The new sound of music

The new sound of music
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First Published: Tue, Feb 23 2010. 10 17 PM IST

Updated: Tue, Feb 23 2010. 10 17 PM IST
Let’s face it. Listening to music is boring.
It’s mostly not interactive, requires little to no input from your side other than just firing up one MP3 after another on a portable player. Music has much more to offer—in the joy of discovery, the thrill of actually playing some yourself, and the curious new ways of experiencing songs that are emerging online. So if you want a little more jazz (no pun intended) in your music, let the Internet come to your rescue.
For a more immersive experience with your favourite songs, try the free demo of Audiosurf , an independent game that converts songs into playable video-game levels in which you steer a spaceship around obstacles. It’s incredible fun, as it matches the tempo and intensity of a song with the difficulty of the level, and offers many different ways to literally “play” your music. The full version will cost you money (around $10, or Rs461), but the free demo is more than sufficient for hours of fun. Another site is Frets on Fire, which is a free and open-source variant of the popular Guitar Hero and Rock Band games that are available on game consoles. The game lets you “play” the guitar portions in songs by tapping a series of keys in sync with the music.
There are also many stand-alone games and online toys that use music and rhythm as a central mechanic. If you’re having a rough day at work, for example, there’s no better site to go to than the Blues Maker . Choose your woes, fill in the harmonica bits, and the site plays you a customized blues song with lyrics of your choice.
There are also a number of sites that let you discover new music in interesting ways. There are the usual streaming audio sites, such as Grooveshark and StumbleAudio (which is based on StumbleUpon, the browser extension that lets you discover and share new and interesting websites). These let you play any songs by artists of your choice, unlike radio stations such as Last.fm—which don’t give you full control over what music gets played. Fans of Indian rock music should try the Indiecision Radio at music blog Indiecision .
There’s also HypeM, which is a social network website for music lovers. You (be-)“friend” people very much like you do on Facebook, and you can play songs that friends have “liked”, create playlists and share music news and new tracks.
If you’re ready to get your hands dirty with some music lessons, go to Audio Tuts , which is a sort of hub for tutorials, lessons and videos on music throughout the Internet. These range from lists of useful YouTube videos for those learning the guitar to complex step-by-step lessons on music post-production. It also includes a section of “freebies”—packs of sounds and samples for those who want to dabble in a little music production themselves. Musictheory.net is another great site, a huge repository of Flash lessons and guides to almost every aspect of music theory—from scales to harmonics. The site includes specific “trainers” for the guitar and keyboard, and useful utilities such as a note generator for those composing their own music. If you’re interested in Indian classical music, there’s SwarGanga, which has a detailed collection of articles on both theory and practice. Their “basic concepts” series is highly recommended.
And finally, here’s an online challenge for those who really want to get serious with music. The Drawdio is a do-it-yourself electronic instrument whose schematics are freely available online. The instrument, which reportedly sounds like a nasal wind instrument, can be made at home with some simple engineering and some some not-so-simple soldering.
Play Things is the official tech and time-pass blog of Mint. Drop in for a dose of cool tech gossip and online merriment
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First Published: Tue, Feb 23 2010. 10 17 PM IST