Saturday, April 22, 2006

I believe in Music

In the late 80’s and early 90’s it was really difficult to find tapes of quality international music in small cities .I still remember the days when we were left with no other option but to buy pirated copies of latest music and wait endlessly for new international releases to reach India.

In fact in those DD serials like Top of Pops, Europa Rock and Grammy Awards were must watch for us. Being close to Nepal we were privileged to watch some exclusive music videos on Saturday Night show on Nepal TV. Then came Magnasound, BMG and things improved amazingly, the quality, packaging and availability improved, finally with the advent of MTV in early 90’s the entire international music scene in India changed .

Angereeze (English) Music which was passion for selected few in metros and big cities also reached to small towns from Bhilai to Gaya. Now everyone can watch the latest music videos on the TV and go for buying the music tapes in the stores. Those were the good old days of magnetic tapes. Finally CD’s started making waves by mid 90’s but still in those days it was accessible to privileged few . As a school going chap I was never able to buy CD’s since I could never afford it, so tapes remained our favorites and I still savor the gusto of listening to some good old rock and roll music in good stereo output in my walkman.

The music industry made good profits in the 90’s, riding high on the popularity of Music channels, but unfortunately the sales started to dip by late 90’s as MP3 made its way. Suddenly the music lovers found an affordable, easy and almost dream come true medium called MP3 .This compressed music format changed the way we listened, brought and stored music. Suddenly my entire tape collection started looking pale and it was tough to buy tapes as the prices touched roofs.

But on the other hand MP3 democratized music distribution and also gave the consumers lot of varied music to experiment with. Since the music was easily available via net and easy to store and potable we tried out all kinds of music. This was good and bad, good because the genre of music people listened to was now wider, bad because the sales of records fell as it was freely available on multiple music channels and also easily shared via Mp3.

Napster and other Music sharing tools created a new medium of on line music sharing and finally even that was made official by making it pay to download music. However as a music listener one has always thought about having a tool which can allow them to experiment with different kinds of music and have a recommendation on different types of music. The music genome project in which on January 6, 2000 a group of musicians and music-loving technologists came together with the idea of creating the most comprehensive analysis of music ever.

Together they set out to capture the essence of music at the most fundamental level. They ended up assembling literally hundreds of musical attributes or "genes" into a very large Music Genome. Taken together these genes capture the unique and magical musical identity of a song - everything from melody, harmony and rhythm, to instrumentation, orchestration, arrangement, lyrics, and of course the rich world of singing and vocal harmony. It's not about what a band looks like, or what genre they supposedly belong to, or about who buys their records - it's about what each individual song sounds like.

Over the past 5 years, they've carefully listened to the songs of over 10,000 different artists - ranging from popular to obscure - and analyzed the musical qualities of each song one attribute at a time. This work continues each and every day as they endeavor to include all the great new stuff coming out of studios, clubs and garages around the world.

I think the way music I heard and stored today (with Ipod’s Second generations) musical adventurers in the day are going to be all then more exciting. Neil young newly recorded protest album "Living with War," including a song calling for the impeachment of President Bush, will be posted for free Internet streaming next week, his label said on Friday.DOORS ,Perl Jams the classic rockers are now also joining the league. Now that artists are going to use online medium as a tool for music distribution big music companies will have to find out new ways of promoting and making money from music artists.Also to add to that you haev lot of customisation happening the way way people to radio,we also have personal online radio's now.

Nearly one quarter of frequent online music users say that the ability to share music with others is a key factor when selecting an online music service. And a third were interested in technology that helps them discover and recommend music, such as tools that allow Internet users to publish and rank lists of their favorite songs. Perhaps most important for the recording industry, a tenth of those surveyed said they frequently make music purchases based on others' recommendations.
Already artists encourage free distribution /or at nominal rates to make their music more popular and make money by going for live shows and radio shows.

So the mantra is that if you have the talent pick the microphone and get started .New age music listeners will decide who is the king.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Believe or not

Friday, April 14, 2006

The Unsung Hero

Only a life lived for others is worth living: Albert Einstein

Courage, Determination, Humanity, Empathy ……..these may appear only words to few but for some it means more than life.

Words really can’t describe the valiant effort of Javed, 18, who was a resident of Mandawli in east Delhi, was working at a clothes stall at the Brand India fair on Monday when the fire broke out. He got out unhurt, but went back in when he saw the children trapped. He collapsed after his sixth attempt, and suffered 70 per cent burns.

Friend Sarfuddin said: “He heard the cries of small children and rushed back inside to save them. He saved many lives and then a piece of burning synthetic cloth fell on him and he got badly burnt because of that,” he said.

The student of Sarvodaya Boys Senior Secondary School at Vinod Nagar in east Delhi had just sat for his Class XII CBSE examination. He took the job at the Meerut fair to help his father Mizaz Ahmed, who does embroidery work for a living. Javed was the eldest of three sons; his brothers are 12 and 9.

First admitted to Meerut’s Sushila Jaswant Rai Hospital, he was moved to Safdarjung Hospital where he died.

“I lost my son because they did not take good care of him. If they had taken good care, he would still be alive. The Meerut doctors kept him alive for three days but as soon as he was brought to Delhi, he died,” his mother Anida Begum cried.
What was meant to be a visit to a fair ended up in a visit to death bead? There are too many controversies surrounding the death of Javed whose effort saved the life of six kids.

Now for moments just imagine the kind of empathy and humanitarian values this young man showed when he saw the kids stranded in the fire. I’m sure many people would have been around, expressing dismay, fear and pity for the kids who were left helpless, but hats off to the courage shown by the young man who sacrificed his life for others.

Now compare this with what Bangalore experienced yesterday after Dr. Rajkumar’s demise. With due respect to Dr. Rajkumar I can safely say that the unsung heros of the world deserve much more than the silver screen heroes who simply do what they are paid for.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Brighter Side of the Story

A lot is being debated about the proposed reservation policy in media and blogsphere.I am somehow little reserve about expressing my personal view on on this subject.But on the other hand i think it is just one of the things which will continue to happen because of the vote bank politics.I am getting so many mails on my groups regarding this, we also have an online petiton going on to protest against the move.Now instead of getting into the negatives of this Pandora's Box let's have a look at the likely positives of the coming reservation policy.

1) As the no. of people from reserved category increase in institutions the first thing which may happen is that the so called elite institutes will open gates to people from all strata's of societies.

2) This may lead to greater sensitivity towards the development cause of the BIMARU states like Bihar,UP ,Orissa and MP as I have every reason to believe that people from less privileged sections of the society have a greater urge to pay-back to the place where they belong to.

3) With greater no. of seats getting reserved across spectrum the biggest flip to this would be industrialization. Now if you remember correctly few years back some section of our society would never venture to any entrepreneur initiative on their own .The general mindset was that this not their cup of tea.

4) The last decade saw a big change in the mindset of this segment of society which was simply happy getting the degrees from universities and doing the BABU TYPE-SARKARI-SECURED- jobs. One of the great demerits which these jobs created was that we had a very risk adverse society which would never invest or venture out .The new wave of industrialization took away old structure by storm and now the same segment which was meritorious but unadventurous took the plunge to entrepreneurship and working towards creation of greater wealth in society.

5) One of the likely fall outs of the proposed scheme could be that more and more people will think about alternate careers and diverse approach towards life and work. Probably we'll also see technology being used extensively for creating more alternate jobs. As a society we will simply be not happy having any engineering or Doctorate degree but would be more appreciated for creating value and doing different things.

Having said that I would also like to assert that one of the best things which you can do to adapt to the change is "to choose what you want o choose or you'll be forced to choose what you don't want to choose".

So next time when your kid come and tell you that he wants to be Indian Idol (be serious about it and don't chide him to go back to studies).

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Changing times.....and so the worries

With changing times the aspirations, habits and culture of our kids also are undergoing a dramatic shift. I’m sure all of us are quite amazed by the IQ level and street smartness shown by the kids of today. One of most important engagement of today kids happens to be the television and Satellite channels. I guess kids today can do without their parents but can’t do without Cartoon’s, Movies and Music channels.

TV seems to be the biggest influence on the generation today, be it food, cloth, music, ring tones, nothing seems to have escaped from the impact of the electronic media today. Sometimes you are faced with piquant situations in your own family when you almost become the villain in the family if you disturb your folks while watching any cartoon, serial, games or some weird www stuff. We generally shrug it off thinking that it’s natural for the child to behave that way but a reputed Media House has come with some disturbing analysis on the influence of TV on kids, Fox News has a report on this.

From obesity and social isolation to early sexual initiation and aggressive and violent behavior, 15 new studies link exposure to media images with a broad range of negative health, behavior and lifestyle issues in children and teens.

Moreover, the studies found that the harm begins early in the preschool years and continues through adolescence.

The findings reveal interesting patterns:

--The more time kids spend watching violent TV programs, the less time they spend with their friends. This isn't true for nonviolent programs.

--The more time kids spend watching TV with friends, the more time they spend doing other things with their friends.

--Kids in a room with the TV on aren't outside getting more exercise. But they're also seeing TV ads. And TV ads on children's programming tend to sell high-calorie junk foods.

--They watch more TV -- becoming even more socially isolated, and even angrier.

The worst impact of TV seems to be having on the sexual behaviour of Kids as they are highly influnced by the sexual and adult content of TV.By the time children are in their teens, it may be too late to begin restricting the kinds of TV they can watch.

And if you though your child was watching some gyan ke batein on TV here's a warning "You could be an upper-income family, with lots of educational toys in the room, watching educational videos. And your child is still at three times higher risk of overweight than kids who do not watch TV." The kids who watched the most TV were most likely to be overweight. That was especially true of girls, the study shows.

"Television viewing should be regarded as an important contributing factor to childhood obesity," write the researchers in the International Journal of Obesity.And it's not just the content the commercials alos matters.Television can expose your child to things that you have tried to protect them from, especially violence, drug abuse, sex, etc. In addition to the actual television show, your child can also be influenced by what she sees during the commercials. One study showed that Television-viewing habits and sleep disturbance in school children, found that watching too much TV during the day or at bedtime often caused 'bedtime resistance, sleep onset delay, and anxiety around sleep, followed by shortened sleep duration.'

Viewing programs with your children

Selecting developmentally appropriate shows

Placing limits on the amount of television viewing (per day and per week)

Turning off the TV during family meals and study time

Turning off shows you don't feel are appropriate for your child In addition, parents can help by doing the following: don't allow children to watch long blocks of TV, but help them select individual programs. Choose shows that meet the developmental needs of your child. Some children's shows on public TV are appropriate, but soap operas, adult sitcoms, and adult talk shows are not. Set certain periods when the television will be off. Study times are for learning, not for sitting in front of the TV doing homework. Meal times are a good time for family members to talk with each other, not for watching television.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

New Blog

My new Photoblog has finally been up and running...Check this out

Monday, April 03, 2006

Unfortunate Truth

Sometimes it often baffles me beyond imagination that some of the best rock legends have either died young due to some or other unnatural cause of death. The history of Rock music is replete with numerous cases of suicides. It’s an irony that some of the greatest philosophers and erudite minds in history also died young.

Now what is it that provokes these singers and artists to commit suicide .A study conducted to understand the linkages between artists, depression and suicidal tendencies has some insight on this.

Only in the last 25 years has scientific evidence demonstrated that creative people are more vulnerable to depression and suicide, regardless of whether or not they become famous. More research is needed to determine which:

Patients suffering from depressive or manic depressive disorders are most vulnerable to suicide

Treatments will control the disorder without interfering with the artists’ ability to create.

Throughout history artists, writers and musicians have seemed to suffer disproportionately from mood disorders.

Only recently has research concluded that a high percentage of artists — both past and contemporary — have, in fact, suffered from affective illness, particularly manic-depressive disorder.

Treatment of major depressive illness in artists has presented unique problems; partly because of a concern that creativity and the disorder are so intertwined that treatment might destroy the artists’ unique talent.

An interesting comparative study on death history of rock legends has this amazing data.The Average Age at Death of Rock Stars :36.9 Years and the maximum no of deaths is primarily due to

Heart Attack :42 , Drug Overdose:40,

Misc. Medical:37, Suicide:36

Auto/Cycle Crash: 35, Cancer:25,

Airplane Crash:22,Unknown:21

Murdered:18, Alcohol:9

This just proves the fact that the life in the fast lane is not always shiny and true, perhaps talent comes with its own share of liabilities and the one who are artistically gifted or talented are emotionally unstable and desperate to some extent. Not only rock musicians the history of philosophy is also similar and some of the greatest philosophical minds have had unnatural deaths. Socrates, Machiavelli, Descartes are just some of the names which comes to mind.

So does it means that talented minds are always the other extreme and if not engaged in right activities may meet any unfortunate end ?