How Music Can Make You Better

An interesting book about how both listening and playing music can help you

I read this recently. It’s quite an interesting little read on the whole. Quite short and to the point, which is handy. But it makes some interesting points about how music changes our brains. Not just listening to music, but also making music, playing music.

For me it isn’t a big surprise, but it’s nice to have it validated. I’ve enjoyed reading it.

Uncommon Deities

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This is undoubtedly my favourite album of all time. It is a work of tremendous and rare beauty, and every time I listen to it I am stunned by just how complete and unique it is.

I listen to it only when I have the time to devote myself entirely to listening to it without distraction, as it just isn’t the kind of music that you can listen to in the background. At least that’s my opinion.

However, I’ve recently just sat down and read the poems that are an integral part of Uncommon Deities. On their own they are incredibly beautiful. As a part of the whole they’re even better. But even so, I really enjoyed reading them in isolation.

Mindset from Blancmange

I can’t exactly remember when I started liking Blancmange, but it was pretty early on. Probably when they first appeared on something like ‘Top of the Pops’. I’ve liked them ever since. When they made they’re somewhat unexpected comeback I was very happy indeed. Since then the output has been steady and I believe I’ve bough everything.

This latest release, ‘Mindset’, arrived this morning, although it was actually released yesterday. I listened to it yesterday, and it is a solid album. My initial impressions are it is very good and will probably grow on me.

I’m pleased that Blancmange is still going, and pleased to be able to support them wherever I can. In the current climate there are many artists who are suffering and those of us who love and appreciate music need to do whatever we can to support the people who help to give meaning to us. It’s important.

Blancmange’s latest album ‘Mindset’ in yellow vinyl

Some random music

Randomly generated music created using Processing Code

I actually made this quite a while ago, but decided to revisit it as I thought that I might do a little more in Processing this year. I know I’ve said that before. There’s no guarantee that I will in 2020, but I might.

I was always quite pleased with this sketch though. It was fun and interesting to play with. Above is just a video of the sketch in action as I can’t work out how to embed the sketch here so it can be played. I’d like to be able to do that too, but it might take me a little while for me to figure it out.

Anyway, if I managed to do anything else with Processing then I’ll share it too. That is, if it’s good enough.

A Wotja a day

I make a lot of music, very little of which I share anywhere these days. For the most part I make music for my own enjoyment, which is much more productive I feel. Anyway, I digress. The point of this is that at the start of the year I decided that I would try to make a small track each day with an app that I really like and enjoy. It’s called Wotja.

Wotja is a generative music system for iOS, although it’s been around a lot longer than that. I’ve actually been a fan of it since around 2007, which kind of puts things in perspective. Of course it’s changed a lot since I first started using it.

Anyway, once again I digress a little. The point of this is that I started on the 1st of January, and so far I’ve kept it up the whole time. So here’s the first. I’ll post the others, probably in small batches, periodically. Hopefully I’ll manage to keep it up all year too.

Record Store Day 2019

I do realise that this was quite a long time ago now, back in April in fact. But it is an event that I like to celebrate and, when I can, be a part of. This year I was again. However, in terms of how many things I got from my list, I wasn’t very successful at all. In fact, it was a bit of a bust to be honest.

Whilst that was a shame, I did manage to get a few bits and pieces, and I was pleased with that. I plan to go again in 2020, but I won’t be sure until I can see what’s on the list, and that won’t be for a few months yet.

Back in 2018 I decided that the simplest way to do Record Store day was to stay in a hotel around the corner, and I think that might be my best bet in 2020 if there’s enough on the list to actually tempt me.

Berlin Musical Instrument Museum

I visited the Berlin Musical Instrument Museum at the beginning of December last year. I’d never been before, but I do love to visit museums of this kind. Whilst for the most part it was largely concerned with traditional instruments, it did have a little corner tucked away for electronic instruments, and that was nice. Not huge by any means, but nice.

Overall it was a fun place to visit, although, unlike some similar museums, I probably wouldn’t go again.

KDJ-One

Cyberstep KDJ-One

I backed this device on Kickstarter a long time ago, I mean a really long time ago. It was really late, and, to be honest, I’d wondered if it would ever arrive, but it did, and here it is.

But it’s here, and it works. It is actually better sounding than I expected it be. The keys are actually velocity sensitive and the touch screen is huge. I’m still getting to grips with it, and I think that’ll probably take me some time.

In some ways it reminds me of an updated Yamaha QY type device, which is, in my opinion quite a good thing. The other really interesting thing about the KDJ-One is that it has a whole bunch of apps that go with it. There’s a macOS app, an iOS app, and an Android app too. So far I haven’t found a way to get everything working together, but that’s on my personal roadmap.

Goodbye Allihoopa

It’s a great shame that Allihoopa has now gone dark. It was a great service. I made some good use of it, but not as much as I would’ve liked. I guess that’s a bit of a reminder for me. That is just the way it goes of course.

So I thought I’d grab all of my content from the site before it went down. I rendered all of my tracks to video, and then I added them to a 1 second video mash up. So here’s one minute and 20 seconds of tracks I uploaded to Allihoopa.