Beyoncé on YouTube

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YouTube surely contains a lot of quirky homemade videos, but also highly stylish professionally produced video. Harlem Shake, Star Wars Kid and Numa Numa are examples of the former while most Beyoncé videos are examples of the latter.

New Beyoncé choreograph video lends the aesthetic of the homemade video (or lack of). Interesting mix.

Music on Linux

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Making music on Linux is a considerable headache. There are loads of interesting programs and sound systems but often they barely work, – if at all and only after considerable setup.

One of the nice programs is ZynAddSubFx made by Romanian Nasca O. Paul. It is a ridiculously configurable synthesizer with several methods for constructing sounds. It got effect and it even allows you to play via the qwerty keyboard.

On startup ZynAddSubFx will attempt to hook up to Jack. It does not start Jack by itself. Although ZynAddSubFx will play through Jack annoying clicks appear in the audio, and these clicks I have never been able to get rid off.

If ZynAddSubFx cannot use jack it will attempt to use the Open Sound System by looking after the /dev/dsp device. If this is not available one usually runs into an error message like “Using OSS instead. ERROR – I can’t open the /dev/dsp.” On an Ubuntu you can then try to install the alsa-oss package for alsa wrapping oss-programs. Once this package is installed you may try to start with “aoss ZynAddSubFx” from the command line.

There may still occur problems though.

To the beating of my teardrops

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The Dutch seem to complain about the Danish Eurovision Song Contest winner “Only teardrop” reminding them of “I surrender” song by Dutch group “K-otic“. It is close, but probably not sufficiently close to run into copyright problems.

I have tried to listen off the song by ear and entered it into Lilypond (my second attempt with that program). Anna Speller is according to Wikipedia singer in K-otic but I am actually not sure it is her that is the singer of the particular song. The controversial issue must be around the a-b-a-g-e progression in chorus of both songs (there is a Youtuber that claims a chord progression similarity). The two songs are in the same key.


It is around five notes that are similar. The tin whistle of “Only teardrops” has several grace notes that I did not attempt to show. The e-g lead-in in “I surrender” is not present in “Only teardrops. Instead the lead-in punches several times at the a and has an extra note for the extra word compared to “I surrender”.

The text of “I surrender” with “to the beating of my heart” is standard pop lyrics. An Internet search on the phrase will show a number of other songs: “Synching up to the beating of my heart”, “My fingers keep on clicking to the beating of my heart”, “That there’s more to life than listening to the beating of my heart”, …

Interestingly, the “I surrender” has a bagpipe-like sound in the introduction giving it a brief celtic flavor like the “Only teardrops” with its drums and tin whistle.

Update 2013-06-16:

Ok, so apparently I am not that precise a listener in my first attempt, so here is an update. I will try with a new transcription of the “Only Teardrops” song. Some of the stanzas have a lead-in, “Tell me”, which mimicks the Dutch song. I have also put the grace note on the tin whistle notes. Now the Danish winner song is even closer to the Dutch.


Eurovision Song Contest 2013 odds

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Danish contribution to Eurovision Song Contest 2013 has so low odds that it will be unusual if Denmark’s Emmelie de Forest does not win. However, Ukraine’s fancy video has gained more YouTube views than the Danish with a not necessarily bad song and also has quite low odds.

While I am still trying to accommodate Emmelie de Forest’s tinwhistle you can listen to poor France contribution. They usually have a song that stand out in some respect but hasn’t won for many years. This is a reasonable song, but their odds are around 80-100 and the YouTube views are not exceptional, so France will likely not go home as a winner

New melody

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New melody with recorder, keyboard, loop and improvisation.

Take that, sneezing panda!

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With deadpan neo-Victor-Borge’s musical humor Peter Gabriel and Blonde Kimbra clones with rest of Walk off the Earth and artistry yield a new definition of multiinstrumentalism.

I came in late on this – on 11th February 2012. By then the Walk off the Earth‘s cover of Gotye‘s Somebody That I Used to Know already had gained the 51.768.523 YouTube views (or around that number): Almost 50 million views in a month’s time. If the viewing continuous at that rate they will go past the sneezing panda later this year.

The Burlington, Ontario-based Walk off the Earth band has numerous humorous YouTube videos of cover versions, often involving flying instruments and competent playful multiinstrumentalism, such as Adele’s Someone like you, Beatles From me to you cover or some video trick(?) as in Rihanna’s Man Down or loop-soloing by Gianni Luminati in Roll Up, who also plays the the theremin.

Gotye’s original is more than half a year ago, but it wasn’t until Walk off the Earth‘s version that I heard of it, and now it runs on the playlist in radios of Denmark. If you look on its YouTube viewing statistics you will see an increase in slope around the release of the Canadian cover. His bank account probably thanks Burlington.

Hunting down the undead ghost of classical conductor George Richter

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At one point in life I acquired myself a CD with famous works of Edward Elgar: Pomp and Circumstance, Nimrod, Sospiri, the Cello and all that. I found the recording fairly good. The cover stated that the conductor was George Richter handling the London Symphony Orchestra. Googling my way on George Richter I couldn’t say that I found much. I found several references to CDs but not much about the man. London Symphony Orchestra has had a Richter as conductor: Hans Richter. Perhaps George was related? But I could not find any information about that.

I then on 6th December 2009 added George Richter to Wikipedia in the hope that someone would seek more sources. But on the 16 May 2011 a fierce Wikipedia deletionist came by the article threatening to kill poor George due to lack of references, – a cardinal sin for articles about living persons on Wikipedia. Interesting though, the deletionist had diligently discovered one single reference through Google Books: To Jonathan Brown’s (who is he?) book of 2000 “Tristan und Isolde on Record. A comprehensive discography of Wagner’s music drama with a critical introduction to the recordings.”

And now comes the spooky part.

On page xiii Brown describes our George as an “apocryphal conductor”. So what do that mean? That George didn’t get to join in on the Bible along with Mary, Moses and the rest of the band? No. As further on page 215 Brown states that one Wagnerian Richter recording is actually Heinrich Hollreiser and the recording is not as stated with London Symphony Orchestra but rather with Bamberg Symphony Orchestra. Brown – the Wagnerian discographier – had timed the different recordings of Wagner and found that Hollreiser’s recording has been issued under a number of other names: Heinrich Heller, Hans Burg, Ralph deCross, Otto Friedlich, Karl Ritter, Leon Szalar and our George Richter. Likely it seems that also the Elgar recording is not by George Richter but another yet unidentified conductor, perhaps Hollreiser?

Apparently George Richter is an invented name. Why?

My Elgar CD brands itself as an “Apollo Classics” and the company issuing the CD is “Wisepack Ltd.” in 1995. Tracking this company I find that Business Directory North Central London records Wisepack Ltd.’s address as “Unit 12. Latimer Road. London. W10 6RG” with a “PIN Tel.” 0904 049 8229. Their business is “production of records tapes and CDS”. So we are nearing. UK company search Companies House lists two entries for Wisepack: “Wisepack (1992) Limited” incorporated the 24 January 1992 and dissolved 2 April 1996 company number 02680885 with an unknown nature of business. The other entry is and “Wisepack Limited” incorporated 1988 and dissolved 29 September 1998 with company name 02245831 and on the Latimer Road address. Their nature of business is stated as “Publishing of sound recordings”, “Reproduction of sound recording” and “Wholesale electric household goods”. Peeking with Google Street Viewwe might get a glance at the Unit 12 address as it looks today. As far as I can identify the Unit 12 address today is the one with the company “city electrical factors ltd” who describe themselves as “electrical wholesalers, suppliers of electrical equipment”.

Why would the Wisepack company invent a name and not attribute the recording to the right conductor?

Jonathan Brown may give us a hint. Google Books does not show page 216 of the book but another page on the Internet may have listed the information from the Brown book. It reads: “The absence of copyright restrictions may explain why this recording has been issued under so many fictitious names”. My take on this is: The recordings with Wagner and Elgar are in the public domain and several record publishers have taken advantage of this and reissued the recordings. They change the attribution to hide the source of the original recording and thereby inventing the ghost of George Richter. We are dealing with some copyright hanky-panky.

Whether this hypothesis is correct I do not know. In support I would say that the the Wisepack logo looks like something done in DrawPerfect, – not a logo from highly esteemed company. Brown has some reservation about the identification of apocryphal conductors “because there remain a number of recordings attributed to conductors about whom very little, if anything is known”. Still I say we are dealing with a ghost. And more ghosts to come. The Elgar cello concert has a Veronique Desbois at the soloinstrument. She is likely a ghost too.

The ghost of George Richter has also conducted the “Royal Danish Symphony Orchestra” in works by Smetana and Rimsky-Korsakov as well as an overture by Gioacchino Rossini. There are two major orchestras in Copenhagen. In English they are called Danish National Symphony Orchestra and The Royal Danish Orchestra, so which one has the ghost conducted? The Rimsky-Korsakov piece is issued by the Sine Qua Non label that belongs in One Charles Street, Providence, RI, USA. A version of Elgar is apparently also issued by the GR8 label under the brand “Spectacular Classics” (wow what a name!). George Richter continues to issue CDs. As recent as in 2005 a Beethoven CD was published. Here Richter conducted London Symphony Orchestra. You can buy a Richter-Smetana CD at Amazon. This CD also has the work of conductor Henry Adolph, – another ghost according to a Anton Bruckner site

Strange things are going on in classical music. One may begin by reading the Wikipedia article about British record producer William Barrington-Coupe who according to a judge was involved in “blatant and impertinent frauds, carried out in my opinion rather clumsily.” One of his schemes exposed in 2007 involved unauthorised copies of commercial recordings. These were rerelease under his wife’s name, Joyce Hatto – and highly acclaimed. Barrington-Coupe and Hatto are real people – nonghost – though one of them is dead. The conductor in the fraud scheme is holocaust survivor René Köhler. He is likely a ghost – an invention of Barrington-Coupe – and died in 2002. The death of the George Richter has not been announced, so we may continue to hear recordings from this undead ghost, – if he is a ghost. ;-)

(2011-09-21. Minor change: spell correction)

So what is "tm-2010-03-07T00:44:11.w64"?

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The meaning of files is not always clear. I got a file named “tm-2010-03-07T00:44:11.w64” in my Linux Ubuntu home directory. It is on 121MB. I didn’t put it there… And there are a few others with the same file pattern. Can I erase them? Googling on w64 gives the information that it is some kind of audio file “Sonic Foundry”. Writing $ file tm-2010-03-07T00:44:11.w64 just tells that it is “data”.
Nautilus file manager has not associated the file with any program. Rhythmbox won’t open it. Further Googling identifies it as a recording by the Jack “timemachine” program. After trying a few audio programs I finally got Ardour (ardour2) to import and play the file…