Friday, August 14, 2009

Les Paul, guitar revolutionary, dies at 94

Lester William Polfus (Les Paul)Image via Wikipedia

I came across his name when I read some books on music, one by Joel Hirschhorn, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Songwriting, and another one on learning guitars.

Another one of the legends fall. Read the news story here:

Les Paul, guitar revolutionary, dies at 94

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Monday, June 22, 2009

Price of 24 songs: $2.9m

Image representing Kazaa as depicted in CrunchBaseImage via CrunchBase

How much is a song worth? See below for price details…


05:55 AM Jun 20, 2009

MINNEAPOLIS (Minnesota) - A United States jury on Thursday ordered a 32-year-old woman to pay nearly US$2 million ($2.9 million) in damages for illegally downloading 24 songs over the Internet in a high-profile digital piracy case.

Ms Jammie Thomas-Rasset, a single mother of four from the Minnesota town of Brainerd, was found liable of violating music copyrights for using the Kazaa peer-to-peer file-sharing network to download the songs.

The jury ordered Ms Thomas-Rasset to pay US$1.92 million ($2.8 million) - or US$80,000 per song - to six record companies: Capitol Records, Sony BMG Music, Arista Records, Interscope Records, Warner Bros Records and UMG Recordings.

In his closing arguments, attorney Timothy Reynolds said Ms Thomas-Rasset had made copyrighted music available to "millions on the Internet" through Kazaa.

Ms Thomas-Rasset said that her former husband or her children may have downloaded the music but her arguments apparently did not sway the jury.

Ms Thomas-Rasset had been convicted previously, in October 2007, and ordered to pay US$220,000 in damages but the judge who presided over that trial threw out the verdict, calling it "wholly disproportionate" and "oppressive".

Describing the $1.92 million figure as "kind of ridiculous", Ms Thomas-Rasset said: "There's no way they're ever going to get that. I'm a mom, limited means, so I'm not going to worry about it now."

The case was filed by the Recording Industry Association of America, which has sued some 35,000 people for online music piracy since 2003. Most of those sued agreed to settlements of between US$3,000 and US$5,000. AGENCIES

From TODAY, World – Weekend, 20/21-Jun-2009; see the source article here.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Susan Boyle back on stage after missed gig

Posted: 16 June 2009 0705 hrs

090616-0705hrs A woman watches a YouTube clip of Susan Boyle's appearance on television programme 'Britain's Got Talent'.

LONDON: Scottish singing star Susan Boyle was met with rapturous applause as she took to the stage in Glasgow on Monday, defying new fears for her health sparked by her withdrawal from a show the previous night.

Boyle, a 48-year-old church volunteer whose frumpy appearance hides a soaring voice, sang her signature tune "I Dreamed A Dream" from musical Les Miserables as part of a tour of the talent show that made her famous.

There were doubts as to whether she would perform in the "Britain's Got Talent" live show in the Scottish city after she pulled out of an event in Manchester, northwestern England, on Sunday night.

Two weeks ago, Boyle was rushed to a London health clinic suffering from exhaustion. Her treatment followed her defeat in the talent show, despite a global following on video-sharing website YouTube.

However, her fans in Glasgow were not disappointed on Monday night, with one, 39-year-old Audrey Hinde, saying afterwards: "I thought she was fantastic. She brought tears to my eyes. She didn't seem under pressure at all."

A clip of Boyle singing "I Dreamed A Dream" is now reportedly one of the most watched ever on YouTube.

- AFP/so

From; see the source article here.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Backstreet Boys, Chaka Khan to perform during Singapore GP

By Ian De Cotta, TODAY | Posted: 12 June 2009 1028 hrs

The Backstreet Boys: (L-R) Brian Littrell, Nick Carter, AJ McLean, Howie Dorough

SINGAPORE: It did not take much to convince top-selling American boy-band group Backstreet Boys to perform again in Singapore.

When they heard that their gig would be held at the Padang during the SingTel Singapore Grand Prix night race, they gave a resounding yes.

The best-selling boy band - with record sales of over 100 million records - and multi-Grammy Award winner Chaka Khan were two of the entertainment acts that race organisers revealed on Thursday as part of the entertainment package for the event from September 25 to 27.

"Both the Backstreet Boys and Chaka Khan normally perform at concerts... they see a sexy element to the night race and reckon they will have a blast," said Singapore GP director of operations Sarah Martin.

The third big name will be released next month but the group will appeal to all age groups, said Ms Martin. Among other events to be announced then will be two of the world's top 10 DJs.

"I can honestly say we have revolutionised the way people view entertainment at any Grand Prix," said Ms Martin. "Without a doubt, we will be giving the best experience that any Grand Prix has seen."

Although all ticket holders will be able to watch the Backstreet Boys on both weekend nights at Zone 4, only spectators at the grandstands facing the paddock at Zone 1 will have the privilege to watch Chaka Khan after the main race on Sunday.

Tickets there are priced at S$1,388 each.

"We felt that ticket holders who are paying a lot more... deserve some exclusivity and this is the best way to give it to them," said Ms Martin.

Other top performers include Senegalese legend Youssou N'Dour - listed in Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People - and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame's Mavis Staples.

To cater to the large number of foreign visitors, two key theatre acts will be staged along the lines of the world famous Cirque du Soleil.

"About 40 per cent of the fans at the race will come from overseas and we want to bridge the language barriers," said Ms Martin.

The acts will be at the Padang and the floating platform. One of them has worked in partnership with Cirque du Soleil and is planning something special for the Grand Prix, she said.

- TODAY/yb

From; see the source article here.

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Vienna Teng: From software designer to soulful singer

By TODAY | Posted: 04 June 2009 1314 hrs

Vienna Teng

Sarah McLachlan may have started the whole female singer-songwriter trend back in the late '80s, but she's more or less semi-retired and few have emerged who seem worthy enough to take over that mantle.

Well, Vienna Teng might just be the one. Don't worry if you've never heard of her. She isn't.

When we told that we hadn't heard of her first three albums and only managed to get her fourth, Inland Territory, she said chirpily: "It's okay. I'm glad that you actually heard (this one)!"

Yes, Vienna Teng is a stage name - her real name is Cynthia Yih Shih.

And, yes, she got her first name from the city in Austria, but, no, she didn't get her last name from Teresa Teng.

"That's just a rumour, although I like that story," said the Taiwanese-American over the phone from California where she was visiting family.

Since she started her music career, the 30-year-old has slowly been going from strength to strength.

She recently completed her headlining tour ("That was fun, one great adventure to another, because it started on a cruise ship in the Caribbean"); and she's also shared the stage with the likes of Shawn Colvin, Marc Cohn and Joan Baez ("I'm glad we performed first, because you really can't do anything after she's performed, really").

Yeah, but is Baez named after a European capital city? We think not.

Somebody called your album "good honest music". Agree?

Whenever I write songs, I'm always trying to tell an interesting story inevitably drawn from my own emotions and experience, but not exactly as they happen to me, because I don't think it's as interesting as trying to tell a story that will resonate with somebody else.

This album has a lot of very different styles. Was that deliberate?

That was a pretty deliberate decision that Alex (Wong, producer) and I made. We deliberately wanted to get an eclectic collection of songs, because that's the kind of album that we like. I think our favourite (albums) are the ones where you get to see the musical range of the songwriters and producers.

What's this about you ditching a computer keyboard for piano keys?

Actually, I started playing piano when I was five. My parents are both from Taiwan - and they pushed really hard in school. Actually, they always compared us to Singaporean kids. Like, "look how hard those children are studying, they're so smart!"

So I actually went to college for computer science, designing software. I still have a techie nerd personality. I enjoy locking myself up in a room and working on a problem and I have to remember to go out and talk to my friends and make new friends.

So you're a geek?

I think "nerd" is the word I'd use. I'm very excited about academic stuff. I think I've always enjoyed the brainier side of things.

How do your parents feel about this job then?

I think they find it a very insecure profession and I think they still worry about what I'm going to do when I'm 50 - what career options I'll have! But I think they know this is very important to me, so they're pretty supportive, which is impressive, considering their background!

From; see the source article here.

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Susan Boyle ‘not suffering from mental issues’

Ms Boyle is concerned about her future after failing to win the top prize in Britain's Got Talent. AFP

LONDON — Britain's Got Talent contestant Susan Boyle appears to be recovering from nervous exhaustion after she was admitted to a London mental health clinic on Sunday, according to her brother.

Ms Boyle, 48, had finished second behind a male dance group in the show's finals, despite being the favourite.

Mr Gerry Boyle told reporters in an interview that his sister "seems to be coming back to her old ways".

"She's fine. She's anxious to come home, and she's starting to be a bit more like herself, I'm pleased to say — eager to come home to Scotland from London."

Ms Boyle became an overnight singing sensation when she auditioned for the reality show. The video of her singing I Dreamed A Dream from Les Miserables was viewed online by millions around the world.

But after failing to win the top prize, she is concerned her career may be over almost before it's started.

"Her biggest worry, after Saturday night, is ... will people still want to hear her sing?" Mr Boyle said.

One of the show's judges, Ms Amanda Holden, said Ms Boyle's breakdown is not the result of "underlying mental issues" but purely down to fatigue. AGENCIES

From; see the source article here.

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Susan Boyle's dream collapses as she loses British talent show

Posted: 31 May 2009 0505 hrs

090531-0505hrs Susan Boyle

LONDON - Scottish singing sensation Susan Boyle was dealt an unexpected blow Saturday when she lost out to a group of young street dancers in the final of the British talent show that made her a global star.

The 48-year-old looked surprised when the result was announced but graciously accepted the runners-up place saying the "best people won" and wishing the group "all the best."

Boyle enjoyed a meteoric rise to fame over the past two months after video footage of her audition piece for the show, "I Dreamed A Dream" from the musical "Les Miserables," was posted on video-sharing website YouTube.

It has had around 100 million hits, brought her celebrity fans including actress Demi Moore and rock star Jon Bon Jovi and seen her feted in the media from the US to China, Japan and Australia.

The bookmakers made her the favourite to win, although after an unconvincing performance in the semi-final there were fears that the pressure for the church volunteer, who lives alone with her cat outside Edinburgh, was becoming too much.

But in a live performance in the "Britain's Got Talent" final on Saturday, Boyle proved the critics wrong and repeated her audition piece with gusto.

Judge Piers Morgan said it was the "greatest performance I've seen on the history of Britain's Got Talent -- you should win the competition, I loved it."

Boyle was up against nine other acts to win the competition, which brings with it a cheque for 100,000 pounds (115,000 euros, 160,000 dollars) and the chance to perform for Queen Elizabeth II.

All the acts performed before a public vote, in which millions of people called in to cast their ballots. Boyle lost out to the group of ten dancers, named Diversity, while saxophonist Julian Smith came in third place.

After singing earlier in the evening, Boyle, wearing a grey-blue, long sequined dress, thanked all her fans.

"I want to thank people for all the support they've given me," she said.

Asked if it was worth all the media pressure, she replied emphatically: "Well worth it!... I really feel at home on stage, I'm among friends."

Boyle put in a shaky performance of "Memory" in the show's semi-finals last weekend, singing occasionally out of tune and out of time, and some fans on YouTube had questioned whether she could handle the weight of expectations on her.

The British media had also reported some erratic behaviour over the past week, including how she had lost her temper in the foyer of the London hotel where she was staying prompting police to intervene.

Morgan said that such was the pressure that she even considered quitting, describing her in his blog as a "frightened rabbit in headlights."

But his fellow judge Amanda Holden said after Saturday's performance: "I have never heard such powerful confident vocals."

In a Daily Mail interview Saturday, Boyle said she had used singing as a way of "boosting my confidence" and insisted she was still enjoying the experience.

"I've found the whole thing quite amazing and overwhelming. The attention's odd and it takes some getting used to, but it's nice," she said.

Hoards of fans had gathered in her hometown of Blackburn near Edinburgh to watch the final and support Boyle, on what she described in a television interview as "the most important night of my life."

After the result was announced, Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond praised the singer, saying that despite her defeat she had given some "outstanding performances" and could "hold her head up high."

- AFP /ls

From; see the source article here.

Related news from, see here and here.

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Old woman wows judges at China's 'Pop Idol'

Posted: 29 May 2009 2009 hrs

090529-2009hrs Wu Baiwei (R)

BEIJING : A 79-year-old retiree in north China has wowed judges of a televised singing contest, state media said Friday, in an echo of Susan Boyle, a middle-aged woman in Britain who achieved stardom with her voice.

Wu Baiwei, the oldest contestant on "Happy Girl," the equivalent of Pop Idol in China, is now one of the top 50 contenders for an eagerly awaited televised final due in July, the official China Daily reported.

The retired teacher from Xi'an, the capital of Shaanxi province, was walking on the streets of the city when she saw a lot of girls signing up for a singing contest, the newspaper said.

"I asked them if an old woman like me could take part and they said 'yes'," she was quoted as saying.

She went to the first rounds of the competition on Monday, after having nervously figured out she had enrolled for one of the most famous talent shows in China.

In an echo of Boyle, a 48-year-old Scottish woman who became famous after appearing on a similar talent show called "Britain's Got Talent" and wowing judges, Wu impressed the programme's arbitrators and was sent to the next round.

A video clip on, a popular Chinese file-sharing website, shows her sitting down in front of the judges, and singing "On Songhua River," a famous patriotic Chinese song about the Japanese invasion in the 1930s.

- AFP/ir

From; see the source article here.

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Ukulele meets Cello to make beautiful music

Something to look forward to… or try yourself… nothing wrong at all, nothing wrong at all…sometimes your creativity is limited by your own willingness (or unwillingness) to try out new things now and then… I definitely got to try this!


Posted: 29 May 2009 1457 hrs

Anne Davidson and James Hill

Think ukulele and images of a garlanded Elvis Presley gyrating with the tiny guitar-looking instrument may come to mind.

But the stringed insrument is more than one to be relegated to the realms of simple tunes.

In Singapore to get people to sing a different tune to the ukulele is James Hill, who is regarded as one the world's top composer and ukulele players.

Lesson one on the instrument - getting its name right.

It is pronounced "uku-lele" in the Hawaiian way.

According to Hill, it is made up of two words, 'uku' and 'lele' which translate into "The Jumping Flea".

With such a fun name, it can only mean that this is one friendly instrument.

If you've always wanted to play a musical instrument and either didn't have the time or think you're not too musically inclined - the ukulele is an instrument for you.

"Within five minutes (of learning the ukulele), you can be playing a song and for a lot of people" says Hill.

Having played the ukulele for more than just five minutes, Hill took his love for music and the intrument and teamed it with his other love, cellist Anne Davidson, for a remarkable blend.

Hill and Davidson met at music school and after dating, slowly warmed up to the idea of playing together.

"For three years, we never even considered playing together because it would seem so odd" said Hill.

"But slowly, we got on to the idea with the duo thing and realized what a good combination it is."

The combination of casual ukulele and classic cello may seem like chalk and cheese but these two seemingly incompatible instruments complement beautifully.

"When people come to our concert, they do not know what to expect, or worse, they don't expect," said Hill.

Playing on this doubtfulness is what allows both Hill and Davidson to surprise their audience and change conventional thinking.

"The ukulele has a higher range where the cello has a lower range" said Davidson.

"I also have the capability of using the bow to create long sustained sound which compliments the plucking sound of the ukulele."

Unlike the cello which has a long history, the ukulele is a 'young' 120-year-old in the music world, which explains its unorthodox style, which allows its player to invent his own particular style.

This freedom opened the way for Hill to create his style which he calls 'mono-strumming'.

"Instead of strumming where you can hear all the strings, you only hear a note as you mute the rest of the sound" he explains.

Sounds intriguing? Have a listen to the couple on their only stop in South East Asia, with their "melting of genres" performance on Friday 29 May, 8pm at the DBS Auditorium. - CNA/fa

From; see the source article here.

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Acoustica Mixcraft: GarageBand equivalent…?

GarageBandImage via Wikipedia

I am a user of Windows, and from the Mac users, I have always heard that GarageBand is ‘Oh! So fantastic!’

So I thought to myself, yes, agreed, that Mac is THE standard for multimedia, since Apple primarily was launched for graphics usage.

So it was said, “95% of the softwares are available in Windows, running at 5% efficiency, while 5% of the softwares are available in Mac, running at 95% efficiency.”

That may be true, and the “95%” availability is what is stopping many of the users who wanted to make the switch.

Especially programming softwares. The codin softwares.

I’m in this category, and the other part of me will be making the switch anytime without any further question whatsoever.

Which part of me?

The musician part.

You see, I’m into the art and craft of penning down new songs and tunes, and the ease of use and friendliness of GarageBand, et al, as already packaged in the Mac desktop/laptop computer makes it all the more a very good bundle indeed!

Anyway, much of what has always been asked by Windows users, '”is there a GarageBand equivalent for Windows?”

Finally the answer has come. Almost.

I’ve been searching in the web for this answer, and I think I will go ahead and try Acoustica Mixcraft.

Not that I have tried it, but the person who posted this comment has, and is actually involved in evaluating softwares such as this.

See the post here.

So go ahead, try it out. I will myself.

Till then.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Cacophony at the symphony

Letter from Joseph Au

I WAS surprised to see a full house for a recent Singapore Symphony Orchestra concert at the Esplanade Concert Hall. However, I noticed that the balcony seats were mostly filled by youngsters whose tickets may have been sponsored by the concert organisers or schools.

I was initially glad students had the chance to attend such an event.

But halfway through, trouble started. Coughs rose from all over the balcony and continued without pause. The annoying, distracting coughs went on non-stop for the remaining 80 minutes of the concert.

If it was a deliberate attempt to cough as having fun at a “boring” concert, then I would suggest teachers should teach the students the proper etiquette at concerts. I also hope the students were not forced to attend such concerts just to gain extra-curricular credits.

From TODAY, Voices- Tuesday, 14-April-2009

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

One more piano-learning site

There are some other piano tutorial sites, and one of them is here. If not the style, it is the basics of music and piano-playing that this site offers.
So go on, and see what interests you.
Happy piano playing!

One more test post from e-mail

The other one worked, so I am making another (hopefully, final) test posting from e-mail, since this is the fast, convenient (and camouflaged) method of posting to my blog. First test is html format using monotype, and this round, it is still in html format and still in monotype font.

If this works, then it is confirmed that the use of non-monotype fonts when posting by e-mail is the cause of the problem of the post windows width extension that makes the sidebar(s) shift down.

Here goes...

Another sample post to confirm my findings

Here is another post to confirm my findings: that the postings from e-mails actually causes the post window to somehow extend in width, making the sidebar move down...

If this works, I know how to fix my other blog posts, so hopefully it does.

My Piano Practice Beginning

No, this is not the beginning of my piano lessons, not that I am taking, or have taken, formal training in piano playing. Instead, what I am doing now is to practice, and to stress it out, correct practice on how to play the different styles and techniques of ‘dressing up naked music’ on the piano.

Anything that you learn and do not put into practice will eventually vanish into thin air, and worse, you’ll regret it in the end. As for me, the end haven’t come, so before I go into regretting, I’m redeeming the time left to do my piano-playing practice.

I’m journaling my practice days, so I can track my progress, and I really do hope that I will make a progress this time.

I’ve searched the web for some free materials, free lessons, and I settled for 2, not that only 2 qualify. I find these 2 to suit my need and style, but the rest should also be ok for others. I’ve taken up the free lessons from Edward Weiss, with very simple execution and free flow. But the one I really like, and have actually purchased a couple of lessons from, is Duane Shinn. If you are interested, just search them up in the net, and you should find their free lessons in the web.

Everybody is into music, whether as an audience, a performer, a writer or composer, or as a critic. So I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to drop me a comment.