my date with density

I’m a big fan of text clouds, where a list of topics, keywords, tags, etc are displayed at various sizes based on how popular those words are. the artist cloud is one example. it shows how often a particular artist has been mentioned during the course of the tunequest.

Well, the other day, i was playing with some of these search engine optimization tools, one of which is a keyword density checker. it scans a webpage and displays a cloud of word popularity from that page. after playing with it, i hit upon the idea of seeing a visual representation of the most numerous artists in my library.

Using iTunes’ Export Song List function, I made a tab-delimited text file of all my library information. I then opened that text file in excel and removed everything but the artist column.

Since the density checker looks at individual words, I had to remove all the spaces from the artists’ names, which were copied into a basic html page and submitted.

The results can be found below. it reflects the number of songs from each artist, which gives a decent, but skewed impression of my tastes. it shows what i have, not what i listen to the most. even for just showing the contents of the library, i think a better metric would be the total time of each artist rather than total song count. but that’s beyond my current capabilities. i guess i’ll just have to wait until the iTunes registry is back up.

Yeah, I know it’s so middle school to “brag about” the bands you like, but I think this is neat:

50cent aforestmightyblack aarhussymphonyorchestra addntox aelters afterthefire aimeemann air[frenchband] akiraifukube algreen alhirt alyankovicwendycarlos alanreevesphilsteeleandp alansilvestri albertobaldanbembo alecempire alessandroalessandroni alexandercourage alfclausen alfredwaitzman aliceinchains alisonkrauss aluminumgroup americanmusicclub anaprilmarch anandashankar angelobadalamenti anthrax antonellopaliotti aphextwin applecomputer aquanote arcticmonkeys arlingcameron armandotrovajoli arthurlyman asone atmosphere attilioanthonydonadio augustomartelli autechre badlydrawnboy barbaramanning bardopond barigozzigroup basementjaxx basilpoledouris bavarianradioorchestra bbcphilharmonicorchestra beastieboys beck beckandtheflaminglips beegees benfoldsfive berlinphilharmonicorchestra bernardherrmann bertopisano bethorton betterthanezra billconti billdoss billevans billperkins billyidol billymay billymayandhisorchestra birdie bis bixio frizzi tempera bjork blackbrown blindmelon blondie blueshammer blur boardsofcanada bobdylan bobmould bonobo boredoms bostonpopsorchestra bradfiedel bradmehldau bradspitzbryantari branvan breakbeatera brentspiner brianeno brianreitzellrogerjmann broadcast brokensocialscene brothersjohnson brunonicolai bt buffalospringfield buffalotom buffythevampireslayer burntfriedmanjakiliebezeit burntfriedmanthenudubplayers bustarhymes cafetacuba cake calexico cameo cameraobscura cannibalox cannonballadderleysergiomendes capuano carlcarlton carlysimon carmenvillaniamurri cartoonnetwork catpower catherinespaak cell cescoanselmo cex charlesmingus charliefeathers charliehadenpatmetheny cheeverjloophole chicagosymphonyorchestra chicagoundergroundtrio chingon chriscornell chrisisaak christhomasking christophebeck christopherfranke christophero’riley christophertyng christypiccioni cibomatto clarencecarter classicalthunder claudedebussy clemek clevelandorchestra cliffeidelman clinic clintmansell coil coldcut combustibleedison controlmachete coolio cornelius cornershop countingcrows craigventresco cschulz curtismayfield czechphilharmonicorchestra daedelus daftpunk dallasstringband damonalbarnmichaelnyman dancastellaneta dannakamura dannyelfman dariog davegrohl davegrusin davematthewsband davidarnold davidarnoldkevinkiner davidbell davidbowie davidcarradineandumathurma davidholmes davidkitay davidnewman dazzband deadoralive deathcabforcutie deathinvegas delarosaandasora dennismccarthy devo dexy’smidnightrunners dickdaleandhisdel tones dickhyman digitalunderground dimitrifromparis dinahshore djkrush djshadow djsmash dmitrishostakovich dntel dominicharlan donjulian donaldbyrd donniedarko doristroychaumont drdre dressybessy duncan dustyspringfield dustytrails dynastiecrisis evax earthakitt eastflatbushproject edwardshearmur elastica elbow electricdiva eliacmiral elliotgoldenthal elliotsmith elmerbernstein elvispresley eminem emittrhodes emmylouharrisalisonkraussandgillianwelch englishsymphonyorchestra enniomorricone enochlight ericserra erikaelgen esem esquivel eta everclear explosionsinthesky extendedspirit fxrandomiz fairfieldfour faithless fantasticplasticmachine fatboyslim faust filabrazillia filter fineyoungcannibals fionaapple flacojimenez florindabolkan fluke foofighters fourtet fowlkes francescodemasi francislai francislaipierrebarouh francobixio francodegemini francomicalizzi francopisano frankblack frankmills frankapotente franzwaxman fredbongusto freedompower fumiohayasaka funkstorung futurama gangoffour gapband garbage garyhoey garyjules geinohyamashirogumi genekelly georgedavidweisbobthiele georgemartin georgeshearing geraldfried gershonkingsley gianpiereoreverberi giancarlogazzani gianfrancoplenizio gianniferrio giannioddi ginomarinacciensemble glennnbranca glittermini globalcommunication goblin godspeedyoublackemperor goldenshower gomez googoodolls gorillaz grandaddy greenapplequickstep greenfuture grooverider guidoemauriziodeangelis guineo gunsn’roses gustavholst gyorgyligeti hajimeyoshizawe hal handsomeboymodelingschoolfeaturingtrugoydelasoulanddelthatfunkeehomosapien hankjones hanszimmer happyend harrybetts harrymcclintock hectorvarela helmet homie hooverphonic hotchocolate houstonperson houstonpersonandroncarter howardroberts howardshore hum igres ipulsar idesofspace iggypop inonzur interpol ironandwine irvingberlin isaachayes isaotomita isotope israelkamakawiwo’ole jacquesdutronc jamescartertheprisoners jamesclarke jameshorner jamesnewtonhoward jamiroquai janwernerfxrandomiz japanic jaychattaway jazzanova jeanjacquesperrey jeromepatrickholanchuckberry jerryfielding jerrygoldsmith jet jimo’rourke jimvenable jimwhite jimihendrix jocelynpook joecalicott joegravesthediggers joehisaishi joeporter joelgoldsmith joelmcneeley johnbarry johnhartford johnmcentire johnottman johnpowell johnwilliams johnnycash josephloduca julielondon julien juniopisanojaqueschaumont juno kcthesunshineband kanyewest karate karma kashmir kevinmanthei kevinshields kidloco killbill kingblackacid kingfloyd kirovorchestra klausdoldinger koichisugiyama komeda kontraquartet koolthegang koop ko wrecktechnique kraftwerk kruderdorfmeister kuniomiyauchi larevoluciondeemilianozapa ladytron laloschifrin larasaintpaul laurindoalmeida lcdsoundsystem leeselmocoorchestra leespencerjohnnyklimek leftfield lenvorsterrobertchamberlain leningradphilharmonicorchestra leonardcohen leonardnimoy leonardrosenman leroyholmes lesbaxter lesiman letterstocleo lilychou limpbizkit lionelbelasco lippsinc lithops littlehatjones littlerichard littlewilliejohn loleymanuel londonsymphonyorchestra loustein louisaldebert louisandbebebarron lovespitlove lovemongers ltjexperience luisbacalov lukevibert lulu mdoughty madseason malcolmmclaren mamasthepapas manorastroman manitoba marcoantoniosolis marcyplayground mariamckee mariomolino marionascimbene mariusconstant markdegliantoni markjonathandavis markmothersbaugh marksnow marseillephilharmonicorchestra martindenny martinfry martino’donnellmichaelsalvatori marvingaye marvinhamlisch masamichiamano masarusatoh maserati massiveattack mastercylinder masurusatoh matmos mattmonroe matthewsweet mauricejarre mcgeebros meatpuppets medeskimartinandwood megadeth meikokaji meltorme mellow meloman mercuryrev methodman michaelandrews michaeljackson michaeljohnson michaelkamen microstoria mikepostpetecarpenter mikhailpletnev milesdavis minibosses mkl moby mogwai mohammedrafi moloko molotovvsdubpistols moneymark montrealsymphonyorchestra mooneysuzuki morcheeba morphine mortonstevens mortonsubotnik mouseonmars mrfreddie mroizo mudhoney multisofa mybloodyvalentine mystikal nerd nancysinatra nathanvancleave nationalskyline nautilis neilnorman neilyoung neu neworder newyorkphilharmonicorchestra nickcaveandthebadseeds nico nicolaconte nicolecroisilleanniegirardot nineinchnails ninodeluca nintendo nintendogamecube nirvana nobukazutakemura djspooky noelgallagher noraorlandi normanblake oasis oglio operationphoenix optiganallyyours orbital ornellavanoni oslophilharmonicorchestra outkast oval paolovasile parade patrickdoyle pattismith paulmccartney paulpiot paulvandyk paulwesterberg pavement pearljam peggyleegeorgeshearing pennywise peppinodelucaeimark percyfaithandhisorchestra perrycomo peterhughesorchestra philadelphiaorchestra philharmoniaorchestra philipglass phoenix photek pieropiccioni pieroumiliani pierrebarouh pills pinkandersonsimmiedooley pixies pizzicatofive pjharvey plaid plastilinamoshtoninoc plastycbuddha plug poe poison porterricks portishead prefuse73 pressuredrop primus prince prodigy propellerheads puffy pushbuttonobjects queen quincyjones quincyjonesbillcosby rem radiohead rageagainstthemachine ralphmoore ralphstanley ramones randyedelman raniertrubytrio ratatat ravishankar rayanthony rayparkerjr reccentre redhotchilipeppers redsnapper renegarriguene rentals rickjames rickrizzotarakey rickyford rickynelson riichirohmanabe rilokiley rizortolani rizortolaniandhisorchestra robertjohnson robertwilkins robertopregadio rogermiller rolandvincent romanomussolini ronjones ronisize ronisizereprazent roygerson royorbison royalconcertgebouworchestra royalphilharmonicorchestra royalscottishnationalorchestra rubinmitchell rufuswainwright rundmc russellgunn saintetienne sammybarbotadrianifabi sanfranciscosymphony santaesmeralda sarahmclachlan sarahshannon sarahhannahandleahpeasall savath savalas scandinavianbrassensemble schlammpeitziger scottwalker screamingtrees seanlennon seatbelts sebastientellier senorcoconut sergionilo sheenaeaston shirleybassey shivaree shonenknife sizentner sigurr–s silverapples sirmixalot skeelo skipjames sloan slutaleta smokeymiho snoopdoggydogg snowpony solkaplan sonicyouth sonnystitt soulasylum soulcoughing soundgarden southpark southerncultureontheskids

spacehog spacemen3 spiritualvibes spiritualized squarepusher squirrelnutzippers stlouissymphonyorchestra stgermain stjohnny stangetz stangetzbobbrookmeyer stankenton

startrekhumor stefanotorossi stelviocipriani stephenmalkmus steppenwolf stereolab stevemillerband stevereich stonetemplepilots straightjacketfits straycats stringtheory stuttgartscholacantorum styrofoam suburbanshakedown sunelectric supercar supremebeingsofleisure susievandermeer system syv

teenagefanclub teitowa telex tenaciousd teousuelli theÕs theamps theapplesinstereo thebarkays thebetaband thebreeders thecardigans thecenturians thechemicalbrothers thechurch thecinematicorchestra theclash theclebanoffstrings thecommodores thecoxfamily thedandywarhols thedismembermentplan thedustbrothers theevilgeniusorchestra thefaint theflaminglips theherbaliser thehighllamas thehollywoodpersuaders thehumanbeinz thejesusmarychain thekelleydeal thelaziestmenonmars thelivelyones themercuryprogram themonkees themoogcookbook themountaingoats themutatomuzikaorchestra thenotwist theoffspring theohioplayers theorb theoscarpetersontrio thepizzarellis theposies thepostalservice thepresidentsoftheunitedstatesofamerica therefreshments therentals therevels therza theseaandcake thesimpsons thesmashingpumpkins thesoggybottomboys thestanleybrothers thestaplesingers thestatlerbrothers thestrokes thesudwesfunkorchestra thesundays thesuperplastic thetornados thevelvetunderground theverve thevictorsilvesterorchestra theviscounts thewhites thex ecutioners theymightbegiants thieverycorporation thisheat thomasnewman tied tickledtrio timhardin titanlamalarodriguez torococorot tokyosymphonyorchestra tomjones tomandandy tommieckart tommytallarico tomoyasuhotei tone loc tortoise tosca toulousecapitoleorchestra tounge towatei transam travis trevorjones tricky trottertrio turnon tweak tykwerklimekheil unkle uakti umathurman uncletupelo underworld unwound urgeoverkill vanmorrison vanillajadeandebony velocitygirl verlaines vert verucasalt vibenations viennaphilharmonicorchestra vincegiordanoandthenighthawks vinceguaralditrio wallaceroney waltdisneycompany waltergieseking walterrizzati walterwanderley wandadesah wandadesahsergiomendes wangchung warrant warreng warrenzevon wdrorchestra weezer weirdalyankovic weivedecrepon wildcherry williamshatner wojciechkilar wool worldlesspeople yanntiersen yellowhammer yolatengo yokokanno yoshinorisunahara yo yoma ysayequartet yujikoseki zamfir zerodb

james bond, meet john mcclane

michael kamen’s score to licence to kill is very reminiscent of his score for die hard. it has a very 80s sound to it, with the familiar james bond motifs grafted onto it. it makes sense; the two films are only a year apart.

the results aren’t too bad, though i didn’t particularly care for his die hard music, or kamen’s style in general. however, he does ok in the bond mode.

sonic youth doth mine ears please

a thousand leaves

After dancing with the mainstream on dirty and (to a lesser extent) washing machine, sonic youth delivered more musically-complex album with a thousand leaves, which contains two of the great songs in the group’s repetoire: ‘sunday’ and ‘hits of sunshine’ (one of their most quintessential jams).

in my mind, this album marks the mellowing of the band, but it’s a mellowing that comes from the confidence that they know what they’re doing. yep, they still love their noise, but listening to ‘wild flower soul’ and ‘hits of sunshine,’ i really start to see the transition towards "radical adults."

after being together for nearly 20 years, a thousand leaves begins a golden era of sonic noise.

The seemingly non-random preferences of my iPod

I’ve talked about this before, but it keeps happening and I need to remind myself that nothing nefarious is going on.

For the fourth time since I started the tunequest, I’ve had to question the randomness of my ipod. first, there’s cex’s being ridden and being ridden instrumentals, which were played pretty much back to back. Then there was Danny Elfman’s Batman scores. more recently, the device decided to play nothing but drum-n-bass for a while, despite that particular genre’s relative scarcity in my library.

Today however, no sooner had Nirvana’s unplugged session finished than i was presented with Pearl Jam’s performance of the same.

To be fair, I have to remind myself that these sort of coincidences are completely natural. Indeed, four instances within the 135 days of the project thus far is nothing to get choked up about. Still I always raise an eyebrow when I notice a new pattern. In today’s case, maybe the iPod just wanted to further perpetuate the music-media-manufactured feud between Cobain and Vedder.

But believe me, I’m not complaining. Both performances are mind blowing. Come As You Are sounds phenomenal on Nirvana’s unplugged record and Pearl Jam’s unplugged rendition of Porch is the best one in existence.

Where are the Dust Bros?

Wouldn’t you know? as soon as I bring up my film score classification difficulties, I am presented with yet another challenge. Fight Club. Both the film and the soundtrack by The Dust Brothers are, I do say, fantastic. but I am torn between keeping the score with my other filmtracks or moving it closer to its musical brethren. In either case, the fact remains that this is electronic music done right. It’s got great mood, nice beats, interesting sounds, is slow, is soft, is hard and is driving fast when it needs to be. Recommended.

Speaking of the Brothers Dust, where have they been lately? Fight club was released in 1999 and I haven’t seen or heard anything from them since. I know they’ve been doin’ the producer/mixer thing for a while, and i’m sure that Beck keeps them busy. But seriously, their independent work is so so good that it’s disappointing to see them working on other people’s projects and not their own. Though, the Nickel Bag remix of Hey Man Nice Shot… that’s kickin.

K-pax: Electronic, Score, or Electronic Score?

kpax

If I didn’t already know differently, I would never have guessed that the soundtrack to K-pax was from a movie. indeed, it plays more like a backroom-in-the-club chill-laced downtempo record than a film score.

This is the only record by Edward Shearmur that I have, so I don’t know whether this is out of the ordinary for him, but I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed it and I may have to check out his other works.

This revelation, however, adds the quandary of how to categorize it: it’s from a movie, thus I’ve had the genre tag in iTunes set to "score," my catch all for movie music. But looking over at discogs’ page for it, I found it listed under "ambient," "dub" and "modern classical" which are all appropriate.

So I’m considering changing it something more genre specific.

(I have a similar issue with The Mothman Prophecies, the score to which is closer to ambient minimalism than a traditional film music.)

Genre tags are a messy business

I think I may have decided to start adopting parts of the genre labeling system that’s in use at discogs.com. I say this half-heartedly because I don’t relish the idea of re-tagging all 14,000+ songs in the library and I’m not sure it would be an improvement. But at the same time, I must acknowledge that my existing scheme is arbitrary and borderline fubar.

Part of the problem is that a while back, I started using my genre tags more as a list of stylistic keywords rather than general labels. I did this so I could take advantage of iTunes’ smart playlists to quickly find (or filter) specific styles of music. For example, a quick smart playlist consisting of Genre contains "downtempo" returns 471 songs that I can easily turn on for a chill-out mood. I can easily filter out trip-hop by adding Genre does not contain "trip hop" to the list’s criteria. Overall, the system works fairly well.

But the problem I’ve recently started encountering is the result of 2 dueling forces. On one hand, there’s no limit to how many attributes I can add to a genre tag; I can get very specific if I want to (Ambient Pop Electronic Trip Hop, anyone?). Conversely, I want to keep everything as streamlined as possible. at the moment, my iTunes lists 298 different genres. Scrolling through that many listings on an iPod is an exercise in frustration. To make matters worse, many of those ‘genres’ contain only one album or, in some cases, just a couple of songs.

The point of all this is that I’m conflicted as to what to do with my genre tags. In practice, I tend to cast a wide net when collating music for a playlist, so I’m inclined to include as many keywords as necessary. But I rarely filter based on the more specific criteria, preferring to just skip songs I don’t feel like hearing when the come up.

Though sometimes, filtering is necessary. Indie rock, in general, returns 1400 songs and I usually need to further cull one branch or another based on whatever mood I’m in.

So after writing all this, I may have talked myself out of tackling this.

How would you handle it?

elfman bats .500 this week

in baseball that’s great. on the tunequest, not so much.

mars attacks mission impossibletwo danny elfman scores from 1996 made their way through my ears to my brain this week: mission: impossible and mars attacks! and while i enjoyed both films more than the general public seemed to, i had a mixed response to their scores.

this week marked the first in the 4 years i’ve owned those scores that i gave them any serious attention. if that seems like a familiar pattern around here, it’s because it is. about one-third of the Great Music Dump™ of 2001-2002 consists of film scores that i would get, give a cursory listen, then file away with the assumption that i’d be back to revisit them.

well, it didn’t quite work out that way.

like classical music, film scores take a lot of effort to get to know and fully appreciate. with the rapidity that i was adding new music to my collection at the time, there simply wasn’t enough opportunity to give each score the attention it deserved.

which brings me to the strange reversal of expectations for those two scores. giving both a serious consideration, i find it funny that mission: impossible is a fairly serious film of action, adventure and intrigue, yet its soundtrack is clever and lively and downright fun to listen to (especially elfman’s robust rendition of the M:I theme),  while mars attacks! is a ridiculous and playful send-up of old sci-fi flicks, but its score is downright boring. i wasn’t even half-way through it before i was inclined to purge it from my collection, which was done.

so to recap: mission: impossible. yay. mars attacks! nay.

Tchaikovsky’s No. 5: Magnificent!

berliner philharmoniker conducted by karajan 1965

It’s official: Tchaikovsky’s No 5 is now my favorite symphonies of his. It had been running neck and neck with No 6 for a very long time, but a recent Berlin Philharmonic listening has pushed it to the head of the pack.

In addition to those melodies that you just can’t get out of your head, there’s this one passage about 8.5 minutes into the fourth movement were the structure of the piece begins to crumble. But before the piece descends into chasom the timpani roars to life and the woodwinds come flying to the rescue.

Magnificent!