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Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

On ‘In Silence’

This is the full text of a Letter to the Editor regarding a story/letter writing thread they’ve been running for over a week about an installation for the opening of the MONA FOMA festival in Tasmania. The edit job they did was pretty good, for once. I’d get what they printed and throw it up here but I don’t have it at hand. Find yer own in a gutter somewhere near you today! Based upon an earlier tweet of mine.*

I don’t see what the fuss is about this piano. Seems terribly amateur to me. If Mr Walsh’s curators weren’t going at this burned-stuff-as-art half-baked, they would’ve got The KLF’s Jim Cauty to recreate his seminal 94/95 masterpiece ‘The K Foundation Burn A Million Quid’ using Walsh’s own notes. But then, maybe Mr Walsh would’ve ended up feeling just as guilty as the original artists about effectively taking cash away from their own kids and the needy for the sake of ‘art’.

* “#936mofo #mofo Wish chattering classes would shut up about that bloody piano. (writing letter @themercurycomau about burning a million quid)

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Sometimes we feel the need to write stuff down because it’s obscure yet important. In this case, I’m putting this technical info online for others who may search for the key terms here, saving a little headache along the way. For anyone running Windows 7 and wanting to use the wireless headphones you use with your phone/portable music player, this article’s for you.

I managed to score a pair of BH-905‘s when Harvey Norman did an ‘internet special’ for the launch of Nokia’s n900 mobile computer in Australia. Unfortunately, this brought up my old bugbear – Microsoft removed some Bluetooth support from Windows 7 before release – and not just ‘some’, what I’d class as highly useful. Bluetooth headphones. This understandably got me cranky as Linux works with both my ROKR305‘s and the Nokia 905’s (what is it with decent BT headphones and “’05” model numbers?) out of the box. In Microsoft’s wisdom, they decided to let vendors supply A2DP software from here on in. Whilst I could’ve more or less happily survived in Linux, some of my Steam games won’t (this may change in the future, but I digress)

After screwing around with a couple of cheap adapters, I reached the conclusion that these adapters are cheap because BlueSoliel is bundled, but charged for if you want to use more than a sparrow’s fart of data. And junk. I say junk as I only want one feature that’s missing, and I’ll be screwed if I’m going to pay a bunch of cash for it. To get away with using these cheap adapters without BlueSoliel, I also had to elbow some support files out of some earlier windows package for mobiles that’s since been desupported. Now, I like free operating systems as much as the next person. But if I pay for something, I’d like it to work. It’s not as if the Vista/7 driver model’s brand spanking new. Can you guess that the entire situation was raging me?

Imagine my joy, then, when I spotted on the shelf at the local PC store the ASUS BT21 adapter. Asus are a well-known brand. It stated Windows Vista support with A2DP. I trembled, yes even a little weak at the knees. Bought it, took it home, plugged it in. Deader than a dodo. So the Vista drivers hadn’t made it to Microsoft’s online driver DB. I then installed the Vista drivers.

The ROKR worked without a hitch. The 905, though. Minor issue about two ‘Bluetooth peripheral device’ entries. The 905 wouldn’t connect and I suspected these ‘Driver not found’ entries in Device Manager as the cause. A brief googling turned up an article describing how to change the Widcomm .inf file so it would work. This was a bit of fun as the file was ‘in use’ and ‘protected’ by the BT subsystem. However after stopping BT, firing up Notepad++ as Admin (to be sure, to be sure ;), copy/pasting the hardware ID’s of the non-working devices in to the btwavdt.inf file’s BTWAUDIO section, paying attention to increment the DeviceDesc. Saved this file and started the BT system up again.

Magic. All I had to do was pair the device as usual, then rightclick on the device in the ‘device view’ and select ‘Headphones’ as a service. Then switch the sound output to use the cans. Yay! No more strangling myself with headphone cables when I do a 360 in my swivel chair. I might note that the drivers that came with the Asus adapter came with a bunch of other features and stuff that seem very useful, too. If you’re in the market, would happily recommend it.

P.S. I’m glad I’m not using a phone that doesn’t support previous/next track select via AVRCP. Would drive me mental! 😉

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Yesterday we saw a ruling on Larrikin Music Publishing Pty Ltd vs EMI Songs Australia Pty Limited about the Men At Work song ‘Down Under‘  which is the upshot of a fight last year by the same two companies over who owned the rights to the ‘Australian’ song ‘Kookaburra’ (Wikipedia, YouTube). The argument was over whether the composer of Kookaburra (or the composer’s rights holder) had any claim to royalty rights from Men At Work. This was largely the result of an ABC TV Australia celebrity game show in 2007 that blatantly pointed out the similarity between the flute introduction/lick to Down Under and the first two bars of Kookaburra.

The conclusion? Men At Work at various stages knew that they were copying a substantial part of Kookaburra, even up to the point of a 2002 concert by Colin Hay (lead singer, Men At Work) where he sang Kookaburra lyrics over the top of Down Under. Many Australians seem incensed that although they can hear similarities, it’s not at all the same and people should get their hands off Men At Work. Or that this is some money grabbing exercise by Larrikin. Let’s lay this out. Kookaburra is a short ’round’ (like ‘Row Row Row Your Boat’, or ‘Three Blind Mice’). It’s only four bars long. As such there’s not that much one could copy! Any copying, therefore, is liable to be a substantial part of Kookaburra. This is merely an observation at the outset, no judgement made at this point.

First off, we have to recognise that the tunes are in a different key and a different tempo. By and large, both plaintiff and defendant agreed this doesn’t amount to that much (although there was some arguing around the edges), as ‘it does not make any difference what key the song is sung in because the relative pitch remains the same’. This is why a key change in the middle of a both works and is cheap, it doesn’t make it a new song but it kinda sounds a bit different thus the listener doesn’t become bored with a simple tune halfway through. It’s a bit like shining a yellow then an orange light on a statue, or reading these words in English or Spanish. Similar argument is valid for tempo. If we can agree that tempo and key are irrelevant, let’s get down to the nuts and bolts.

Here’s Kookaburra, transposed into the same key as Down Under.

And here’s the flute part of Down Under:

Oh my, bars 1 and 2 of Kookaburra are note perfect for 2 and 4 of Down Under. Two bars from a four bar song round? That’s 50%. Substantially copied. Case for the plaintiff.

And Mr Ham (the flute player, yeah the one sitting in the tree playing the tune at the start of the video clip) has the balls to say this is all about greed as if he’s the one being wronged. Sure it’s about greed. His and his colleague’s greed in not giving money to the legitimate claimant. At no time did they offer the rights holder, either the composer before she died or the estate after she died, a percentage of performance or mechanical royalties. Not in 1979 when it was first recorded. Not in 1983 when it became a worldwide smash. Not in 1988 when the original composer died. Not in 2002 when the lead singer of MAW sang the Kookaburra lyrics over the top. Not once. Ever. Commonly, that’s theft. And it beats the crap out of me why there’s a bunch of musicians and artists out there defending them.

I encourage people to read both judgements. IANAL but they’re fairly straightforward. I’m all ears to anyone willing to point out where His Honour is wrong.

(For those paying attention to the tags I’ve added, you might also be interested in why I added Mr. Lobachevsky’s name)

[edit: Feb 5th, minor typographical corrections]

[Update: Oct 11th: Men At Work denied appeal to High Court of Australia]

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Another year, another content platform. Luckily for me, this content platform’s like the last, a bit more flexible than the one before that or the other one after that… or was that before the after one? Certainly more informative to the average punter than the auto-generated stuff I’ve created in the past in multiple locations due to historical reasons. But will I be bothered to add anything useful here when my previously created platform‘s still used so heavily? Should I also link to places that have long since expired? I’m getting on to 40 years old, been online in one form or another since I was 12. This is getting beyond a joke. Not that long ago, I’d have a bookshelf with a collection of our favourites and a journal I’d scrawl our notes in. Such an idea today is considered wildly anachronistic. If you’re not Tweeting your URLs and RT’ing stuff someone else said, sharing a post or datamining and dark stalking some random group on FB, stealing licks and melodies from MySpace or republishing someone else’s work on YouTube and claiming it as your own by adding subtitles and posting it to Digg or Reddit, you’re past it.

In the words of one of my favourite groups of lyricists, if you’re not famous by fourteen you’re finished. Or in my case with this blog, 40. I’d best warm up the coffee and get cracking…

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