Eurovision 2010: Musical Analysis

Eurovision Hits and Misses

This year, I analysed the Eurovision 2010 song contest musically for The 63336… it was great fun (apart from having to listen to all the singing) and the bum notes survey picked up a few lines of coverage in the press. Below is a breakdown of how the analysis was done, along with a few extra facts about this year’s contest.

We worked from a google document, and I set up the spreadsheet as follows:

Insanely Complex Cloud Spreadsheeting

We actually filled it in in entry order , though the snapshot shows the worst pitched performers and points in descending order -after the event.

I counted the bum notes while someone else timed the performance in seconds, that’s how we arrived at the “bum notes per minute” stat. I based my assessment of what counted as a “bum note” on whether the singer was in tune with the backing tracks.  Ad-lib note sliding (a la Mariah Carey) was not counted as out of tune unless it was truly out of tune.

The most entertaining thing to do was the “additional observations” tab, where I entered song similarities in. I’m not surprised about how many songs sound like other songs – in real life if I hear something, I can generally think of a tune or two that fits quite snugly. I was surprised that in Eurovision this year, Queen, Sting and Roxette were all quoted from rather heavily.

Listen Here to samples of the Eurovision finalists for 2010, and you’ll find that

Cyprus = Torn by Natalie Imbruglia

Russia = Verse: Slightly Mad by Queen, Chorus: the Piano song from Big

Denmark = Verse: Every breath you take by The Police, Chorus: Simply the Best by Tina Turner

Serbia = Chorus: Whenever, Wherever by Shakira

Albania= Verse: Womanizer by Britney Spears

Greece = Sexy Back by Justin Timberlake

Belgium= Baby I love your Way by Peter Frampton,  Walking in Memphis by Marc Cohn, Knocking on Heaven’s Door by Bob Dylan

Azerbaijan, Moldova, France = Listen to your Heart by Roxette

Georgia = Every Little Thing She Does by The Police

Israel = The Show Must Go On by Queen

Iceland = Bridge: The Show Must Go On by Queen

Romania = Middle 8: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road by Elton John

UK = Verse: Kids In America by Kim Wilde, Chorus: last line “sounds good to me”  = same chords and melody as kids show theme tune “Postman Pat”  ( lyric “that sounds good to me” = “(pat feels) he’s a really happy man”  – 37 seconds in http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9KnR_9wpl4 )

Critical Analysis of musical commonalities

OVERALL COMPETITION STATS

14 out of 25 songs were in Minor Keys

Key Distribution:

The most popular key was C with 4 songs out of 25. That’s the scale made from all the white notes on the piano – thought of as the easiest key to play in if you’re a piano player. The least popular keys were C# and Bb – with no songs in those keys.

Key Distribution for Eurovision 2010

Most C=4, D=3, Eb=3,  G=3, Ab=3,E=2, F=2, F#=2,B= 2 A=1, C#= 0 Bb=0 Least

Key Change count for Eurovision 2010:

Only 9 countries went for the traditional dramatic key changes.

Spain and Portugal had 2 key changes, contributing to a total of 11 shocking key changes for the evening – 13 including Spain’s Retake.

Scoring Commonalities

Top 3 songs were in Minor Keys
Bottom 3 songs were in Major Keys

Top 3 songs were all contemporary
Bottom 3 songs were conventional

Top 3 songs had simple chord structures
-Top German Entry had only 4 chord sequences in the chorus
-Bottom UK Entry had an 11 chord sequence in the chorus

Would anyone have won if they chose a folky contemporary pop song with simple chords in a minor key?

Not necessarily, although Norway’s 2009 entry last year had all these attributes, and they hit the top spot in 2009.

This year the winning songs were already popular and well known across the voting audience – so repetition and heavy airplay can also give a song the Eurovision Edge.

Roll on next year!

Analogue Days

I was asked by BBC Technology to help with their Tech Know segment about making a wax cylinder.

And if you ever wondered what would happen if you put together cockney grindcore band “The Men That Would Not Be Blamed For Nothing“, genius sound recordist Adrian Tuddenham from Poppy Records and of course BBC Tech’s Jason Palmer and multiskilled producer Andrew Webb

… you end up with around 4 minutes of enjoyable mayhem.

From BBC's Tech Know series

RSS Readers/ Can’t see the link? Watch the video by clicking here.

The Wax Cylinder is how audio was recorded before iPods, before MP3s, before CDs and even before Vinyl.

What does the future hold for audiophiles? Do you think the new cloud-based music model will be the next big thing? I’d love your thoughts on the future of audio consumption…

Why do we Blog?

A two-fold post for you this time:

Part 1: More about the Blogging feature on BBC Click

Part 2: Why do we Blog?

Part 1.

This week was busy – the latest episode of Click Bits -the little 3 minute tech newscast – is now online… Click on the pic if you want to watch it.

(RSS Readers/can’t click on the pic to view? link here: Http://bit.ly/clickbits006 )

    …and my blogging piece on BBC Click is on this week’s show.

    Ah, the "Hello World" post - do you remember yours?

    Thank you very much Judith Lewis Mike Robinson , Marko Saric, Clare English and Andy Bargery for their cameos.   They each gave me about 20 seconds’ worth of blog tips on video, which I integrated into the piece.

    I took a few 3 second shots of some blogs at the beginning of the package

    They are listed here:

    Below are a few more blogs I’ve enjoyed reading in recent times:

    You’ll be able to read the whole transcript of the blogging feature here.

    • _

    part 2.

    Making the segment got me to thinking about when I first started blogging, so I went back and read my “Hello World” post i.e. the first post I ever wrote, which was about 90 posts ago.

    (If you absolutely have to, you can read it here. <cringe>)

    Then I wondered: What makes us blog? What drives us to leave a mark of our mundane existence on the internet? Who do we imagine writing to when we’re typing?

    So, of course, I came up with a thoroughly empirical theory.

    As a human, I normally spend a lot of time thinking, but my mouth blurts any given thought out after little (if any) moderation from my addled, overworked, overclocked brain.  I’m assuming that other humans experience this too.*

    If that is the case (and if we have the desire to do so) then writing could give us the freedom and time to craft a sentence, play with the words, and get a sense of perspective we can rarely access “in the moment”. We can proof-read our thoughts in type, then adjust that thought until it “makes sense” – to us, the authors, as much as any reader. This crafting of ideas into concrete might even result in learning something about ourselves we didn’t know until we saw it on the page.  Or of course, it could be nothing of the sort. We could just want to post pictures of cats because we love cat pictures.

    Incidentally, the above paragraph took 35 minutes to write, and included moving the sentences around, working out what I wanted to say – then making it sound nice to read in my head. I’m now doubting whether or not it’s a self-indulgent paragraph of pointlessness, and now I’m thinking it’s dinner time soon, and I should probably turn the computer off and deal with this later.

    Indeed, none of the above musings touch on the obvious love of story that permeates our very existence – mythology, fairy tales and even documentaries – but that is most definitely another post all on its own.

    So,  please leave your comments: Bloggers, Why do you blog? Readers, what do you read?  I’d be honoured if you left your thoughts below.

    *to paraphrase the great Douglas Adams, and probably a few others, the worst assumptions are the ones you don’t know you’re making.

    Nom Nom Nom 2009

    …is only 10 hours away, and I’m ready.

    No, of course I’m not ready, but I did source a particularly effective chef’s hat

    The last month has been brilliant, manic and, alas, almost completely sleep-free.

    Excitingly I’m going to be on the BBC again next week as my piece on Music Recognition should be cooked by then – first I have to get 2 or 3 internet shots at some ridiculously unsociable hour on Monday morning, before crawling into the Edit with both Callie the Editor and the sort of coffee that causes spontaneous leg-shaking and hallucinations.

    But before that in 10 hours’ time I shall be entering NomNomNom 2009, a charity cook-off where the fabulous Jemimahknight and I are charged with making a 3-course meal and serving it to 2-michelin-starred chef Tom Aikens – so no pressure there, then…

    Our team is called Bork Bork Bork – will report back with pix and video assuming I survive.

    W00t! new linguistics on the net FTW!

    Ok, I’m happy painting my life as a technology-loving geeky social network addict, it’s pretty easy because it’s true. I tweet and send pictures through my mobile on twitter and flickr, I am on facebook, qypeyoutube, ping.fm and I’m on other places where I can’t even remember my username – you get the idea, some of you are probably the same as me, or worse. 

    You’d think I’d be right up there, jacked in to cyberspace, fully comprehending the internet and not even seeing the code, as it were.  Sadly, I’m nowhere near where I want to be – still far too lost in the ether that is the new net-speak, although I’m clawing back some comprehension every day.

    Looking back through my (and others’) twitterstream, the linguistics of the internet is in the process of undergoing yet another evolution. I’m learning a whole new language in order to keep up with my much cooler and hipper online buddies.

    The emoticons we’re familiar with since I joined the internet (or before), are everywhere, even my dad texts and emails with 🙂  : – ) and 😉  ; – )  .  Stuff like BRB is pretty easy to interpret and a rough knowledge of phonetics and/or a willingness to tilt your head to one side is enough to make a start on translating the rest.  

    It’s all changed now there are so many new codes based on everything from gamer-speak to the economy of letters that Twitter’s 140-character limit has imposed. So what is the last resort of the enquiring mind?  I conclude that one needs to be either “in the know” or risk Urban Dictionary (and possible ridicule for choosing the wrong acronym) to find out the meaning and usage of the latest net-exclusive abbreviations.   

    On to the reason for the post – this Wednesday, I’m going to be on the radio talking about the pressure to ‘keep up’ on the internet, not just emoticons and phraseology, but also keeping up with your facebook friends and your twitter chums.  I’d love to read what you think.

    Do you feel anxious when you’ve not posted what you’re doing? Do you feel guilty if you haven’t blogged / updated your status for a while?  I’d also love to know whether you use acronyms such as FTW (or even WTF!) on the interwebs, whether you embrace it or can’t bear it, and if you have any good ones you can share with me…  Please feel free to leave your comments, and try to make sure that they are SFW 🙂 kthxbai

    p.s. you can listen live to the show on BBC Radio Scotland at 10.30 GMT on 15th April 2009.

     

    Mini Glossary for n00bs

    w00t! (with zeros instead of O’s, although this font doesn’t show it as well as the header) gamer-speak with disputed origins, usage: celebratory

    FTW = For The Win – usage is normally when you’re about to achieve something e.g. “eating 15 banana frittters FTW”

    SFW / NSFW = Safe For Work / Not Safe For Work – usage is normally preceding or following a link where it’s not immediately obvious where it goes – can be used on twitter when posting tiny urls – stops you opening an inappropriate link in front of whoever’s lurking over your monitor.

    kthxbai = OK, Thanks, Bye – Lolcats use this language a lot, pop over to http://icanhascheezburger.com/  for detailed exploration. You will waste time, though.

    My Most Treasured Possession

    I attended this year’s Figures of Speech event in London last week which raised money for the Institute of Contemporary Arts.  Speakers included Bob Geldof, Alan Carr and Janet Street-Porter, all talking about their most treasured possessions.  Spinvox‘s James Whatley, who hosted the Bloggers’ table, has asked that each of us do the same, so here’s mine.

     

    My Most Treasured Possession

     

    If you see me out at night, the chances are I’ll have 2 big blue things in my ears, my beloved protectors of unwelcome noise, my USA-imported saviours, the humble hearos ear-plug. Since my previous life as a 4-times-a week musical performer, I’ve always made sure to wear hearing protection when gigging – a lot of the time, the monitors in front of the stage pointing at the band would be as loud, if not louder, than the speakers pointing at the audience. Whilst it looks a little unconventional, wearing my most treasured possession is worth all the good-natured pointing and laughing I get for the moment I step outside.

    I pull out my earplugs and my hearing is crystalline, compared to my companions, who are shouting incoherently at each other over the ringing in their own ears. I generally put my earplugs back in at this point until they have calmed down.

    what?

    what?

     

    The most painful thought for me is that if I lose my ability to hear, I won’t be able to navigate my world anymore. I spent such a long time getting used to the many dissonances of daily life, vexed by the microtones in each new scenario until I was taught how to process those sounds as music. It turns out that if you use the appropriate scale, then your audio landscape can become a wonderful, if chaotic, symphony*.

    I would be devastated if I could no longer use this method to interact with the world. I recognise people more easily by the sound of their voices than their physical appearance, which is another source of great amusement to those I see regularly.

    If I lost my sense of hearing, I fear I will lose the friends I can’t recognise by sight alone. Even sitting on the tube, as I write this, I can hear someone’s headphones at an ear-splitting volume. I wonder momentarily why we seem so relaxed about protecting something that’s fundamentally irreplaceable, before replacing my earplugs, letting the sounds of the Jubilee line recede to a blissfully tolerable volume.

    NB *Within reason, of course – I’m not counting the downstairs flat’s questionable and mystifying 125dB musical interludes at 1am on a Monday morning.

    Thames Barrier with Panasonic Camcorder

    Here’s some footage of my trip along the Thames on the Thames Rib Experience!  I got to see the Thames Barrier close up, which was incredible.

    I wanted to test out the Panasonic SDR-80 with its 70x optical zoom and Optical Image Stabiliser, I’m on QVC with it in a few minutes or so.

    Thanks also to Warriorgrrl and my friends at www.qype.co.uk  for organising this day out. I write restaurant reviews on their site!

    Twitter Article hits BBC Website!

    Few things persuade me to get up in the morning, but knowing I needed to finish this article in time to have it submitted to the BBC News Website was successful in pulling the duvet covers off!
     
    After last night’s twestival, I arrived back home inappropriately late after spending the majority of the evening filming – it was a fun evening, even though I was working for most of it, and I hope that the very worthy charity: water will have benefited enormously from all the organisers’ hard work.
    Twitter Article on the Beeb!

    Twitter Article on the Beeb!

    The pictures in this article are by @lateral – you can see more here.

    In case you’re wondering, the article is all about how I think Twitter has changed in recent times as more people have joined. Click on the picture, or here: http://tinyurl.com/ljbbctweet to read it.

    I’m going back to bed…

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    Surviving Twitter

    With the recent mass adaptation of Twitter in my immediate surroundings, it has been suggested by people who aren’t yet on it that it would be rather nice to have some kind of guide to Twitter etiquette for those who are new to it.

    I’ve been tweeting for around a year and although I’ve learned a lot about how to make the most of this continually evolving social network tool, I still remember how bewildering it all was when I first took the plunge.

    So here’s a guide for those who want to join in.

    I’m assuming you’ve already logged in or you’ve joined twitter (go to www.twitter.com and join from there), then you’ll see similar screens to the ones below, albeit with different background colours.

    OK, so what is it?

    Twitter is, essentially, a micro-blog, or a mini online diary. You can type the answer to “What Are You Doing?” in 140 characters or less as frequently as you like, a bit like your facebook status. 

    whatareyoudoing

     

    If you keep updating (but not too often!) you’ll end up with a profile that looks a bit like the page below –  a list of your updates.

    This is what other people will see when they go to your twitter page.

    Profile

    You can see what other people are writing by “following” them.  Their updates (or “tweets”) will come up on your Home area in chronological order.

    mainpage

     

    Other people can follow your updates – they are called (predictably) your “followers”. You can see how many followers you have underneath your profile picture.

    followers

    To follow someone, find them on twitter while you’re logged in, then click “follow”. Their updates will now appear in your stream.

    follow

     

    Once you’ve joined up, it’s good to find people to follow – good places to start are http://www.twitter.com/bbcnews , http://www.twitter.com/towerbridge and of course http://www.twitter.com/ljrich (if you want to see what I get up to!)

     

    Tweet Notes

    1. There aren’t really many rules about frequency or content when you tweet, but be aware if you are doing 20 updates a day, people might be less inclined to follow you as it will bung up their timeline and stop them seeing their other updates.  I try and tweet between 0 and 5 times a day – with a ratio of (I hope) 80% interesting to 20% pointless, ranging from random thoughts through to music tech and hyperlinks.

    2. Engage with your followers! if someone asks you a question, reply to them with an @ symbol in front of their name, (like this: @ljrich ) – this tweet will come up in their “replies” section and not get lost in the stream. 

    Using the @ in front is the way to make someone’s twitter name clickable. 

    You can also “Retweet”, which is effectively to forward someone else’s tweet, normally with a view to helping them get answers, or to disseminate information.  The usage is to add “RT” at the beginning of your retweet – for example:

    What are you doing?

    RT @ljrich how do you use twitter? I’d love to hear from you.

    3. Twitter Hashtags: You can tag your own tweets so they can appear in “filters” – for example, #ces09 will show all tweets that have been tagged with this consumer electronics show marker.  Rather like football chants, these tags appear to proliferate organically until everyone is using the same one.  Let’s take a newer hashtag to show you the usage:  #lunchtweet .

    What are you doing?

    #lunchtweet salmon sushi set, sesame spinach and soba noodles. Mmm Tokyo Diner.

    It doesn’t matter where you put your hashtag in your tweet.

    4. Be aware that everything you write is EVIDENCE, and will be on the internet FOREVER! 

    5.  It’s the interactivity aspect that trips so many people up – to make the most out of Twitter, remember that it’s not just about broadcasting your thoughts, it’s also about having conversations, answering queries and adding your voice to a debate.  Tweeting should be human and reasonably informal. 

    *

    Meet ‘n’ Tweet

    In summary, there’s a lot of fun to be had on Twitter, as long as you’re not expecting to monetize.  In my experience, it’s first and foremost a site for socialising and sharing the minutae of life as we live it, although it’s becoming a valuable networking tool for linking people together in a relaxed manner. 

    I tweeted a while back (and got retweeted – the ultimate accolade!) that ” if LinkedIn is the office, Twitter is the pub” – the corollary of which appears to be: it doesn’t matter what you drink, as long as you’re reasonably sociable.

    See you at the bar.

     

    Oooh comments please…

    Tell me, what do you use Twitter for? When did you join? What do you like about it? How has Twitter changed in the last few months? Feel free to leave comments here or on my twitter account.

     

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    EsOterica Interview

    Phew!

    On returning from CES,  there is much to edit, however, after a few people asking me for some stuff on music and technology, embedded below is a video I did for the mighty Dead Hub Music Blog.  I recorded this especially for my blog buddy in San Diego (it’s quite a swim to Oxford from there, and a relatively shorter trek from London)

    RSS Readers / Can’t see the link? click here

    Esoterica talk about how they are surviving in today’s modern version of the music industry. Caution: some swearing! The Rock / Metal band talk frankly about how they write, and how working with John Fryer (Nine Inch Nails etc) honed their skills and they also give tips for budding writers and performers.