Tagmusic

How five Queen songs went mainstream in totally different ways

Originally published on the MusicBrainz blog.


Making graphs is easy. Making intuitive, easy-to-understand graphs? It’s harder than most people think. At the Rochester Institute of Technology, the ISTE-260 (Designing the User Experience) course teaches the language of design to IT students. For an introductory exercise in the class, students are tasked to visualize any set of data they desire. Students David Kim, Jathan Anandham, Justin W. Flory, and Scott Tinker used the MusicBrainz database to look at how five different Queen songs went mainstream in different ways.

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Tergiversate: Abysma by Geotic

This article is part of my Tervigersate column on my blog, where I review albums by musicians spanning multiple genres. Articles introduce an album and give my interpretation of their meaning.


The next album to spotlight in Tergiversate is Abysma by Los Angeles-based Geotic, a.k.a. Will Wiesenfeld. Abysma is the ninth studio album released by Geotic. It debuted on March 31, 2017. The album could be described as a cross between an electronica and indie pop. For Wiesenfeld’s first début on a record label with his side project Geotic, he makes a bold and eccentric presence with Abysma.

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Tergiversate: Demon Days by Gorillaz

The first album to début in my Tergiversate music column isn’t a new album, but it’s an album with a meaning that evolves and changes over time into something new. Demon Days is the second studio album released by Gorillaz in 2005. Demon Days is officially classified as alternative hip hop, but it’s better described as a fusion of styles and genres, rolled together. Some tracks hang true to the underground hip hop sounds from the first album, others to a pop-ish sound found in their third album, and others are completely unique to Demon Days.

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Tergiversate: Introducing music review column

Music is a key part of my life. I spend a lot of time listening and analyzing music. However, music is as much a personal experience as it is a social one too. In music, an artist shares their perspective and experience with the listener. The listener, in turn, shares music with others. In my experience, some of the best music recommendations have come from friends or from other music fans. Thus, I’m happy to announce Tergiversate, a new column on my blog that celebrates great music and the role it plays in documenting culture and society.

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Statistics proposal and self-hosting ListenBrainz

This post is part of a series of posts where I contribute to the ListenBrainz project for my independent study at the Rochester Institute of Technology in the fall 2017 semester. For more posts, find them in this tag.


This week is the last week of the fall 2017 semester at RIT. This semester, I spent time with the MetaBrainz community working on ListenBrainz for an independent study. This post explains what I was working on in the last month and reflects back on my original objectives for the independent study.

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Exploring Google Code-In, ListenBrainz easyfix bugs, D3.js

This post is part of a series of posts where I contribute to the ListenBrainz project for my independent study at the Rochester Institute of Technology in the fall 2017 semester. For more posts, find them in this tag.


Last week moved quickly for me in ListenBrainz. I submitted multiple pull requests and participated in the weekly developer’s meeting on Monday. I was also invited to take part as a mentor for ListenBrainz for the upcoming round of Google Code-In! In addition to my changes and new role as a mentor, I’m researching libraries like D3.js to help build visualizations for music data.  Suddenly, everything started moving fast!

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How to set up a ListenBrainz development environment

This post is part of a series of posts where I contribute to the ListenBrainz project for my independent study at the Rochester Institute of Technology in the fall 2017 semester. For more posts, find them in this tag.


One of the first rites of passage when working on a new project is creating your development environment. It always seems simple, but sometimes there are bumps along the way. The first activity I did to begin contributing to ListenBrainz was create my development environment. I wasn’t successful with the documentation in the README, so I had to play around and work with the project before I was even running it.

The first part of this post details how to set up your own development environment. Then, the second half talks about the solution I came up with and my first contribution back to the project.

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On the data refrain: Contributing to ListenBrainz

A unique opportunity of attending an open source-friendly university is when course credits and working on open source projects collide. This semester, I’m participating in an independent study at the Rochester Institute of Technology where I will contribute to the ListenBrainz project.

Many students take part in independent studies where they work on their own projects. However, in the spirit of open source collaboration, I wanted to contribute to a project that already existed. That way, my work would be helpful to a real-world project where it would have a value even after the end of the semester. Additionally, I wanted  a project to help me sharpen my Python skill. And ListenBrainz was a fun, exciting candidate for this.

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Converting sounds into words: All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone

The dancer gracefully glides across the stage, with a slow but determined gait radiant with purpose. The movement is not her own, but neither is it forced. The sound uncoils itself as a rope and instructs the dancer forward, synchronizing her movement with the delicate pressure of the pianist’s fingers. There is no consciousness, no concept of time. The moment is forever captured in the combination of auditory and visual perception. Without a single spoken word, an emotion is tearing at the seams of the casual observer.

Converting the sounds of music into words is a difficult task. It is more difficult task when the sounds of the music lack lyrics. It is possible, but a difficult task even for the most skilled linguist. Yet the embedded meaning, value, and transmission of emotion present in the music speaks a thousand words in the human heart. What makes this so difficult to describe? I am still searching for an answer to this question, but Explosions in the Sky makes it easier for me by providing All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone, their fourth album. Originally released in 2007, the Texas-based band shares an irreplaceable part of human psyche and emotional strength through their six-track escapade. More solemn than my previous musical tribute, I take my own interpretation of this timeless album.

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Thirteen Year Legacy: Last.fm Downfall?

Last.fm logo

The Last.fm logo. Source: Xfdr

Last.fm is a web service for users to track and share their music tastes with friends in an easy, simple way. A single play of a song is known as a “Scrobble”. Listening to music and recording the listen with Last.fm is known as “Scrobbling”. This is a service that has existed since 2002, originally under the name of Audioscrobbler. In 2015, Last.fm rolled out their new website beta, originally optional, but later forced upon all users.

Last.fm’s site redesign is criticized widely by users, but nobody seems to be listening on the other side in CBS Interactive London offices. What went wrong with the redesign and what can be learned going forward?

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