Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Humanizing Data

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011 Leave a comment

Transforming how we look at things, from flight monitoring to music.

Eric Whitacre – Sleep (Virtual Choir 2.0)

Friday, April 8th, 2011 Leave a comment

Unfortunately the owners of this video do not allow embedding.  Messy.  But awesome concept and video/music. View here.

Categories: Music

Some videos from a recent Kirtan in Victoria

Thursday, October 28th, 2010 4 comments
Categories: Entertainment, Music, Victoria

Love these harmonies. . .

Saturday, October 24th, 2009 Leave a comment
Categories: Music

Soundings guest appearance with Nomad

Monday, June 15th, 2009 Leave a comment

Soundings will appear at a concert by Nomad, the world music duo with guitarist Michael Waters (from Victoria, BC) and Kinobe (from Uganda) who is a wizard on many African instruments including kora, adungu, and kalimba.

Soundings will be singing with Nomad on four pieces, including the well-known song “Kothbiro”, composed by Kenyan singer Ayub Ogada. Also we will be performing a new setting of  “God Bless the Rain” by Soundings director Denis Donnelly, a unique rendering of a Rumi-like mystical poem by poet Gregory Orr, and a brand new version of the popular past Soundings number “Jabula Jesu”.  In all these we will be collaborating with Nomad, who will be backing us up and alternating leads with us.  It’ll be fun!

Samples of Nomad’s music can be found here.

Saturday, June 27, 8:00 pm at Gordon Head United Church, 4201 Tyndall. Tickets $15 at Lyle’s Place in Victoria, BC, and at the door (if not sold out).

Categories: Music, Victoria

New speakers

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009 Leave a comment

As I note in my audio/video system update I’ve been using the landlady’s speakers for some time.  Once I knew what my new condo would be like (small), I was ready to buy speakers.  I decided on an oddball stereo pair, not very common, but they sounded the best of everything I listened to under $2,000, except for the very low end, which is missing (Response: 55Hz – 50kHz).  I bought a pair of JVC SX-WD5‘s.  The clarity is stunning, and using the old Technic’s as rears works fine.  When I move, I’ll look for some inexpensive rears.

I don’t plan on getting a centre speaker or subwoofer or “presence” speakers.  So my 7.1 receiver will be driving 4.0.  Even for surround sound movies, it sounds great.  I’m just missing that deep rumble that probably wouldn’t go down well in a condo …

Upcoming Soundings concerts

Saturday, May 16th, 2009 Leave a comment

The theme for the Soundings concerts this season is “Songs of Earth and Spirit”.  F rom the website, “Beginning with music from Renaissance Europe, we move through songs from Austrailia, the Appalachians, Cuba, and Ireland, and on into contemporary songs, includings works by Soundings members Brian Grady and John Hilditch.” 

In other words the usual eclectic mish-mash.  If you’re in Victoria, BC, we’re singing May 29th and 30th.  We’re also dropping in on Nomad to sing a few later in June.  Details at

Categories: Music, Victoria

Catching up with Audio/Video

Saturday, November 15th, 2008 1 comment

In the 1960s I was fascinated with technology, and when colour TV came to Canada (years after the US!), the next big breakthrough was to be high-definiiton TV, and I recall it being discussed in the press.  That may have been the NHK system demo’ed in 1969 described in this article.  But for technical reasons the technology stagnated and did not become widely available until this century.

I also remember listening to my first FM broadcast in the 60’s on a portable radio, and was capitivated by the richness, relative to AM.  And I recall clearly when my brother bought his first cheapo stereo system and we listened to the soundtrack from 2001, A Space Odyssey.  I was amazed at the depth of the sound.

In the 70s I often helped friends purchase high-quality stereo systems, and knew a fair amount about the technology.

Despite this I never purchased a good-quality system for myself.  So recently I decided it was time to investigate audio and video technology and get myself a decent system.  I quickly discovered that audiophile systems were well out of my price range, as was the latest in HDTV.  But with minor compromises, the cost could be brought down dramatically.  So here’s what I purchased:

  • Panasonic 42″ 1080p TH42PZ800 plasma HDTV
  • Pace TDC-775D PVR (only choice with local cable company)
  • Panasonic BD50 BluRay player (now superseded by the BD55)
  • Yamaha RXV-1800 receiver (good price as the RXV-1900 is now available)
  • Grado SR-2 headphones
  • Panasonic DMR-EZ48V DVD recorder (for transcribing old VHS and Hi-8 video tapes)

And here’s my impressions:

  • The richness and clarity of the TV are amazing.
  • The colour depth of the TV is very poor, looks like 16 bit colour, resulting in very visible banding on graduated colour areas, whether from BD, computer or cable.  I went back to the store and looked at many plasma and LCD TVs, indeed this is a chronic problem with plasma, which I didn’t find noted anywhere in reviews.  How odd.  Of course, the newest, very expensive TVs (like $9k) don’t have this problem.  LCD TVs perform much better than plasma on colour depth.
  • The compression needed for cable HDTV results in massive pixellation on movement, it’s tolerable, but I think they (at least the local cable company) has gone overboard on compression.
  • Flight Simulator X looks fantastic on a 42″ plasma, and performance is quite good.
  • There is no hiss at all from the receiver.  Zero.  Amazing.  Overall the receiver specs are better than the best studio equipment of the 70s.
  • The Blu-Ray player takes forever to start up!  But movies look great.
  • The headphones are amazing.
  • Amazingly, neither of the DVD players can read .jpg images over 1Mb in size, something that aged DVD players can do.  A big hole in Panasonic’s capability.  I have to drive slide shows from the computer.
  • I once tested the Shaw digital audio channels because the sounded so crappy, and found they rolled off around 8kHz.  However either my system sucked or they’ve changed the quality, because now they sound great.  Definitely wide-response, although there still is some distortion on very low frequencies at times.  That may be the fault of the audio stream providers, who knows.

Now astute readers will have noted something missing: speakers.  Those I’m going to take my time with and save my nickels, as they are the most critical part of the system.  Meanwhile, the place I’m renting has some old Technics speakers that sound ok: they are missing the low end, but capture the tinkly highs adequately.  And clarity is good.

So I’ve caught up a bit, and am satisfied with what I have.

Singing with a choir has many benefits.

Saturday, January 5th, 2008 Leave a comment
Categories: Music

How not to catch a thief

Saturday, December 22nd, 2007 2 comments

In Canada, if you buy a blank CD, it is presumed that you are going to steal music.  A levy of 21 cents is added to every blank CD purchased and 24 cents for every blank cassette more than 40 minutes in length.  These funds are distributed to the music industry.

Proposed legislation will compound this: the Canadian Private Copying Collective, a non-profit agency created by the music industry wants to collect up to $75 for each MP3 player sold, and 29 cents for every blank CD and Mini disc.  Futher all memory sticks would be tariffed, up to $10 per card.  Details here.  Looking at the financial report, the motivation may be the drop in revenue from CD tariffs since 2004, probably the result of the use of alternative media.   It’d be interesting to see how these revenue numbers might jump with the proposed tariffs.

Canadian music industry proponents would argue the funds will go towards fostering Canadian artists and music.  Futher artists don’t have the protection against file sharing that they do in the US: we have no equivalent to the Digital Millenium Act. 

Personally I purchase all music (and software) I download or copy.  So the presumption that I am stealing music and must be penalized is at best disappointing, at worst, theft.  I want my support of Canadian artists to be by choice, not legislation.  It makes a lot more sense to me to modify our copyright laws to protect against people who steal music, than to penalize all music lovers.  How this legislation will deter thieves is not clear.  You can contact your Member of Parliament if you agree.

Categories: Music, Musings, Technical

A diamond in the rough

Monday, December 17th, 2007 4 comments
Categories: Music

Noël à deux

Sunday, November 11th, 2007 Leave a comment

For folks in Victoria, Soundings Vocal Ensemble is teaming up with the Inspirata Women’s Choir to present an eclectic mix of both familiar and uncommon Christmas music from many traditions including Medieval, Renaissance, Appalachian, French, Danish and even some jazz.  Two concerts:

Friday, 8:00 PM, December 14, 2007, The Mews, Royal Roads University, Victoria, BC
Saturday, 8:00 PM, December 15, 2007, Gordon Head United Church, 4201 Tyndall, Victoria, BC

Click here for a poster.

Categories: Music, Victoria

Soundings update

Sunday, April 29th, 2007 Leave a comment

Soundings has a few gigs upcoming:

Sunday, April 29, 7:30 PM, Victoria Folk Club (short notice!)

Sunday, May 6, 2:00 PM, Gabriola United Church, Gabriola Island (part of Dancing Man music festival)

Saturday, June 2, 8:00 PM, Fairfield United Church, Victoria, BC

Sunday, June 3, 7:00 PM, Royal Roads University, Victoria, BC

Visit the website for more details.  And no, we aren’t a choir, although we keep getting billed that way!  Join us for a mix of Dowland, Beatles, James Taylor, gospel, blues and some wonderful locally-written/arranged pieces.

Categories: Music

Back in Soundings

Friday, March 9th, 2007 Leave a comment

In January I rejoined Soundings, the 25-voice vocal ensemble I was a member of from 2001-2004.  It’s a lot of fun to be directed by Denis again, and singing with a great bunch of people.  Denis has lined up some great repertoire for concerts in the Spring.  Selections aren’t final, but these sets will have a more contemporary component than some in the past.   Upcoming performances are listed at .

Categories: Music

Back into the fire

Sunday, June 11th, 2006 Leave a comment

I liked that video I noted a few days ago so much I decided I wanted to buy it.  So I bravely went back into the nightmare that is iTunes.  I had a very difficult time getting it to work (it would abort after being invoked), but after Googling some solutions (the Apple site provides too many hits, and is not very useful), I got it up and running.  I downloaded the video, but it had no audio.  I checked other videos I had on disk, and some had audio and some didn't, so it seemed like it might be something peculiar to the format.

Throwing caution to the wind, I emailed the secret email address ( that is buried so deeply in the iTunes support site.  They responded quite quickly with a useful suggestion.  But when that didn't work and I emailed back, I once again got the electronic third finger, "The iTunes Store team answers questions via email about billing, customer accounts, downloading items, and the selections available on the iTunes Store," followed by the usual unhelpful links.

So tomorrow I will try the AppleCare 800 number again.  Last time the fellow was very sympathetic, if unable to help.  We shall what happens this time.

And I recognize that I'm creating a large part of this problem myself: there is competition out there for song/video downloads and I'm not taking the time to look at folks that may actually support their product.

Into the dark

Thursday, June 8th, 2006 Leave a comment
Categories: Music

Selling and stats

Thursday, March 9th, 2006 Leave a comment

Tom Peters has kindly provided thoughts on selling in a downloadable PDF. Highly recommended. And here’s some fascinating stats on the music industry as it struggles to adapt to new distribution channels and methods.

Group/Choral Arrangements available

Sunday, February 19th, 2006 Leave a comment

Denis Donnelly has created a new website, to market his amazing multi-part vocal arrangements for vocal groups, large and small.  These include Irish and Scottish songs, Gospel Songs and Spirituals, Songs and Chants from World Traditions and Christmas Music.  Denis, co-director of the Gettin’ Higher Choir and director of the Soundings vocal ensemble has over the years pleased many thousands with his innovative and magical arrangements.

Congrats, Denis!

Categories: Music

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