Category Archives: music

“I will you in the night” – Idool 2003

At the Pixagogo reunion dinner the other evening, I was reminded by one of my ex-colleagues Steven (‘Beukie‘) that back in 2003 I was having some fun with remixes/mashups. More specifically, I took some vocals of the Belgian “Idool 2003″ preselections, and added music to them. To make the exercise more fun, I took samples from the ones that were really musically challenged.

So I went back in my archives and here are the three that I found:

  • “I will you in the night”
    Marnik had translated a Flemish song, into his own ‘impoverisation’, as he proudly announces. Unfortunately, the Dutch “Ik wil je” (I want you) does not normally translate into the English “I will you“.

    I also found back the original clip on Youtube (via partybrigade):
  • “But if I let you go”
    This ‘Pieter’ was officially called the worst candidate by the jury, and that decision is not impossible to understand. He had no tone, no rhythm and bad English. “There snow one like you!” He needed a lot of input of Madonna to make it bearable.
  • “Killing me softly”
    She was not that bad a singer, but her timing was awful. I remember having to cut and trim a lot to align her words to a steady beat. I made it a slow jazzy version with a lot of echo.

Out of that edition of Idool came Hadise, Brahim and Natalia, so it wasn’t all that bad. Still, there was also the girl with the wobbly hands:

Create your own iPhone ring tones

I’ve had my iPhone for a week (loving it!) and of course I want to make custom ring tones for some of my contacts. I figured out how it worked from posts like create-free-iphone-ringtones-using-itunes-in-windows but I developed my own workflow:

1. Find a source file

  • I typically start from an existing MP3 file. It might be a CD I have ripped to MP3, or a soundtrack from DVDs or other sound bites. I also have a collection of accapella samples that are a nice source.

2. Create the 15 – 30 sec tone in MP3 format

  • You don’t need a 5 min ringtone, just 15 to 30 seconds will be enough
  • I use Audacity (with the LAME MP3 encoder add-on) to load the full source MP3 file, trim out the piece I want and then add a fade-in and fade-out.

Make iPhone ringtone with Audacity

3. Export to MP3

  • I then export the file to an MP3 file of 128kbps. You don’t need better quality than that anyway. If you want, you can convert the file to mono here, or it can happen in the next step
  • Result: ringtone.mp3

4. Convert with ffmpeg to MPEG4 ringtone

  • I prefer using the command-line ffmpeg for transcoding of audio and video.
  • The simple way of doing it: ffmpeg -i ringtone.mp3 -y ringtone.m4a (.m4a stands for MPEG4 audio, ffmpeg will see this extension and use default settings for the conversion.) Afterwards you then have to change the extension to .m4r (MPEG4 ringtone).
  • The detailed one-step-only way to do this: ffmpeg.exe -i ringtone.mp3 -ac 1 -ab 128000 -f mp4 -acodec libfaac -y ringtone.m4r

5. Open file with iTunes

  • Just double-click the file, that should do it.

The lazy way:

let’s make a batch file that will automatically convert the first 30 seconds of any MP3 file into an iPhone ringtone:
SET INPUT=%1
SET NAME=%INPUT:.mp3=%
SET OUTPUT=%NAME%.m4r
echo CONVERT %INPUT% to %OUTPUT% ...
ffmpeg.exe -i %INPUT% -t 30 -ac 1 -ab 128000 -f mp4 -acodec libfaac -genre Ringtone -y %OUTPUT%

Northern Soul

Northern Soul I’m currently reading two related books at the same time:

  • “Turn the beat around – the secret history of disco” by Peter Shapiro
  • “Last night a DJ saved my life – the history of the disc jockey” by Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton

Both speak about a phenomenon of the 60′s-70′s: Northern Soul. It is the unlikely emergence of a subculture of English white working-class youths that only danced to American upbeat soul music. It started in Manchester, the Twisted Wheel club and spread from there.

The original northern soul scene lasted from the late 1960s to the early 1980s, and is considered a retrogressive or revivalist movement based on a style of music created years earlier. At the height of its popularity in the 1970s, African American artists had moved on to newer genres such as funk, jazz funk and disco, so the northern soul scene relied on a finite supply of 1960s recordings.

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Hip-hop is different

Hiphop: A.S.S.

Fleshmap via Infosthetics

If you ever wanted proof that hip-hop & rap are a disruptive music genre, take a look at this study/art work by Fernanda Viegas, Martin Wattenberg & the crowdsourcing specialists at Dolores Labs: Fleshlabs.

They’ve take the lyrics of a lot of songs and figured out which body parts are most mentioned.

Based on a compilation of more than 10,000 songs, the piece visualizes the use of words representing body parts in popular culture. Each musical genre exhibits its own characteristic set of words, with more frequently used terms showing up as bigger images. The entrance image shows how many times different body parts are mentioned; the charts for each genre go into more detail, showing the usage of different synonyms for each part.

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