Tom Waits, A Map, and Big Data

Tom Waits and the Devil

Hot damn I love the internet. While “researching” for this blog last night I stumbled across a simple website: It basically is just a google map with pins marking the location of every place mentioned in a Tom Waits song. It’s a great way to visually qualify what we already knew about Mr. Waits: that he LOVES traveling, and more specifically, singing about traveling. I found myself spending tons of time clicking on each pin, singing the lyrics in my head, and thinking about what all these places could mean to Tom Waits.


Gigs, Shows, Festivals, and Battles

Milwaukee's East Side Music Festival

Today is Milwaukee’s long-awaited East Side Music Tour. If my Twitter and Facebook streams are any indicator, all of Milwaukee will be there. Sadly, I won’t be there for various personal excuses, but it’s honestly one of the most exciting things to happen in the local scene since it’s inaugural appearance last year. Seriously, do go if you’re not like me and stuck at work on a Saturday with several house hunting and upcoming wedding errands to take care of. I did debate hopping on the bike to catch a show or two, but alas, it’s a ticketed event. This got me thinking about the various ways that local shows are run, and why some work and some should be avoided at all costs.


The Science Behind Autotune (And Voice Recognition)

I assume everyone reading this blog understands the role this plays in music. In this, the year of our lord 2014, most people have super computers sitting around their home that are capable of amazing things. Being able to “break down” sound allows your to fabricate and modify recorded sound, which can lead to some pretty cool results (and some pretty bad ones, I’m looking at you Lil’ Jon).


The Diphthong Song

those-who-dig-logo-finalThis is about the diphthong song. Depending on your knowledge of grammar and/or lingerie, that’s either a very sexy or very confusing title. Or both. The song I have in mind is now 4 decades old, started as a country tune, but received a huge lift half-way through its lifespan and became one of the biggest singles of all time. Read more…

The Cup Song, Mainers Mountaineers, and The Lifecycle of a Pop Song


The expression what goes around must come around fits nicely here. Apparently this song is rapidly approaching 100 years old. This is the oldest version I could find that is arranged in a similar fashion*. It is by the group Mainers Mountaineers, and it’s pretty awesome.


Elvis Discusses Atonality

Elvis Presley (1935-1977) was the King of Rock and Roll, and as king he led not just with his hips, but by example. Below is one of these examples that's been getting some play around the internet lately where Elvis, "Mr. Everett", shares his thoughts on atonality in jazz music. I want to believe that like Tom Cruise, Elvis Presley only played himself in his films and that this conversation was exactly how Elvis really felt. His facial expression in the moment before his quip is priceless. Long live the King. You dig?


Laura Gibson and Some Thoughts on the Clarinet

Good afternoon Dig Nation. I spent the morning digging through the interwebs admiring videos from one of my favorite female singer/songwriters Laura Gibson when I found a new video for her beautiful song Milk-Heavy, Pollen-Eyed. The song is from her album La Grande which can be purchased here.

Regardless, watching this video set me off on a bit of a diatribe about the clarinet that starts at Laura Gibson and weaves through Glenn Miller, Eric Dolphy, and the Low Anthem. Read on for lots of clarinet laden music listening and then hit up the comments section to let us know what your favorite song featuring the instrument is. You dig?


Sirius Quartet: Spidey Falls

Recently, friend of the Dig as well as badass free thinking cellist for The Ballroom Thieves Rachel Gawell sent me a video she shot of the Sirius Quartet performing a composition entitled Spidey Falls. The piece was written by Fung Chern Hwei who is also the first violinist in the quartet. The additional members of the ensemble are Jeremy Harman, Gregor Huebner, and Ronald Lawrence

In his astounding biography, Fung Chern Hwei writes that although he is a traditionally classically trained violinist, he grew up deeply influenced by Chinese pop, Indian Bollywood tunes, Malay dance music, and in his younger years even took to imitating the sounds of the electric guitar and saxophone on his violin. With this in mind, I have always believed that one of the major components necessary for success in the field of classical music in the 21st century is a breadth of language. Truly successful musicians are the ones who are not limited by their language or technique, only their creativity. Nevertheless, it is sometimes the case that trained musicians will sacrifice language on behalf of technique and become compartmentalized in their thinking and ability to compose or improvise. This is not Fung Chern Hwei. This is not Spidey Falls, and this is absolutely not the Sirius Quartet.

Read on for my full thoughts concerning, the quartet and the composition. You dig?


No Other Love: Jo Stafford & Frederic Chopin

If imitation is the greatest form of flattery than 19th century pianist and composer Frederic Chopin has a lot to feel flattered by. The wealth of his compositional language has been a source of great inspiration to artists since his death in 1848, but a rather unusual homage came about in 1950 when song writers Bob Russell and Paul Weston teamed up to pen a song entitled No Other Love for the popular singer (and Paul Weston's wife) Jo Stafford.

I call it an homage because the song is essentially Frederic Chopin's Opus 10 Number 3 Etude for solo piano reset to feature orchestration and Bob Russell's lyrics. Released in 1950, the song reached all the way up to number 10 on the Billboard charts but has been seeing a resurgence of interest today thanks largely to its use in the trailer for Paul Thomas Anderson's new film The Master.

Read on to hear pianist Garrick Ohlsson performing the original Chopin etude, Jo Stafford's recording of No Other Love, and finally the trailer for the film in which the song is featured.  

Garrick Ohlsson: Chopin's Etude Op. 10 No. 3