More Classical Music app weirdness

Having endured Apple Music since it started, begrudgingly paying an annual subscription mostly because it is no worse than any of the other streaming services, I was hopeful that the Apple Music Classical app might be an improvement. Alas what we have so far has left me somewhere between annoyed and angry.

What is classical music? According to Apple..

Does Apple Music Classical feature other types of music?
No. Apple Music Classical is completely focused on classical music.

But as Kirk McElhearn points out in his extensive and more positive review there are endless examples of music that one would not normally class as classical. The common denominator seems to be that the composer has had a piece of their music performed by an orchestra or ensemble thus appearing to be leaning towards some form of classical style of music. One of McElhearn’s examples is Robert Fripp “whose music is about as far from classical as could be”

The inclusion of Fripp seems to hang on an interpretation of a section of Fracture from Starless And Bible Black by the guitarist Alberto Mesirca and a rendition by the Japanese Trouvère Quartet of 21st Century Schizoid Man.

From there we fall down the bizarre rabbit hole of Apple’s Music search algorithm which is so fuzzy it is often nigh impossible to determine why something has been included in the results. Fripp has twenty four albums listed in the Classical app. These range from his own albums to collaborations with Brian Eno to David Bowie’s greatest hits via Wagner and Stravinsky. The Wagner includes Robert Heger and, separately, The Chapman Tripp Opera Chorus, The Stravinsky, recorded in 1962 while teenage Fripp was concentrating on school examinations, similarly, I can only assume, is included because it was conducted by Robert Craft and features Paul Tripp 🤷‍♂️

So Classical = not Classical. Perhaps Serious would be a better descriptor – music created to be listened to rather than a product to be marketed and sold to specific demographic. As Duke Ellington once observed:

There are simply two kinds of music, good music and the other kind … the only yardstick by which the result should be judged is simply that of how it sounds. If it sounds good it’s successful; if it doesn’t it has failed.

Duke Ellington: Where Is Jazz Going? Music Journal; New York Vol. 20, Iss. 3,  (Mar 1, 1962)

There are two kinds of Music app – the good Music app and the other kind….

Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works. 

Steve Jobs: The Next Insanely Great Thing, Wired Feb 1, 1996

Apple’s Classical Music App 🤬

I think I actually blushed on opening Apple’s Classical Music app. It is an iPhone app but the App Store assured me it works on my iPad. I have lots of iPhone apps on my iPad. They all work fine.

Who would not think it a good idea to have the text mingling with the Play and Browse buttons?

And is Ludwig van Beethoven really On This Album?

And did Frank Zappa write Bolero?

And is the third section not iii or III rather than Iii? At least they managed to get Elaine Radigue right…

….oh cancel that! Why is there no simple way to report such errors like there is on Apple Maps?

Let’s hope version 2 is not too far away and it makes some improvements… but I am not holding my breath.

The Dark Side of 50

Apparently The Dark Side of the Moon first appeared fifty years ago. I did have a copy but had not been much interested in what they were doing since 1969s Ummagumma. As The Dark Side of the Moon was hugely successful around the world I was always amused by the local branch of W H Smith which sold it from a section in their record department labeled “Underground”.

But more than enough will have been written about that elsewhere let us explore the quieter backwaters with the less trodden paths where we can find delights such as a wonderful a cappella version: listen on Apple MusicSpotifyYouTube.

And then the reggae version Dub Side of the Moon: Apple MusicSpotifyYouTube or the remixed dubber version.

Closely followed by a string quartet version: Apple MusicSpotifyYouTube.

Connecting iPad/iPhone to GarageBand on a Mac – Wireless

There is an old post, from 2011, that is regularly visited (I assume it is linked on a forum somewhere) and so it is probably time to do an updated version expanded into several posts covering all the options available today.

To connect using a WiFi network:

Open Audio MIDI Setup which you will find in the Utilities folder within the Applications folder – or hit the Command and Space keys and type Audio MIDI into the Spotlight search box.

From the Window menu select Show MIDI Studio.

Menu selection in Audio Midi SetUp

This will open the MIDI Studio window from where you can select Open MIDI Network Setup from the MIDI Studio menu.

Menu selection in Audio Midi SetUp

You need to create a new session by clicking the + button

Creating a new session panel

The default name is Session 1. Tick the box to select that as the network session you wish to use

New session selected

With an app sending MIDI signals your device will be available. Click the Connect button for it to join the network session.

iPad available

Your device will be listed as a Participant in the right hand panel – from where it can be disconnected if required.

iPad connected and good to go

In the iPad’s/iPhone’s app you will see the Session 1 option within the MIDI settings – sometimes shown as a Settings button or three dots …


or a cog wheel icon


Once connected to the Network Session it is all happening in GarageBand…

101 of my favourite recordings – 2

Dododo (Ekassa No. 1) – Sir Victor Uwaifo & His Melody Maestroes

Cover of Ekassa album by Sir Victor Uwaifo.

It is the never changing repeated two notes throughout, which both constrain and liberate the piece, that fascinates and delights. As it builds to a crescendo, as though it might be heading somewhere, there they are again pulling it back. At the start of this sample I faded the other instruments for emphasis…

Victor Uwaifo was born in Benin City, in the Edo State of Nigeria in 1941. He studied graphics at college and, having played guitar since childhood, would sit in with Victor Olaiya‘s band at weekend in the early sixties. He developed a technique of seeing colours in sound and sound in colours. He used this technique to utilise the traditional patterns of Akwete cloth in his music. This Akwete sound was used to create his song Joromi in 1965 which became a hit across east African countries and eventually earned him the first African gold disc.

By 1968 he had outgrown the strict limitations of Akwete so he developed other forms which eventually evolved into Ekassa itself evolving from the traditional Benin Ekassa dance.

By the 1970’s with the growing influence of American soul and Jamaican reggae his music had once again evolved into what came to be marketed as Edo Funk.


Dododo (Ekassa No. 1) – Sir Victor Uwaifo & His Melody Maestroes (Apple MusicSpotify, YouTube)

In the sixties – Victor Olaiya. (Apple MusicSpotify, YouTube)

Joromi – Victor Uwaifo. (Apple MusicSpotify, YouTube)

Sakpaide No. 2 – Victor Uwaifo and his Titibitis. (Apple MusicSpotify, YouTube)

Obviemama – Victor Uwaifo and his Titibitis. (Apple MusicSpotify, YouTube)

101 of my favourite recordings – 1

It occurred to me that, before I die, I should, having spent a large part of my life listening to them, actually document the greatest recordings ever made. This will, of course, be a purely personal subjective listing and, as such, be uncontroversial and yet definitive 😉 I will catalogue them on a separate page but for now….in no particular order:

Hands Off by Jay McShann with Priscilla Bowman.

I think it was John Walters, the producer of John Peel‘s radio programmes, who observed that lyrics were superfluous to a great song; they could be replaced with “rhubarb and custard” and it would still be a great song. Hands Off certainly passes that test.

Vee Jay Record label for Hands Off

With the relentless drums and bass driving ever forward, occasionally punctuated by the horns, and the whole thing topped off with McShann’s piano intertwined with Bowman’s understated vocals and the extended fade out – like finding the ice cream goes right to the bottom of the cornet; it was unsurprisingly a big hit in December 1955 staying at number one on the Billboard R & B charts for three weeks.

Publicity shot of Jay McShann
Jay McShann

Jay McShann was a mostly self taught pianist. His thirteen piece big band in the 1930s had included the teenage Charlie Parker. It was while touring with McShann’s band in the early 1940s that Parker acquired the nickname ‘Yardbird’ from them. By the mid 1940s McShann set up a smaller band as was the trend at the time. In 1949 they had a hit with the band’s vocalist Jimmy Witherspoon‘s recording of Ain’t Nobody’s Business.

Witherspoon was replaced in the early 1950s by Priscilla Bowman. She had come from a church based background (her father was a minister) and, as a teenager, performing in local nightclubs where she adopted the popular styling of Ruth Brown‘s 1951 hit Teardrops from My Eye and the like.

Priscilla Bowman singing with microphone.
Priscilla Bowman

In 1955 McShann’s band were signed to Vee Jay Records where they recorded Hands Off. Unable to replicate the success Bowman was signed to Vee Jay as a solo artist in the late 1950s. Again failing to achieve any great success although in 1958 she was the first to record Brook Benton‘s song A Rockin’ Good Way before Benton and Dinah Washington had a hit with it in 1960.

Although Vee Jay was commercially successful with many hits, even releasing the early recordings by The Beatles in America after Capitol Records had said they were not interested (they would soon change their mind) financial mismanagement meant that they filed for bankruptcy in 1966.

Preston Foster was ‘inspired’ by Hands Off to write Got My Mo-Jo Working which was recorded by Ann Cole in 1956. The following year Muddy Waters would adapt the song for his own version.

Elvis Presley would perform both Got My Mo-Jo Working/Hands Off mashed together.

Recordings mentioned: (links to: Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube)

Jay McShann with Priscilla Bowman – Hands Off (Apple MusicSpotify, YouTube)

Jay McShann with Charlie Parker (Apple Music,  Spotify, YouTube)

Jimmy Witherspoon – Ain’t Nobody’s Business (Apple MusicSpotify, YouTube)

Ruth Brown – Teardrops From My Eyes (Apple MusicSpotify, YouTube)

Priscilla Bowman – A rocking Good Way (Apple MusicSpotify, YouTube)

Brook Benton and Dinah Washington – A Rocking Good Way (Apple MusicSpotify, YouTube)

Ann Cole – Got My Mo-Jo Working (Apple MusicSpotify, YouTube)

Muddy Waters – Got My Mo-Jo Working (Apple MusicSpotify, YouTube)

Elvis Presley – Got My MoJo Working/Hands Off (Apple MusicSpotify, YouTube)


More Cowbell

Heardle #74


Today’s Heardle should not be too tough for people of a certain age; inevitably leading to this again… (Spoiler alert: Video reveals the answer)

Ten Years After

Rummaging around in here I discovered I still had a YouTube account, from the days before it became the quagmire of advertising and tracking it has become, which lead me to this old post from a decade ago:

The iPad was a mere one year old at the time but was already showing signs of its potential for making interesting noises. I suspect the missing video was for an, alas short lived and no longer available, app called Konkreet Performer which was an early attempt at new ways to interact with sounds on iPads:

A 2011 Konkreet Performer promotional video

Things have evolved over the years and today you have AudioBus to pump sound between apps, AUM to connect and mix instruments and effects and countless apps like TouchScaper and SoundScaper and even some that are not called somethingScaper. Although Smule still have some apps available their MadPad has also vanished; as has the Levenshulme Bicycle Orchestra.

The other video in that old post was a young Frank Zappa performing on a bicycle during the Steve Allen TV show in March 1963. Many years ago I read about this but who could imagine that decades later and thousands of miles away you can sit on a sofa with an iPad watching the video and also learn how, in late 1962, the young Zappa would hang out in Don Preston‘s garage improvising soundtracks to various film clips. Preston had a range of junk percussion ‘instruments’ he used including a bicycle.

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