Other Letter Radio

This is not some of the best music there is, this is the best music there is (I wouldn’t lie, or even exaggerate — it is.  I’ll take bets on it.)
Other Letter Radio
radio tower

12/1/12.
And if you act now, see the most recent video additions.

  • Impossibly Starlet is the most controversial, and even questionable, play list I have created yet.  I took That’s Entertainment, and calved it.  For some, this represents dilution.  But this way if you are mirroring the latter with your iPod in the kitchen TV, you need not worry about having cheesecake on display.  I am only taking one play list and concentrating it.  There is really no cause for alarm.
  • You’ve been asking for complete albums across all genres, now you have them in: Vinyl, Complete.  We’ll even up the ante — learn how to capture MP3s off your sound card.  This is all I am legally allowed to say in my current capacity.  Pst, Moo0, yes Moo0, will do the trick.  Audiograbber was the gold standard, but that doesn’t work so well anymore, because its coder mysteriously disappeared on a prospecting expedition in Bolivia, so it wasn’t updated for later Windows.
  • If you live outside the Southern or the Midwestern United States, there likely is not any Country and Western formatted radio station you can listen to for mature, down-home music. That is, until now, now that you have Country on your Dial.
  • Ladies and Gentlemen, the Beatles, with those words, Ed Sullivan on his self-titled TV show, ushered in the British Invasion.  Can’t say why, maybe economics (“what can a poor boy do, but sing in a rock ’n roll band”), but the British Isles had and have an unusual, population-disproportionate, amount of musical talent.
  • Cinémathèque, clips of the finest in French cinema, and That’s Entertainment, for the best of the rest.
  • Admittance One Gratis, full-length movies including Ashley Judd’s command performance, her first, in Ruby in Paradise, and Heather Graham’s erotic classic, About Cherry.  Do not miss My Dinner with André, considered by many to be the greatest snub the Academy ever made with the Oscars.  The playlist also includes interviews such as a recent one Maggie Gyllenhaal did with Howard Stern.  There’s even a few classic “horror” movies made in the Fifties on the cheap, almost more interesting for what the filmmaker did wrong, than for what they did right.
  • American Women, listen what I say — sorry, wrong song.  This is where you will find the princesses and queens of romance, sophistication, and cool.  Singer-songwriters such as Carly Simon, Carole King, Linda Ronstadt, Roberta Flack, Mariah Carey, Phoebe Snow, Edie Brickell, and the Wilson sisters of Heart.
  • The never before assembled North of the 49th Parallel, Joni, Neil, and Rush (O’ Canada).
  • Monopolist Clear Channel would never give air-time to Canada’s best and brightest, but here they are.
  • The Jazz Age, Weather Report, Chuck Mangione, and going back to the real leaders of the band, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Dave Brubeck.
  • Standards Time, it’s time for standards, isn’t it?  Here are the best from the American Song Book.
  • Songs in the Key of Gangsta — self-explanatory, rap music from someone who remembers Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life.
  • And if you suspect African-American music has been going downhill since the Eighties; it has, but not here.  Sit back as Diana Ross and her Supremes walk away with your heart in Where Did Our Love Go?
  • The current yet always classic from Great Britain.
  • Or, if you want to remember the decade when music was a religious experience.
  • Then picking up where the Sixties left off, Seventies mellow classics, includes James Taylor, the Doobie Brothers, Chicago, the Eagles, Paul Simon, and the Bee Gees.
  • Music from the Great Composers, the kind that invites, then rewards, your attentiveness.
  • Let’s Break for Commercials, American television was scoured for its finest commercials, and this is what we found.
  • The Cartoon’s Golden Age, whatever happened to Gigantor, Speed Racer, The Jetsons, The Flintstones?  They’re right here.
  • The Golden Age of Television is a retrospective of TV in the Sixties through Seventies, when it wasn’t diluted by cable, and the only time it was actually worth watching.
  • Audio of Presidents from 1889 to 1912, yes, there are actual audio recordings of U.S. Presidents going back to Taft in 1889; and if you act now, a video in 1956 of someone who witnessed the Lincoln Assassination.
  • Here’s something for everyone, lighten the mood a bit, Eighties New Wave.  Some nice Bruce Hornsby is in there.
  • Seventies Soft Rock, with one great reason Youtubes are made, Supertramp’s Goodbye Stranger on the road to La Province des Québécois.
  • Once upon a time — I’d say forty years ago — there was a genre of music called Classical Rock (not Classic Rock, the radio format), where British bands such as Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Yes, and Pink Floyd played arenas, with Moog synthesizers leading elaborate scores, and oftentimes in front of full orchestras.
  • Billy and Elton, the Piano Men that devised Radio Religion.
  • American Women, love songs to get us in the mood (I know, Other Letter should have an American Men to even out the selection).
  • My sweet Kentucky Bluegrass home, from the British Isles, to Appalachia in the 18th Century, to your streaming audio player.
  • The top of today’s charts, or what they would be if commercial radio wasn’t based solely on promotion, instead of quality.
  • Have you ever wondered why those in the know love the Grateful Dead, when the only music you’ve heard of theirs sounds awful.  This is what you’ve been missing.
  • Before there was the GD, there was the Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna, their forerunners.
  • This leaves us with full-bore, Seventies Hard Rock, because if you are too old to rock ’n roll, you are too young to...  Come on, class, you knew this one...
Melodic Intent and Melodic Clichés

Melodic intent — there are certain songs one doesn’t know well enough to sing the melody from memory, but when one remembers the lyrics, and their associated emotion, this can be enough to dictate the melody.  Other than that, there are melodic clichés, and melodic convention.  Outside of choruses, there are expected moves up and down the staff based on prior phrasing.  Earlier passages set up the pitch of later ones.

Musicologists may disagree but an initial phrase often offers a contention, like a question, ending with a higher pitch.  The succeeding phrase will offer resolution, and will often pitch lower.  At some point, you may see what the composer is trying to accomplish with the melody, what is its exposition — what the melody is expressing or presenting — say soft contemplation, or rousing celebration — and how the melody is expressing or presenting it — say with deliberation, or with abandon.  There is often a parallel, cascading point and counterpoint of earlier phrasing, traversing up and down the musical scale.   1/21/14.

Explaining Music, a few Notes

The best music inflects the lyrics, usually at the end of a phrase.  Joni Mitchell does it, and so does Joan Baez (listen for the heaviness of longing in the word “chariot”).  I just saw the film Women of Folk at the Cinema Arts Centre, a regional arts multiplex in Huntington, Long Island.  Cover musician Judy Collins, whose voice always impressed me, did not use this facility of her voice as Joni and Joan did.  Because Ms. Mitchell and Ms. Baez write and sing their own songs, they may have a greater understanding of when to add emphasis through pitch to convey emotion and meaning.

If the material is not enough to work with, and the lyrics cannot be felt or lack depth, then matching the melody with the lyric cannot work.  The lyric contains no emotion, there is nothing heartfelt with which to sing.

Bass notes have finality, they are heavy sentiment; treble, higher notes reflect lighter sentiment.  Questions inflect higher, when you ask a question, you raise pitch at the end, wouldn’t you agree?

Listen to the beginning of Scenes from an Italian Restaurant by Billy Joel.  “Bottle of red,” middle note, captures your attention, get this, we are in a restaurant, establishes the mood, the premise.  “Bottle of white,” higher note, repeats the lyric, let me explain further, you thought we just had reds, we have whites, too.  “It all depends upon your appetite,” goes from the “white” one then back down to the “red” one.  This last phrase resolves the verse.  (And notice the initial, leisurely tempo.)  This may all sound goofy, but it holds true.