#rpm12 day 2: Does the world really need more music?

One of my tentative song titles for this year’s RPM album poses a question, in humorous song title parenthetical form:

(Does the World Really Need) More Music (?)

I wondered that again as I awoke this morning with Death Cab for Cutie’s “Codes and Keys” in my head. It’s the title track from an album they released last year. It’s a pretty good album. Every time I listen to it I think, “This is pretty good. I should listen to it more often.” But then I rarely do, because there’s just so much really good music being produced these days.

Do I really need to toss my little CD onto the already massive mountain of music (not the most poetic alliteration ever) being produced every year?

Well, that’s not really why we make music, is it?

I want my music to be heard. I want it to be enjoyed by others. But mostly I want it for myself. I have an urge to create that comes from a place I don’t completely understand. But yet I do it. I must do it. Because that’s what I do.

My music isn’t the expression of a troubled soul. I’m not bearing my heart with the music I create. I just have sounds in my head and I need to get them out.

But the creative drive goes deeper. It’s not the most satisfying realization, but I’ve come to learn that on some level, I just need there to be things in the world that I’ve made. In the words of Steve Jobs, I want to make a “dent in the universe.” Existence is so incomprehensibly vast, and we are such an infinitesimal part of it. But, for a few dozen of the Earth’s trips around the sun, we’re a part of it. And, what’s more, we know it.

I guess that drive to simply leave a mark before I’m a pile of dust is the driving force behind a lot of the creative impulse, at least for me.

I used to think that this creative impulse was at least partly tied to an instinct for procreation, that bringing new life into the world was what I really felt compelled to do, for simple biological reasons. But I have kids now, and while they’re great in many ways, it hasn’t lessened that urge to create art.

So, I continue to make music. I explore. I refine. I grow. And I keep trying to get it all out of my head and into the world.

This is not at all where I had intended to go with this post. I was going to just talk about the song I worked on last night, which ended up sounding a little bit like a Trent Reznor/Atticus Ross soundtrack… if all of their soundtrack tunes were 12 minutes long and ended with an extended, unaccompanied theremin solo. But that’s probably not as interesting as probing metaphysical reflection.

The short version of the daily progress report is, last night was another productive session, and I extensively employed two new apps I just discovered last night through the App Store’s often questionable “Genius” tool: Alchemy and SoundPrism. The latter gets an endorsement from Jordan Rudess, which is good enough for me.

First RPM track complete (I think)

Anagrammatic Pseudonyms coverI’m never totally sure a song is finished until I’ve had a chance to listen to it several times on different sets of speakers, but I’m liking “Tornado Scents” so far.

This is one of three songs that are fairly far along already, though it’s the first one I’m ready to tentatively call “done.” The others should be to that point within 24 hours and I’ll post them here.

“Tornado Scents” is set to be track 4 on the album. The other two I’m currently working on will be tracks 3 and 5, so when they’re all done, it will be possible to imagine a good solid chunk of the track sequence. I especially like the way the preceding track is going to lead into this.


Now this is funny!

According to this article, the first security exploit has been found in Windows Vista.

While that’s not entirely surprising in itself (after all, the OS has been commercially available for over 3 full days now), the nature of the flaw is both amusing and somewhat shocking.

Vista adds new speech recognition features, allowing the user to issue commands to the computer by speaking. At least, I’m assuming this is new. Mac OS has had speech recognition for at least a decade, but it used to require extensively “training” the computer to recognize your voice. I’m guessing that the new speech recognition software doesn’t require that kind of training, sort of like how pizza places now have speech recognition software that answers the phone and takes your order.

So, on to the exploit: if speech recognition is on, and the computer’s speakers and microphone are both on, it would then be possible to visit a website that autoplays an MP3 of a voice issuing commands to make the computer do all sorts of nasty things (like erasing files off the hard drive)!

The Monty Hall Problem

This is an old story, but a coworker and I were just discussing “The Monty Hall Problem,” which comes down to the common scenario from the old game show “Let’s Make a Deal”: If you have three doors, with a car behind one of them, and dud prizes behind the other two, once you’ve made your selection and the host reveals a dud prize behind one of the other doors, does it make sense for you to switch doors or stick with the one you’ve picked?

The simple intuitive answer is that it makes no difference, now that there’s a 50/50 shot at opening the right door. But it seems that 2/3 of the time it’s better to switch! We pondered this for a while and I guessed that it may have something to do with the fact that the host knows which door the car is really behind.

Apparently that’s correct. (Since this link points to an ancient [in Internet time] web page that may or may not endure, although it’s made it this long, I’ll provide a summary here.)

Let’s Make a Deal Roulette Wheel

This roulette wheel is the key. The inner circle is the door the car is behind, the middle circle is the door the contestant picks, and the outer circle is the door(s) Monty Hall can open after the contestant picks. The red spaces indicate that the contestant should switch, and the blue that they should not. 2/3 of the time it’s better to switch, because Monty Hall has basically been forced to reveal that the car is behind the door the contestant did not pick.

In other words, the contestant picks the right door the first time 1/3 of the time. This is pretty straightforward. That means that 2/3 of the time they did not pick the right door the first time, also straightforward. Therefore, since 2/3 of the time the car is not behind the door they picked, and Monty Hall will never open the door the car is behind, then 2/3 of the time the car is behind the door that neither the contestant nor Monty Hall picked, so the contestant doubles their chance of winning by switching.