Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Music and Lyrics of Billy Joel

CC-MUS-BillyJoelConf-WebBanner-2016Colorado College hosted a symposium this past weekend.  I wish I had known about it before, I would have participated as it was open to the public… as per the symposium’s website:

“It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me” is a scholarly symposium on the music and lyrics of Billy Joel, the consummate singer-songwriter whose compositions translate larger cultural concerns into accessible and compelling musical narratives. In the spirit of Joel’s music, this public musicology conference aims to share academically oriented insights on this popular figure and his output in an accessible and approachable manner.

Thankfully, someone (Pianomanross) recorded the keynote event, which was actually a phone call with Billy Joel himself!  Here’s the content of the call with Mr. Joel and it adds a heap of colour to the art and craft of songwriting… enjoy the listen and may the muse be with you…


Tuesday, October 04, 2016

AI “Writes” New Pop Song – Daddy’s Car (With A Little Help From Its Friends)

The Beatles vast repertoire of work was utilized by Artificial Intelligence (AI) developed by Sony CSL Music (with the “assistance” of a real live songwriter,  Benoît Carré) to compose the pop song “Daddy’s Car” – described by the Flow Machines AI team as being “in the style of The Beatles”…  I have to admit – it’s kind of catchy (and kind of scary that it is so catchy)…

Sony CSL describes the AI as “expanding towards a new generation of tools, the Flow Machines, whose aim is to abstract ‘style’ from concrete corpora (text, music, etc.), and turn it into a malleable substance that acts as a texture. Applications range from music composition to text or drawing generation.”  In this case, the malleable structure kind of works in a quirky way, but I’ll let you decide for yourself…

May the Muse be with AI and “friends”…

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Petition to have Rush inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

So here's a link to a petition that was started by your's truly after years of Rush being ignored for induction into the Performers category in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.  Please pass it on and let's get the quintessential Canadian prog rock band into the RnR HoF - where they deserve to be... It's 2012 and too late for this year, but let's put some pressure on for next year's induction ceremony... Rush shouldn't have to wait until 2112 when "the meek shall inherit the earth", modest rockers that they are. Let's make it happen in 2013!...  May the Muse be with Geddy, Alex and Neil... and no opinions should be divided on Rush getting this recognition!

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Juno 2012 Songwriter's Circle Part 2

From the Juno Awards site:

And here's part 2 of the Juno Songwriters' Circle courtesy of the CBC with Terri Clark, Max Kergan and Dan Mangan as host... May the Muse be with you as you listen and enjoy great Canadian (unsung) songsters!


Juno 2012 Songwriter's Circle

From the Juno Awards site:
JUNO Songwriters’ Circle brings together some of today’s most talented Canadian singer/songwriters, sharing songs and stories on stage. Host Dan Mangan hosted the discussion, perform some of his hit songs and got up-close with audiences in this truly unique setting and not-to-be-missed event.
Participating Artists: Host Dan Mangan will be joined on stage by fellow 2012 JUNO Award nominees David Francey, Kiran Ahluwalia, Lindi Ortega, Max Kerman (Arkells) and Terri Clark.
CBC has a great podcast of the circle and here's part 1... May the Muse be with you as you listen and enjoy great Canadian (unsung) songsters!

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Barrel of Monkeys and Photographs – Jim Bryson on Kathleen Edwards

Well, Kathleen Edwards most recent release,  Voyageur, is the darling of critics, rightfully so, with its cathartic songs leading to new beginnings from a dissolved past.  I just wanted to share a quote from an interview by David McPherson in the latest Canadian Musician magazine (January/February 2012 edition).  The quote comes from a fellow Canadian singer-songwriter, Jim Bryson, who contributed to Voyageur via emailing parts and pieces of songs back and forth with Edwards (and is part of Edwards’ touring band and a proud new papa to boot – congrats!):

If Edwards chose not to use one of Bryson’s ideas, he didn’t take it personally. “I know how records work,” says the seasoned songwriter. “It’s like taking photographs. You take 100 and you may only use three of them. If it’s a signature part and you really feel connected to it you can have a discussion, but otherwise, if you are playing on someone else’s record, it’s theirs …at the end of the day, it’s her deal. It’s not like I can throw a barrel of monkeys down the stairs and mic it and expect her to use it.”

Now that’s an image that’s hard to get rid of… hmm… probably a novelty record in that idea… Don’t go calling the SPCA on my… I was only joking… But the lesson is to collaborate with respect for the song’s originator… now that I can work with and may the Muse stay with Kathleen, Jim et al…

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

ScoreAHit Web App - The Hit Equation

Well, now we can take the guess-work out of wondering if the songs we write will be hits… The science behind the ScoreAHit web app can be found here.  It’s all mathematics and formulae and “I’ve got algorithms”… here’s a very brief overview from the site:

The underlying assumption is that popular songs are similar with respect to a set of features that make them appealing to a majority of people. These features could then be exploited by Machine Learning algorithms in order to predict whether a song will rise to a high peak position in the chart. Machine Learning is a branch of Artificial Intelligence concerned with learning to perform a task based on examples -- in this case learning to predict hit potential based on past hits and non-hits.

And here are the factors measured by the algorithm in a tag picture format:

Kudos to Dr. Tijl De Bie for his work on this… it looks like a lot of fun and I’m going to submit a song or two to the Songometer when I get the link by email invitation…

I’ll report back on whether I’ve got algorithm or not… May the Muse (and Math) be with me…

Friday, January 27, 2012

Daddy-Daughter Science Song

Check out this article from Real Science about a professional musician helping his 6th grade daughter with a science project by co-writing/producing/mixing a song about the Northern Lights – the good old Aurora Borealis – boy, probably broke the rhyming dictionary with that one! 

Here’s a sample lyric:

Blue and purple nitrogen
Aurora, you never know how much I adore yaʼ
My magnetic field of dreams
Making magic out of photon streams
Those endless nights in the northern lights


Maggie, the 6th grader, talks about the song here:


I know that there’s math in song, but apparently there’s science too… May the Muse stay with this Daddy-Daughter team!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Geek-Mom’s Songwriting Blog Entries

Just found a nice resource from Geek-Mom’s blog detailing songwriting contests and tips… you can find it here and get to entering the contests Julia “Jules” Sherred (Geek-Mom) sets out…

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Love Shines

Just finished watching a beautiful documentary about Ron Sexsmith’s troubles to get a “hit” in the land of radio (a la Bob Rock as Producer). I’ve been inspired lately by many things, some sad, some happy… This film had both… the praise and adulation of his peers and the “wall” that he can’t break through to reach a wider audience – and in the mix, such wonderful works of art, including the title to the film Love Shines.  Ron writes some haunting melodies with lyrics to match… watch this film!

Love Shines in our grief… A childhood (and adult) friend of mine passed away recently… a widower himself, he leaves behind a daughter… so much pain…

Love Shines through our happiness. My wife and I saw Paul Simon at Massey Hall recently and, just last week, Elvis Costello and the Impostors at the Sony Centre (nee O’Keefe then Hummingbird).  So much talent, so much joy brought to so many.

And to bring it all full circle, there was having Elvis Costello talking about Ron Sexsmith in Love Shines and calling him a “Man Out Of Time” (basically). Beyond belief…

May the Muse be with you all… and trailer below

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