25 January 2007

Kids growing up so fast

In the next few weeks I'll be writing a bit about what's going on at work, with Service Oriented Architecture, web service semantics, different layers of organisational constructs to support both business and development ideals, and project management and expecations handling.

But that's not this post. This post is about my daughter Grace who's six and a half. Before christmas we inherited an old computer from my wife's sisters family, an old beaten thing we were going to give to the kids for educational games and homework and such things, and in no time I whipped it clean and hooked it into our network.

While I was at work last week I got this in my inbox ;
A secret story
a long time ago a daddy,mummy sat
soon thay found out that thay wer having

For those still not in the know, me and Julie are expecting our third child in July (every evening julie spends trying to find good names), and Grace is as excited as we are and decided to write me the above wonderful email, from her Gmail account no less. Not bad for a seven year old. She'll be blogging in no time.

While I was writing this blog post I've been chatting with her on Gmail talk, and she says the most wonderful things. I need to spend more time with her when neither one of us is grumpy in the evening after a long day. :) Tomorrow is Australia Day, a holiday, so I'm already looking forward to it. I feel so blessed with my wonderful little family.

Update: Yes, Alia, you're right; Grace is indeed seven, not six (fixed). It seems she was growing even faster than I first thought. :)

17 January 2007

Off-road music

As many of you know, I'm a sucker for baroque music, with a passion for Monteverdi (early italian), Bencini (middle italian, roman style), Galuppi (late italian, Venezian style), Telemann (late german), Schutz (early german with italian influences), Lalande (late french, small steps away from the dominating Lully style), Biber (middle italian in Austria, violin extraordinaire).

But I do occasionally sin, I do have a musical past, and dip my musical ear in more modern stuff still. Mostly, this is due to listening to Pandora.com at work which is a kind of a digital radio with empathy; I can pop in a tune I like or an artist I appreciate, and it will play music of a somewhat similar kind. And sometimes it presents stuff to me that's new and that I like, which is what this post is all about.

Regina Spektor : I have no idea what music Pandora.com thought I had in common with regina, but one day she popped up, and I took notice. She's of Russian-Jewish background, but have lived in New York since she was about 10. She's a singer/songwriter/pianoplayer/guitarfiddler that comes up with the most amazing tunes, and she's not afraid of being different. And I think it is this "different" that I like so well with her; strange noises, pivots of musical direction, strange lyrics, using her voice as more than just a pretty voice (and she really has a pretty, strong voice). She's not afraid of letting the music be music, and that's quite refreshing; song structure follows the musicality of it, not some verse-refrain-verse-refrain-brigde-refrain-refrain pattern we're so sick of these days. Good stuff; here's a few videos ;

Happy Rhodes : Combine an amazing sense of feel with the voice markup of Kate Bush and Annie Lennox, you've got Happy; diverse yet uniquely Happy Rhodes music, with a voice that continue to amaze me by its range and clearity within it. I used to have a crush on Kate Bush, and maybe this crush is the continuation of it. Here's a fantastic live recording : listen out for where she switches voice register at around 2:10 without wffort, without it sounding wrong ;

Home Video : melancholic modern quirky. Not even sure why I like it. I don't think these guys are famous, nor do I think they will be, at least not in this configuration. I think they appeal to people who quite enjoy subtle melodic changes over longer periods of time, you know, those who also liked bolero, except with a modern beatbox twist.

Ambrosia : Tickles me with their Toto sound (I'm a fan of the older Toto, and a worshipper of the ground that Jeffrey Porcaro walked on), a band of the late 70's and early 80's. Look for their album "One Eigthy" which is produced by the faboulus Michael McDonald ("Yah Mo B There!", the Doobie Brothers) and features the amazing Richard Page of Pages and Mr Mister fame (of which I adore). Here's a video ;

Piano magic : Again a quirky creative modern sound. My last band before I got married and had kids were a band called "sundrunk" (yes, as in Nietsche) where I was producer, percussion, arranger, drummer, synther, whatever, and Piano Magic reminds me a lot of what we were doing. It's not so much a favourite kind of music as it's an interesting expression I enjoy listening to.

The Magnetic Fields : I've always loved Tom Waits. This is his more melodic cousin, more on the road than down the alley, yet as deliciously melancholic and bare, like a Waits younger brother that went back to school and kept his dayjob. And then moved on.

Various jazz : In my contemporary jazz channel I've really enjoyed Erik Friedlander, Alan Pasqua, Darek Oles and the norwegian jazz group Tord Gustavsen Trio.

Mellow and or electronic : Suzanne Ciani has surprised me with complex and melodic compositions. I'm mostly happy with my Tangerine Dream / Klaus Schulze / Vangelis / Kitaro setup and I've been looking for other things, but not much has popped up in this category.

There's also the occasional song by the occasional group / person that catches my ear, and maybe I'll talk about them in the future. Until then, enjoy the music, and I'll leave you with one of my all-time favourite Victor Borge pieces. I simply love this!