Celebrate!

Yesterday morning, just before dawn, Helen woke first. Rolled over and said, “Happy Lunaversary!” She got me.

Since the day of our marriage over 25 years ago, we always celebrate our lunaversary. Even if it’s just that first minute of waking, one of us will remind the other that this is the day over hundreds of months ago that we stood with friends and family to be together in love.

So, yes, it’s the best kind of game that reinforces memories and good times and tough times – and the growing together we have experienced. Learning and sharing.

I think Ziggy Marley says it pretty well.

Dick Dale, Surf Rock origins

❝ Most musicians have a mild hatred of scales because we were all forced to practice and memorize them without anyone ever telling us what the hell they are…

Dick Dale wasn’t just borrowing the Byzantine scale for his surf anthem. “Misirlou” is a remake of a vaguely Middle-Eastern traditional song, possible Egyptian or Turkish, first recorded in Greece in 1927. The whole melody finds its way into the Dick Dale version.

As it further turns out, Dick Dale’s connection to the scale isn’t crazily random. Dale was of Lebanese descent on his father’s side and grew up playing the tarabaki drum and hearing music based on these scales, which he then incorporated into his surf music.

What goes around, comes around.

Singing mice and human conversation

❝ In the understory of Central American cloud forests, musical mice trill songs to one another. Now a study of the charismatic creatures reveals how their brains orchestrate these rapid-fire duets.

The results…show that the brains of singing mice split up the musical work. One brain system directs the patterns of notes that make up songs, while another coordinates duets with another mouse, which are carried out with split-second precision.

❝ The study suggests that “a quirky animal from the cloud forest of Costa Rica could give us a brand new insight,” into the rapid give-and-take in people’s conversations, says study coauthor Michael Long, a neuroscientist at New York University’s School of Medicine.

The video sound in the article doesn’t always work. Sorry.

Music isn’t made the same way, anymore

❝ It’s Grammy time, and as always, watching the awards ceremony…will include a subtext of cross-generational carping: “They don’t make music the way they used to,” the boomers and Gen Xers will mutter. And they’ll be right. Music today, at least most of it, is fundamentally different from what it was in the days of yore — the 1970s and 80s.

❝ Last year, the industry celebrated a sales milestone. The RIAA certified that the Eagles’ “Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975),” was the best-selling album of all time…the album, released almost exactly 43 years ago, was the first to be awarded platinum status…an evocative reminder that songs were once commodities so valuable that millions of people would even buy them in repackaged form. It was also a taken as a quiet victory for people who believe that music today is too loud…

❝ By “too loud,” I don’t mean you can’t crank the Eagles, if that’s your thing. I’m talking about loudness as a measure of sound within a particular recording. Our ears perceive loudness in an environment by reflexively noting the dynamic range — the difference between the softest and loudest sounds…A loud environment in this sense is one with a limited dynamic range — highs that peak very high, and lows that aren’t much lower…Compression boosts the quieter parts and tamps down louder ones to create a narrower range…

RTFA. For there has been and continues to be a war over sound. The sound landscape has never been more varied – from the audiophile with big bucks and peers and who can only afford to supplement the CDs they still buy, radio stations they listen to streamed online — to walking around music fans from hip-hop to classical listening through earbuds.

Jimmy Page’s Dragon Guitar Reborn

Here’s what Page’s axe looked and sounded like in 1968

❝ Fender instruments on Wednesday gave the public its first look at its recreation of a Telecaster guitar that Page once painted with a dragon, a long-lost piece of six-string history that marked the guitar hero’s last days in the Yardbirds and first days in Led Zeppelin.

❝ The instrument with the psychedelic green-and-red serpent on its body represents “a pivotal moment for the guitar and music,” said Paul Waller, the master builder who worked side-by-side with Page to make him a spot-on match of the guitar before making 50 more by hand to sell to the public.

❝ The reboot was hatched when Page was looking through photographs for a book celebrating last year’s 50th anniversary of Led Zeppelin. The dragon guitar, which he says was once his “Excalibur,” kept popping up in them, and he started to think it was time to get past his bitterness about its fate…

❝ The 1959 Telecaster, pre-paint, had been a cherished gift from his fellow former Yardbird bandmate Jeff Beck…

Page first decorated it with mirrors, then pulled out poster paints and used his art-school skills to summon the dragon.

He would use the guitar to write and record songs like “Dazed and Confused” for the first Led Zeppelin album, work as significant as any in the history of the electric guitar.

But a clueless house-sitter, not thinking much of Page’s painting, put his own mosaic artwork over the dragon and presented it to Page as a gift. Page said it was all he could do not to hit the guy over the head with it. Instead, he stripped it bare and angrily threw it into storage, where it sat for 50 years.

RTFA for the tale of rebirth courtesy of the guitar builders at Fender.

Get hip to Mongolian Rock!

❝ A band from Mongolia that blends the screaming guitars of heavy metal and traditional Mongolian guttural singing has picked up 7 million views for its two videos.

Leather jackets, skull rings and bandannas alongside intricately carved Mongolian horsehead fiddles are just some of the images in the first two music videos the Mongolian band The Hu released on YouTube this fall…

❝ As the Soviet Union crumbled and Western influence flooded in during the late 1980s and early 1990s, Mongolian musicians chose to preserve Mongolian culture while also adapting new influences, explains University of Chicago ethnomusicology doctoral student Thalea Stokes…

“Mongolians are not just taking elements from Western music and just copying and pasting,” says Stokes. Instead, they’re using some of these elements and making their own authentic music.

“So it’s not rock music performed by Mongolians. It’s Mongolian rock music,” she says.

It rocks. It’s real. An authentic sound introduced to Western ears.

Thanks, UrsaRodinia

NASA’s “nice” robot on the International Space Station — ain’t so nice

❝ It’s supposed to be a plastic pal who’s fun to be with.

CIMON isn’t much to look at. It’s just a floating ball with a cartoonish face on its touch screen. It’s built to be a personal assistant for astronauts working on the International Space Station…It’s also supposed to be a friend.

❝ CIMON appears to have decided he doesn’t like the whole personal assistant thing.

He’s turned uncooperative.

RTFA for interaction between CIMON and ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst. Which doesn’t go well. Not as uptight as things became between HAL and Dave. Yet.

Thanks, UrsaRodinia