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Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Songwriting 101 - Nicki Minaj verse on Sweet Dreams [Remix]



Yo, Young Money right here,
Bike here, throw it up, no high chair,
Cold like a white bear,
Freddy Krueger I'm a rap bitch nightmare,
And I’m rich I could buy you,
Kill bitches leave ya body in a bayou,
More brain than an IQ,
More head than a dread...[My yout],
And my bank account ain’t hardly empty,
That's why I come through in a Barbie Bentley,
But please mamacita, please no envy,
When you come around it reads "No Entry",
Who’s next to go,
My flows so flexible,
Get gas, then get at me, Texaco,
Shoot yourself in the leg, Plaxico
White Jag with the twisted lip,
I aint Mike Jack but This Is It!
b- b- b- boo I'm everywhere,
You're like Balloon Boy mama you was never there!
I am the Kung Fu Panda,
Fuck all o’ ya blogs, fuck all o’ ya propaganda,
Good for the goose then its good for the gander,
Nicki aint a rapper, Nicki is a brander,
Please you can never compare to me,
All these bitches is scared of me,
I am who they couldn’t even dare to be,
So That's All Folks!! [Ba de ba dee]
I go hard, PAUSE,
Hospital flow get more gauze,
I'm a bad bitch on all fours,
The president be like "It's All Yours",
Weezy and Nicki bring the A-game, high stats,
Go together like Ricky and his eye patch,
Go together like a team in the gym,
Kareem in the ring, the Queen and the King.


Pop Culture
- Young Money
- Freddy Krueger
- Texaco
- Plaxico Burress Leg Shooting Incident
- Michael Jackson's This Is It!
- Balloon Boy Hoax
- Kung Fu Panda
- Looney Tunes
- Porky Pig Stutter
- Pause or [||] (formerly "No Homo")
- Slick Rick
- Kareem Abdul-Jabar

Simile
- Cold like a white bear

Allusion/Pun
- Freddy Krueger I'm a rap bitch Nightmare
- More brain than an IQ
- More head than a dread...[My yout]
(Large head because of dreads..dreads popular hairstyle of Yardies.."My yout" being Yardie slang for "My Youth"...head and brain as metaphors for fellatio...)
- Get gas / Get gassed...Texaco
- Hospital flow get more gauze


Two-Syllable / Polysyllabic Rhyme
- And I’m rich I could buy you, Kill bitches leave ya body in a bayou


[To Be Continued]





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Thursday, 3 December 2009

New Google Profile

I created a profile for my Google account because I have so many different Google related sites (Blogger, YouTube etc.) and things tied into each other that I thought I might as well have a main page to link from...more for myself than anything really but I did want to share my Google Reader page which is how I ended up getting to the create profile page...

...I've be banging on about Google Reader to a few people lately and if your wondering what all the fuss is then I will explain it in a nutshell...

There's about 20 different sites that I visit daily. Instead of having to visit each one individually Google Reader lets me view them all on a single page in this format:



All the sites I subscribe to are listed on the left hand side and then when I click each one I get a list of every new story published on that site since I last clicked in here and read the articles.

The layout of just the title of the article and the first 3-4 lines of the story is so handy because you can just scroll down quickly through all the articles and when you click on the one you want to read it opens the article in a new window on it's actual website page. So for example although there might be 300 new articles in The Telegraph today I might only want to read 10-20 of them so instead of going to their website and searching through the site for articles of interest, I can just scroll straight down through them in Reader and click what I want. Or add a "Star" to the article and then go to my Starred Items section at the top right later on and read a personal pick of the days news.

BTW, to "Subscribe" to a website you just have to look for this RSS logo listed somewhere on that site:


Click on that and you will get asked which RSS Reader you would like to add it to...in this case it's the Google Reader...

I would recommend this to anyone with a google email address but if you are too lazy to set it up then here are links to my shared reader pages:

Click "View All" to open them in their Google Reader window














And that's about it really...I gotta hand it to them because I'm loving all the integration possible with the Google stuff (enough to rave about it here when I'm not on their payroll)...like when you share something on your shared page it will post it to Twitter also, or when you upload a pic in Twitter it will show on your Google profile etc.

Another of my personal favourites is having my Firefox homepage set to iGoogle:


So when I open Firefox the homepages lets me Google Chat with my friends on the left, I have the weather for Waterford, a search box for Wikipedia, a currency converter and the days headlines from a couple of sites...beautiful eh?

I'll save the talk about Google Wave for another day but if your on it you can add neilmcgrath1@googlewave.com if you like tho to be completely honest I don't have any particular use for it at the moment so I have no idea what we will do together on it that we couldn't do on normal Google Chat...


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Monday, 9 November 2009

New video for "Artist Of The Century" on YouTube

There is a low quality version of the video for "Artist Of The Century" on my YouTube page. This will be replaced by the HD version in a couple of days...



I recorded this back in March with my friend Rory Thompson doing the filming. The project came about for two reasons; I've been wanting to put my music on YouTube but I didn't want to upload anything without a visual accompaniment because I think that's boring for new music. I don't mind listening to old or obscure songs on YouTube that don't have a video (because it's really just the song I am looking for in that scenario) but for a medium like YouTube I think new music MUST be presented with a visual accompaniment to catch and retain your interest in a song you haven't heard before. If you just want to promote your music without video then there a million different places online to do so, but when it comes YouTube I think most people are primarily looking for something to actually watch and not just listen to.

And the second reason? Rory got a new HD camera and wanted to test it out on something ;)

So we recorded the footage for the video a couple of months ago and then Rory had a couple of other "real-projects-that-you-get-paid-for-doing" which came in, so for the sake of paying the bills (but at the loss of my illuminating company) we put things on hold until Friday night...

...when Rory turned up at the door with 6 cans of Carlsberg and the finished video on DVD...

The sound and picture quality of the DVD is excellent, we watched it on a 47" HD television connected to digital surround sound and it was great quality. For some reason tho, it doesn't seem to have transferred as well to AVI format. I used Xilisoft DVD Ripper to convert the DVD but the .avi that it created seems to have very very high volume levels on the audio which is causing distortion at the peaks. I'm not sure what went wrong as I use this software quite often without problems; thankfully tho the version on the DVD is perfect quality so I'll just have to rip it again. I'll try rip it again when I get up later today and hopefully replace the current version with a fixed version.

Either way it's only a temporary version, the video itself was recorded in HD but Rory just stuck a PAL version on DVD so he could bring it up to show me on Friday. It takes quite a bit of time to render a HD version of the same video so he's gonna try and get that done some time during the week and I'll be able to put the finished HD version online before next weekend.

Anyway, hope you enjoy the video, the finished version was entirely edited and produced by Rory with no input from me so I can't take any credit for that. I basically just directed the video on the day we recorded it by suggesting the shots we took and the angles etc, but Rory was the one who took all the footage and put it together last week into this finished project. I'm delighted with the finished result and very grateful to him for spending the time and effort to get it right.

We have plans to do videos for a couple more of my songs and then after that I'd prefer to do them for new songs instead of the "new video for an old song" thing that we're doing at the moment. Like I said earlier the purpose of these ones is just to get my stuff onto YouTube in a way that not only lets you hear the music but also (as Philly would say) "check out the visuals"...



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Tuesday, 3 November 2009

The M Bizzle Rough Guide to Converting MP3's

(Links to Wikipedia and other relevant articles are included throughout. Please note also that this is a first draft of an article about what can often be a highly debated topic so tweaking, editing and revised opinions on the information contained within are to be expected...)


Highest Quality Data Source -

- The Actual CD -
The original source of the data is on the CD itself...most music nowadays is recorded digitally in .WAV format and added to the CD in this format. There is of course mastering etc. before it reaches the CD but that is another story for another day.


Lossless Formats (formats which are EQUAL to the data on the CD
...)

- FLAC -
This is a lossless format. That means that it takes the EXACT data from the CD without losing any data. Because of this you will notice the size of the albums to be much bigger (300-500mb) which is nearer* to the size it would be on an audio CD (which can store 700mb of data).

*They are always smaller because FLAC files are kind of like Winzip for audio; they can make the files smaller (sometimes by more than 50%) but without losing any data (how this works is too complicated to explain and again is another story for another day)...


Pro's

Having a album in FLAC format is equivalent to owning the actual physical CD. There is NO loss in sound quality whatsoever. Converting to MP3 from FLAC is the same as converting from the CD itself.


Cons

FLAC files will not play thru xBox, Media Player, iTunes or on an iPod. Therefore you will probably have to convert them to MP3. They will play in VLC media player, however unless you have a good sound card and a high end stereo system connected to your PC you will not be able to hear the true quality of FLAC. In other words there is no real need to have music files at this quality unless you have a system that will give playback at this quality.

- Apple Lossless -
Apple Lossless files are the Apple equivalent to FLAC. Again there is absolutely NO loss of quality compared to the original source data on the CD.

Pro's
This format WILL play in Apple iTunes or on an iPod.

Cons
Again, unless you have a high end system connected to your laptop you wont notice a difference. If you just play music thru standard speakers on a mid-price range laptop for example, you wouldn't notice any difference between an MP3 and a Lossless file. In fact the MP3 would be a better option because it would take up much less room on your laptop.

The other con about the Lossless format is that the playback on iPods themselves is not actually that great. I don't know about the highest priced iPods but the iPod Nano playback is definitely not good enough to hear the true quality of a Lossless file. The headphones aren't good enough either. So basically if you fill your iPod Nano with Lossless files you won't be able to store half as many albums as you could in MP3 and not only that but you won't be able to hear any difference in the quality compared to a decent MP3 version anyway.

Lossy Formats...

- MP3s -
First of all a little about MP3's. An MP3 is basically a compressed version of an original sound file. However, unlike the Lossless format of FLAC, MP3 uses Lossy Compression. The purpose of compressing it is to make it smaller in size and therefore more portable and economical.

For example, if you were in a recording studio recording a song, you would record it onto the studio PC as a .WAV file. By doing this you are basically recording the sounds that are being fed into the microphones exactly as they are. Again it is important to understand that an MP3 is a compressed version of a raw sound file such as .WAV

If the song was 3 mins long, the .WAV file you record to the hard drive might be about 70mb in size (this is just an example figure, it would depend on how much instrumentation you are recording etc.)

As you probably know, a 3 minute MP3 file would probably only be about 2-5mb (depending on the quality of the MP3 bitrate which we will talk about in a moment). 2-5mb is obviously a lot more practical for MP3 players etc. because you could fit about 200 MP3s on a 1GB MP3 player compared to about 15 .WAV's on the same size player.

So how do you compress a 70mb sound file down into a 3mb sound file?

There is only one way and that is to DISCARD some of the information. Now that doesn't mean that the MP3 format of the song will have no drum track or no guitar solo in the middle LOL. In reality the majority of these are high and low end frequencies that are out of range to the human ear so you won't even notice unless you have super human hearing.

However...there are many different types of MP3 quality that you WOULD be able to notice the difference with:

Bit Rates

- MP3 @ 64kbps -
This is about the lowest rate you can create an MP3 at. It is acceptable for human speech only (a podcast or an audio book etc) but for music it is absolutely fucking AWFUL. It will sound like the song has no EQ and the better the system you play it on the more you will notice how tinny and hissy and shitty it sounds.

- MP3 @ 128kpbs -
This is ok for shitty laptop speakers and MP3 players but on a decent system it will sound sub par. You would definitely notice if you played the same music from the original CD on the same system.

- MP3 @ 192kbps -
This is what I would consider an acceptable MP3. It is listed as "CD Quality" on a lot of converters (iTunes etc.) and to be honest it is acceptable to most people with average hearing and average sound player equipment. If you are just a casual music listener and you don't concentrate on things like the EQ of a snare drum or the clarity of bass etc. then this is usually sufficient. MP3s at this bitrate are usually a nice small size and perfect for people who want quantity rather than quality of music on their systems. Again tho like I said, this quality is quite acceptable and calling it otherwise is just snobbery :)

- MP3 @ 256kbps -
This is getting closer to the quality of a FLAC or LOSSLESS file. At this bit rate, very little information is discarded. 256 kbps MP3's will be a bit bigger compared to the 192 kbps versions for this very reason.

- MP3 @ 320kbps -
This is the closest you can get to the quality of a FLAC file but in MP3 format. Only the most non-essential information is discarded when converting into MP3 and therefore the file retains as much of the original information as possible. As a result, these will be the biggest sized MP3 files.

*** To let you judge for yourself, I will take a FLAC music file soon and convert it into each of these formats, then I will post a link to every version including the original FLAC so that you can download and listen to each one to see if you can notice any difference on whatever your system of choice is.

And now just to make things MORE confusing:

There are two different methods for converting a file into MP3: CBR or VBR. There is a third called ABR but I'm going to leave that one out for the moment.

CBR
CBR is CONSTANT BIT RATE. This means that if you convert to MP3 at 320kbps CBR then the MP3 will be 320kbps for the ENTIRE song. Every second of the song will be at 320kbps.

Now here is the thing...does every single second of the song NEED to be at 320kbps? Some parts of it might definitely need to be, and some songs in their entirity might need to be. But if for example there is silence in the song, how could you possibly notice the difference between silence at 320kbps or silence at 192kbps. You are listening to SILENCE!!

So whereas 320kbps is definitely the ideal bit rate for an MP3, the fact is that not every song (e.g. songs with minimal instrumentation and sound) needs to be at 320kbps. As I mentioned before, the 320kbps MP3 files are the largest in size, but if the song doesn't need to 320kbps for every single second of the song, then you could be creating an MP3 which is larger in size than it needs to be. The sound quality will be perfect of course, but like I said it may make the file larger than it needs to be. Unless you do need to listen to silence @ 320kbps of course...

VBR
VBR is VARIABLE BIT RATE. This is self explanatory; the bit rate varies based on the how much it can be compressed without compromising data.

There are 9 different quality settings for VBR:

-V 9 - POOR - Estimated Bit Rate: 70kbps
-V 8 - POOR - Estimated Bit Rate: 80kbps
-V 7 - POOR - Estimated Bit Rate: 100kbps
-V 6 - POOR - Estimated Bit Rate: 120kbps
-V 5 - POOR - Estimated Bit Rate: 130kbps
-V 4 - MEDIUM - Estimated Bit Rate: 100kbps
-V 3 - MEDIUM - Estimated Bit Rate: 170kbps
-V 2 - STANDARD - Estimated Bit Rate: 190kbps
-V 1 - HIGH - Estimated Bit Rate: 220kbps
-V 0 - EXTREME - Estimated Bit Rate: 240kbps

-V 0 would be the ideal setting to get the best possible quality MP3 but at a smaller size than a 320 CBR. In other words, if it NEEDS to be 320kbps then it will be but if it can be less then it will be.

Example

Converting "The Long & Winding Road" from FLAC to MP3
[FLAC filesize is 19.3 MB]

1. FLAC to MP3 using 320kbps CBR

Result: The MP3 file is 8.16 MB in size with a bit rate of 320kbps

2. FLAC to MP3 using -V 0 VBR

Result: The MP3 file is 5.44 MB in size with a bit rate of 213kbps

So as you can see, you could rip the track at 320kbps if you want absolutely consistent high quality, but the song only needs to be at 213kbps and as a result it is about 3MB smaller. Also, it is HIGHLY UNLIKELY that you would be able to hear any difference in the two versions with 90% of music systems and 90% of human ears.

How do I convert my MP3's?
So my own personal preference is to either download albums in FLAC format or convert them to FLAC from my own CD collection and then convert them to MP3 in -V 0 VBR format. This means my MP3 collection has probably the best balance between having the highest possible quality of sound with the smallest possible size of MP3 (without compromising quality to achieve that small size)

However, the majority of my MP3 collection (20,000+ songs) is NOT at this quality and won't be until I like the album enough and listen to it enough to go and get a better quality version. A lot of my collection is reference material or things I listen to purely to check out a certain genre of music and maybe learn something from. The stuff that I listen to a lot is all I am interested in hearing at this level of quality because I know the music so well that I would hear the difference on a decent system*

*I store my MP3's on a laptop which is wirelessly connected to the XBox360 using Windows Media Player Sharing. The xBox is connected to a Logitech 5.1 surround system using a fibre optical digital cable (TOSLINK). You NEED to be using this sort of equipment and cabling to be able to hear the quality of higher bit rate MP3's, if you are using a standard AUX audio cable (left and right red/white cables) then you won't hear the difference in quality (maybe between a 64kbps and a 220kbps or something extreme like that).


Conclusion

As long as the MP3 is at LEAST 192kbps it will sound fine on pretty much any system.

For lower quality systems you could probably even go as low as 128kbps but NO LOWER with music.

If you have a good sound system and want your MP3's to be as close to the quality of sound that you would get on a CD then you should convert either the CD itself of the FLAC version into MP3 using -V 0 VBR. You could also use 320kbps CBR but as I mentioned before you will have larger sized MP3 files when they might not need to be. (Note: The best program to use for converting to MP3 is dBpoweramp)

If you want to make a virtual backup of your CD collection then you should convert them to FLAC format and store them on an external hard drive. That way, if anything should happen to your CD collection in the future, you will have EXACT virtual replicas of them on your hard drive and you can then use this as your root source for converting to MP3. Because of the huge size of FLAC files, I would only use them in this scenario. If I am just looking for one album online then I will download it in FLAC format, convert it to MP3 and then delete the original FLAC version to save space on the laptop hard drive. The reason I download it in FLAC format instead of just looking for the MP3 version is because most MP3 versions are ripped badly using poor converters. There is an online group called DarksideRG which have strict quality standards for ripping so if I saw an album with DarksideRG in the filename or details I would trust it but the majority of everything else out there is sub standard.

There are a couple of other things related to creating and maintaining your MP3 library which I will post articles about soon:

ID3 Meta Data - The information embedded into the MP3 (Song Name, Track Number, Artist etc.) that displays in your media player of digital screen on your MP3 player.

C2 Error Correction - To avoid hissing and popping transfer and to rip scratched CD's.


Useful Links
Hydrogen Audio - The be all and end all of audio info
stevehoffman.tv - The meeting place for audiophiles
What the hell is an "audiophile"?
7 Facts Audiophiles Need to Know About Digital Music
The World's 15 Sexiest Speakers Put Your Girlfriend to Shame
VBR vs. CBR
ABR (left out of article)
How MP3 works



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Monday, 2 November 2009

Not so smart NOW Facebook are ya???

Facebook are blocking people from posting the following link on Facebook pages to try and stop you from using Facebook Purity. They can't block a link to a link tho. Idiots.

http://steeev.freehostia.com/wp/2009/03/19/facebook_purity_cleans_up_the_facebook_homepage/



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Wednesday, 28 October 2009

uStream without a paddle...

Going live soon...




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Monday, 30 March 2009

New Video on my YouTube channel



I did this cover of Rory Gallaghers version of Leadbelly's "Out On The Western Plain" last Friday down in Rory Thompsons house...he got a new HD Video Camera with 5.1 sound recording and all sorts of cool stuff on it...sound seems good on playback from what I've heard but the picture isn't as good as I've seen it purely because it was starting to get dark and we never bothered to switch on a light :)

Did a good few takes of it..this was the best overall one..I thought I played some bits a lot better in other takes but then I made a small mistake further into it or whatever and just scrapped it..it's a little bit fast but that's how I would probably play it at a gig..I'm thinking of re-recording a slower version with a bit more emphasis on the clarity of the notes etc...all in all tho I'm pretty happy with it as a little rough idea of what I'm about :)

Myself and Mr. Thompson did some more recording a couple of weeks ago for another one of my songs; we will be putting together a video with the footage pretty soon and putting that up too (and hopefully some more in the near future)...I'm holding off on putting my studio recorded songs up on YouTube until I have a visual accompaniment for them because I think people get bored listening to new and unheard music on YouTube unless it has video to go with it...so the plan for the next couple of weeks is to do some more filming and all that sort of jazz ;)

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Wednesday, 4 March 2009

No plans for Turkish tour dates in the foreseeable future...

Absolutely no idea what I did to piss off a Turkish militant group enough to hack my website forum "for Turkey"...but as my old music teacher once said to me..."You haven't made it until an entire country hates you"




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Friday, 20 February 2009

neilmcgrath @ reverbnation

I'm now on ReverbNation...there's some cool widgets which allow you to embed a music player on sites like the one below [or the one I stuck on the side of this blog]:


Neil%20McGrath
Quantcast

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Thursday, 19 February 2009

music is @ http://www.myspace.com/neilmcgrath

Listen to my music ---> HERE <---

[edit: There is a ReverbNation player on the Facebook page now...]

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downloadmusic.ie



Right now I've only got one track for sale on downloadmusic.ie which you can link to by clicking on the picture above this text

Here's some more links and details also:

Click HERE for my main music sales page on downloadmusic.ie

Buy Mo Chairde Go Leir for €1 :

- PC Download @ http://www.downloadmusic.ie/?pc=2479

- To buy this track with SMS, users should text music 2479 to 57501 (Texts cost €1, which includes operator revenue share. Republic Of Ireland ONLY.)


- Mobile Download @ http://www.downloadmusic.ie/?m=2479

- To buy this track with SMS for Direct to Mobile download, users should text music 2479 m to 57501 (Texts cost €1, which includes operator revenue share. Republic Of Ireland ONLY.) Operator Data Transfer fees also apply for mobile downloads.

- Click HERE to buy this track from the UK


So basically you can get the track 3 different ways:

1. Go directly to Downloadmusic.ie and pay for it online, then download it.
2. Text music 2479 to 57501 and pay for it with your phone credit/bill, you will receive a text back with a PIN number. Visit Downloadmusic.ie, enter the PIN and then download the track.
3. Text music 2479 m to 57501 and pay for it with your phone credit/bill, you can download the track directly onto your phone.

So there you have it, please go and buy it immediately!!

Neil



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Guess Who's Back? Who? You were gone somewhere?

Hello again...

In the unlikely event that you've ever heard of me before now, it's been a long time and it's good to be back...and for the majority of you that have no idea who I am; nice to meet you and I hope that you enjoy my music :)

So after years of resistance to selling out and promoting myself online I've finally decided to drop all the pseudonyms and aliases and create some Neil McGrath sites to promote my music. I'm still gonna be keeping my alias profiles on Facebook etc. to chat with just my friends but for all things Neil McGrath related I'm gonna be whoring myself @ the following locations:

(This) Blog: http://neilmcgrath.blogspot.com/

Website: http://www.neilmcgrath.com

ReverbNation: http://www.reverbnation.com/neilmcgrath

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/neilmcgrathDOTCOM

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/NeilMcGrath

MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/neilmcgrath

Bebo: http://www.bebo.com/neilmcgrathDOTCOM

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Neil-McGrath/65205277848

Buy My Music: Click here for my main sales page on Downloadmusic.ie

I'm going to be selling my music on Downloadmusic.ie and iTunes (when I set it up)

For the moment I am just selling one track "Mo Chairde Go Leir" and I'll post a second blog in a moment with details on how to buy it online or with your mobile phone.

Oh and finally if anyone sends emails anymore or if anyone wants to offer me a $1,000,000 record deal then you can write to me at these email addresses:

info@neilmcgrath.com or NeilMcGrath1@googlemail.com

I think that's everything for now anyway...I'll be creating a fan page thing on Facebook soon so I'll post that up aswell... [*Update* I just added the link to the Facebook Fan Page now]

And lastly, thanks to everyone and anyone that encouraged me or supported my music along the way...I really appreciate it and I hope to see you all soon when I get back to playing gigs this spring :)

Neil



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