Five songs that will never die

June 8, 2009

List of songs that will live on for generations to come. Feel to free add any if you think I’ve missed any.

1. Cry me a river – Julie London [ From ‘The Girl Can’t Help It‘]. More recently, Susan Boyle sang a cover of the same which is worth mentioning. This song is so weirdly mesmerizing that it excites me everytime I hear it. Can never get bored of this :)

2. What a wonderful world – Louis Armstrong [Live version,from the 1968 BBC Live sessions]. Don’t miss the piano fill-ins! The modern punk version by The Ramones is pretty cool too.

3.Fly me to the moon – Nat King Cole[Studio version]. Apologies, this isn’t the original video. And Julie London is here again on my list with her version of the same.

4. Somewhere over the rainbow – Judy Garland[From The Wizard of Oz]. Every version of this song is so different, but this is the happy and original one with no weird intermittent minor chords in between. I can never get over Eric Clapton’s version(watch Clapton belt it out from 2:50).This also features the fifth Beatles member Billy Preston on the hammond organ. Don’t miss Preston’s bird’s fly imitation on the hammond organ at 6.05).

5. Time of the season – The Dave Matthews Band[Live from the Red Rocks Concert]. I’m posting the cover instead of the original here because I like this more. And the funky Butch Taylor solo on the organ. The weird chord progressions in the chorus make it curiously amazing.

This is not a complete list, feel free to add on :)


Champions league fixtures

December 19, 2008

UEFA Champions League

UEFA Champions League

 

Now this has been a great day otherwise and it got even better once I reached home and read about the UEFA champions league fixtures. Here they are. Ladies and gentlemen the UEFA CL 2008 games to look forward to.

Chelsea – Juventus

Villarreal – Panathinaikos

Sporting – Bayern

Atletico Madrid – FC Porto

Lyon – Barcelona

Real Madrid – Liverpool

Arsenal – Roma

Inter – Manchester United

My predictions follow :)

Chelsea-Juve : Juve.

Villarreal – Panathinaikos: Villarreal. Panathinaikos will be mauled by them.

Sporting – Bayern :Sporting. Tight call this one.

Atletico Madrid – FC Porto : Atletico it will be.

Lyon – Barcelona : Barca. But I hope Juninho screws them really bad.

Real Madrid – Liverpool: Madrid of course!! But mind says it will be Madrid. Hell Madrid is going to Anfield and will conquer.

Arsenal – Roma: Roma roma roma

Inter – Manchester United: Inter please kick Man U’s sorry ass. Please please.

I am so looking forward to every game in the next round. I end this post hoping that every English team gets eliminated in the 2nd round. :D


Guitar Harmonics

October 3, 2008

Wooten the amazing grace

Harmonics being played on the guitar have always fascinated me for a long time. I’ve tried really hard to play a few myself! It requires a tremendous feel of the music and you need to know how much pressure to apply in the right places. For the uninititated, what is a guitar harmonic? It’s the ‘metallic’ bell-like sound coming from a guitar. That’s the most basic way I can put it.  For instance in the beautiful rendition of amazing grace by Victor Wooten. Listen to the part from 1.39 to the end. If it’s the first time you’re listening to it,I am sure you’ll be awestruck! What makes it awesome is that he performs the song on harmonics using the bass guitar.

When we play the guitar we always hear the fundamental note. It’s the loudest note that we get to hear,but what we don’t get to hear/aware of is that when a guitar string is struck there are various other notes also generated apart from the fundamental note. These unheard notes are the harmonics. So the key to playing a harmonic is to shut off the loudest fundamental note and make the other notes heard out.  This can be done by very delicately touching the string at particular positions and then plucking the string. When you do that, both the portions of the same string seperated by your finger vibrate at the same time and that’s when the harmonic is produced. 

The 3rd,5th and 12th fret

The 5th,7th and 12th fret

If you notice above the fret wire, the 5th is divided into fourths,7ths in thirds and 12th as havles. Only at these points can the harmonic be produced. Striking a harmonic on other parts of the guitar is impossible(unless you detune your guitar!).

Other popular songs with harmonics:

  • Metallica’s Nothing else matters-In the first minute,the 27th second to be precise in this video.
  • Pearl Jam’s Jeremy- 26th-27th second(check it here).
  • Iron Maiden’s Fear of the dark intro.

The whole physics behind harmonics is explained really well on harmony central,the link to which is here.


Googphone vs the aapl iphone

September 28, 2008

Disclaimer:Please note:The views and opinions expressed on this site are solely my own and in no way reflect those of my employer.

The G1 and iphone 3G

The G1 and iphone 3G

The hype behind the release of the iphone 3G in India just withered away four days before the launch when Vodafone and Airtel announced that they’d be selling the piece at Rs.31,500/- That disappointed most prospective customers as they were expecting a price tag somewhere along the range of 15,000 to 25,000. 31,500 seemed to costly for most people specially when they observed their peers showing off the first generation iphones which they shipped it in from the states and had it unlocked all for a meagre 16 grand. Now that it’s been about a month since the iphone 3G has been released and the hype all but died out,everyone’s attention shifted focus to the release of the G1-the first ever Google Android powered cellphone which was launched in New York City. People have been speculating about how different the iPhone would be from the g1. I’ve been taking a keen interest on the g1 for more reasons than one. I see it on the long run as a move that will change the course of the mobile operating systems landscape. Just like the windows operating system entered the market with the IBM PC. And literally dethroned the mac.Apple might be making the same mistake again. This article is a really good read. This iphone is powered by the iphone SDK. An exceprt from the article about the openness about the iphone sdk platform.

The platform is far from open. Developers and their programs must be approved by Apple. This does not sit well with the dudes who write software, and it’s getting ugly among the rank and file. Apple, which has accepted then summarily rejected some apps after they’ve gone up, is doing a poor job of handling developer relations and is getting a reputation for being capricious. Some angry developers are already defecting to Android — the OS that powers T-Mobile’s G1 and will power all successive iterations of the Google phone.

Compass Mode street view

Compass Mode street view

The g1 which is a newbie on the street has some really really cool applications. One of them is the Compass Mode. It combines the power of gps and streetview in one. Which means that if you’ve got the compass mode application running you can see live 360 degree streetview images from google maps on you’re G1 wherever you are(for now,just the UK and the States). Watch the Compass Mode demo here.

Coming back to comparing the iphone and the g1. These are the places where the android powered g1 phone scores over the iphone 3G in my opinion.

1.Open source OS(discusssed above).

2. It has a 3.2 megapixel camera,while the iphone 3G has a 2 MP camera. High end smart phone and just a 2.0 MegaPixel camera? My N70 which I purchased in 2006 has a 2 mp camera.

3.Text entry through a QWERTY style keyboard. I know most iphone enthusiasts will disagree that this point should be mentioned here but considering the fact that most of us are used to typing on a qwerty still keyborad,getting familiarised to a similar type of keyboard won’t take too long unlike the iphone.(Also the iphone multi-tap entry is not the best for people with fat fingers-I had a tough time entering my username and password in several places!).

4.Probably one big plus for the g1 is that it has a removable lithium ion battery. There’s a lot of noise being made about how the iphone could do better without the non-removal battery.

5.Battery life’s longer too-The stats I have with me say that the G1 android phone has a standby time of 402 hours on 3G. The iphone in sharp contrast has 300 hours of standby time.It offers 350 minutes of talk time where as the iphone offers 300 minutes of talk time.

The iphone has a lot to offer too.

1.Larger screen size(3.5 inch whereas the g1 has a 3.1 inch screen).

2.You can use you’re regular 3.5 mm standard headphone jack instead of the propreity mini-USB plug that the g1 offers.

3.Supports Microsoft Exchange. Some detailed info here.

4.Has the classy tried and sucessfully tested ipod feel and touch to it.Has sold more than 10 million units so far-testimonial enough!

 

The dark horse will have the final laugh?

The dark horse will have the final laugh?

Both the phones sadly miss out on some regular features us Indians use a lot. Neither have a forward sms option or a video shooting functionality. Enter second murderer-Nokia N 96. Which covers all of these features,but where does it stand in the new generation of smartphones market-wait till November end. 

Final say: In India, it’s the Nokia that will lead the way. Not the iphone or the g1. It’s the N series that will always have an upper hand thanks to it’s user-friendly interface and reputed mobile brand image.


Another brick in (the) wall street

September 15, 2008

An artist encouraging passers-by and employees to write a message on his painting.Thats the head honcho of Lehman Brothers-Dick Fuld

 

I chanced upon some interesting(read:distressful) figures about the number of job cuts there have been over the years in the financial sector:

1997— 37,159
1998— 62,366
1999— 60,834
2000— 55,272
2001— 116,647
2002— 89,210
2003— 51,784
2004— 97,945
2005— 50,503
2006— 50,327
2007— 153,105
2008— 102,957 *

* Mind you these figures don’t take into account the very recent Lehman brothers bankruptcy and Merril Lynch take-over crisis. To be added to this large figure is the 25,000 Lehman brother employees across the globe and also the many Merrill Lynch employees who’ll face a sacking with sure job cuts after the acquisition by the Bank of America.

If you’re wondering what the real cause behind the spike in 2007(from 50,000 to 153,000) is,its because of the lay offs initiated and executed by most US mortgage firms.

After a lot of reading it is in my humble opinion that the Lehman Brothers demise was an inevitability. In 1998,the company was first accused of having most of its assets spread over various kind of bonds and in the debt market rather than in the stocks. It has had a history of trading in high risk bonds so much so that one of their gambles with a bond made their market price slump by over 70%  over a period of just three months. They escaped then,but never learnt from their mistakes. A similar kind of a nightmare by the name of sub-prime mortgages got the better of them this time.

The repecursions of such a huge disaster will obviously have its consequences. As we noticed through the day, stock markets in Asia crumbled particularly in India where the BSE crashed by 700 points. The rupee got stronger, which will have its adverse effects on our beloved IT companies which employ the maximum number of Indians. The impact will be hugely felt here in India specially with most of the IT firms working hand in hand with a lot of these bankers. For instance Satyam which used to handle a chunk of Wall street projects faces a tough tough quarter ahead of it. They’ve decided to pack of 9% of their employees and as of today their share plunged by 9.5% to INR 368.50.  Surely the big two Indian IT firms will be hit by this crisi.Though they’re not admitting it right now,their stocks speak for them.Their shares fell by 6 and 4% respectively.

To give you a fair idea of how much money has been lost by the big wigs of Wall Street just because of the subprime credit crunch(the term btw is now officially a part of the English dictionary),see below:

Citigroup: $40.7bn
UBS: $38bn
Merrill Lynch: $31.7bn
HSBC: $15.6bn
Bank of America: $14.9bn
Morgan Stanley $12.6bn
Royal Bank of Scotland: $12bn
JP Morgan Chase: $9.7bn
Washington Mutual: $8.3bn
Deutsche Bank: $7.5bn
Wachovia: $7.3bn
Credit Agricole: $6.6bn
Credit Suisse: $6.3bn
Mizuho Financial $5.5bn
Bear Stearns: $3.2bn
Barclays: $3.2bn
With AIG steering clear of the crisis by being allowed to borrow from its subsidaries,things wouldn’t have gone as worse as feared on this very Monday. Hopefully Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley will have some face saving figures to announce when they come out with their earnings and forecasts on Tuesday. Fingers tightly crossed till then.

The king of pop is 50 and going strong

September 13, 2008
dangerous

dangerous

 

There are two kinds of music lovers who have an opinion about Michael Jackson. There are the few who have grown up listening to him and watching his videos and can’t stop but praise him. And then there’s this other kind who detest him without even listening to his music simply because he was accused of being a paedophile and changed his skin colour. Whatever is said and done,one simple fact must be understood that MJ has as much influence on pop music as The Beatles have had since the 60s.

He invented and improvised on a form of music which he completely should take credit for. The art of performing great songs entertaining the crowds. Just like the great Elvis. The moonwalk is a total original and people till date try to imitate him. And the famous anti-gravity lean he does in smooth criminal. He holds a patent for it.

Then he led the way when it came to the art of creating music videos with Thriller. It was directed by John Landis and Guiness calls it the most successful music video ever made.Thriller also happens to be the highest selling album in music history-it has sold 65 million copies till 2007. The album got MJ seven grammy awards which is still a record. Thriller features Billie Jean and the girl is mine(a duet which MJ performs with Paul McCartney of the Beatles). Speaking of the beatles,it is MJ who owns the catalogue rights to all beatles songs.

And then came Bad.Surpassed all previous records.It featured 5 #1 billboard singles which is a hit. Interestingly the video for the title song was shot and directed by Martin Scorcese. Follow the success of Bad with Dangerous which remains my personal favourite album. I could listen to the CD over and over again without getting bored. It featured Jam,black and white,who is it, and a host of others.

Agreed that rightafter this album the quality of compositions dipped. His next two albums weren’t up to the mark but I think this has all got to do with the blooody false accusations against him about being involved in paedophilism.

I’d like to list my top five MJ videos:

5. Speed Demon – animation of the 80s and an interesting storyline.

4. Stranger in Moscow- quite simply my favourite song which has MJ in deep thought mode.

3. Who is it - This video was shot by David Fincher(of Fight Club and 7even fame).The video is set in a neo-chrome blade-runner-like landscape, where surfaces reflect light and denote luxury in all its splendor. We get to see Michael Jackson as a suffering recluse who has come to the conclusion that his girlfriend is cheating.

2. Dangerous - Watch it for yourself and decide.

1. Jam – It features Michael Jordan in the video and has some really cool and funky grooves.

Special mention should also go for the following videos:

Black or white

They don’t care about us

Remember the time  The concept of this video has been copied and replicated in several hindi movies.

And I just read somewhere that Scream is the most expensive video made in music history.  Made in 1995,it cost a whooping $7,000,000.


Pink Floyd-the pre break up era

September 9, 2008
P.U.L.S.E

P.U.L.S.E

Since high school I’ve been a huge fan of Pink Floyd. I remember very well the day I got the original pulse 2 CD with the LED which ran on a single AA cell. The booklet inside the CD reads “The LED is set at the average human pulse speed so it can be used as an anti stress device – just check your own pulse against it” and the line I like the most-” Most particularly the LED pulses… it is a live phenomenon… like the music”. Indeed their music flows. From the lyrics straight down to the music. PULSE is undoubtedly one of the best live recordings putting it in par with the Simon and Garfunkel show at Central Park in NYC during the 70′s. Among the more recent concerts,not many are worthy of being compared to PULSE. They enthralled their audience with a musical and visual treat. Heavy use of lasers was employed. Watch the video for ‘take it back‘ on youtube. You’ll get a feel of what I’m saying and then you can decide for yourself. Also another must watch is ‘On the Run‘ from the dark side of the moon album. If you’ve seen something better in a live concert please let me know. Which brings to mind a very interesting fact that most people don’t know about Pink Floyd.They’ve won just one grammy in their entire career as musicians and that too in 1995 for the song Marooned. They got the best rock instrumental award. Pretty strange isn’t it?

People talk about comfortably numb to be the greatest floyd song ever,and I’d agree with them thats its among the best of their best. The guitar lead at the end(particularly in the pulse version) is out of this world. Anyone with a half decent brain would appreciate that,and someone high on any stimulant would be cursing David Gilmour for not going beyond the 13th minute :) The funny(beauty maybe?) part about this song is that most of it is not sung in the conventional manner. It has the lead singer just pronouncing the words in a psychic manner.

There is no dark side of the moon really.Matter of fact its all dark

"There is no dark side of the moon really.Matter of fact its all dark"

The dark side of the moon album has to arguably be their highest selling album till date. It stayed on the billboard charts for a record 741 consecutive weeks(that boils down to 14 years). It also holds the record for the longest stay on the billboard charts- just 1500 weeks(29 years). Will there be a band that can break that record? Or impress two generations and leave a lasting impression on them at the same time? Time only will tell. My favourite tracks from the dark side of the moon would be breathe and time. Breathe has this heavy heavy sound to it. Sometimes when I listen to it,I wonder if there is some sync between the way I breathe and the manner in which the chords shift from E minor(A base) to A7.

This is how the lyrics go.

Breathe, breathe in the air
Don’t be afraid to care
Leave but don’t leave me
Look around and chose your own ground
For long you live and high you fly
And smiles you’ll give and tears you’ll cry
And all you touch and all you see
Is all your life will ever be
Run, run rabbit run
Dig that hole, forget the sun,
And when at last the work is done
Don’t sit down, it’s time to dig another one
For long you live and high you fly
But only if you ride the tide
And balanced on the biggest wave
You race toward an early grave.

Talking about the rabit reminds of fairytales(Alice in Wonderland one of my favs). Roger Waters claims that if you switch on the classic 1939 verision of Wizard of Oz and switch on the dark side of the moon tape it would feel like the two of them are synchronised to perfection. Here’s a brief 5 minute clip.

Another classic from the dark side of the moon is Time which gives me the jitters every time I pay attention to the lyrics. Its just poetry in motion.

Probably the only heavily jazz influenced floyd song is money,which is also part of the same album. It has some really cool saxophone solos and the chords are way too jazzy to classify the song as rock. I’ve seen most bands make a mockery when they try to cover that song.

The great gig in the sky instrumental still makes the hair on my arm stand with the slick drumming and keyboard solos. Special mention should be made to the lady who features in that song.

Lets shift our focus to The Wall and Wish you were here.

The Wall(1971).

The Wall(1971).

The Wall:Wikipedia calls it a rock opera. I’d like to call it a message in a bottle. Every song in that album has heavy reference to the cold war. And also to the world war which is where Roger(the bassist and lyricist) lost his father. When the tigers broke free is a song high on emotion and its Roger Waters speaking about how his father went missing from home one day during the war.

The song features floyd’s most popular song-Brick in the wall. I love the pulse version thanks to the super cool solo at the end of the song. A MUST hear for all.

The wall also features ‘mother’. A slow ballad track which is so rare to find with floyd(before the break up).

Another classic from the album is run like hell.Terrifying lyrics and great guitaring.

So you think you can tell-heaven from hell,blue skies from grey?

So you think you can tell-heaven from hell,blue skies from grey?

My favourite album(before the break up) is Wish you were Here. It has the signature wish you were here song,and also features shine on you crazy diamond(all parts). Shine on you crazy diamond was written in praise of Syd Barret-the genius and former lead singer who lost his mind and rests in a mental asylum now.

I’ll stop right here. Will get into details about floyd’s break up and post break up music trend. Interesting read it should be. For now,if you’re already a floyd fan-listen to goodbye blue sky. If you feel you’re turning into one,listen to Have a cigar and if you still loathe them try Young Lust.

Happy happy floyd listening :)


Life of an engineer

September 8, 2008

Dilbert says it all….. Enjoy this strip.

ps:None of this applies at Google though :)

Life of an engineer

Life of an engineer


Weirdest Band name

September 4, 2008
David Fiuczynski at it

David Fiuczynski at it

Screaming Headless Torsos:They play great jazz funk and have a crazy-ass band name. I tried putting myself in the shoes of the guy who named this band. Can you imagine a headless person’s torso? And add to that a screaming headless guy! What were these guys smoking when they named themselves SHT.

Time for some trivia now.The Screaming Headless Torsos were formed by David “Fuze” Fiuczynski who is an alumni member of the famed Berklee College of Music(other grads from Berklee include Keith Jarrett, Diana Krall, John Petrucci, John Mayer, etc). He’s also had the honor of playing with Police’s drummer.

The most popular album of the screaming headless torsos is 1995 which had the funky and hippy sounding ‘Vinnie‘. This is my personal favourite(probably because I’m a huge fan of tight and slick drumming and major 7ths!).

Check them out and if you’ve not lost your head,try some more of them!


Rest in peace Randy Pausch

July 26, 2008

Randy Puasch passed away on the 25th of July after inspiring several thousands through his memorial speeches on youtube.The Carniegge Mellon University professor was 47.

TIME magazine has put him among the 100 most influential people this year. One of his most memorable quotes would be ‘If I don’t seem as depressed or morose as I should be, sorry to disappoint you.”

Google I think for the first time has put up a link honoring Randy’s last ever speech on its home page.Highly inspiring video.


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