Recent Comments

How a mining engineer’s invention made pop singers all sound the same


Anyone who listens to commercial radio nowadays has probably been hit with the impression that a lot of pop music sounds very similar. It’s easy to dismiss this complaint as a gripe of the old and the cynical, but science actually bears this out: pop music has indeed been pretty homogenous throughout its history and is becoming ever more so.

In one 2014 study, researchers in the US and Austria analysed more than 500,000 albums, across 15 genres and 374 sub-genres. The complexity of each genre of music over time was compared to its sales. And almost always, as genres increase in popularity, they also become more generic.

In itself, this does not mean much – since genres and subgenres are always emerging. It may be considered a truism that a genre becomes accepted once its rules are defined – and once the genre is established, deviation will result in a new genre or sub-genre. For instance, funk emerged as a new genre out of soul and RnB, with a far stronger emphasis on rhythmic groove and the bass.

Another study, in 2012, measured the evolution of Western popular music, using a huge archive known as the Million Song Dataset, which contains vast amounts of low-level data about the audio and music content in each song. They found that between 1955 and 2010, songs had become louder and less varied in terms of their musical structure.

These are trends – but the perception among many listeners is that this homogenisation of music has taken a big leap forward in recent years. And there are a couple of important technological developments that have made this happen.

The loudness war

Dynamic range compression is the (usually automated) continual adjustment of the levels of an audio signal, primarily intended to reduce the variations in loudness. Its overuse has led to a “loudness war”. The musician who wants a loud recording, the record producer who wants a wall of sound, the engineers dealing with changing loudness levels during recording, the mastering engineers who prepare content for broadcast and the broadcasters competing for listeners have all acted as soldiers in this loudness war.

volume-control-adjustment image

But the loudness war may have already peaked. Audiologists have become concerned that the prolonged loudness of new albums might cause hearing damage and musicians have highlighted the sound quality issue. An annual Dynamic Range Day has been organised to raise awareness, and the non-profit organisation Turn Me Up! was created to promote recordings with more dynamic range. Standards organisations have provided recommendations for how loudness and loudness range can be measured in broadcast content, as well as recommending appropriate ranges for both. Together, these developments have gone a long way towards establishing a truce in the loudness war.


But there’s another technology trend that shows no signs of slowing down. Auto-Tune, which a surprising number of today’s record producers use to correct the pitch of their singers, actually originated as a byproduct of the mining industry.

Andy Hildebrand image

From 1976 through to 1989, Andy Hildebrand worked for the oil industry, interpreting seismic data. By sending sound waves into the ground, he could detect the reflections and map potential drill sites – in effect, using sound waves to find oil underground. Hildebrand, popularly known as “Dr Andy”, studied music composition at Rice University in Houston, Texas and used his knowledge in both areas to develop audio processing tools – the most famous of which was Auto-Tune

autotune-screen-pic image

At a dinner party, a guest challenged him to invent a tool that would help her sing in tune. Based on the phase vocoder, which covers a range of mathematical methods to manipulate the frequency representation of signals, Hildebrand devised techniques to analyse and process audio in musically relevant ways. Hildebrand’s company, Antares Audio Technologies, released Auto-Tune in late 1996.

Auto-Tune was intended to correct or disguise off-key vocals. It moves the pitch of a note to the nearest true semitone (the nearest musical interval in traditional octave-based Western tonal music), thus allowing the vocal parts to be tuned.

The original Auto-Tune had a speed parameter which could be set between 0 and 400 milliseconds and determined how quickly the note moved to the target pitch. Engineers soon realised that this could be used as an effect to distort vocals and make it sound as if the voice leaps from note to note while staying perfectly and unnaturally in tune all the while. It also gives the voice an artificial, synthesiser-like sound, that can be appealing or irritating depending on your personal taste.

This unusual effect was the trademark sound of Cher’s December 1998 hit song, Believe, which was the first commercial recording to intentionally feature the audible side-effects of Auto-Tune.

Like many audio effects, engineers and performers found a creative use for Auto-Tune, quite different from the intended use. As Hildebrand said: “I never figured anyone in their right mind would want to do that.” Yet Auto-Tune and competing pitch correction technologies, such as Celemony’s Melodyne, are now widely applied (in amateur and professional recordings – and across many genres) for both intended and unusual, artistic uses.

Its became so prevalent, in fact, that these days it is expected almost universally on commercial pop music recordings. Critics say that it is a major reason why so many recordings sound the same nowadays (though the loudness wars and overproduction in general are also big factors). And some young listeners who have grown up listening to auto-tuned music think the singer lacks talent if they hear an unprocessed vocal track.

It has been lampooned in music and television and on social media, and Time magazine called it one of the “50 Worst Inventions”. But if anything, both its subtle, corrective use and overt, creative use continues to grow. So if you can’t tell your Chris Brown from your Kanye West, it may be down to Dr Andy.

Joshua Reiss, Reader, Centre for Digital Music, Queen Mary University of London

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.


Henry Sapiecha



New Orleans and New Orleans Jazz – best of New Orleans jazz music for New Orleans jazz festival 2015 and New Orleans jazz fest 2015. This New Orleans jazz band and New Orleans jazz & heritage festival 2015 playlist is composed and recorded by jazz musician David Lewis Luong. Download this album here:…

FREE DOWNLOAD of track ‘All of Me’ here:…

Featured in this New Orleans jazz playlist are:

Track 1: Summer delights (starts at 00:00)
Track 2: Jolly great time (starts at 4:47)
Track 3: One step at a time (starts at 8:28)
Track 4: Sweet Alabama (starts at 12:08)
Track 5: The wild wild west (starts at 15:22)
Track 6: A dog’s life (starts at 17:11)
Track 7: All of me (starts at 22:01)
Track 8: Only you (starts at 24:41)
Track 9: Joy of spring (starts at 27:50)
Track 10: Feels so good (starts at 30:41)
Track 11: Walking hand in hand (starts at 41:20)
Track 12: Under the tranquil moon (starts at 46:58)
Track 13: My Valentine (starts at 53:40)


Henry Sapiecha

Delta Goodrem Collection of 20 fabulous songs-Enjoy the journey into her Universe

1…Delta Goodrem – Lost Without You

2…Delta Goodrem – In This Life

3…Delta Goodrem – Wish You Were Here

4…Delta Goodrem – Sitting on Top of the World

5…Delta Goodrem – Not Me, Not I ( Music Video)

6…Innocent Eyes – Delta Goodrem

7…Delta Goodrem-Butterfly

8…Delta Goodrem – On My Own

9…Delta Goodrem a little too late




Former Voice contestant Christina Grimmie shot dead in Orlando

Singer Christina Grimmie image

Singer Christina Grimmie, who had competed on the US TV programme The Voice, has died of her wounds after being shot in Florida, police say.

HELLO TEAM I wanted to give you a fun 30 second preview of each song, in short 30 second promo form! 😀 Hope you guys enjoy these little snippets of my brand new EP. PREORDER NOW!…
//Officially comes out February 21! Check me out on the Rachel Platten tour as well, tour dates & tickets here!…

They say a man opened fire on her when she was signing autographs after a concert in Orlando.

The assailant – who was tackled by Ms Grimmie’s brother – then shot and killed himself. The 22-year-old singer died in a local hospital.

In 2014, Ms Grimmie finished third during season six of The Voice.

In a tweet, Orlando’s police wrote: “With deep regret, we have confirmed Christina Grimmie, @TheRealGrimmie has died from her injuries.”

Meanwhile, Ms Grimmie’s publicist said: “It is with a heavy heart that we can confirm that Christina has passed and went home to be with the Lord.”

Police say Ms Grimmie was shot about 22:45 local time on Friday (02:45 GMT Saturday) at The Plaza Live in Orlando.

The gunman opened fire as she was signing autographs for fans with Before You Exit band.

The attacker, whose name has not been released, had two guns.

Orlando Police Department spokeswoman Wanda Miglio said Grimmie’s brother “immediately tackled the suspect”.

“During the struggle, the suspect shot himself. The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene,” the spokeswoman said.

She described Ms Grimmie’s brother as a “hero” for stopping the attacker “from not hurting anyone else”.

A police investigation is now under way into how the suspect had managed to enter the venue with the firearms.

News of the attack spread quickly on social media, with many fans voicing their shock and anger.

Ms Grimmie first came to prominence as a teenager for her renditions of hit songs, amassing a huge following on YouTube.

In 2011, she released her debut musical recording Find Me. Her second EP – Side A – followed in February 2016.


Henry Sapiecha


The figures here are staggering with the numbers of views ranging in the thousands of millions for some music clips. I have dedicated this section of my site to pay tribute to those artists who are doing something right.

As the clips become available I shall endeavor to publish them here. They will be in no particular order, just as they come in and are over 1 billion views- ENJOY THE JOURNEY








Henry Sapiecha

Metal band Confess reportedly facing execution by the state of Iran

Iranian metal band Confess image-2

Iranian metal band Confess Photo: Supplied

Members of an Iranian metal band called Confess have been arrested and may face execution, it is claimed.

Trev McKendry of Metal Nation Radio posted a message on the Metal Nation News website from a friend of the band saying that two band members were facing charges including blasphemy and “playing heavy metal, owning an independent record label and for communicating with foreign radio stations”.

Band members Nikan “Siyanor” Khosravi and Arash “Chemical” Ilkhani were said to be arrested on November 10, 2015 and held in solitary confinement until February 5. They are reportedly awaiting trial dates.

Iranian metal band Confess image

Iranian metal band Confess 

According to McKendry’s source they have been charged with blasphemy; “advertising against the system”; forming and running an illegal band and record label in the “satanic ‘metal & rock’ music style”; writing anti-religious, atheist, political and anarchist lyrics; and giving interview to foreign radio stations.

If found guilty of certain charges, it is said, they face between six months and six years’ jail. If they are found guilty of blasphemy, they face the possibility of execution.

Confess was founded in Tehran four years ago. According to McKendry they are “a talented thrash band that risked it all to pursue their hopes and dreams of one day being able to leave their land and share their music/stories with the world.”

On their Facebook page, their influences are listed as Lamb of God, Slayer, Slipknot, Trivium, DevilDriver and Chimaira.

Just before the arrests, the band released their second album, In Pursuit Of Dreams, on the Opposite Records label founded by Khosravi. Song titles include Teh-Hell-Ran, I’m Your God Now!.and New World Order

Their music can still be heard to SoundCloud and Bandcamp.

Here is a petition TO support them at


Henry Sapiecha


heavenly angel in blue sky image

sarah mclachlan female singer image

1…Sarah McLachlan –

In the arms of an angel line folders image

moya brennan image

2…Tell me now what you see

by Moya Brennan line folders image

candle light in hand image

3…When Tomorrow Starts Without Me 

by Stephen Meara-Blount line folders image

rem singers image

4…R.E.M. – Everybody Hurts

(Official Music Video) line folders image

mike & the mechanics image

5…Mike And The Mechanics –

Living Years (Live At Shepherds Bush) line folders image

Miriam Makeba image

6…”the lion sleeps tonight

a real original African version

by Miriam Makeba line folders image

jeff buckley images

7…Jeff Buckley – “Hallelujah” line folders image line folders image













































Henry Sapiecha

Queen Guitarist Brian May is Now a New Horizons Science Collaborator

Astrophysicist Dr. Brian May image

Astrophysicist Dr. Brian May is recognized during a July 17, 2015 New Horizons science briefing at NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C. May spent a long birthday weekend with the science team, attending two morning science plenaries, a meeting with the Student Dust Counter group, and working on stereo images of Pluto with the Geology, Geophysics and Imaging (GGI) team. (NASA/Joel Kowsky)

As historic data from Pluto rolled in from NASA’s New Horizons probe earlier this month, the team had some help examining the data from a new scientific collaborator: Queen guitarist Brian May.

May might be best known for the guitar riffs in songs like Bohemian Rhapsody, Fat Bottomed Girls and We Will Rock You, but he is more than just a world-famous rock star: he’s also an astrophysicist. Back in 1974, May was enrolled in in a PhD program at Imperial College in London studying light reflected off of dust in the solar system. But he was also in a little band called Queen, which was becoming an international sensation at the same time. May put his studies on hold, but finally completed his thesis in 2007 — 36 years after he became a star.

A few weeks ago, as New Horizons passed by the planet Pluto, May stood by alongside the NASA team helping to sort and interpret new data as it was transmitted, according to NASA. In a post on his blog, May wrote that “the Gods of the Underworld must have been with me, because I was there when the first…full-planet picture was downloaded from the probe.”

In addition to sifting through some of the images and information gleaned from New Horizons, May compiled the first high-quality stereo image of Pluto. Single-lens cameras produce images that look as if you just covered up one of your eyes, but a stereo photograph can appear to be three-dimensional with the help of a stereoscope. On his blog, May writes that he has long been a fan of making stereo images, and was excited for the chance to work with the new Pluto photographs as they arrived on Earth.

pluto twin image

“Of course the New Horizons guys were already doing serious science on this image as it arrived,” May wrote. “But I was able to assemble the two images to make the most satisfying stereo view I can ever remember making.”

Even rock stars can get giddy when they get to meet their heroes backstage.

Henry Sapiecha