Music Xray

I was recently sent a link to Music Xray. This company claims to have software that can analyse a piece of music, and by comparing the underlying mathematical patterns to those of hit songs, can indicate the probability that the piece of music will also be a hit song.

Maybe the system works, maybe it doesn’t. That doesn’t really concern me. What concerns me is what the very presence of this system means. It’s another symptom of the state of the music industry, an industry which is controlled by people with no interest in music, people who focus on grabbing money in the short-term and are unaware of the damage that they are causing to the future of music.

Music Xray, if it works, will only succeed in homogenising music, stripping out all of the quirks and mistakes and leaving behind a limited set of acceptable songs. And though these songs will be mathematically perfect, they will be devoid of soul and originality. They will cause a chemical reaction in your brain that brings pleasure, but they will not be intellectually stimulating.

Music will not die, because music does not require an industry to survive. However, we will end up with two distinctly different forms of music – the music which has been produced by computers to cause the desired response to make everyone part with their money; and the music which has been written by humans, complete with all its beautiful flaws, potentially even with these flaws exaggerated as a badge of authenticity.

And maybe one day there will be a backlash, and people will tire of being exploited. Then, the industry will reprogram their computers to emulate the flawed underground music, and the “real” musicians will have to prove themselves through different means. In many ways, we have already seen this happen, as the mainstream repeatedly hijacks new movements and then clumsily attempts to mass-produce what they see, leaving a noxious aroma over the rich, promising cultures which they invaded.

Who is to blame here? Is it the music industry for manipulating the market to seize every penny that they can lay their hands on, without any thought for their long-term livelihood? Is it the consumers, for having simple tastes and a willingness to keep paying silly money for the same thing? Is it the artists, for being so desperate for fame that they are willing to sign a contract that will probably never bring them any money? Or is it all of us, for thinking that we are invincible, and that bad things only ever happen to other people?

*UPDATE: I thought that my theory had a slightly familiar ring to it.*


Another rainy Bank Holiday weekend

Ah, how simple it once was. Wet, gloomy, dreary Bank Holiday weekend? Well, that put paid to your plans of throwing a frisbee round in the park. Instead, it would be a day of sitting on the sofa, watching *Star Wars*, drinking wine and reading weblogs. Or perhaps you’d spend the day hermitted away in your room, recording songs or writing your novel or painting surreal post-modernist art or working on interesting typesetting projects or whatever you do as your premier hobby. Maybe you’d even go into the office and get a headstart on the week’s work, if you are that way inclined.

But babies are incapable of sitting still and amusing themselves for such an extended period of time. One day, Bernard will be, but not yet. For now he needs supervision, assistance, transportation and someone to outsource certain issues of hygiene to. More to the point, you have to think of something interesting that you can do to pass the day, without losing your sanity.

I suggested dividing the day up into shifts, but Karen voted against this. What’s more, she stuck both of her hands in the air, which counts for two votes, so she won. The three of us spent most of the afternoon spring-cleaning Bernard’s bedroom. For the last few weeks I have been finding bullet holes in the walls where shots have been going astray in the war between the spiders and the dust bunnies. At first I didn’t know what they were, because spiders and dust bunnies use *tiny* guns that fire *tiny* bullets, but then one day I actually witnessed a line of them appearing, to the accompaniment of a very quiet, tinny *rat tat tat tat tat* and the *urk* sound of a dust bunny infantryrabbit breathing his last breath.

You know what I said earlier about not losing your sanity? Yeah, scratch that.

About Me


Some days, it’s obvious that a tidy desk is more conducive to creativity. It barely needs explaining, it’s so obvious – minimal distractions, no obstructions, better focus. So I will carefully take everything off the desktop that can be put away, and put it away, and everything that I might need imminently is arranged in neat, perpendicular piles.

Other days, I know for a fact that an untidy desk is the route to creativity. And who would question it – the creative mind is impulsive, it’s completely immersed in what it is doing, it has no time for such unnecessary divertissements and procrastinations. And on these days, I will do my best to ensure that not an inch of tabletop is visible underneath my pile of guff. Not in a forced, unnatural way, of course, because that would negate the positive powers of the mess. I just do my best to do my worst job of tidying up after myself.

Do you do this?



With teeth, comes dental hygiene.

Bernard loves having his teeth brushed. This procedure consists of me placing a tiny molecule of toothpaste onto his miniscule toothbrush, and then sticking it in his mouth and attempting to brush his lower front teeth (which are the only teeth visible, at present). I listen carefully for that lovely sound, oh it’s one of the loveliest sounds in the world, I think, the sound of teeth being brushed. That sound means that I’m brushing teeth, and not just tongue.

Bernard, meanwhile, is co-operative in many ways, but not in others. Like my late cat, Chippy, he loves the taste of toothpaste, and attempts to devour it. The upside of this is that he allows the toothbrush in his mouth. The downside is that, to him, eating toothpaste is the priority, so his actions are not geared towards the brushing action, and often go directly against it.

He also makes cute burbling sounds and allows foamy toothpaste to dribble out of his mouth like a cross between a rabid dog and a volcano.


Head Wound


While working on the fence around the back of the house, I turned around and banged my head against an overhanging rose.

“Oh dear,” I thought to myself, as the thorn withdrew wetly from the new hole in my head, and blood started trickling down from my hairline.

I grabbed my spade (hey, it’s been in my family for generations ((3 in total, if you include my son)), I wasn’t going to leave it behind) and made straight for the house, trying to staunch the flow without being exactly sure where the puncture wound was. All the while, blood dripping down onto my spectacles, giving me a nice grisly *noir* camera effect on the world.

Once inside, I made my way up to the bathroom, trying not to make a mess of the carpet. There, I leaned over the sink, and gently called Karen’s name to wake her from her slumber.

I’m okay now. She’s making me a cup of tea.

Oh, by the way, this happened about ten minutes ago. It was so exciting, I felt that I just had to share.

Gardening Photos



Bernard bought Karen a herb kit for Mothers Day, consisting of three ceramic pots, a wooden rack to hold them, and appropriate quantities of soil and seeds.

We’ve forgotten which one is which, so life’s pretty exciting at the moment, as you can imagine. This one photographs the best, though the one to the right is growing faster.




It was the orange sacs on the legs that really drew my attention here. The bee is currently busy on a Aquilegia.


Woe is he

The baby has tonsillitis!

This comes as a great shock to me. I’ve had tonsillitis before, and Bernard seems to be coping with it much better than I ever did. I have two choices: either refuse to accept that the doctor’s diagnosis is correct, or accept the fact that I am a big soft wuss and my baby has his shit together.

Upon unwrapping a pongsome nappy, we discover that my baby does, indeed, have his shit together, and I need no longer ask these questions.

The baby looks at me with clear self-superiority in his eyes, and I continue.

Food Gardening


We had the first barbecue of the year today. In an alarmingly fortuitous turn of events, despite having had this planned for a few days, the weather was kind. The sky was overcast, and there were some spots of rain at about 11am, but when lunchtime came around, the clouds parted and conditions were amenable.

Our guests were not fully able to relax and enjoy my delicious meaty offerings, as they discovered that their car was leaking petrol from the underside. There is a happy ending – the AA man was able to replace a leaky connector in the fuel line, and so they could drive it away.

All things considered, and despite lately having more sleep troubles than usual, I’m feeling quite positive about the world. This might also have something to do with the bookcase which I bought yesterday, which has allowed us to tidy up the office ((former Man Cave)) significantly. Now, we periodically poke our heads round the door solely to appreciate how great this room looks. Strange how such small things can bring such pleasure.

My fence panels have also been replaced, at long last. Ever since the storms back in January, there has been a 12′ gap in one of the side fences, and Karen and I have sometimes felt like we share a large communal garden with our neighbours. It’s been an uphill struggle to get replacement panels, as supply is completely failing to match demand, but we got there in the end. They were delivered on Friday, and my neighbour and I installed them yesterday morning. We have our garden back, at last!

I seem to be completely unable to pick a topic and stick to it.

Food Photos



One of Bernard’s favourite foods.