Music Lesson


Blogging is very educational.  All of you bloggers that I visit and read have helped to widen my knowledge of the world and opened my mind to so many new ideas and experiences.

This post is a good example of your influences.  This is in a way, a continuation of the concept from the last post which developed from a kernel of an idea sowed by Steve of Bloggertropolis.   I learn a lot about the appreciation of prose from Janice at Drink the Moon and from Mark, the Walking Man.  From Mago of 63 Mago, I learn a lot about music and perhaps more importantly, an appreciation of the history of music.  Then I was totally oblivious to the existence of virtual worlds like Second Life until the very humble JMB introduced me to it and also to the stunningly alluring Moggs Tigerpaw over at Nobody Important.

So what makes this post special is that I have found a very historical video clip which I have included here for your viewing pleasure.  It is historical on at least two levels.  First of all, the video is the recording of the first ever broadcast from a purpose-designed virtual space.  This was done sometime in 2006 on Second Life.  Imagine.  You avatar can go to a virtual place with others to listen to a virtual live concert or an interview.  Mind boggling.

However, it is also historical because we also learn about the start of the MP3 format and the inspiration that drove its inventor to make crucial improvements to it.  Meet the voice and song that gave “birth” to MP3.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Of course, I am thrilled to learn all this as I am Suzanne Vega fan and Tom’s Diner is one of my favorites.  You have heard virtual Suzanne sing the song a cappella (if you viewed the video above).  Now enjoy the version that sold over 3 million copies when it first came out.  Anyone guess how this post is related to the last post?  (Clue: It’s in the video)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Some other interesting facts about the song.  Tom’s Diner is actually based on Tom’s Restaurant, a diner located on the corner of Broadway and 112th Street in New York.  Suzanne Vega actually often stopped there for breakfast or for lunch when she worked nearby as a receptionist.  Incidentally, the outside of the restaurant is used for scenes in the TV sitcom Seinfeld to represent the fictitious Monk’s Cafe.

The “bells of the cathedral” mentioned in the song are those of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine which is located a block away.  And when the song referred to “a story of an actor / who had died while he was drinking”, this was actually William Holden whose death made the front page of the New York Post.

And finally a quote from  Karlheinz Brandenburg, the developer of MP3 on why he would use this song to test his invention;  “I was ready to fine-tune my compression algorithm…somewhere down the corridor, a radio was playing “Tom’s Diner.” I was electrified. I knew it would be nearly impossible to compress this warm a cappella voice.”

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13 thoughts on “Music Lesson”

  1. Fascinating stuff LGS. I am fairly ignorant of the virtual reality thing. It appears as if the audience is changing during the video, people coming and going. Are these virtual listeners who construct their own avatars?

  2. Fascinating post LGS. I have to say I prefer the poshed up version of Tom’s Diner but the broadcast from Second Life is indeed interesting and historical. The Avatar appearance has improved vastly since then, as well as the video technique.

    For me, the big pluses of Second Life are the lectures and musical performances I can attend, given by people from all around the world. I actually talked with the author of a book I had read and blogged when she came into SL for a round table meeting with members of one of my groups.

  3. So, Second Life is sort of like everyone on instant messaging at the same time, only with avatars? It sort of makes sense, yes! Very interesting.

  4. SAW,
    You and I both like to know the meaning behind the lyric of songs. Of course that’s assuming there is some substance to the lyrics. One wonders about some of the stuff these days. But isn’t Vega’s voice wonderful? It’s like the antidote to studio manipulated voices we hear too often these days.

    Mr. Charleston,
    I too am no expert and defer to JMB from Nobody Important. She has a number of posts on Second Life that may help or even visit Second Life itself. But I believe that you are right. The audience is changing with some people leaving and some coming as represented by their avatars disappearing like a launching rocket or appearing amidst a cloud of magic smoke. And of course, you get to design and dress your avatar ……and you don’t even have to remain human.

  5. JMB.
    I have to be satisfied with watching Second Life from a distance. I fear if I took it up, I would be so drawn into it that before the end of the year I will be attending virtual groups where my avatar will be saying, “hello, my name is LGS and I am a Second Life-aholic. Help me.” But, sigh, attending virtual concerts and book readings sound so attractive.

    Jo,
    Just think. We could meet at some virtual Jann Arden concert. I will be the six foot squirrel with the mohawk haircut and the “squirrel power” T-shirt. What will you be coming as?

  6. I first heard Suzanne Vega sing “Luka,” which was shocking in its day. I always learn something when I come here, so thank you!

    I am entranced when science and art come together to create something new and other-worldly like the MP3.

  7. Hi LGS,
    Thanks so much for tipping me off to this post, which I had missed last week… am having a little trouble keeping up with all the posts on all the blogs out there… like a squirrel in the forest… so many nuts, so little time !

    But am glad to discover this info about Suzanne Vega and the virtual concert in Second Life, and that you’re a fan. Has she ever played in your corner of the woods ? She was absolutely fabulous in Paris Thursday night, I haven’t enjoyed a concert so much in ages…. Thank goodness for YouTube, there are plenty of good concert videos of her out there…
    🙂

  8. Owen,
    I am still not speaking with you for now cause i am still envious that you went and saw Suzanne Vega live in concert. We can talk again after I spend the next 48 hours sulking while listening to “Blood Makes Noise”, “Room at the end of the street”, “Tom’s diner” etc again and again.

    Marja,
    Another thing that we share!

  9. ok, I’ll let you sulk in peace, it’s been nice not speaking with you !
    🙂

    PS The concert was absolutely excellent ! “Blood Makes Noise” was one of the highlights, “Marlene On the Wall” was simply unbelievably good. There, now you can continue to not speak to me some more…
    🙂

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