Are you still bothered by the cumbersome job of merging multi-worksheet excel files into one worksheet? Merge Excel Files software should be your first choice.
Do you want to buy Quicken Premier 2014 with lower price? Luckily,you get to the right place,here we offer you a amazing Quicken Premier 2014 Coupon and it can save more money for you.
Tag Archives: music

Live vs. Headphones (A selection of tracks)

There are many ways to experience music. Historically, I’ve found two of the most emotionally arresting of these ways to be live and via headphones. As I explained in Tuesday’s post, each offers distinct advantages; some songs are more powerful with the pulsing electricity of a crowd backing them up, while others benefit from the intimacy of the artist singing right into your ear. I’ll run through a few of my favorite songs and let you know whether to snap up concert tickets or pop on some ‘phones to hear them at their best. (Make sure to choose headphones with good bass; if you’re wondering why, read my post about why bass is important).

 

Florence Welch of Florence + the Machine is a captivating performer. Photo from F+TM's official web site.

Howl by Florence + The Machine: LIVE Florence Welch’s vocals are exquisite in any setting, but she is a truly enchanting performer. I saw her in 2010 at the Wiltern in LA and was mesmerized by her stage presence and spellbinding, emotional delivery. The difference between the recorded and live renditions of her songs was most stark in “Howl,” a visceral and animalistic track that evokes wild passion. It’s a sight to behold when this song pours out of Ms. Welch with an intensity that’s a little scary in the best possible way. 

Baba O’Riley by The Who: HEADPHONES This was a tough call, since this song is so amazing and epic that it blows me away no matter how I listen to it. I was lucky enough to see The Who play the HP Pavilion in San Jose in 2006, and they’re still legendary rock stars. Still, the magic and energy of the live setting (and accompanying light show) couldn’t quite compare to the overwhelming sensory overload that takes place when I close my eyes and fall into this song through a good pair of headphones. Just try getting one-on-one with this song without getting goosebumps.

“MFEO Pt. 1 – Made for Each Other / Pt. 2 – You Can Breathe” by Jack’s Mannequin: LIVE I was already in love with Jack’s Mannequin’s first album, Everything in Transit, before I ever saw the band live. The obsession didn’t set in, however, until the first time I saw them in 2007. “MFEO” was a completely overwhelming experience; the lyrics took on an entirely new meaning in the context of a live show. And maybe we were made for each other // And maybe, just maybe // the world will look like this forever… meant that I might get that feeling over and over, the feeling that everything was perfect and wonderful and utterly, painfully beautiful. It wasn’t a love song about a girl; it was a love song about music, about the crowd, about the ecstasy of a couple hundred people worshiping at the rock pulpit together in a room. If you’ve never seen Jack’s Mannequin live, I recommend it as highly as I could recommend anything.

Black Balloon by the Goo Goo Dolls: HEADPHONES “Black Balloon,” which tells a story of love and drug addiction, breaks my heart every time it plays on my headphones. The Goo Goo Dolls put on a decent show, but by now they’ve performed this hit so many times that it’s lost a little bit of emotional authenticity in the live rendition. It’s clear that they’re bona fide rock stars, and with that title comes an aura that enhances their “bigger” songs (see the next paragraph) but detracts from their most heartfelt offerings.

Slide by the Goo Goo Dolls: LIVE The rock-star vibe that takes away from “Black Balloon” serves to pump up sing-along-friendly radio hits like “Slide”. I had a blast dancing and singing along when this song filled the Greek Theater in Berkeley on a Friday night in 2007, riding the energy the band brought to the venue.

 

I invite you to play “Live vs. Headphones” whenever you get the chance to compare. No matter how you listen, I wish you frequent and joyful musical experiences.

 

-Benevolent Siren

Comments { 3 }

5 Differences between Live Music and Using Headphones

Visual elements can enhance or detract from live music. Oooh, pretty lights... so green...

It’s happened plenty of times before: I’ll buy concert tickets months in advance, my expectations directly proportional to the price of the tickets, only to wish I could have just heard the tunes on a good pair of headphones when the show was over. On the other hand, I can look back at a few live music events as peak life experiences and never quite recapture the excitement without the pulsing energy of a jazzed crowd. When it comes down to it, live music and the stuff that comes through your headphones is fundamentally different. Here are 5 key distinctions between the live and headphone experience.

 

  1. Technical perfection. Live music is almost never “perfect” the way a recording can be. Auto-tune is a fickle mistress, and it’s painful when an artist can’t deliver the goods live. On the other hand, as Dave Grohl explained following his controversial Grammy speech, little flaws can add authenticity and excitement to a performance. Personally, I’ll happily forgive a few missed notes if the artist is a passionate and energetic performer.
  2. Personal space. Boy howdy, can this one make a difference. Whether you’re fighting it out in a mosh pit, perching on the edge of a stadium seat or reclining on a blanket in the grass, you will invariably have neighbors in a live music environment. Whether or not they act neighborly is up to pure chance–I’ve personally had to elbow my fair share of bubble-violators, which can certainly detract from the magic of the evening. On the other hand, the crowd can create an electricity and energy that headphone listening can’t hope to match. Whether the adjacent masses help or hurt the experience is up to the crowd-sorting fates to decide.
  3. Intimacy. As #2 suggests, there’s plenty of (often unsolicited) physical intimacy to be found at a concert. Aural and emotional intimacy, though, is hard to attain when throngs of people around you are chatting over the music or singing along off-key. By contrast, a pair of noise-reducing headphones can isolate the sound to the point where the whole outside world melts away, and all that’s left is you and the artist playing right into your ear. That’s the kind of intimacy I’m talking about: no distractions, no extraneous noise, no intrusions. And you’re better able to get it with a pair of ‘phones.
  4. Visual aids. Unless you’re prone to using the visualizer option with iTunes or watching music videos, your typical headphone experience will be strictly auditory in nature. This leaves you free to close your eyes and supply your own visual elements, or to concentrate only on how the sounds hit you. At a concert, with light shows or pyrotechnics or even just the band, the visual spectacle can have a big impact on your experience. Whether the production is distracting or engaging depends entirely on the show.
  5. The element of surprise. When you select your favorite track on your MP3 player, you know exactly what’s about to come through your headphones. A familiar album or playlist can act as an aural security blanket or change agent that you can perfect and select for your particular mood and musical needs. Live music has the element of surprise; instead of being in control of your experience, you’re along for the ride.

 

Coming soon: I compare the experience of hearing a few of my favorite songs live to the recorded versions in one of my favorite games, “Live vs. Headphones“–with some unexpected results.

-Benevolent Siren

Comments { 0 }

Why Music Snobbery Is Codswallop (A Rant)

If you have ever been young, chances are you have been told that the music you love is garbage. Maybe it was a parent, maybe a teacher, maybe an old fogey on TV; it might even have been a peer with a cool older sibling who molded his or her tastes. Whoever it was, he or she was 100% wrong, totally misunderstood what music is for and had absolutely no right to tell you that. Here’s why.

Music is one of the most personal things you can experience. At its best, it gets all the way in you, through you, messing with your head and your heart, speeding or slowing your pulse, triggering your tear ducts, making your heart swell until you’re sure it’s going to burst out of you. I don’t care what kind of performer does that for you; if they do, they are by definition a good artist. I’ll say that again because I feel it so strongly: If an artist moves you, he or she has succeeded in creating good art. And if you love something, if you feel it in your bones and your veins, it’s not up to anyone else to say that it’s crap. Because they are necessarily wrong.

I can’t even count the number of times I’ve heard older generations (and jaded, too-cool-for-school youth) bemoan the decline in the quality of popular music, and I understand where they’re coming from–but I vehemently disagree with their assessments. I would argue that the intended effect of popular music is to appeal to a very wide range of people, which can only be accomplished by tapping into emotions that are a fundamental and near-universal part of the human experience, and that isn’t as easy as it sounds. Successful pop songs are an integral part of cultural cohesion and the bonds between a society held together by common experiences, regardless of their content or technical merit (and really, who’s deciding how to judge technical merit?). Popular art will always serve a powerful cultural function, and while it will superficially seem quite different between generations, it is fundamentally the same thing. If you listened to pop music in your youth, you are committing hypocrisy by criticizing today’s pop music.

It’s one thing to admire and value a song or artist from an academic, music theory perspective. I don’t wish for one second to suggest that music theory is worthless and music academia is silly. But when it comes to experiencing music, one-on-one with just you and a pair of headphones or killer sound system or even live as one of thousands in a crowd, the music theory is almost besides the point. In the same way that fine art is about touching something in your heart and soul at least as much as it is about technique, I think it’s utterly foolish to criticize someone for the aural art that makes them feel something as deeply as a human can feel.

 

By all means, let me know if you disagree.

 

-Benevolent Siren

Comments { 0 }

What the 2012 Grammys Taught Me

Not only were the 2012 Grammys a grab-bag of entertaining and/or boring and/or cringe-inducing moments, they were also a learning experience for me. Choice nuggets of wisdom:

 

Justin Vernon of Bon Iver reluctantly accepts the Grammy for Best New Artist. Also, the BS Award for Most Delusional Hairstyle.

 

What did you learn? Feel free to share.

 

-Benevolent Siren

Comments { 0 }

The Perfect Hump Day Playlist

Note: You can find this and all my other playlists on Spotify by using the post titles as search terms.

It’s Hump Day! Are you dragging? Need some RADICAL TUNES to pump you up and get you through the rest of the week? Here’s a list of jams that are currently putting a pep in my proverbial step.

 

  1. “Big Machine” by the Goo Goo Dolls
  2. “People, Running” by Jack’s Mannequin
  3. “Use Somebody” by Kings of Leon
  4. “Paradise” by Coldplay
  5. “Baba O’Riley” by The Who
  6. “Mad Season” by Matchbox Twenty
  7. “This Love” by Maroon 5
  8. “Shake it Out” by Florence + the Machine
  9. “Ooh La La” by Goldfrapp
  10. “Sail” by AWOLNATION
  11. “Sing Out” by The Grand Magnolias

And if you need a new pair of in-ear headphones to rock out at work, there’s a 2-for-1 sale on vPulse at Velodyne.com in celebration of Valentine’s Day with promo code BEMYVELODYNE (1 per household; see promotion details). Because if there’s one thing I love more than music, it’s free stuff.

 

-Benevolent Siren

 

Admin note: This promotion is no longer in effect. Please visit Velodyne.com to learn about current promotions.

Comments { 0 }

5 Catchy Songs You Didn’t Know Were Tragic

  1. “Semi-Charmed Life” by Third Eye Blind  With its utterly singable “do-do-do” chorus and melody, this may be one of the catchiest songs to come out of the 90s–but did you know it was about a struggling meth addict? I certainly didn’t until I sang it at karaoke night in a bowling alley (I mean…something less depressing?) and read all the lyrics for the first time. Lines like “Doing crystal meth will lift you up until you break / It won’t stop / I won’t come down” and “We tripped on the urge to feel alive / But now I’m struggling to survive”  reveal the painful hopelessness that comes with crippling drug addiction. Uplifting, right? Some more dreary lyrics: ”She’s got her jaws now locked down in a smile /  but nothing is alright, alright…”
  2.  “Slide” by The Goo Goo Dolls: At first blush, this might sound like a run-of-the-mill catchy love song, with charming lyrics like “And I’ll do anything you ever dream to be complete /…/ Put your arms around me / What you feel is what you are, and what you are is beautiful / Oh May, do you want to get married, or run away?” If you take a closer listen, though, a darker undercurrent is revealed:  “Don’t you love the life you killed / The priest is on the phone / Your father hit the wall / Your ma disowned you” suggests that the song is really about a young Catholic woman dealing with an unplanned pregnancy. This interpretation was confirmed by songwriter and Goo Goo Dolls frontman Johnny Rzeznik during a VH1 performance.
  3.  “Drops of Jupiter” by Train: According to Pat Monahan, lead singer of Train, Drops of Jupiter is about the passing of the artist’s mother and his effort to overcome the loss. He stated that the lyrics “She’s back in the atmosphere” came to him in a dream, and are meant to represent the concept that his mother returned to him spiritually after leaving for a while. He explained in a VH1 special, “Obviously, loss of the most important person in my life was heavy on my mind, and I thought of, ‘What if no one ever really leaves? What if you just kinda…you’re here, but different?’ you know, and the idea was, ‘She’s back. Here, in the atmosphere.’” Heavy, man. But on the bright side, if you want to interpret this track as a simple love song, there’s always the Taylor Swift cover.
  4.  “Paper Planes” by MIA: Gunshot sound effects make up the majority of the “Paper Planes” chorus, hinting at the morbidness of the song’s themes. Still, the fun hook and danceable beat makes it easy to overlook the extent to which this pop hit deals with violence and drug dealing culture. Lyrics like “sticks and stones and weed and bombs / Running when we hit ‘em / Lethal poison through their system” and “Some, some, some I, some I murder / Some I, some I let go” are explicitly violent, and the disturbing levity of M.I.A.’s tone contributes to the overall darkness of the track.
  5.  “If I Had $1,000,000″ by Barenaked Ladies  BNL weaves a fantasy world in which the male protagonist outlines what he’d buy if he were to receive a million-dollar windfall. Whimsical and goofy, right? Well, on the surface, yes: potential purchases include the remains of the Elephant Man, a mini-fridge (filled with pre-wrapped sausages) and an exotic pet (like a llama, or an emu). Sadly, though, everything he would buy is for a woman who doesn’t seem to love him back. This refrain reveals the misery underlying this song:  ”If I had a million dollars / I’d buy your love.” Unrequited love is among the cruelest of life’s trials, and one could speculate that his riches would be of little comfort to him without this dream woman. And if numerous pop idols are to be believed, money can’t buy love. Sorry, BNL.

 

Can you think of any more? Let me know in the comments!

-Benevolent Siren

Comments { 0 }

Must-Hear Song of the Day

If you’ve never heard this version of Adele’s “Someone Like You,” you’re doing yourself a grave disservice by not listening to it now. Stop what you’re doing, press play, and take some deep breaths (song starts at 1:07):

I’ll be sobbing in the corner if anyone needs me.

 

-Benevolent Siren

Comments { 0 }

ALBUM SHOWDOWN: Mylo Xyloto (Coldplay) vs. Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends (Coldplay)

If you’re not a Coldplay fan, maybe read one of my other posts instead of this one.  I’m about to talk about Coldplay a LOT.

In the age of the single, few pop albums are greater than the sum of their tracks. In my humble opinion, though, Coldplay bucks this trend, offering radio-friendly singles alongside brilliantly-crafted deep cuts that add up to wholly cohesive and engaging albums. This is especially true of their two most recent albums, which represent a marked departure from their previous offerings in terms of musical and lyrical complexity. As such, those are the two top contenders for My Favorite Coldplay Album, and I’ll be sussing out the winner in this here blog post. (Grammys are nice, but this honor is pretty prestigious too. Just saying.)

In one corner, we have 2008 release Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends (VLVODAAHF, if you will), winner of a Grammy for Best Rock Album and the best-selling album of 2008. In the other, we have Mylo Xyloto, released in October 2011, which has hit #1 on the charts in 30 countries and racked up a few Grammy nods to boot. (Thanks, Wikipedia!) Let’s get right into the head-to-head.

More gripping overture: Mylo Xyloto. Both albums introduce their respective musical tapestries with lovely instrumental overtures. Mylo Xyloto devotes 42 seconds to its rock-out intro, while Viva la Vida’s is two and a half minutes long and gently eases the listener in. This disparity is indicative of each album’s pace–MX rocks a little harder overall with songs that make you dance, while VLVODAAHF is in no rush and unfolds in a more deliberate fashion. This gives the advantage to MX, as it jumps right into the action without delay.

Stronger thematic consistency and flow: Viva la Vida. The cohesion of an album depends on the connection between songs: transitions between them, thematic ties, recurring aural motifs, etc. Mylo Xyloto is a little disjointed and suffers in this category. For instance, track 9 (“UFO”) is a stripped-down and intimate semi-acoustic offering, while track 10 (“Princess of China” feat. Rihanna) is electronic and synth-heavy. By contrast, VLVODAAHF is meant to be heard in its entirety, with a haunting tone that inhabits each track and glues the songs together in a gooey glob of ethereal perfection.

Catchier singles: Mylo Xyloto by a landslide. This category pits VLVODAAHF’s “Viva la Vida” and “Violet Hill” against Mylo Xyloto’s “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall” and “Paradise.” (Plus, “Princess of China” feat. Rihanna is slated to be released as a single on Valentine’s day 2012.) There’s no contest here for me. I never loved “Viva la Vida” as a single–the emotional connection just isn’t there for me–and even though “Violet Hill” is a great song, it works better with the rest of the album around it. Meanwhile, “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall” and “Paradise” are both extremely engaging and emotionally charged. “Paradise” in particular rings true with the current economic climate and its effects on the outlook of the global workforce: When she was just a girl // She expected the world // But it flew away from her reach // So she ran away in her sleep // And dreamed of paradise…

Greater emotional involvement: Viva la Vida. Viva la Vida’s mournful vocals and piano spin a dreamworld that addresses war, death, and desire, singing right to your soul. Mylo Xyloto is billed as one long love story with a happy ending, but somehow it doesn’t connect on every level the way VLV does for me. Maybe you’ll disagree, which is your right. I can’t decide this one for you. But when Chris Martin murmurs the following lyrics on the closing VLV track, “Death and All His Friends,”  I always stop what I’m doing to really listen: And, in the end // We lie awake and we dream of making our escape… and it gets me every time.

Overall: I have to give it to Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends. Mylo Xyloto had me dancing at my desk and is chock-full of anthems that will fit right in on the radio. VLVODAAHF, on the other hand, makes slow, sweet love to your soul, seducing you song by song with its haunting melodies and lyrics. Listen to Viva la Vida while meditating, falling asleep, or writing about Coldplay (or anything, really). Listen to Mylo Xyloto on road trips, while taking a brisk walk, or pop in some headphones and listen during work hours.

 

Both albums are strong offerings, but one of them had to win. Do you agree with my choice? Disagree? TL;DR? Let me know in the comments. I’ll read ‘em, I promise.

 

-Benevolent Siren

Comments { 1 }

Why Do I Need a Subwoofer?

When I tell non-audiophiles that I work at a subwoofer company, the first question is usually either something like “What is a subwoofer?” or “Why are subwoofers important?” Believe it or not, I love getting these questions, because they give me the opportunity to go on and on about how a subwoofer can fundamentally change the way I experience media until my conversational companion’s eyes glaze over. Since I now have this platform to gush about them, I may just refer people to this page for my answer in the future.

Subwoofers like this Velodyne DD-18+ are indispensable to a satisfying audio experience.

So why do you need a subwoofer? Here’s my answer, in a nutshell: subwoofers reproduce bass (sound frequencies at the low end of the spectrum), and bass is absolutely essential to the emotional connection you forge with audio media. The cleaner and more powerful the bass, the more you can lose yourself in what you hear.

As far as I’m concerned, low frequencies are the id of entertainment. They tap into the base-level emotional and physical instincts that compose our collective psyche. Bass is sex; bass is terror; bass is overwhelming, uncontrollable joy. The heart and soul of sound lies in the foundational frequencies, and what is sound without feeling? Why listen to music, or watch movies, if not to be moved in some way?

Take hip-hop, where the bass is explicitly held in high regard. (Bass is essential for every musical genre, but in hip-hop the low frequencies take center stage.) I listen to rap to feel like a badass, and every time the bass kicks in a core-shaking rhythm, my whole demeanor takes on a life of its own. Thump thump rap lyrics thump, and I’m feeling like the king of the world in three beats flat. Badass indeed.

Or, consider the home theater experience. Movies are meant to be experienced, not just watched; a good film is meant to involve you wholly in its story, stealing you away from your daily life. If you want to be truly engulfed in a movie, you need to feel like you’re right there in the action, and the soundtrack is instrumental in bringing you there. Nautical battle scenes can’t seem real without thundering cannons; the tremors of an approaching beast’s footsteps can’t scare you if you don’t feel them thumping. Full and accurate bass reproduction allows you to forget that you’re watching a movie, letting you feel everything the characters do.

So, audiophiles and audio-philistines alike, I say to you: let there be bass! No matter the media, a subwoofer rounds out the sound and lets you turn on, tune in, drop out with all your consciousness. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go watch The Dark Knight on Blu-Ray and put my subwoofer to work.

-Benevolent Siren

Comments { 2 }