They Don't Make 'Em Like That Any More

It's a refrain that has been passed from generation to generation since, well, I don't know: They just don't make music like they used to. In response, youths have rightfully rolled their eyes at this closed outlook and proceeded to listen to, or perhaps make the antithesis of what their parents used to listen to. Elders' exasperation has been the fuel that fired the furnaces of youthful creativity. A couple of recent observations set me wondering if this cycle has been disrupted. Does it count as an observation if you listen to an article on the radio that asks if that asks that exact question? I suppose so, it's just that it's not my observation. There was a week at some point in the past couple of years (people just don't do the research to back up their half-baked ideas like they used to) where the list of acts in the the UK music chart's top 10 was uncannily similar to the top 10 exactly ten years earlier, specific

Strange Muse

This time last year was bad. It started with our cat acting weird. More weird than normal anyway. She was twitchy and kept charging in and out of her catflap. More often than she normally does anyway. It turned out that she had fleas. Obvious once we realised. While we had been absent mindedly wondering what had gotten into her, the fleas had taken the opportunity to establish quite an empire in our house. It wasn't long before we were all twitchy and charging in and out of the back door. I was in a bad state of mind anyway. I took a short drive to clear my head. That didn't work so I made it a longer drive to Great Yarmouth. At least I was away from the fleas for a while. As I arrived on the outskirts of Yarmouth the traffic was awful. "No matter!" I thought. "I know the area well enough to find my way through these side roads." Twenty minutes later, as I went past an Asda somewhere for the third time, I had to conce

A Listening Collective

There are a lot of people in the world making a lot of music. Anyone with the inclination can download a free DAW and get started making tunes right now. I know that because I'm someone and that's what I did a couple of years ago. Or they could buy some clever electronics and loop their voice. Or they could learn how to play a guitar or a piano or ... well, there are lots of possibilities. So how does one get heard among all these talented musicians? Well, the best way is to be really good. Your live performances will be discussed in quiet awe in pubs and cafes and Spotify's clever algorithms will identify your musical genius even as you upload your tracks. But what if Spotify fails to appreciate the nuances of your sound and when you listen to the <your band> Radio feature you realise that you've been categorised with painfully dissonant avant-garde noise bands and a Black Lace tribute act? What if you can clear the room in l

Electronic Music Open Mic Nights

I was chatting to a friend a couple of weeks ago about performing music live. "There needs to be an element of danger - the sense that everything could go wrong," he said. I'll come back to that. I had been pondering the question of self promotion for a while. Playing live must be one of the best options. You get instant feedback from the audience response and, if you're good, you can build a bit of rapport. As I create all my music on a digital audio workstation (DAW) and I don't play an instrument I had mentally written off this option. I met my aforementioned friend at a performance of the Norwich Philharmonic Society for whom another friend plays and afterwards the topic got round to Norfolk Electronic Music Open Mic (EMOM) nights. EMOM is a national movement in the United Kingdom (UK) and the idea is, I guess, like any open mic evening. At the start of the evening you book a slot during that evening where

What's in a Name?

Truth be told, I'm a bit long in the tooth to be trying to make a name for myself in the music world. If I tell you that I started my career as a programmer in pre-Google times you'll see what I mean. In it's absence I tended to post my difficult technical problems to Usenet , a kind of pre-cursor of Reddit though Usenet has never gone away. As often as not, the answer to my query would be 'RTFM'. The polite translation for this abbreviation is 'read the fine manual' . I'm the sort of person who gives up after reading half a page of flat-pack furniture instructions and just has a stab at it. I mean, you don't read a dictionary before you try to speak do you? Having said that, I quite often find myself having to dismantle my work to correct a mistake that I wouldn't have made if I'd followed the instructions. There is no manual for getting your music heard though musician, 6 Music presenter and founder of

Build It and They Will Come

The 90s baseball film Field of Dreams includes a memorable scene where the main character played by Kevin Costner is walking through a field of corn (as you do) when he hears a ghostly, disembodied voice call to him: Build it and he will come. I say it's memorable but I've never seen the film as I have no interest in baseball and Kevin Costner sends me to sleep. The scene works well as an allegory for the aspiration that if you are determined enough to follow your dream, anything is possible though. As such, its been borrowed and spoofed so often that it has become larger than the film it came from. Being a bit of a philistine, I first became aware of it when Jim Morrison paraphrased it in Wayne's World 2. When I started uploading my tunes to SoundCloud, I think I had a naive belief that eventually it would reach the ears of someone who liked it via Google, YouTube or whatever and that person would mention it to their friends and, before you know it


I was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease (PD) in 2016 and the most noticeable symptom to begin with was a loss of dexterity down my right side. The diagnosis seemed to draw a line under the short and unsatisfactory chapter of my life where I had tried to play the guitar. Either something in the PD condition or the medication that I take to manage the symptoms has given me a restless creative urge however, so, in November 2021, I resolved to have a go at making music. I had a bit of experience using the audio editor software Audacity so I decided to use that. I thoroughly recommend Audacity for it's many useful features but I think it's fair to say that it wasn't designed with composition in mind. Not the way that I did it anyway. The fine mouse control that I used was a struggle given my disability. After a weekend locked away in my office I emerged with a 45 second mp3 file metaphorically clutched in one hand and a mild case of repetitiv