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The Loudness War

By Steve Savage
In my last blog posting I wrote in defense of Auto-Tune. So if it’s not Auto-Tune, then what is wrong with pop? To the extent that technological capabilities have created a problem, it’s the loudness war that created it. A brick wall limiter is the tool that makes digital audio files loud and in the process it can crush the dynamics and render the music lifeless. The effect is actually very powerful.

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Why Auto-Tune is not ruining music

By Steve Savage
Originally made famous as a special effect on Cher’s “Believe,” Auto-Tune — the program that can fix the pitch of a singer — has received a lot of bad press. A recent piece in Time Magazine blamed it as the central reason “why pop is in a pretty serious lull at the moment” and listed it in its “50 Worst Inventions.” There have been demonstrations at the Grammy’s against Auto-Tune as though it was to blame for the onslaught of formulaic pop (2009, Death Cab for Cutie). Jay-Z had a hit with the anti-Auto-Tune song “D.O.A (Death of Auto-Tune),” despite its widespread use by fellow rap artists from T-Pain to Kanye West.

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Is Lady Gaga an artist?

By Steve Savage
When is it art? This question may be debated endlessly. In the world of music, we know that music can be art — but are musicians artists?

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Songs of exile: a playlist for Psalm 137

Psalm 137 begins with one of the more lyrical lines in the Hebrew Bible: “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.” It ends eight lines later with one of the thorniest: “Happy shall he be, who taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.” Partly because it deals with music—another famous verse asks, “How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?”—the psalm has been like poetic catnip, a siren song luring musicians and composers.

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Oxford Medicine Online

Christmas calamities

It’s that time of year again: chestnuts are roasting on an open fire, halls are decked with boughs of holly, and everyone’s rockin’ around the Christmas tree…. As idyllic as this sounds, sometimes the holiday season just doesn’t live up to its expectations of joy, peace, and goodwill.

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Why global health matters

It is every human being’s right to enjoy a state of complete mental, physical, and social well being on this planet. However, health is also a right that is unequally distributed throughout the world due to lack of access to proper healthcare facilities and professionals, lack of sanitation, feeble vaccination delivery systems, and treatment-oriented healthcare systems rather than preventative systems.

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1 million dead in Iraq?

By John Tirman
As the U.S. war in Iraq winds down, we are entering a familiar phase, the season of forgetting—forgetting the harsh realities of the war. Mostly we forget the victims of the war, the Iraqi civilians whose lives and society have been devastated by eight years of armed conflict. The act of forgetting is a social and political act, abetted by the American news media. Throughout the war, but especially now, the minimal news we get from Iraq consistently devalues the death toll of Iraqi civilians.

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Friday Pet Blogging: Stuie

I’m often understandably mistaken for a Pomeranian. We are cousins. I am a 4 year-old German Spitz Klein [small Spitz] and I was adopted by my human friend at BARC Shelter in Williamsburg. It was love at first sight. But don’t let my silky fur and cute, little cookie face fool you, when it comes to reading I’m dead serious. Life is too short and there’s no time for fiction. I’m a true crime lover. There’s nothing better than curling up on my pillow spending hours lost in the fervor of a terrifying crime spree and its aftermath. The excitement, the fear, the victim/s, the suspect/s, the cops, the investigation, I love it. Then ultimately the trial and surprise verdict keeps me turning the pages.

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T.S. Eliot: an excerpt

In the New York Times Art Section today, Michiko Kakutani writes about British poet Craig Raine’s new book on T.S. Eliot, calling Raine’s description a “new, more accessible T. S. Eliot, an Eliot he describes as a virtuosic fox in terms of style, and a single-minded hedgehog when it came to themes.”

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The Murder of Polly Nichols

We interrupt this academic blog for a tale of murder, murder most foul. On 31 August in 1888 Mr. Charles Cross was walking to work through Buck’s Row, a dingy and poorly-lit alleyway in the heart of London’s East End. It was around 3:40 in the morning when he spied what looked like a bundle […]

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