Archive for November, 2009

MusiCatalog

I’m not sure what it is about music, but I’ve come to associate certain bands or albums to sections of my life. Perhaps it’s a coping mechanism for me to get through some tough times in my life. Perhaps it’s a band that I really like and I just happened to listen to them a lot. Whatever the reason, I can’t deny that music is a part of my life. In fact, here’s a simple time-line of my life, represented in music:

– Birth to Elementary School: “Sabre Dance” – This movement of the final act of Aram Khachaturian’s ballet, “Gayane”, was what my family lovingly called “The Run Around Song”. This was the song that my parents would put on, or my dad would play on the piano while three high-energy boys ran around the house. I suppose it was a great outlet for our unending energy at that stage in life. All I know is that it was a lot of fun.

– Elementary School: Christian Rock – Before the time of CD players or mp3 players in cars, there were cassette tapes. At this point in my life, there were three bands that we listened to constantly while driving to and from school, or just driving around in general. Newsboys had “Going Public”. Audio Adrenaline had “Don’t Censor Me”. PFR had “Great Lengths”. I always associate these albums with this stage of my life, because we played these albums ad-nauseum.

– Junior High: “Speechless” – Still in the vein of Christian Rock, this album by Steven Curtis Chapman was probably one of my first CDs that I ever owned. As such, I still stuck to listening to this album constantly, also because it was the album that we listened to while driving to our Junior High basketball games. I’m not sure how much Mrs. Moe realizes how this album really effected me, because I still associate it with Junior High to this day.

– High School: Ska – This stage is a little more difficult to categorize, since there was a lot that I listened to at this point. I suppose that the two bands that I most associate with High School would be Five Iron Frenzy and The Aquabats!. Both bands have a distinctively Ska sound, and I was introduced to both of these bands around this same time.

– College (the Early Years): Motion Picture Scores – This stage actually started near the end of High School, but it wasn’t until I got my own computer and an internet connection faster than dial-up that this phase really took off. With the internet at my disposal, I found a lot of music that I wouldn’t have otherwise known about. Some people question my obsession with Motion Picture Scores, to which I point out that it’s essentially my generation’s version of classical music.

– College (the Later Years): “This Providence” – If there was one album out there that helped me through one of the most difficult times in my life to that point, it would be the self-titled album from the band This Providence. At this point, I was rooming with a roommate that I could not stand, so my coping mechanism was to play my music loudly over my headphones, so as to drown his noise out. I came across this band because I had taken up making Anime Music Videos (AMVs) at this point, and needed a song with “Wolf” in the title. At this point, I ran across a sampler that I had gotten from my younger brother that just happened to have a track on it called A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing by This Providence. One listen, and I was hooked.

– The Relationship: Owl City – There’s just something inherently happy about Owl City that I was drawn to at this point in my life. It was upbeat, optimistic, and saccharine bubblegum pop. Something that I wouldn’t have normally listened to in the past, but my emotions definitely matched the music at the time. A funny story about finding this band: I was actually looking for a new album from one of the other artists that I have in my collection, when I came across Owl City. Quite frankly, it was the name Owl City that first caught my attention. It’s an awesome name.

– The Break-Up: “Armistice” – MUTEMATH‘s new album definitely got me through another difficult time in my life. The strange thing is that most of the lyrics from most of the songs actually apply to my life right now. I don’t necessarily like looking to deep into these things, but it’s undeniable that I can directly relate to what they are saying. Songs like “Goodbye”, “Backfire”, “Odds” and “Armistice” definitely have described my life in the last few months.

Anyways, now that you know my life’s soundtrack to this point, let me move on to the real reason I wrote this post. Recently, I decided to re-rip all of my music to my computer. Since my collection has ranged through many years of acquisition, some of the mp3s that I have are of low quality, because that was all that was available at the time. I also wanted a uniform file name system so that I could handle my music better. It took probably a week to do it, but I have completed my re-rip of the entirety of my music collection. During this endeavor, I took the time to update my spreadsheet with new information in regards to certain aspects of my music collection. If you know me, you know I love lists and I love stats. Especially for things that I am deeply involved in. So here is my music collection, by the numbers:

Data Size: 38,049,180,370 bytes (38 GB)
Albums: 498
Total Time: 26368.37 minutes (439.47 hours / 18.31 days / 2.62 weeks)
Total Tracks: 7773

Top 5 Album Counts:
1. John Williams (17 Albums)
2. James Horner / Hans Zimmer (12 Albums)
3. Danny Elfman (11 Albums)
4. “Weird Al” Yankovic (8 Albums)
5. Five Iron Frenzy / PFR (7 Albums)

Pie Charts

Showing distribution of the various Genres throughout my collection

Average Length of a Track of a particular Genre

Pie Charts (Soundtracks)

Showing distribution of the various artists throughout my soundtrack collection

For the Soundtrack pie-charts, I only chose to select the composers that had four or more albums.

 

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ConcerTennessee

When I moved to Huntsville some four months ago, I came to a realization. When I was living in Colorado, I could go to concerts of bands that I was interested in pretty easily, since Denver was usually pretty close to where I was living. Now that I was in Huntsville, I was almost equidistant from the two cities that would be large enough to attract some of my favorite bands. Seeing as this was the case, I now had to be a little more selective in the concerts that I would attend, because the driving distance that I was normally used to had now doubled. Normally, I could stand the one hour drive to Denver from Fort Collins, because I was usually attending a concert with my younger brother. Now the drive would be two hours long and done alone. Still, there are some bands that I would make this sacrifice for. Seeing as my previous plans to see This Providence while I was in Colorado for business were shattered, I was looking for something that I could attend that would be worth the drive.

There are about five bands that I suggest people see live. Not only do people need to see the bands for the musical content, but there is usually some other aspect, such as the energy of the audience or the sheer performance aspect of the artist that makes it worth the price of admission. The five bands are as follows:
The Aquabats!: Not only are their songs fun and upbeat, but attending one of their shows is like going to a Saturday Morning cartoon. The members of The Aquabats! dress up in matching uniforms and usually have some sort of plot running through their set list. Quite an experience, and one of the few bands I’ve seen more than once in concert.
Flogging Molly: This band came to my college for our Engineering Days celebration my Junior Year. Their set was two hours long, and by the end of it all, I was hoarse and out of breath and sweaty as all else. The energy of this band is phenomenal and the audience had just as much energy. This was the only concert that I couldn’t breathe at because the air was thick and humid with the presence of many others just like myself.
Annuals / Vaux: I’m putting these two bands together because of the same reason I liked their shows and because you can’t see Vaux anymore. These shows were really great due to their lighting. Some very creative light effects were used to emphasize the music being played and helped to suck me in to the show.
Ian Cooke / Dave Beegle: Both local acts back in Colorado, both of these artists use a single instrument (Ian = Cello, Dave = Acoustic Guitar). Because they use a single instrument, some of their songs that appear on their albums, which have multiple layers to them, must be constructed in sections using looping. It’s fun to watch a song be constructed piece by piece. In the case of Ian Cooke, he was the only opening act I’ve seen that the audience asked for an encore.
MUTEMATH: Take the lights of an Annuals show, mix it with the performance of an Aquabats! show, add in the energy of a Flogging Molly show and you’ll end up with a MUTEMATH show. Words cannot describe the awesomeness of a show by this band. This is why I suggest that people see this band live, because there’s no way I could convey the experience to them.

Most concerts, including opening acts and intermission times, are about four hours long. As this was the case, and the drive to either Nashville or Birmingham would be about two hours one-way, I had to make sure that I went to a concert that would be worth it. For my first concert since moving to the south, I drove to Nashville one Sunday night to see MUTEMATH in concert once again. The last time I saw MUTEMATH was in 2007 in Boulder with some friends from High School. At that point I was hooked. At this concert, I happened to be attending alone, which can be boring, since I usually have someone with me that I can talk to. Luckily, I stepped out of my comfort zone and talked with the people who were sitting around me. That’s right, sitting. This was the first concert that I had ever attended that I actually had an assigned seat (second row, observation deck). Anyways, everyone I talked to just happened to be attending their first MUTEMATH concert, so I let them know that they were in for a treat. Strangely enough, the family who was sitting one row in front of me just happened to be from Colorado. Small world, right? Anyways, the venue that I went to was called the War Memorial Stadium. Essentially, it looked like they had took an old Senate chamber and took out all the seats on the main floor, while leaving the upper observation deck in-tact (which was where I was sitting). It was probably one of the largest venues I’ve been to, and it looked pretty good too.

The first opening act was a local band called Slow Hands. They were pretty good, but seemed pretty new and inexperienced. The second opening act was a band called As Tall as Lions. This band was good. I was hooked by their music and their performance. I’d probably toss them in with the Annuals / Vaux type of performances. Lots of well done lighting. Finally, MUTEMATH arrived and it was epic. I’m not sure if it was because I actually knew more of their songs this time around or if they just happened to be that much better in the two years since I saw them last, but what I saw blew my mind. They were on tour to promote their new album, Armistice , so their background was that of the album cover of their new album. I mean seriously, it was better than I could have imagined. They get better every time I see them and still stand by my belief that everyone needs to see them live. For four hours of driving to see four hours of concert that ended with the spectacle that is MUTEMATH, it was totally worth it.