Monday, November 11, 2013

Why Digital Music Is A Dream Come True, Part 1

Why Digital Music Is A Dream Come True, Part 1

Ths is off-topic, but the small font is too small and the next size up is too large, but maybe it will look all right. Speaking of dreams come true, being able to self-publish, for free, on such a professional-looking choice of formats, is one, as many amateur writers, that is, those who love to write and write for love, have discovered. 

There is a tremendous amount of fascinating amateur writing on the Web, as any quick sojourn through Blogspot, for example, will show. 

There's just a great variety of voluntary writing in a way that has never been seen before, nor so much. 

It's as revolutionary and world-changing as Gutenberg's press; maybe more so. It's as important as radio was  realized to be, especially in the early days before my time: by the 1950's radio was taken for granted; television was the new frontier, and had already become stale in so many ways after only a few short years. But that comes of having to please advertisers. 

The other day, I found myself singing the Chiquita Banana jingle, while driving down Locust Street. It could have happened on any street.

 Locust Street has the Union Pacific line, it has a huge grain elevator, it has two very popular and genuine little Mexican restaurants that the university yuppies from the right side of the river come to on certain evenings, some dishes being named, like ball fields or  scholarships, after good and returning customers, and so there is a lot of tradition, all in all, along that street, but the closest thing to bananas would be the Mexicans, and really, that doesn't fit. 

It's just the closest thing to bananas on Locust Street. 

I just remembered today that I really actually honestly and truely did actually really see thermite welding just a few feet away from Locust Street- where North Third crosses the tracks.

 It was almost there, on the opposite, south-west corner, where a house caught fire one night, and a man died I think, and the next morning everyone was talking about all the cans blowing up all night- there was a room full of paint and the fire went at it like blowing up ammo, so the firemen had a lively time of it. 

And I think the owner died. 

I had a friend who almost died in a fire. He's a real person, so I won't use his name. He was a problem drinker. He used to copy a dollar bill on a Xerox machine, and then make a lot of copies, and cut them up neatly into perfect little counterfeits, and go to the laundromat and use the change machine, and get four quarters for each copy of the dollar, and I don't think he ever got caught, and it was twenty years or more ago, when such things were still possible.  

But that was what he did when he was on the wagon. When he was drinking, he took care of getting himself plenty of punishment. It was harder than jail would have been. 

When drinking, he set his bed on fire, fell off a two-story deck, got stabbed in an alley, set his bed on fire again and was badly burned, and a few other painful and life-threatening things. 

Alcohol does that to some people. 

When I met him he was in a good period of sobriety. I hope it lasts, but I lost touch with him. 

I started out thinking something wonderful about digital music, and then got caught up moralizing, or hinting at it, and not only that, mentioning thermite after a brazen set-up involving a street, grain elevators, paint cans blowing up, and a cartoon singing banana who, actually, was kind of cute. 

"I'm-a Chiquita Banana, and I'm here to..." stop right there, and this time say something more enjoyable to the ears of puberty, Chiqita. Please. You still haunt me, darling. 

But more than that, and much more significantly, that dad-blasted jingle haunts me, and at times when I am just driving, trying to obey traffic signals while simultaneously enjoying the falling leaves- well, I would prefer not to think of hot banana chicks who don't exist, but something more real, like the way Roger Williams does that incredible thing, that makes you think of autumn leaves like crazy even if you are driving down Locust Street and already watching them fall like colored big confetti snow.

 As they are doing today again. It is a genuine vertifiable descending leafzard out there, with a few drops of rain to keep the dust of them down.  

At least this rant is back to music. There's no pretty music in paint cans or thermite, although I admit, a good musician can make music with almost anything. 

But I would rather think of Roger Williams. The piano player one, I mean.  I have the Encyclopedia Britannica in the bathroom to read, and I've had enough history to keep me going for a while, so let's stick to the twentieth century for the moment, and stay away from Rhode Island, which being as small as it is, is relatively easy to avoid anyway.

 Not that I have anything against Rhode Island. It's one of my favorite places. It really is. I love it with all my miserly cold heart, he said sincerely. 
 This is just good-natured kidding, the way boys do: "Hey Rhode Island. You're a asshole!"- and now Rhode Island knows it is loved by its friends, because that is how boys give and receive love as best they can, when a certain age.

 Girls are different, and mainly cry at each other, I think; but I never got close enough to any of them to really find out, truthfully. Now that I am sixty-something I can confess it. I never knew one of them accurately whatsoever.

 As soon as I had something figured out, I was blindsided by something else. 

It was not their fault, as much as it was a fault of the way I was looking at things. I just couldn't see the world through female eyes any more than I could see it through the eyes of a dragonfly. 

So now I just love them at a distance, quietly, and don't make any more trouble, or get into any. It just never worked out, really.  Not that I wouldn't be willing to try again. Never too late. 

Well, maybe it is- it could be, I guess. but that's defeatist.

I wonder if it does really work out for anyone. I mean, really really.

Because, you see, everything we see has a beginning and an end.  I hate that, but can't get around it. 

Sometimes things have a really long gap between  beginning and  end, but they still have 'em. 

So, that is the way love goes. That makes it difficult, but maybe it is also what makes it so terribly beautiful.

For me, music and love go together. It's that way for most people. 

Music affects us in the same places as love. Love can enable and energize music and music can enable and energize love. 

It's a wonderful thing, music is. It is another thing we tend to take for granted. It's everywhere- well, everywhere there is electricity. It is big business and comes in innumerable flavors and varieties. And people play it, and listen to it, and like it, and sometimes, more often than it is given credit for, music changes lives, and I believe, without exception for the better.

 What about martial music?-  someone might ask. What about  music that inspires going to a nasty fox hunt or to a war, or maybe to a lynching, or a robbery? 

Well, you can't blame that on music, is my answer. That is a people problem, not a music problem. 

That being said, I will add that some music makes me crazy and want to run amok, but only for a moment, and it's not consistent enough to blame the music. 

It's probably just a blood sugar effect, and the music is without a stain of blame for anyone running amok. 

Before there was music everywhere, people would run amok from time to time, and they could only chant and beat sticks, or blow on seashells, as neither the violin nor the piano, and not even the balalaika, had yet been invented. 

They would hunt an elephant, and it would trumpet, but no one would say "Elephant just trumpeted!" because the idea of a trumpet didn't exist until a long time afterwards, when Jericho fit the battle of Joshua and blew down the retaining walls of the estate using an early form of sonic cannon in the form of hollow ram's horns, or maybe it was done with reeds. 

 I am just kidding. Stay away, Bible-correcting people! I know I'm wrong. I could look it up, but I don't, just to spite one of you out there. 

No, again not really. This is just a rant, and self-published for free, and so who gives a damn. I could be Raskolnikov writing out the whole damn plot on his blog- the old lady, the whole thing- but I don't, since I am not going to hit anyone on the head but myself. 

No one reads blogs anyway. Maybe the NSA guys do, maybe not. What do I care? Cushlamochree!  I am not their enemy, I hope. I don't even know them. So spy on me if it gets you off, NSA. Whatever. I probably don't have any secrets you even want to hear, or that you could kidnap me for. 

I know, I know, the NSA doesn't kidnap anyone, and will probably not- wait, what is that loud knock on the door?! Help! Help!!

Ha ha, I fooled you for a second, I bet. 

Let's get the subject back around to music now. Here's the nugget. 

I often use VLC Media Player, because it has some features which other media players mostly don't have,  or don't have so conveniently. 

I use other media players too depending upon the type of media, the type of file, and other reasons.

 It's like, some days you need to use the pickup truck and some days the minivan, depending. 

Media players are like that. But the VLC Media Player has a speed control, by steps,  from 1X to 32X increase,  and, by steps, to 1/32X decrease. 

Here is the wonderful thing about digital music. I listen to a lot of music I've collected on line. As an amateur musician, sometimes I try to learn how to play pieces of music or to imitate them in my own style, on dulcimer or guitar or piano, because I like to do it. 

But a lot of songs are too fast, or very complex, or both, and that makes it harder to learn them, since I don't read sheet music anymore,  and there is no sheet music for most of what I listen to anyway. 

In ye olden days of record players, a record could be played at a slower speed, but the analog-based tones would be lowered an octave, for example, if the speed were halved, and raised an octave of the speed were doubled. 

So slowing down a song, in order to learn the notes, would present the learner with a whole different set of notes, perhaps an octave off.
Or, if slowing down from 78 or from 45 RPM records to 33 1/3 or 16 2/3, the change in tone would not be an octave but something else, which I am too lazy to figure out right now.

But with digital, the tones stay the same. 
The spaces between them change. 
The notes are the same.

 So you can slow a song down to learn the notes, and the notes are unchanged from the regular speed version. 

With VLC Media Player, or another player with the same feature, it becomes possible to practice playing along with a digitally recorded piece of music at a speed that is comfortable, and as you learn the notes and the technique, and get the hang of any particular song, you can speed it up, until, if you are any good and not a complete slowpoke, you might be able to play it at the speed at which it was intended to be played. 

But even if you can't, it is fun to play along that way, at your own pace, and have the pleasure of sitting in with many great musicians and great orchestras, even if you are the only one who knows it.

 It is better than being hit with a stick- no one could argue with that. And it's actually a good deal better, and not anything like getting hit with a stick, unless you are a really awful musician who hits your instruments with broken beer bottles and lights them on fire out of sheer hatred, but none of us here are at all like that, I guarantee it. 

Someone like that wouldn't read all this. Only good people would  have read this far. Good people, and maybe the NSA guys. But they're not telling me, directly, so I'll just get back to listening to fast songs played slow, if you all don't mind. 


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