.

8. Surbahar (half size)
A traditional Surbahar is, in essence, a bass sitar. It is tuned anywhere from four steps to an octave lower than a regular sitar. The half size Surbahar plays like a sitar, and because of the shorter neck, it’s tuned like a sitar as well, but it’s about 3/4 the size of a regular sitar. The tiger profile carving on the bottom gourd is a knee-rest, so the Surbahar can be played while sitting in a chair rather than the traditional crossed-legged style.

9. Waterphone
A type of atonal acoustic instrument, the waterphone produces an ethereal, haunting sound that serves to create a mystical or mysterious tone. Richard Waters invented and created the waterphone out of a stainless steel resonator bowl with bronze rods of varying lengths and widths along the rim of the resonator bowl, and a cylindrical neck with a handgrip. The resonator contains a small amount of water to produce the ethereal sound. Many movies have utilized the waterphone because of its strange and beautiful quality of sound. Some of these movies include Star Trek: The Motion Picture, The Matrix, and The First Emperor.
The waterphone can be submerged in water, and has successfully been used on different occasions to call whales. It can be played either with a bow or superball mallets.

10. Windform
The Windform is a playable leather horn that is six meters long. Tasmania’s Garry Greenwood mastered the art of sculpting leather. He uses a wet moulding technique, creating organic forms such as the human form and Tasmanian plants. His love of music has given rise to wind, stringed, and percussion instruments reminiscent of Tasmanian life, medieval music, and theatrical masks and costumes.

Some of these are such beautiful pieces. It is interesting that we have probably all heard the waterphone in a movie and probably didn’t know. The most common of these would be the sitar, a sound that many of us can easily recognize. Have you heard of any of these instruments? Played them?

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Guest Post: Electric Daisy Carnival 2012

With summer just around the corner, EDM fans have had one thing on their minds – Electric Daisy Carnival. EDC has nearly doubled in size each year until it hit capacity for every venue where it has taken place. This year was no exception, with EDC 2012 selling out for the very first time with estimated 300,000 attendees over a span of three days. EDC has been held at the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the last several years, where it has built its reputation as one of largest electronic dance music events in the world. With interest in EDM rising at exponential levels, EDC needed a much bigger venue, and so it would make sense that its new home is at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas, the EDM capital of America.

When I close my eyes, I can imagine myself entering The Carnival for the very first time. Walking through the pitch-black tunnels of the over 1000-acre venue, my body begins to feel the intense bass coming from the seven massive stages, featuring hundreds of the world’s most famous DJs who represent Electronic Dance Music. The vibes of sound could be felt as I run my hands across the walls. As I begin to wander towards the end of the tunnel, I see the dim glow of lights pulsing in rhythm. With each step forward, it becomes harder to breathe. My heart skips every other beat, while my legs feel like they’re about to give out. As I approach the end of the tunnel and take my first step into the open, I could feel the cool summer breeze blasting against my body, I could smell the scent of fresh daisies in the air, and I could hear the sound of music cascading into the night. 100,000 have come together to become united under the electric sky. This is the Electric Daisy Carnival.

Day one of The Carnival is always the most exciting because expectations are high and it’s the culmination of a yearlong wait for EDM fans. On opening day, the wait and lines are always the longest. The normal travel time from The Strip to the Speedway takes twenty minutes on average, but during EDC weekend it can take anywhere from one to three hours, depening on if you can even find transportation. In my case, I purchased a shuttle pass from a private company who had no idea what they were in for. Naturally, they overbooked the shuttles and so hundreds of people looked like they were ready to start a riot when I arrived at the pickup location. “P.L.U.R people! P.L.U.R.!” Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect. The eager crowd was angry with the organizers of the private shuttles, but everyone kept calm, and reassured each other that the night was still young and that everyone would make it to EDC eventually. The organizers knew they underestimated the size of the crowd, and decided to pay out of their own pockets to rent limos and taxis in order for everyone to get there on time. This is what I love about EDM events. The culture and crowd is just different from any other music event, it’s something you have to be a part of yourself to truly understand. Once we finally make it to the venue, things begin to go smoothly. With 19 years of experience, Insomniac really knows how to throw a party. All possible gates are open for entry, rails were constructed to keep the lines in order, and security was quick and efficient. I made it into the venue just before 12am and the event ends at 5am each day, plenty of time to rage from dusk till dawn.

So what makes fans come back for day two and three? If you experienced one day, you’ve experienced them all right? Wrong! Insomniac knows exactly what to do to keep the fans wanting more. Day one was the teaser day, meant to give fans a glimpse of what‘s in store for the rest of the weekend. The DJs are strategically scheduled to spin at certain days and times in order for fans to create their own itinerary. Many of the DJs are flying in from out of the country to EDC just to spin for a 1 hour set, so fans will have to go multiple days if they want to catch their favorite artists. Everything that didn’t go right on day one was fixed for days two and three. The traffic wasn’t nearly as bad on day two because fans left for EDC much earlier. I entered through the gates just before sunset, a first for me, and the view of the Carnival was just beautiful. It was refreshing to see how The Carnival transforms from a calm beautiful setting during the day to the colorful 100,000 people massive at night. Day two was the day I planned to go all out, and all was going according to plan until the Vegas winds started picking up. I looked up at the ceiling of circutGROUNDS, the massive open trance stage with arches that loom over the crowd, and I could see the huge speakers swaying back and forth as a result of the wind. About 30 minutes later, the entire production suddenly stopped. An announcement was made that due to high winds the event would have to be postponed until the winds subsided. At this point, thousands of people were scattered throughout the venue, both inside and outside, and among the bleachers. There were people crying, depressed, and looking for their loved ones. This scene reminded me of a scene from the Titanic! Nevertheless, fans remained upbeat during the intermission by playing music on their phones and dancing. Around 2AM Insomniac released a statement that they had to shut down EDC for the night due to safety concerns. Much like the 100,000 in attendance, I was very disappointed, until I watched this video:

I would like to take my hat off to the CEO of Insomniac, Rotella Pasquale, who made the incredibly smart and correct decision to shut down day two of EDC for the safety of the fans and artists who were in attendance. Just because the second day ended early it doesn’t means the partying stopped, as many of the DJs decided to make special guest appearances at the nightclubs on The Strip.

To make up for Mother Nature’s wrath the day before, Insomniac decided to let everyone who purchased a day two ticket attend day three. Once again, hats off to the production company, as they were not obligated to do this, but they wanted to make their dedicated fans happy. EDC organizers wanted to make the last night even more special by several artists who could not perform the previous day to the lineup. In addition to the added sets, two spectacular firework shows were also added to the last night of EDC. The last night of EDC for me was a day to take a step back and soak everything in. I wanted to explore one last time on the last night of EDC to make sure I hadn’t missed anything. My girlfriend and I decided to ride all of the carnival rides and look at all the artwork because people tend to forget that EDC is actually a carnival with lots of things to do!

This was my fourth time attending EDC and the experience was just as memorable as my first. Words can only describe so much, while a picture is only worth a thousand words. If you want to engage yourself in this experience of a lifetime, mark your calendars for EDC 2013.

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Summertime Fun At the Drive-in

Last night we went as a family to check out “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” at our local drive-in. The movie itself did not disappoint, as our friendly quartet of zoo animals head to Monte Carlo this time around. An abundance of non-stop action and bright, colorful circus acts absolutely delighted my children. But even more fun than seeing an entertaining, animated film was the fact that we were in our car and the kids were in their pajamas. We brought our own popcorn and drinks from home and made ourselves comfortable while enjoying the cool, fresh air. Listening to the sound coming through the car’s stereo system I was reminded of the drive-in experience of my youth when my parents would bring me to this very same drive-in theater.

By the time I was born, drive-in theaters were on the decline due to rising real estate costs and the invention of VCRs and video rentals. In the height of their popularity in the 1950s and ‘60s, rural areas with acres of wide open spaces were the ideal places for large movie screens and hundreds of cars to gather watch the latest films. In the beginning, the sound was broadcast in various ways, from speakers on the screen itself, then from a row of speakers in front of the cars. Later, the sound was pumped out through small, tinny-sounding speakers that each car could utilize complete with their own volume controls. This is what I remember from my childhood: the scratchy, monophonic sound coming from the (1!) speaker hanging from the car window.

Today the sound is transmitted through an FM station and is piped in right through our car speakers. Gone are the days of worrying about parking close enough to the pole so the speaker can reach…no more messy wires to deal with. The drive-in experience is really quite fun in the summer time. It’s a very convenient option for kids who may not want to sit still for an entire feature film or can’t remain quiet.

Truth be told, I am positive I would have a better quality movie-watching experience in the comfort of my own home. My home theater system, complete with a large flat-screen TV, surround sound and earth-moving subwoofer – not to mention easy access to the restroom and kitchen – is hard to beat. It’s the novelty and nostalgic fun that brings my family back to the drive-in every summer. The things we do for kids.

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10 Most Unique Instruments – Part 1

10 Most Unique Instruments – Part 1

1) Celestial Harp
Built by Robin Armstrong, the Celestial Harp is a 72-string harp based on the circle, square, and spiral. A large instrument, the musician must move around it to play, or multiple musicians must play it. The strings can be played in any manner—plucked, strummed, hammered, played with a slide, etc.
The original idea for the Celestial Harp was to play a person’s horoscope musically. The Celestial Harp embodies the dream of expressing the spirituality of the heavens musically. It brings together the Zodiac, the Pyramid, the stars in the sky, the Solar System, and the I Ching. The sound of the instrument varies greatly due to the styles of the people playing it and its vast musical versatility.

2) Didgeridoo
The didgeridoo is a wind instrument created by the Australian Aborigines 1,500 years ago. Authentic didgeridoos are constructed from hardwood, usually eucalyptus or a natural bamboo, naturally hollowed by termites. They remove the bark, trim the ends, and shape the outside. They then apply beeswax to the mouthpiece to provide a seal when played.
Traditionally, only men can play the didgeridoo. Women do play, but only informally, and it is strongly discouraged. In the South East of Australia, the gender prohibition is most strongly adhered to. The Aborigines of the South East consider the playing of a didgeridoo by a non-indigenous woman “cultural theft.”
In 2005, a study in the British Medical Journal found that regularly playing the didgeridoo strengthens muscles in the upper airway, and so helps to reduce snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. Only after the player learns the circular breathing technique do the muscles begin to strengthen.

3) Fire Organ
The fire organ uses the laws of thermoacoustics to produce sound. The pyrophone, like traditional pipe organs, has one pipe for each note and is activated by a piano keyboard. The sound that originates from the fire organ is created by the temperature difference across a set of channels in extremely close proximity. Propane flames on one end and liquid nitrogen on the other maintain the temperature of the fire organ.

4) Glass Armonica
Benjamin Franklin built the first glass armonica in 1761 after hearing water-filled wine glasses played in 1758 in England. Franklin stacked 37 bowls horizontally along an iron spindle, which a foot pedal turned. The player’s moistened fingers touching the rims of the bowls creates the sound. Franklin recommended using powdered chalk on the fingers to produce a clearer tone. The glass armonica made it possible for ten glasses to be played at once, which is impossible with the standard musical glasses.

5) Kaisatsuko
Invented by Yuichi Onoue of Tokyo, Japan, the Kaisatsuko has two strings with a hand crank that spins a nylon wheel to vibrate the strings. These vibrations produce the constant drone sound of the strings. The wheel operates as mechanical bow. The sound can be altered by different techniques and musical styles. Although there are no frets, slide techniques work well to give the Kaisatsuko the sound of a traditional Asian instrument.

Have you ever heard of any of these? Come back tomorrow to learn about 5 more unique instruments!

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