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How great is The Current?

Answer: Totally.

The Current: Excellent music on internet radio
I forget how I found The Current. It was 3 or 4 years ago I think, possibly just in a random directory of internet radio, possibly built into my Squeezebox. And for a long time you would have seen it show up in my online listening profile as I played it through the squeezebox and it scrobbled.

But I realised recently that since I now listen through a non-scrobbling device, The Current is one part of my listening habits which just isn’t reflected in my online music profile these days. So here’s a quick post to reflect my love of this quirky, independent-minded, great-music-playing station.

What is the Current and why should I care?


Celebrating USB Discographies

Just a short post to celebrate the notion of USB Stick Discographies.

We live in an always-online world where increasingly we prefer downloadables and streaming media over physical products. And that’s certainly the case in the world of music (…with the possible exception of vinyl junkies).

One special case for me is the trend of artists releasing most or all of their back catalogue on a USB stick. Rather than leave fans to trawl around gathering the various tracks and releases and special editions and so on, some artists make an all-in-one bundle that saves you the hassle and bandwidth.

Here are three I’ve bought:

(Jonathan Coulton + Creative Commons) <3 USB Sticks

Jonathan Coulton Creative Commons USB Stick

Who: Jonathan Coulton

What: A 1GB green USB stick containing the JoCo Looks Back album and all the source tracks for it.

Awesome because: A fund-raising release for Creative Commons to celebrate the release of the ‘best of’ album “JoCo Looks Back”, this stick highlighted the power of the CC licenses to encourage remixes and derivatives.

What else: I already owned all this music, but getting at the multi-track source material was was a great bonus. I’m not into remixing, myself, but in my last job having high quality multi-track data proved very useful for building fun in-house tech demos.

Wheatus’ Brendan is a USB Stick

Brendan B. Brown of Wheatus is a USB Stick

Who: Wheatus

What: (more…)

Who decides the Future of Musicianship?

A few days ago I attended a fantastic discussion panel session at The Hub, Westminster, entitled “The Future of Musicianship”. It was the first event put on by the newly-launched “Loving and Living Music” project, brainchild of Ben Hillyard and Heli Rajasalo.

The goal of the initiative is outlined in detail here but to give you an idea:

What we are looking for in the Loving & Living Music project is a definition or a description of musicianship that includes all aspects of musicianship across all genres and instruments. Having this definition will enable discussion of musicianship to take place on a wider scale than is possible today.

We see a gap in the way that music in commonly taught. With the Loving & Living Music project we are looking to provoke awareness and discussion among the music education sector about how Musicianship is and could be taught.

The future of musicianship is a subject close to my heart due to my work with Easy Ear Training, where we try to use modern technology to make learning music more fun, easy and effective.

The event was fascinating, and the discussion broad and interesting. I won’t try to recount the discussion (not least because the entire panel session is now available online) but the event was eye-opening for me in a number of ways.

Musicianship is not what I thought.

In my work at Easy Ear Training I live immersed in a world of aural skills and over time (more…)

“Transcendental Youth” at the Barbican

After my LACF blitzkrieg in January, I’m slightly hesitant to post another concert review here, considering myself neither a music critic nor concert review blogger.

But last night’s Mountain Goats concert at the Barbican, featuring Owen Pallett and Anonymous 4, was one of the best I have ever attended – and brought me such joy I can’t help but want to share it.

Transcendental Youth

A few months ago, I got hugely excited on seeing this blog post over on John Darnielle describes the chance to work with Owen Pallett and Anonymous 4 as being like a “kid in the candy shop, after hours, with the go-ahead to have all the candy I like” and I can see that. At the time it was planned for New York only, but the addition of a performance at the Barbican in London made me hugely happy.

Why was this an exciting announcement to me?


An online springboard for learning piano:

As a keen self-taught pianist I’m always excited to find innovative new web sites or apps that try to help you learn piano. I’ve written previously about OnlinePianist, which recently launched a more slick and powerful version of their interactive tutorial app.

Another richly rewarding site is I must confess that at first my web developer brain saw the SEO-friendly domain name and site content, lots of mention of free material and free sheet music, and Google Ads embedded here and there and was a little suspicious… There are so many junk sites out there just trying to drive traffic and earn advertising revenue (especially in the area of guitar tab and sheet music) that the jaded skeptic in me suspected this might just be another of those.

I was pleasantly surprised though to discover that there’s valuable content here. Though the category links in the sidebar may give the impression the site is a treasure trove of free sheet music in fact it’s more of a ‘jumping off point’, with most of the sheet music pages linking out to online stores to purchase the actual downloads. There is however a lot of guidance and information provided, along with useful links to other resources (including the superb free book Fundamentals of Piano Practice).

I enjoyed taking the “Piano IQ Quiz”, learning a little something about Percy Mayfield and Grieg along the way. Hopefully more interactive elements will be added in future!

Not only does the site have a lot to offer, but it turns out (more…)