2 Shades of Grey

Songs from the soundtrack of your life


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The greatest rock band of all time………..

Kindadukish's Blog - I am not a number, I am a free man (The Prisoner)

My musical education started in the earl 1960s with the Rolling Stones, Beatles, Yardbirds and the godfather of British R&B Cyril Davis. I then began to investigate original Blues artists such as Sleepy John Estes, Sony Terry and Brownie Mcghee, Muddy Waters alongside the likes of Chick Berry and Bo Diddley who were having some commercial success because many British blues artists were covering their songs (listen to the Stones very first LP for a clear Diddley rip off).

Over the next 40 years I became an avid jazz fan and fell under the spell of the great Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, Keith Jarrett and many other esoteric performers.

I took in classical music from the minimalism of Arvo Paart and Terry Riley, the sweeping symphonic grandeur that is Mahler, Bruckner, Tchaikovski and the more contemporary composers such as Valentyn Sylvestrov, John Adams and James McMillan.

I have…

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Personality and musical preferences

head_gear_500_wht_2011Scientists from the University of Cambridge have investigated how our personalities relate to our musical preferences. In particular whether or not we have an empathising brain or a systematising one.

People with empathising brains like to understand thoughts and emotions and were found to be more likely to prefer soft rock and R&B. “They wanted music with emotional depth that was thoughtful and poetic”. Mariah Carey and Bon Jovi were quoted as examples.

I don’t know who they thought was the R&B representative but they probably mean the modern definition of urban music not the gritty real thing like Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, or Jimmy Reed.

People who were systematisers – the kind of people who are interested in the processes and the details –  preferred music that was more intense such as punk, rock, and heavy metal. “They also wanted cerebral depth and complexity, classical, jazz and avant-garde music.

I’m not sure how useful this distinction is given the range of musical tastes among the systematisers. I can understand the classical, jazz and avant gated but where is the complexity in punk and heavy metal?

FYI the idea of empathisers v systematisers was developed by Simon Baron-Cohen who is well known for his research into autism. He believes that people who are high on systematising tend are found at the autistic end of the spectrum.

His research is not without its critics e.g. he found that there were more women on the empathiser scale and more men on the systematiser scale. But there are more men than women who are on the autistic end of the spectrum sometimes described as having Asperger’s syndrome (i.e. attention to detail, preoccupation with a subject e.g. avid collectors). And yes, he is Ali G’s smarter cousin.

If you want to see for yourself whether you are more empathiser than systematiser go here for empathiser or systematiser questionnaire.

 


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Can’t believe that hip-hop has had a bigger influence than the Beatles

vibe_headphones_speakers_1600_wht_5392But that’s what scientists are saying.

Using techniques normally used in evolutionary biology scientists at Imperial College and Cambridge University analysed 17,000 songs from the US Billboard charts between 1960 and 2010.

They gave each song a unique signature based on harmony and timbre and with that were able to trace the rise and fall of different types of music.

They found among other things that tunes using dominant 7th chords became rarer over time. This chord is common in blues and jazz music and reflects their decline. They also looked at “thrashing guitars” associated with rock music.

The scientists found three big changes over the 50 years they examined.

In 1964 the Beatles invasion of America; in 1983 with synth music; and in 1991 with hip-hop.

There is still a lot of diversity in music despite the decline in the 1980s when synthesiser groups like Duran Duran dominated the charts. The scientists consider that revolution the most boring  and it took the hip-hop revolution to change that.

Personally I don’t buy this and would question hip-hop’s influence. But then I’m old-fashioned. I go the the R&B section of a record store still expecting to find John Lee Hooker or Howling Wolf not the pretentious urban music that goes by that label today.

 


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The true music of Finland – Nightwish

What do you think of when you think of Finland? Dark winter nights, friendly but also reserved people? And the music? Nordic folk and Sibelius? Or do you remember hard rock band Lordi winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 2006 with “Hard Rock Hallelujah” in a runaway victory?

SCAN0139Well according to my Finnish friend Henry, who sent me this 2007 double CD “Dark Passion Play” (CD2 is an instrumental version of CD1) , there is only one musical act which truly represents the country and that is Nightwish.

Nightwish was a pioneer of symphonic metal incorporating power and gothic metal in its music. It had Tarja Turunen, a classical singing soprano, as its vocalist until 2005 when she was publicly sacked.

The band has received platinum and gold certifications for its albums sales in many countries and is the third best selling Finnish artist. The band has also been nominated for several awards and amongst the ones it has won 11 Emma-gala awards, the Echo award, the Mtv Europe music award, the World music award and the Metal Storm award. (Source: Wikipedia)

Here’s part of the last concert in which Tarja performed in 2005.

The band underwent several changes of personnel after 2005. This is a later video with Annette Oizin on vocals (who was in turn replaced by Floor Jensen in 2013).

Nightwish is the third-best-selling band and musical entity in Finland with certified sales of nearly 900,000, The group is also the most successful Finnish band worldwide, selling more than 8 million records and receiving more than 60 gold and platinum awards, having released five Number 1 albums and thirteen Number 1 singles (Source Wikipedia)