Much has been written by others about the passing of Greg Lake yesterday, so pardon my addition to the fray.
Greg Lake's death follows just nine months after his former band-mate, Keith Emerson, and these musicians were two-thirds of the colossal progressive rock band "Emerson, Lake & Palmer (ELP)." For those who aren't aware of who these guys were, ELP dominated the progressive rock scene throughout the 1970s, selling millions of records and filling stadiums with hundreds of thousands of fans during their International tours.
As an example of ELP back in their heyday, here's a video of them performing during their headlining performance at the California Jam in 1974:
PS - Since Emerson and Lake have both passed away within months of each other, someone needs to surround Carl Palmer in bubble wrap before something happens to him.
My wife was mentioning how the following pseudo-80s music video for "Pop! Goes My Heart" from the movie "Music and Lyrics" was ridiculous...
I replied that the video from the movie was make-believe; if she really wanted to see a cheesy 1980s music video, she should watch Dokken's "Breaking The Chains"...
It's like a train wreck - it's a disaster, but you can't stop watching...
I had a song stuck in the back of my mind all evening and it was starting to bug me, so I decided to sit down and transcribe it in Guitar Pro 6.
Once I had finished transcribing the song, I remembered that it was named "Silver Tightrope," and it was from an album which was released in 1975. I seem to recall that I thought the song had been recorded by "Yes" when I had first heard it, but the song was actually written by a short-lived band from the UK named "Armageddon."
The four bars which I transcribed are probably around 99% of the song, so it was a pretty quick diversion for the evening. Now I'll get back to the business of writing some code.
So I'm driving through Tucson today and channel-surfing on the radio trying to find a station which actually plays music instead of back-to-back advertisements, when I stumbled across 96 Rock playing "The Spirit of Radio" by Rush, and I think to myself, "Wow, how many times has this exact scenario played out over the past thirty-some-odd-years?"
Seriously - hearing the same band, playing the same song, on the same radio station, and even driving down the same street in the same town. This has happened way too many times to count... but trust me, it's a good thing every time it happens.
After careful consideration, I have decided that Geddy Lee of Rush is actually a time traveling musical genius who was also posing as the nineteenth century composer Jacques Offenbach... That would explain why Rush named one of their last tours "Time Machine" and their plethora of science fiction lyrics over the years...
|Geddy Lee or Jacques Offenbach? |
Every once in a while you need to kick back and listen to a little prog rock from Austin, TX...
This should waste an hour or so of your time - here are ten of my favorite guitar solos...
Note: Few people know about Neil Zaza, which is too bad - as his live video shows, he's seriously underrated as a guitarist. By the way, although all of these solos are good, "Tumeni Notes" is downright impossible to play. (For me, anyway.)
I should call out some Honorable Mentions; I think that Stevie Ray Vaughn's cover of Hendrix's "Voodoo Chile" is is arguably better than Jimi's original version, but I still like the original. Also, it was a toss-up between Paul Gilbert's "Hurry Up" and "Scarified" in the original list.
Of course, I could go on and on about other guitar solos by other guitar players, and there are several guitarists who were somewhat inadvertently skipped in my list. (e.g. Gary Hoey, Vernon Reid, etc.) But that being said, the original list comprises some of my all-time favorite solos.
OK – I have to make a shameless admission: I really like Jonathan Coulton's music. Jonathan's style is sort of like modern-day-Internet-geek-cyber-folk-pop, as if that's a real genre.
Anyway, years ago he wrote a song called "Code Monkey," which became something of an Internet hit. (Hey, I'd call over one million downloads a hit.) If you're curious about the song, you can browse to http://youtu.be/MNl3fTods9c in order to see it with the lyrics.
That being said, fans of "Code Monkey" might not be aware that Jonathan teamed up with Greg Pak and a few additional artists, and together they converted "Code Monkey" and several of Jonathan's other songs (like "Skullcrusher Mountain," "Re: Your Brains," etc.) into a weird little graphic novel.
Truth be told, I'm not a graphic novel kind of guy, but I love the song - so I ordered a copy through Greg Pak's online shop.
My signed copy of the graphic novel just arrived, and it was a great read; it was fun to see the characters from so many of Jonathan's songs brought to life, even if it was just for a hundred pages or so.
For those of you who are familiar with the song, you're probably wondering to yourself, "Does Code Monkey finally tell his manager to write that @#$% login page himself and win the heart of Matilde, the girl of his dreams?"
Well, you'll just have to order the book and find that out for yourself.
(FYI – The graphic novel was a Kickstarter project in 2013 which was fully-funded in just 12 hours; it eventually reached $340,270 of it's original $39,000 goal.)
One of my guitar-playing friends recently posted the following article to Facebook as a joke:
I know that my friend was just being silly, but the actual content of that piece is more drivel in a long line of mathematical silliness which forces me to heave a deep sigh for the fate of humanity. The article in question reinforces my conviction that some people will believe just about anything: bigfoot, aliens, unicorns, Obamacare, leprechauns, etc. But one of my personal favorites is the assertion that altering the base frequency in a tuning scale will somehow lead to a perfect universe.
What a bunch of hooey.
As I mentioned earlier, I know that my friend was posting the article to be silly, but just for the sake of argument, I can't resist taking a look at the math from the article. At the risk of being overly self-indulgent, I know that I have used my A=432Hz Tuning blog post to refute concepts like this in the past. But that being said, my blog post examines a lot of the actual math behind these sorts of silly ideas, and they just don't stand up to scrutiny. Oh sure, there's a bunch of purported facts in the article that my friend posted, (once you get past the gooey new age crap). But as I said earlier, people will believe just about anything.
Here's a case in point: when I visited Machu Picchu I was assured by my tour guide that one of the stones in one of the walls had been certified by NASA as the harmonic center point of all nature. I didn't believe my guide, but in hindsight her statement seems considerably more plausible than anything that was presented in the "Magic 528Hz" article. (Note: I meant that humorously; you can't trust NASA to find the harmonic center point of anything.)
In any event - let's take a look at some of the math from the
528Hz article, shall we?
If you use
A=444Hz as the article suggests, that does NOT make the frequency for
C fall on an even interval - it's off by a diminutive fraction:
|Note ||Frequency |
As you can see, the frequency for
C falls pretty close to
528Hz. But as I mentioned in my blog, what your ear actually wants to hear are frequencies which harmonically-derived perfect intervals across the scale. However, the frequencies in the tuning scale that the article's author is using are based on equal-temperament, which is a harmonically imperfect standard. Because of this fact, you would not use equal-tempered tuning if you were actually trying to calculate harmonically-perfect intervals, so the
528Hz article is completely busted right there. (On a side note, even frequencies in a full scale like this do not matter to your ear - because they just don't. Period. You can have uneven decimal points for perfect intervals in a harmonically-derived scale if you do your math correctly; arguing about decimal points is just stupid.)
That being said, the author spends a great deal of time rambling on and on about Fibonacci sequences, (which are really cool by the way). However, the author completely fails to mention (or perhaps to even notice) that
528 doesn't fall in the standard Fibonacci sequence:
1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610, 987, 1597, 2584, 4181, 6765, 10946, etc.
Now, if the number
528 had actually fallen inside the standard Fibonacci sequence, that would have been a pretty cool factoid for the article. But that being said, it still wouldn't mean anything.
Just for the fun of it, let's see how we can manipulate the math a little, shall we?
For example, if you use
A=431.33333Hz as your base frequency, then the frequency for
Eb will be
610.00Hz, which is actually a valid number in a standard Fibonacci sequence. That's kind of amusing, but it doesn't mean anything useful. All that means is that I spent a lot of time in Excel typing in random base frequencies until I bumped into a number that worked. Likewise, if you use
A=443.99Hz as your base frequency, then your
C will actually be
528Hz, but that's just as useless. (And good luck trying to find a tuner that will let you use
A=443.99Hz as your base frequency.)
In the end, the article which my friend posted to Facebook is an amusing work of fiction, although reading it will waste several minutes of your life which could have been spent doing something considerably more productive.
I was watching the Rush Clockwork Angels Tour on DVD earlier today, and the video reminded me of a story which illustrates why I have always liked Rush, and why they have always been an atypical band.
Back in the early 1980s I saw Rush in concert several times; with each new Rush album would come a new Rush tour, and I caught every Rush show that I could. On one occasion, (I believe it was the Power Windows tour), I was at the front of the crowd directly in front of Alex Lifeson and hugging the barricade which separated audience from entertainers. In something that must be a performance rarity within the music business, the girl beside me and I actually carried on a conversation with Alex throughout the show.
Here's one such example - after Alex played a guitar solo, the girl next to me held up one hand with the international "you're number one" symbol and yelled, "You're the greatest!" Alex looked surprised, stepped back, shook his head, pointed to himself between chords, and mouthed the words, "Me? No - I don't think so..."
The next song was Limelight, which contains one of my favorite guitar solos. As Alex nailed the final notes of the solo, he looked to me and shrugged his shoulders as if to ask, "How was that?" I held up a hand with the international "OK" symbol, and I yelled, "That was pretty good!" Alex smiled and nodded, and then he replied, "Okay, I can accept that."
And that was how the rest of the show went - the anonymous girl and I commented on every song or solo, and Alex kept us entertained by his reactions. But the over-arching thing that I realized during that concert was: Alex was just a normal guy.
Despite being one of the central figures in one of the most-talented rock groups in history; Alex wasn't putting on airs, and he wasn't acting like a big rock star. Instead, he was down-playing our compliments, and playfully joking with audience members. I think that's one of the things which has endeared the members of Rush to their fans over the years: despite having earned a host of accolades, they seem indifferent and almost embarrassed by praise.
Humility in greatness - that's such a rare thing in today's self-absorbed entertainment industry, and one more reason why Rush is one of the greatest rock bands in history.