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Project, Week 2

English: Guitarist Roope Latvala of Children o...

English: Guitarist Roope Latvala of Children of Bodom performing at the Ilosaarirock festival in Joensuu, Finland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last week was difficult, I mean doing the project was difficult. It was the last week at work before the second half of my summer holiday, so I had a lot of things to do. But I did write the review for The Inheritance by Witherscape. I didn’t finish any books, I just read some more of Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi and If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino. They aren’t easy books, so it will take some time for me to finish them.

Anyway, this summer has been quite revealing for me. Or once, I’m starting to understand what I really want in my life. I don’t know how, that’s a different story, but knowing what I want is really a good start. How zen! (Not…) All my life, I seem to have avoided clear goals, perhaps because plans usually change because life never goes 100% as planned. And I’ve always wanted things to be certain. If there’s even a possibility of uncertainty, the doesn’t sound too good to me. Until now.

But I’m on my holiday and I’ll take it easy this week, so I’ll won’t probably be reading any books (unless something comes up and I get the inspiration to grab either book, or a new book). I think I’m going to finish the first season of Arrested Development, a great American tv comedy. And a half of my family has their birthdays this week, so I need to get some birthday presents for them. That’s my project week #3. Simple.

Anyway, here’s the band of the week (or month). Latvala Bros, a band formed by Roope Latvala after Stone disbanded in the early 90s (and way before Roope joined Children of Bodom), with his brother who plays the drums. It’s instrumental thrash metal, nothing less, nothing more, but it’s still damn good.

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Swan Saivo & The Oulu Music Video Festival

The annual Oulu Music Video Festival will be held in three weeks and for the first time, Eternal Tears of Sorrow will be part of it.  Unfortunately our video “Swan Saivo” couldn’t make to the music video contest. Still, it will be shown there, I’m sure of that.

Here’s the video, just in case you don’t get to see it here in Oulu:

 

 
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Posted by on 3.8.2013 in Music

 

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Best Way to Write a New Song?

SongWriter

SongWriter (Photo credit: jorik de beer)

This article is very much a “personal wandering & pondering” blog entry. It’ll probably be full of stream of consciousness stuff. Still, I hope it’s going to be helpful for other people, too. So, here I go:

Writing a new song is almost always a miracle. The core of it sometimes comes from “nowhere”, unless it is a carbon copy of a stupid hit song you just heard on the radio. And it’s all yours. (Here’s a philosophical question: do songs really belong to anyone? But that’s a different story…)

What makes the song-writing challenging is that there is no universally perfect way to write a song. Some people start with the lyrics, some people like to write together with other people, some people prefer writing songs alone at night in the moonlight, or the candlelight.

The Kinks' "You Really Got Me" guita...

The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me” guitar riff. About this sound Play ( help · info ) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Starting to write a new song is easy if you have inspiration. The moments of inspiration come and go and they are very unpredictable. So, you cannot always wait for it to come. Just pick your guitar, your keyboard or whatever instrument you prefer when writing a song. Choose a chord or a short melody that comes to your mind. Or a guitar riff. Or just pick a scale and try improvising with it (for instance, pentatonic scale is quite interesting).

Don’t get mad if nothing interesting pops up. Sometimes you can try anything for days and still: nothing. And then, a perfect idea can come into view and suddenly you’ve got a brand new perspective to the new song. What’s interesting is that you can have an interesting and fascinating idea even if you are not inspired. Yeah, well, this is more than obvious but it’s the reason you can and should try composing a song any-time you want to. Or even when you don’t want to.

Songwriters Circle

Songwriters Circle (Photo credit: AndyRobertsPhotos)

But naturally, one riff or melody or chord isn’t enough. The next thing is having at least one or two more ideas and starting to think about the song structure. (Let’s just assume we don’t care about the genre of the song, it’s just whatever comes naturally…) A very short song? An epic song? I think the answer is: whatever you feel like. Sometimes the thirty-two-bar form is nice, sometimes trying to do something new is very fruitful.

Let’s just say you’ve written a three-minute song with a melody. Then, what should the lyrics be like? Should the song tell a story? Or describe a feeling or a moment? (Or, in some cases: should the song just be an instrumental?)

This year, I’ve been fascinated about the idea of writing very personal lyrics. (Then again, I’m also keen on writing interesting stories that have nothing to do with my life.) How personal can you get without sounding too cheesy and not being embarrassed about the lyrics? Moreover, can you write an imaginative story that would still feel very personal to you? I suppose you can but it’s very difficult.

English: Music and lyrics of the song "Go...

English: Music and lyrics of the song “Good Morning to All”, the basis for the allegedly copyrighted song “”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, I suppose I’ll write at least a couple of personal songs by the end of this summer. I don’t know about the genre yet, though. Something related to prog rock, maybe.. Something different, that is. And very personal lyrics, I wonder what that would be like. Something revealing, something I feel.

Choosing the language is also a difficult question. For those who speak English as their mother tongue, the choice is very easy. But for a Finn, it’s harder. It is very easy to write a song full of clichés when writing in English. In Finnish, the lyrics inevitably become much more personal because the mother tongue is always the “language of your heart and emotions”. This is why writing in English is so much safer.

So yeah, there’s a lot to think. But perhaps the best way to do this is not to think at all? “Just do it”, as the slogan goes. Yep. That’s how I’ll do it. Interesting.

 

 
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Posted by on 31.7.2013 in In English, Music

 

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Alternatives to the Last.fm Radios…

Image representing Spotify as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

Last.fm decided to sharpen their business model, so they quit their radios in most countries. I suppose 3 euros per month wasn’t profitable enough. Even Spotify has had problems with the profit – and their services are even more expensive, five to ten euros per month. So, I don’t blame Last.fm. They did what they had to do. Online music services – or cloud music services – are tricky in many ways.

Naturally, Last.fm’s sudden strategic change made me change my strategy, too. I needed to find a new way to listen to music, at home and wherever I go with my mobile phone. Earlier, I just needed to press a couple of buttons on my phone or computer and I got to listen to songs I liked (or might have liked).

I like this way. I like exploring new bands and new songs – but I also have my favourite bands and albums that I want to listen now and then. Sometimes it is quite hard to find a perfect balance between these two things – well, naturally the cloud services don’t know when I have the urge to listen to new music and when I am in a more nostalgic mood. But that’s a small problem, a first world problem, so to say.

Image representing Last.fm as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

Last.fm isn’t gone. It still has many great services, including the scrobbling plugin, which is what they are best-known fot. Then, there is the Last.fm plugin for Spotify, which is not perfect but has three nice ways to create Spotify playlists easily. (All of these ways are based on what you have scrobbled to the Last.fm database, by the way).

Create a playlist based on 1) what you’ve listened to during the past three months. 2) what you are listening now and 3) what Last.fm recommends to you.

English: Screenshot of the Last.fm software pr...

English: Screenshot of the Last.fm software program. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Using these three functions, it is relatively easy to create a Spotify playlist that is somewhat similar to my personal Last.fm radio channel. Not as simple, not as handy, but it’s still possible. And most importantly, to make the playlist more Last.fm-like, I use the playlist radio function on Spotify. The system isn’t perfect but I suppose it is sufficiently good for me now.

But some day, some day the cloud music services know exactly what I want to listen. And that will be a scary day. I don’t want computers to know too much or to know me too well.

Would I have other alternatives? Of course. Rdio, Deezer, Rhapsody. I don’t know if Rhapsody works in Finland, though. But one cloud service is enough for me now.

 

 

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There Is No Mystery in the Music Business Anymore

English: Kiss live at Paris in 1999.

English: Kiss live at Paris in 1999. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(I got the idea of this post from a post about journalism by Jussi Mäntysaari . Music journalism and band interviews, to be more exact. This gave me an idea. Read it if you want but beware: it’s in Finnish: http://alsosprachjussi.blogspot.fi/2012/12/ei-enaa-artistihaastatteluja.html ).

Back in the 80s, when I was young, I and the boys next door got into Kiss. Kiss was something huge, a group from another world or another dimension. We hardly knew anything about them as there was no Internet around – we just had read about them on Finnish music magazines.. We knew they were from the USA and had recorded some albums that affected us in a weird way.

So, we wrote a letter to them in very rudimentary English. “We are fans, can you please send us some guitars so we can be like you?” was the core of the letter. We never got a reply. Or our guitars. Why, Paul, Gene & the rest of the guys, why?!? 😀

And when I listened to the radio and found a damn interesting band, sometimes all I knew about the band was the song itself. Nothing more. It could be that no Finnish magazines ever wrote about them. But I was cool with it. Music was the most important thing and if I bumped into information about the band, fine. That was bonus.

Image representing YouTube as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

Now, almost thirty years later, things have changed. Teenagers don’t pick their favourite bands from television, radio or the magazines. They can be found on the Internet. You see a video on YouTube, get to their Facebook page, send a message and a bit later, you can even get a personalized reply. And you can get all the possible information from the band in no time. It’s almost like the members of the band live next door. Almost.

There is no mystery in the music business anymore. Is it good or bad? I don’t know. It’s different, that’s all I know.

Perhaps it’s me? I’ve learned a lot since the first demo of our band. I know how the music industry works. I know what bands have to do to get an album released.

Let’s just say both have changed. The world and I. Still, one question remains: can I go back to my teenage years? Can I listen to an album and feel the magic again? Well, yes, partly. Damn good songs still affect me in a good but weird way. But then, I’ll have to start digging information about the band. “Where do they come from? How do they look? What are their influences?” and all that stuff. Because the information is there.

What’s the solution to this problem? Should all bands be like Tool? They very rarely give an interview, you know. There is a certain amount of mystique around them. And that makes them more interesting to many people.

So, bands, don’t be like most bands. Be mysterious. Don’t spread around information about yourselves. And remember: in the end all that matters is your music. You’re just a carpenter, although you’re still interesting to some people.

 
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Posted by on 2.12.2012 in In English, Music

 

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Movie of the Month: Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead (Zonbi asu)

Danger! ZOMBIE ASS: Toilet of the Dead – Zonbi Asu – is here and it will spread like a zombie virus.

Well, I must admit I’ve only seen the trailer of this magnificent Japanese zombie (and toilet) movie. Not yet. I’m sure it’s either a very bad movie or so bad you want to stick something sharp to your eyeballs to not see the rest of the film.

I wasn’t able to find so many reviews on this movie yet, but this quote is hilarious

Yes, this is not just a zombie movie, this is an alien ass parasite zombie movie designed purely to allow Iguchi to indulge in his love of the female posterior. Juvenile in the extreme the film is driven by ultra-lowbrow sight gags and splatter effects – both practical and CGI – laced with a heaping helping of shit and fart jokes.

Sounds like fun. Perhaps. Perhaps not.

 

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Alltid går det inte som i Strömsö…

Onhan niitä monenlaisia päiviä. Joskus päivät alkavat vähän löysästi ja lässähtävät totaalisesti illan tullessa. Joskus taas päivät menevät kuin Strömsössä (suomenruotsalainen saaristolaistyyppinen lifestyle-ohjelma).

Tosin Strömsö-päivinäkin voi käydä kuten herra Yrjänälle, eli joudutaan tarttumaan niihin kysymyksiin, jotka eivät yleensä pyöri suuremmin päässä. “Vad betyder träd för dig?” tai jotain.

Harmi, kun tuota videota ei löydy enää mistään. Mitähän mies vastasi kysymykseen?

 
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Posted by on 17.1.2012 in In Finnish

 

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