MTV, the jukebox of my childhood, created the soundtrack to our household. It was the stream that kept a creative culture afloat in my life despite my underdeveloped taste in music. Nonetheless, even at that age I could feel that it was an important piece of my media consumerism. A song would pop up every once in a while that my older sister would want turned up. I was learned by example that music discovery was a valuable adolescence right of passage.
One autumn day in 1990 a beat resonated in my heart, it moved me. There I was, just 12 years old, watching an opening scene featuring the percussion ensemble of Paul Simon’s Obvious Child, it made me feel so much excitement for creativity and human spirit that it surely shaped my passion for music and art. To just say that the album that it belonged to, Rhythm of The Saints, became the core soundtrack to my life for the next few years, might be an understatement because it was also an inspiration to me as a songwriter, and now I know that if it weren’t for MTV I might not have experienced the discovery of it the same way. The convergence of the music with the video and the playlist programming of MTV played a big role in the discovery.
These days, with discovery being primarily an algorithm based shuffle, music discovery is much more technologically developed. I look at the first run in this world as Pandora, where the radio station that you created would offer new songs that fit the playlist, songs that you may have not heard before.
The intuitive machine behind music streaming powerhouse Spotify took this to a new level by widening the circle to have the analytical programming include much more independent music and therefore more to discover that you normally wouldn’t find elsewhere.
In a league of its own, YouTube created another level of intimate videos, a world of personal music discovery with their algorithms suggesting covers and originals by artists in their bedroom or backyard. YouTube is perhaps the best example of the evolution of the music video convergence in today’s algorithmic music consumerism since the time of MTV. The algorithm of YouTube dictates what you watch 70% of the time. 81% of American YouTube users say they regularly watch videos recommended by the algorithm according to the article “Many Turn to YouTube for Children’s Content, News, How-To Lessons” by the Pew Research Center, Washington, D.C. (NOVEMBER 7, 2018)
The second largest force for me from the pre-streaming era of music discovery was from movies. Soundtracks were developed and led people to fall in love with songs that supported the stories they adored. How does this come into play now for music discovery with movie streaming giants such as Netflix? Are more people discovering music from TV and movies nowadays?
I feel confident that algorithmic music consumerism will continue to develop with more analytical data that is received from the listener's devices. Could there also be a resurgence in good old word-of-mouth music discovery as music appreciation develops alongside the robotic feed of music? Will there be a wholehearted response to the technological push that streaming services deliver?
When we talk, how does it sound?
Does it feel like a love language or does it feel like a challenge? Each conversation brings its own topic to light through tone of voice, the underlying sentiment or frustrations that are being communicated with dynamic vibrational delivery.
Not only do we choose worlds to say to one another but we express how we feel through our tone of voice. Often unaware of the way we might sound to the person we are talking to, until it’s too late. What if we made a conscious effort to deliver our words with a tone of voice that enhanced the conversation instead of sweeping it up in a wave of emotion? What if we ask ourselves what we want to be communicating through the tone of our voices alongside the actual words?
Some words carry their own tone, an added complexity to intentional vocalizations. Explosive words, harsh words and expletives blast their way through a conversation and can be damaging while soft and sweet toned words imply a certain tenderness. These words are built for delivering a message regardless of how you say them.
Just try and say “ I love fuzzy bunnies” with an angry explosive tone. Do you believe the tone or the words? Does the message work?
Creaksbox by Hidden Orchestra + Animita Designs
Creaksbox is an online music manipulator machine using the music soundtrack from CREAKS a new video game by Animita Designs. The maestro of Creaksbox is Hidden Orchestra’s Joe Acheson who played many instruments on the soundtrack. The Creaksbox site describes it as “ a music player for an adaptive soundtrack. There are hundreds and thousands of variables, which creates a ‘living soundtrack’ that feels fresh every time you hear it”
Ever since I first entered the world of Machinarium, the award-winning independent adventure puzzle game featuring Josef the adorable robot, I have been enchanted by the use of sound and music in the games. The creative team at Animita Design has brought to life intricate musical convergences in their games where sound is magic, tones are language. In Samorost 3, the depth of this convergence goes even further as I have written about here. CREAKS follows suit, with more music convergences to reveal language and puzzles as well as the soundtrack to support the mystery of the game’s story.
The Creaksbox gives you the chance to explore the tonal landscape in unique ways by tweeking with the controls to constantly blend pieces of the soundtrack together.
It weaves the tracks and shifts the 6 needle record player head which crawls through the grooves of an animated vinyl record like a creepy robotic spider in true Anamita Design fashion.
Flip the progress changer toggle and advance the time clock even more to manipulate the sounds even more to a web of melodies, lots of eerie clarinet reminiscent of Samorost 3 and often, chaotic mixes of electro arpeggios. Open the instrument info. tab for pictures of the featured instruments created by the Creaksbox artist, Jan Chlup.
Strat by choosing a length of time to have it running and tweek the Creaksbox yourself to create a soundtrack and unlock your own mysterious treasure. What stories might the sound evoke for you?
we are sound chambers.
I can always hear it behind my thoughts, just waiting there for me patiently.
It is a pulse.
Music moves me and intends to even when I am too darn heavy to budge.
There are songs that are particularly inspiring to me, music that opens me like a piece of fruit. The rind just peels away and I spread each juicy section of my emotions splashing out. Finally, I explode, turning inside out by an intricately crafted arrangement of vibrations. When I allow music to move through me like this then I become the instrument. My body resonates like the hollow wooden body of an acoustic guitar.
We are all sound chambers for one voice or another. When we let sounds bounce around inside us we keep that vibration going, like we collectively step on the sustain pedal of a piano.
the giant guitar
On several occasions, my 12 year old son and I like to entertain each other by talking about a giant guitar. One so large that, as it lays there in some wide open west coast valley, or better yet, at a proper establishment for such a creation like The Clark, you have to look at its entirety from a distance. We imagine you can set a ladder against it and climb up to the top surface, plant your feet there and stare across the girth of the gleaming metal strings, down into the sound hole like it’s some sci-fi, space station on an alien planet.
Here’s where the idea has steeped enough to step into. Lowering yourself down into the hole you hang from the largest string, the bass, and once your body relaxes a bit, you let go. The string, which, to scale, would be a large metal cable, like the kind used to build bridges, vibrates with such a fantastically Earth shaking shutter that the sound chamber that you are dropping into becomes so thick with vibrations you could almost feel it slow down your fall. Gravity itself is denied by the levity of reverberating sound. You float down as the sound waves disperse into the open air and gently land. Inside the great hall of the instrument, the music swallows you. The light patterns in the room are shifting with the skylight sound-hole.
A part of you may never want to leave. The part of you that will pay respect to the new discovery inside the echo chamber. The other part of you that perhaps wants coffee or to hold close to one you love will get you headed home but most likely with a new way to listen.
Samorost 3, an adventure puzzle game by Anamita design, follows a curious space gnome who uses the powers of a magic flute to travel across the cosmos in search of its mysterious origins. Visit nine unique and alien worlds teeming with colorful challenges, creatures and surprises to discover, brought to life with beautiful artwork, sound and music.
The little gnome's horn sounds like a clarinet. He lives in a world of floating planets made of various natural pieces, a world full of creatures that communicate through sound and the player progresses through the game solving sound based puzzles.
Like other brilliantly composed soundtracks of Anamita games, such as Machinarium, the magical soundtrack of Samorost 3 is a blend of live acoustic instruments and electronica, with handpan like organic bell tones and ambient / chill percussion / beats.
The water wheel well organ is a gorgeous instrument that you play with an 8 note controller to play the melody.
A mouse that lives in one of the instrument’s pipes sings a song that you can mimic to get an achievement .
Each achievement in the game has its own sound. There’s a section in the menu that has all the achievement symbols that you can click on to spin them to mix their sounds together. All of them together make quite a busy song but a few of them together make fun music mixing.
Speaking of which : There’s a musical pond near the gnome's lighthouse that is fun to play with and there is a band of lizards that sing a song together based on how you manipulate the plants in the pond next to them.
The world of Samorost 3 is full of communication through emotional sound, no words needed.
The bug in the picture below hums tones from its antenna when you strum them like the strings of a harp.
Pretty much every thing you click on makes a sound and then you have a gorgeous, creative soundtrack by Tomas "Floex" Dvorak.
Samorost 3 is a very fascinating, beautiful, musical and creative sound puzzle game to play. You can download it here.
King Roy Wing is a five piece indie folk band in my current hometown of Ashland, Oregon. I recently met with Dan Sherrill at Mix Cafe in Ashland, and we talked about their new album, These Rolling Hills, which he produced.
The cover photo was taken at the historic Hanley Farm.
As a producer and sound engineer and one who knows that not all houses are built the same, Dan sought out a natural, untreated space that had real character for the recording.
"when I walk into any room that I’m potentially going to record in, I clap, just to hear what the reflections sound like, to listen to the space, too often the room sounds dead... it’s all about vibe...it’s not like I want some cathedral ceiling, all I want is somewhere that has clarity. "
The group decided to rent a house deep in the country near Tiller, Oregon and for five long days they recorded the songs.
"we moved all the furniture into this one room, the downstairs floor with the kitchen we turned into a recording studio. "
“What I really wanted to focus on for this record was to capture what we do live as a group, to recreate our live dynamic, while having control” which Dan did by tracking the album, recording the instruments on separate tracks and then layering them together. Dan finished the album at his home studio, known as Rent A Puppy Records, doing the mixing and the remaining components of the recording.
The songs of These Rolling Hills, written by Michael Henry, might seem fairly simple at first but the arrangements are complex. “We all had our hands on every song, Henry wrote the melody and lyrics, we arranged our parts." says Sherrill.
The mood of the album’s start, with the song Temperate Son, opens the heart like the sunrise, like waking up to a particular eventful day that perhaps you had been anticipating and step forward into courageously. It is evident in the tones of lead singer Michael Henry’s voice and the soft layered harmonies that what is being communicated here is sincere. The strings swell like waves of honey and are lovely and uplifting in a Horsefeathers type way. The song builds into its own landscape and after a wholesome double bass featured section performed by Jenica Smith, the piece deepens with some electric layers to boldly reach the edge of where you might not have thought the song would travel but once you are there it feels like quite the welcome exploration. A banjo politely trickles its way in to start the next tune, Over The Noz, an instrumental. With a spring in its step, this piece progresses from a Goat Rodeo Session type tune to a carefree bluegrass journey toward a magical land. The next song, Copper Wolf, delivers some down home grit along with some slapping bass, chunky guitar and a solid dobro performance by Gaur Groover. The album returns to its original sentiment with the title track, These Rolling Hills, a heartwarming and longing folk-hymn, a timeless stretch of the Americana highway that feels so familiar. From there we arrive at Cherokee Hill where we find its story supported by some creative classic electric guitar and poignant fiddle melodies by Hanna Winters.
Apollo feels strangely wonderful and with the magic that the well balanced voices deliver in the lyrics, it’s easy to appreciate the unique, creative melody and picturesque lyrics. The song splashes into electric guitar land until the peppery notes of another instrumental, American Mastodon, come jumping in like a refreshing river. The tight string-band interaction of the instruments here are really fun and feel like a sophisticated bluegrass celebration.
Weeds Amongst the Wheat and Ojai Pixie keep the traditional music heartbeat rolling with multiple flavors of bluegrass glory. Finally, Maria, a sweet, slow burn delivers stellar harmonies, Dan Sherrill’s lush telecaster and soaring fiddle.
Dan Sherrill of King Roy Wing
“We're excited to see what’s next ” Sherrill says.
After chatting more about songwriting, Dan and I walked over to his house and checked out his studio space and gear:
a glance at some of the equipment that Dan used to record These Rolling Hills
These Rolling Hills is a glistening picture of Americana. The album pumps like a mellow and full bodied river carving through an isolated range and all the while inviting the listener to plunge in the water and soak in the refreshing tributaries that spring up beneath rocks and join the waters wide.
Listen to the album here on Spotify :
learn more about King Roy Wing on their Website here :
I am very happy to have found Cross-Channel Music, a project from London that has produced a gorgeous 4 song EP called Average Rock Star. The 33 second "intro" sets a fantastic wave of emotion with layered horns like the perfect soundtrack to watching the sun rise majestically out of the ocean's horizon. Then, with staccato strings bubbling like clockwork, the song "Turtle" emerges like the fascination of a hundred baby turtles cracking out of their shells and waddling their way across the sand to the water.
Cross-Channel Music's singer/songwriter + music composer Pierre Lassegues, delivers his track Turtle like he is building a majestic sand castle in front of you. His rich baritone vocals, percussive effervescence and endearing cello swell the waves of emotion and, one of my favorite parts, a very wholesome arpeggio layer of sun soaked electric guitar, pulls you into this kingdom like a wide eyed child discovering the kaleidoscope of life. Meanwhile, the lyrics shed light on an otherwise humble creature to be a regal king of this fantasy land and of course relatable to our human condition with the shells we keep to cover ourselves but find our way from stuck on our back to our feet once again.
" the world moves fast and you move slow...."
This song soars gorgeously. The rest of the tracks on the EP are just as well crafted. Enjoy listening to this beautiful track and support the artist by purchasing a download of the track.
Pierre recorded the EP with Jim Wallis at Bella Union studio back in June last year. The beautiful Brass parts are played by Will Dollard. The EP’s haunting cover art, is Pierre's good friend, illustrator and designer Yannick Rigour.
The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is now closed to the public and the circuit of wonderful wineries, bars and other live music venues here in Southern Oregon, where I normally perform have closed their doors so I am focusing on delivering my music online. Live performances were a large part of my income so now since I am working from home I need your support and here are some great ways that you can contribute.
Buy CDs, stickers and other Merch. from the Magnetic West Music online SHOP.
Download my music on Bandcamp - I make more from this than I do from streaming.
Here are the links to the Bandcamp accounts for my various projects:
Son Ravello / Magnetic West Music / Kites & Crows
Become a patron of Magnetic West Music on Patreon.
For as little as $1. a month you can support the creative ongoings of my music convergence projects and receive exclusive content.
plus Patrons of Magnetic West Music ( The Real Deal tier + up ) will receive a CD pack in the mail!
Come explore more of what this Patreon place is all about, check out the tiers I have made or create your own, watch the video < < HERE > >
Listen to my music on streaming platforms, every play is monetized:
Son Ravello : Spotify / Apple Music / AmazonMusic
Kites & Crows : Spotify / Apple Music / AmazonMusic
Add a song to your Spotify or Apple playlist.
Share links to your favorite tracks
Subscribe to my YouTube channel ( + enjoy watching the videos ! )
Include my music in your own videos.
search for music at MagneticWestMusic.com
Performing music can be very overwhelming to me sometimes. There’s a part of each performance that always has me questioning it. Every time I am onstage or every time I post a video of myself singing, I question it. How can I be sure that this is sincere? Should I be so self-assured to share this with an audience and assume it is valuable? What part of me needs to perform my songs? We all want to be liked, but am I just showing off? Does that part exist purely to feel accepted and admired? How do I differentiate between the mindsets of egotistical and self-confident in performance? Are these questions that only I seek the answer to, or are audiences keen on being aware whether or not the performer is too ego driven? What parts of your ego do you not share with others or even allow yourself to develop? What parts of your ego are helpful to you for being confident to deliver something that you can share with the world?
It is humbling to share your heartfelt work through performing music. There’s certainly a specific humility that is needed to get up on stage but it is obvious that you have to believe in yourself as well. What drives you to take it out of the bedroom and onto the stage? Often, after a performance, someone will express to me how my music made them feel, how it helped them through a hard time. Well, there’s the proof, my music is useful. Still, I have to believe that I am not the only one that finds the questions will find their way back to me. What if the performance you are sharing isn’t helpful, or doesn’t add value in anyway to someone else’s life, well then, what’s the use of sharing it?
Carrie Cheadle, a mental skills trainer, who approaches these questions of humility from the field of sport psychology, answers this very well :
“There is a difference between having a healthy ego and being egotistical. Once you cross the line to egotistical – it can be detrimental to your performance. There’s a continuum that has self-assured on one end and arrogance on the other. When you’re self-assured, you’re confident in yourself and confident in your ability regardless of the competition and what’s going on around you. When you’re arrogant, your “confidence” comes from exaggerating your importance and belittling others.
Working on humility helps you move towards the self-assured side on the continuum and a great way to work on humility is to stop passing judgement on others. We ALL do it. At some point you’ll find yourself talking shit about someone else in order to feel better about yourself or your own situation. We don’t consciously realize we’re doing it, but that’s exactly what we’re doing. One of the most AMAZING impacts of actively working on humility and having a deep respect for the people around you, is that it can actually help you improve your own performance. When you stop judging others, you stop judging yourself. When you stop focusing on them, you start focusing on you.”
This mindset can help performers manage their emotions and persevere under pressure. What are the other ways that you have found help you reach your peak performance without the battle of the ego hindering your flow?
I think the best music streaming app. to have on your phone is Spotify. You can try it out, for free, and if you want to pay 10 bucks a month and get Premium, you can avoid having to listen to advertisements. If others in your household want Premium then you can get The Family Plan for 15.99 a month. That’s the price of one CD. All the music and podcasts you want, in your pocket, for that price is pretty good. If you stick with the free plan you’ll be limited to listening to music in shuffle mode and can only skip a certain amount of tracks per hour. A lot of other people seem to love Spotify as much as I do. Spotify has around 30 million paying subscribers and nearly 90 million users total, which is more than any other music-streaming platform out there. To put it in perspective, Apple Music has about 13 Million subscribers.
I listen to music and podcasts everyday and Spotify is my main source. If you decide to download the app. and try it out, here’s a simple guide to get started and have all the music and podcasts you need to build the soundtrack of your life.
Home Sweet Home
The Home section displays Spotify’s great approach to music for lifestyle convergence. It contains your recent playlists, new episodes of podcasts that you follow, playlists hand-picked for you by Spotify, music you might like based on what you’ve listened to, the main songs you listen to, playlists that you’ve created or ones you follow, songs you can’t get enough of, other recommendations and one of my favorite sections, Mood.
Search for a song, an artist, a podcast topic…
Tap the search tab, a little magnifying glass, and type in something you are searching for. If you like the song and want to save it to Your Library you can tap the little heart on the right side of the player button. Spotify will give you matches to your query as you type, including artists, songs, playlists, albums, podcasts, podcast episodes and profiles that match your search.
Search / BROWSE
Inside the search section you can Browse . Explore Spotify’s amazingly vast catalog of featured playlists, charts, new releases and genres to build the soundtrack of your life. The tiles at the top are playlists that Spotify thinks you'll enjoy, based on your listening habits.
When you are in the Search Section, notice the camera icon in the top-right; this lets you scan special Spotify tags that link to a specific playlist or song. You might see these tags on Artist’s concert posters or promotional materials, or you can scan it from a friend who has opened a tag of a song on their screen .
Spotify’s Genres & Moods section is a great way to cue up playlists based on activities. This is one of the features that proves Spotify is keen to the idea that Music Makes the Moment!
The last tab is YOUR LIBRARY but if you are new to Spotify, then you haven’t built much of a library yet, so let’s look at a few other main components of using Spotify first and before long you will have built your library and you'll see how it's the soundtrack of your life.
-Now Playing -
The Now Playing bar always shows at bottom of screen right above the navigation tabs.. Tap it to see full details, including Play/Pause and Seek buttons, Shuffle and Repeat functions. Touch the three-dot menu int the upper right hand side of the screen for options pertaining to the current track. Here, you can access a bunch of functions like adding the song to a playlist, putting it queue, share it, go to a radio station based on the songs and more.
-Follow a Playlist -
Scroll to see the Playlist results from your search. If you like a playlist and want to save it to your playlists then you can follow it and it will get added to your playlists.
-Turn the Radio On -
You can choose a radio station that’s pre-made or tap the "+" button at the top to create a station based on a song or artist.
Build your library
The very last tab in the app is Your Library. It's where you can store and organize all the music you find on Spotify. This tab is a collection of all the music you’ve saved in Spotify. You’ll find your Playlists, Albums, Liked Songs, Artists, any stations that you created in the Radio tab and more for easy browsing. Here you can also also find everything you’ve recently played,
Want to Make a Playlist? You have several options:
> Tap the option button (circle with three dots) next to a song and hit "Add to playlist." You can add it to an existing one that you created (not someone else's you're following) or create a new Playlist with this song.
> Go to the Playlists section in Your Music, tap the Edit button in the corner, then the "+" that appears in the upper-left corner.
When you create a playlist, you can decide whether to make it public or not. If it’s public, anyone can search for it and it will appear on your user page. Right-click a playlist and choose Make Public to send it out to the masses.
To further build your playlist you’ll see Recommended Songs for your playlist if you scroll and You can click Add to drop these into your playlist to make it even better.
> Build a Playlist with Your Friends
Right-click it and choose Collaborative Playlist. Share the link and other Premium users can edit it and add to it. note: you need Premium to make Collaborative Playlists on a mobile device.
Going on a hike or road trip to a remote place? You can Download songs for offline listening.
To download music, go to Your Library. At the top of any playlist, album, artist, or your entire Songs list, flip the switch to "Available offline."
It is recommended that you connect to Wi-Fi and charger cord first because downloading songs sucks up data and battery power. You can listen to that music even when your device is in airplane mode — and it won’t use your data if you are online.
Line ‘em Up!
Queue songs to play next. You can queue up music on the fly by tapping the option button next to a song (circle with three dots) and choosing "Add to Up Next." To view the queue, go to the Now Playing screen (tap the bar at the bottom of the app) and hit the icon in the upper-right corner (three lines).
Some additional activities:
Share a Song or Playlist:
Spotify makes it easy to share music and podcasts with others.
To share on mobile, tap the three-dot icon on any artist, album, or playlist page, or next to a song. Tap Share and you’ll see several sharing options, including Copy Link.
Discover New Music:
The Related Artists section on every artist's page suggests other artist you might like. Right below the list of popular tracks, you'll see a little section with a list of similar artists. Choose one and explore.
Follow your friends in the app to you view (and add) their playlists, see what music they're listening to and directly send them music you like. To find and add friends, go to Your Music and tap your photo at the top-right corner. Hit "Find Friends." You can also go to the main search bar and look for them there.
Follow an Artist:
Use this feature to get notifications when an artist you like releases new music or adds it to Spotify for the first time. Just go to an artist's page and hit "Follow" at the top.
Some settings you might want to play with:
Go to your Library and hit the gear icon at the top. There are a lot of settings to choose from, so here are some important ones:
Gapless playback. This is my favorite setting. You can take out the gap between songs with this feature. You can even adjust the crossfade slider to make the songs overlap which is great for continuous play for workouts, wedding dances and events like that when you don’t want the music to stop.
Stream / download quality. You can set download & stream quality to Normal if you want to save some data.
Offline mode. Enable this mode and Spotify will only let you play downloaded music.
As a music consumer that grew up making mix tapes on cassette and saving ups my allowance to by a CD, I am simply amazed by Spotify and love all of the features for integrating all of my favorite music into my life. One of my main uses of play-listing on is for fitness and Spotify even has special features for that purpose. Stay tuned here for an upcoming guide to using Spotify for fitness. In the mean time, explore all the playlists that I’ve created, follow them, collaborate with me.
Share some of your playlists and favorite songs and podcasts on Spotify here in the comments section below.