Tag Archives: music

The Doctor Who Theme

I don’t know why, but I keep watching this video.

Okay, maybe I know why. Nostalgia. In the late 80s and early 90s, I watched Doctor Who on PBS Saturday nights. I started off with the Tom Baker episodes that featured Adric and K-9. It was low budget, but fun. I liked the Fourth Doctor. And then came Peter Davison, the Fifth Doctor. I liked him, too.

But the theme song. It’s unusual. And it’s interesting to see how it changed over the years.

If you watch (or watched) Doctor Who, what did you think of the theme? Let me know in the comments below.

David Bowie Was an Oddity

Today, David Bowie passed away after an eighteen month battle with cancer. It was completely unexpected. No one knew he was sick. He even released an album just a few days ago. I can’t say I was a fan of his, but he’s the kind of person that can affect or influence pretty much anyone in some way.

When I was a kid, and I saw him on TV, there was some kind of attraction to his showmanship. He was strange. He was an oddity. And the fact that many of his songs had something to do with space just made him even more of an attractive singer and musician. I loved space, and he was just one really weird person who kept appearing on TV. I may have only been around five, six, or seven years old, but whenever I was asked who my favourite singer was, I’d say David Bowie. Not because I liked his music, but because he was weird.

And now he is gone. Many people I know were taken by complete surprise. He had this image that was immortal. He wasn’t supposed to die. He’s supposed to live forever. Of course, that’s not possible, but he just gave off that feeling.

I thought this song of his was kind of appropriate for today.

Goodbye, Starman. You were a space oddity.

Authors Answer 56 – Our Other Creative Endeavours

Authors are creative people. Writing requires a person to be creative. But just how creative are we? Some only write, while others are multi-talented artists. So this week, we find out just how talented a bunch we are.

Mona_Lisa,_by_Leonardo_da_Vinci,_from_C2RMF_retouchedQuestion 56 – Apart from writing fiction, do you do any other creative works?

Linda G. Hill

I used to knit, crochet, and quilt a lot but there hasn’t been much time for it in recent years. I’m too busy writing and editing, happily. 🙂

Gregory S. Close

I really love music.  If I had a choice at an alternate creative career, it would be to play bass guitar in a progressive rock band.  Unfortunately, there is a bit of a talent gap between me and that choice, so instead I’ve just tried to play when and where I can over the years.  I also enjoy composing different kinds of music, and would love to score a soundtrack to my novels, given a chance (and maybe an infusion of talent).

I am tinkering with an electronic-inspired score for my sci-fi/fantasy project, Greyspace, and also I wrote the music for my home-made book trailer a couple of years ago:

I have no illusions about the quality of the work, but I do enjoy making it, regardless!

Caren Rich

I love to quilt. I started with traditional quilts and then moved into art quilts. I don’t have a place to quilt at the moment so I’m concentrating on writing, but I miss it.

S. R. Carrillo

I consider all forms of art – music, writing, drawing, painting, photography, videography, etc. – to be creative, and I have a bit of a hand in just about every one. Except music. That one, I just appreciate. ^_^

Elizabeth Rhodes

Baking is my day job and I make cakes and candies as a hobby.  For a little while I made a small side business out of custom cake making, but it’s hard to get something like that off the ground.  You’ll find some of my work on my blog.

D. T. Nova

Does Super Mario Maker count?

In the past I’ve dabbled in more versatile programs that can actually create whole games, and it’s possible I might return to one of them at some time in the future.

Jean Davis

I used to draw and paint and still do on occasion, though I’m not as good as I used to be. I enjoy doing all sorts of crafty things when I’m not in writing mode. In fact, my friends complain to that can do anything crafty. But don’t ask me to knit or crochet anything because those are the two things I really can’t do. They’re my crafty kryptonite.

Eric Wood

I guess I do, if my blog can be considered non-fiction since I mostly write about my two sons and our adventures (and frustrations) with them. Otherwise, no. I don’t have anything on the go fiction wise. Perhaps when the kids are older and require less time (if that’s even possible) I’ll start creating more works of fiction.

Paul B. Spence

I draw, paint, sculpt, sew, make leather armor, scratchbuild model sci-fi vehicles, paint miniatures, and roleplay/do interactive storytelling, but other than that… no.

Allen Tiffany

Well, it’s damn sure not art! Though one of my daughters is an award-winning artist, she certainly did not get it from me. And though I once presented a paper at a conference arguing that all problem solving is a form of creativity, I don’t that is in keeping with the spirit of the question. So…no, I have no other creative talents.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

When I was younger I was all about the creative works. I didn’t just write, I also drew and sometimes painted, played piano and guitar and sang, and I would love to do stuff like building models; I once built my own “dollhouse” in a closet by using cardboard and paper to create all the furniture and decorations and whatnot.

These days I don’t have time for all that stuff, so I focus on the thing that is most important to me, which is the writing. I do occasionally pick up my guitar, but the moments are so few and far between that I have to tune it almost every time, and I rather enjoy coloring books, but that’s more a guilty pleasure than a “creative work”.

I guess the short answer is that I enjoy all sorts of creative stuff, but I simply don’t have the time to delve into them all.

H. Anthe Davis

I do some of the art for my stories, mainly maps and concepts.  I’ve done some video-editing, I’d like to tinker with game creation, I’d like to do some songwriting except I’m terrible at it…  There are many things I’d do if there were six of me, but it feels like I never have time.

Jay Dee Archer

I’d say my other main creative ability would be art, especially pencil drawing. I’ll be doing a lot of concept art for my books, as well as maps. Painting, digital art, and anything involving colour, I’m not very good at. I also dabble in photography, and have started doing video editing, but that’s at its infancy. I’m hoping to improve my photo and video editing skills in the future.

How about you?

I’m sure a lot of you have some creative abilities. What do you do artistically? Let us know in the comments below!

Authors Answer 49 – Writing Necessities

Everyone has their own little quirks. They like to have certain things with them, or they have routines that they must do. Writers are the same. Many authors have to have certain conditions to be able to write more effectively. This week, we find out what everyone needs to have while they write.

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 49 – What must you have when you write?

Linda G. Hill

It depends what I’m writing. Working on my novel The Great Dagmaru, I had to listen to the group Buck-Tick in order to get anything done. Most of the time though, I need quiet. The only thing I must have no matter what is the reasonable assurance that I won’t be interrupted. If I don’t have that, I get too distracted thinking about what’s going to get me out of my seat next to write as much as a sentence.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

I’ve been known to write with very little, mostly owing to the fact that my job (and the travel involved) often finds me stuck in situations in which I pretty much have to deal with my tiny notepad and pen or not write at all.

But if we’re talking about an ideal situation, in which I actually get to set myself up exactly the way I want and am a hundred times more productive as a result… Well, for starters I have to have my laptop, because I am infinitely faster at typing than writing by hand. I’ve got to have the Internet because my brain turns to goo sometimes and Dictionary.com and Thesaurus.com are my best friends. Preferably I’ll have some kind of hot drink, like a nice herbal tea or a hot cocoa, but barring that I can also go with pop and a horribly-bad-for-you snack like chips or something. And the last thing I “must” have, but rarely ever get…silence. I write so much better and quicker when I’ve got peace and quiet, which is actually a bit funny since I seem to require music in order to be productive at pretty much anything else. 😛

Gregory S. Close

I like to listen to music and have snacks and a drink, the variety of which tend to vary based on what type of scene or character I’m writing, but in terms of must haves… peace and time top the list.  I need the time and space to settle into my own little world and block out the rest of reality, and several hours of it all at once are preferable.

D. T. Nova

Reasonable access to snacks and water, but it’s better if I do have to get up for them, because otherwise I’d end up sitting still for longer than is really healthy.

I’ve tried writing while I have music playing, with mixed results. I often listen to music of appropriate mood before I start writing a scene.

Jean Davis

Silence. Blessed silence, I must have thee. So, earplugs or time when no one else is around. And Twizzlers. There’s something about chewing tough, plastic candy that makes my brain work. When I’m editing, I get good chocolate. It’s my reward for all the hack and slash of my pretty words.

Allen Tiffany

My portable. Beyond that, I’m pretty flexible. Much of my first novella got written while I was sitting in the passenger seat of my car while at one of my daughter’s 90 min soccer practices three nights a week. Otherwise, I tend to perch in our cheap Ikea lounger (that my wife thinks is an eyesore). I rarely eat while I write, but I’ll occasionally have a glass of wine when I proof.

Eric Wood

This has changed over the years. When I started writing short stories, or while co-writing a yet-to-be-published book I needed a computer, to be able to think out loud and space to move. I paced while thinking of how I wanted my stories to proceed. Now, I just sit and write. While there isn’t one specific thing I must have to write, I enjoy a bowl of cheesies (though my keyboard doesn’t). And with a kid or two running through the house I don’t even need quiet any more!

Elizabeth Rhodes

I need some kind of beverage.  I prefer something caffeinated, but alcohol is effective too.  It also helps me to have some kind of noise going on in the background, whether it’s a playlist I set up for this specific story or one of my housemates watching TV or playing a video game.

Caren Rich

Quiet. Meaning the kids have to be out of the house. The music needs to be upbeat. All supplies and snacks must be within arm’s reach. If I have to get up there’s always the chance I won’t get back to writing.

Paul B. Spence

Some time. I like to have my computer, music, cats, and Coke Cola, but these are luxuries. Time to sit and think is precious.

S. R. Carrillo

I need music. And not something idle in the background, either. I need something loud and groovy – music that makes me wanna dance – in order to get my thoughts down on the paper. There’s something about my favorite genre of music (post-hardcore) that gets me in a writing mood and something about writing that gets me in a post-hardcore mood. It’s beautiful – and doesn’t interfere, the way it seems to with most writers.

Oh, and water. Adequate hydration is essential.

H. Anthe Davis

Silence and darkness, heh.  The lights in my room distract me, and I can see the keyboard well enough by screen-light.  Music is a big no-no; anything with lyrics or a beat will destroy my concentration.  Now and then I try using a sound-generator as white noise, but usually it’s best if I just have my headphones on with nothing playing.

Jay Dee Archer

These days, I need silence. But a particular kind of silence. This means no kid, no wife, no TV. I can be in a public place with the background noise of general conversation, but I can’t have anything that I can focus on. And that means I can’t have someone talk to me.

I also need to have something to drink. Anything is fine, as long as I like it, of course. I haven’t tried writing with alcohol, though. Maybe I should.

How about you?

If you write, what do you need to write? If you’re a reader, do you need anything to relax or focus while you’re reading? Please share your answers in the comments below. And also, if you can, please share this post. Thanks!

The Always Energetic Yosakoi Festival

Last weekend, during my lunch break, I was able to go to the Ranbu Yosakoi Festival in Sagamihara, Kanagawa. Yosakoi is a type of dance that began in Kochi City in 1954 as a modern alternative to the more traditional Odori dance. This festival is held every year in September. They make plenty of noise! A lot of the music used is quite modern, and the dances are always very energetic. Very fun and uplifting.

In case you’re wondering, yes, I did take a video. And here it is. This is episode 2 of A Taste of Japan. Be sure to watch all the way through, because I have a full performance in this video.

Interested in seeing more? I’ll have a lot more Japan videos coming in the near future, and lots from famous tourist sites in Japan in October. So, please subscribe to my YouTube channel to see more.

What did you think of this video? Let me know in the comments below.

Life in Japan: J-pop

Every country has its own brand of music.  Japan has several of its own, including enka, Visual Kei, and of course, Japanese pop (or J-pop). This week’s question comes from Joanne Corey.

Do you follow any J-pop groups? My ethnomusicologist daughter is writing a master’s thesis on the fandom of AKB-48, so I know that these groups not only perform at concerts and put out recordings, but also have television series, do modeling, make ads, etc.

I’m not a big follower of pretty much any music, I’m afraid. However, on the topic of AKB48, they’re on TV, on advertisements, and pretty much everywhere individually or in groups. Their system is a strange one. They are idols. They are manufactured idols. They’re not well-paid at all. They make minimum wage from what I’ve heard. It’s only after they become popular and go on their own that they start making money.  However, the music industry in Japan is unlike the one in North America. Singers are company employees and have a lot of rules they have to follow. In AKB, they have extremely strict rules. Break one, and they’re punished, and they have to apologise. And like I said, they’re manufactured idols. Think of AKB as a factory. They take raw materials (unknown girls) and shape them into pretty much identical people without much talent. Honestly, they don’t have very strong singing abilities, but they can learn to sing, dance, and act. They’re still not considered very good talents when they finish with AKB and move on to something else. They are idols, and idols don’t need to be talented. Just have good looks and charisma.

As for the fandom, well, they’re a bit strange. Most fans of AKB48 are middle-aged men, most likely single. And they dance.  Crazily.  You cannot unsee it, so I won’t put a video of it here, but if you really, really want to, go to YouTube and search for “wotagei” or just “wota.” These are grown men dancing to music sung by teenage girls. Wildly. Scary. *shudder*

Anyway, I hope that gives you an interesting look into one part of J-pop fandom. There are normal fans, of course, but for groups like AKB48, they breed the lonely, awkward middle-aged male fan.

Have a question about life in Japan? Go here and ask in the comments.

Retired Canadian Astronaut Sings the Most Canadian Song

Former Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield’s brother Dave wrote a song titled “In Canada.”  It’s very Canadian. So very very Canadian. Chris and his brother played and sang the song, and Chris posted the music video to his YouTube channel.  Watch and listen.

Isn’t that incredibly Canadian?

I like Chris Hadfield. He was the first Canadian commander of the International Space Station, he’s done several EVAs, and has probably become the most popular Canadian astronaut (Marc Garneau was the first, though, and he became a Member of Parliament, as well as ran for Liberal Party leadership, and led the Canadian Space Agency, so he could arguably be the most well-known). Hadfield also wrote a couple books related to his astronaut career. I’d love to read both of them.

So, what did you think of the song?

Festivals and Music in Fantasy and Science Fiction

On Tuesday, I was treated to this, a very cultural experience. Taiko drums.


A picture isn’t enough? Okay, here’s the video I took.

This was at an agricultural festival, but like many festivals in Japan, it had the staples: taiko drums, traditional dancing, and food stalls. It’s things like these that make Japanese festivals uniquely Japanese.

When developing a world for science fiction and fantasy, culture is very important. Festivals, food, music, dance, clothes, and holidays are all very important in creating a believable and realistic society. It’s something I really enjoy seeing when I read fantasy and science fiction novels.

Considering the books you’ve read, what cultural aspects stand out? Think of specific cases, like the feasts of A Song of Ice and Fire or the music of Lord of the Rings. I look forward to your answers.