Monday, February 8, 2016

Please note that from now until Saturday February 13th, The Hamiltonian will be undergoing maintenance work. During this time, The Hamiltonian will continue to be viewable to our readers. 

We will resume full operations on February 13th. 

Friday, February 5, 2016

The Democratization of Music and Smart Music?

Music itself is going to become like running water or electricity. So it's like, just take advantage of these last few years because none of this is ever going to happen again. You'd better be prepared for doing a lot of touring because that's really the only unique situation that's going to be left."

David Bowie'

Remember the days when albums stood as a testament to the musical genius of musicians and songwriters? Do you remember when the artwork alone on an album was a showpiece?. Do you remember the countless classic musical masterpieces like Hotel California, Led Zeppelin 4, Songs in the Key of Life, The Wall, Scary Monsters, Highway 61 Revisited, Born to Run, and the list goes on and on.

Recall when cuts from an album made the greatest sense and had the most impact, when heard as a whole; sides A and B? In short, remember the days before cherry picking songs from Itunes and assembling them into a playlist?

How did we get from the music of “then” to the music of “now”? The answer to that question may depend to some extent on music genre, but if we consider the world of rock and pop and today’s mainstream “hits”, unpacking the main thrusts of the answer become apparent.

A primary factor that has lead us to where we are now is the democratization of music. What is meant by that?

In the not so distant future, playing an instrument required musical talent and ability. The best songs were the ones that were written from the heart and soul. The ones that said something to you. Many of us can recall some of our most memorable moments in life, to specific songs that spoke to us at the time and still speak to us now.

With the democratization of music, computers and other gadgets make it possible for almost anyone who can operate a computer, to write or produce a song. Or, at the very least, to assemble a host of sounds. The ability to assemble and align pre-recorded loops of music (drum beats or whole segments) and place them into digital recording software, has never been easier, cheaper and generally more accessible, as ever before. It doesn’t require extraordinary musical ability or cost.

The average Mac computer for example, comes stocked with Garage Band and Apple loops, making it possible to create multi track music productions with no additional equipment.

Gone are the days when you had to book expensive studio time, have quality gear or be fluent with an instrument. We’ve even reached a point where software can automate the process of songwriting with a few interventions from the user.

Much of the pop music industry has resorted to track and hook approaches to song production, rather than personal songwriting. Track and hook is a process whereby producers and/or technicians /musicians produce loops of music, carefully arranged and assembled to produce a continuous stream of music.

These preassembled music streams are then farmed out to singers or other creative people , who take a shot at laying a melody and lyrics over top of the music. The goal is to create a hit song, often characterized with a strong hook or series of hooks embedded throughout. The lyrics may or may not make sense. The core requirement are the hooks, that entice and seduce the listener.

It is not being suggested in this article that the process of creating music through a hook and track approach, as opposed to a historically traditional approach, does not take talent. At some level, the ability to discern what might work, and the pairing up of the music track with the melody and hooks, requires judgment and skill.

But it is still very different than sitting on a back porch with a guitar, pouring out one’s heart in a song about having lost at love. Or sitting in the room crafting Bohemian Rhapsody. It can be argued that the computer itself, has become an instrument, or perhaps a component of making music itself.

Coupled with the advent of music streaming, mp3s , Itunes and the rest of the digital music revolution, the world of producing and consuming music has changed dramatically. 

Creating playlists on many of the streaming services, creates data repositories where streaming companies can determine what kind of music you are listening to, what kind of playlists are being created and what time of the day you are listening. This type of information can be invaluable to music producers who may wish to write to spec. In other words, the data garnered can be used to define a formula of sorts as to what type of music is most in demand. The industry can respond to that demand by creating music that subscribes to these consumption trends.

Looking back on the late David Bowie’s words, they seem to be prophetic. Bowie understood that with the advent of these new creation and distribution technologies, artists would have to rely on touring and live shows in order continue to generate income.

So, is the democratization of music good or bad? Is the ability to produce “smart music” whereby music production is in response to consumption demands, a good thing? The answer to these questions can only be had from you; the end consumer.

While some strands of music such as country music, appears to be clinging to the more traditional ways of producing music ; ie- songwriters writing the old fashioned way, and while some pop artists still write and produce music in that way, there is no doubt that the track and hook manner of music production has a commanding presence in the industry.

Do you think the democratization of music is a good thing? Or do you see it as a mindless way of making manufactured music?

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Green, Not Greed- A Chat with the City of Hamilton re: Greenbelt Lands

1. In an interview recently published in The Hamiltonian, a citizen by the name of Rick Breznick has expressed concerns that information coming to council and to the Ontario government concerning greenbelt lands has been misrepresented. His concerns are expressed here: http://www.thehamiltonian.net/2016/01/green-not-greed-chat-with-rick-breznick.html. Can you respond to his specific concerns.

As part of the fall public consultation, staff identified a series of different option for lands to be removed from and added to the Greenbelt Plan. As part of this public consultation process, staff received input on other lands that staff had not identified. Staff reviewed and evaluated all the submissions received during the open houses, through online surveys and additional comments received after the open houses.

Public consultation is a process whereby staff receive input on projects, programs, etc. and ask for comments on what has been presented. In many cases, the public identifies different ideas, concepts and recommendations staff may not have considered initially. The proposed removal of the Waterdown area is one such circumstance. This public input is used as part of staff’s evaluations and recommendations to Planning Committee on a particular process.

For the lands in the eastern end of Waterdown, staff recommended these lands be removed, the details of which are contained on page 14 of the staff report that was presented to the Planning Committee on December 3. The lands south of the future by-pass will be cut off from the remaining rural lands to the north making farming difficult; the lands are surrounded by urban uses on the west.

The public also had the opportunity to make comments to the Planning Committee during their special Committee meeting on the Greenbelt and Niagara Escarpment plan boundary review. Committee amended some of the recommendations. City Council approved the recommendations with some further amendments. Council’s recommendations were sent to the Province for consideration in the Coordinated Provincial Plan review. Ultimately the Province will make a determination as to what or if any changes to the Plans will be made.

With respect to the wetland, provincially significant wetlands are protected by the Province under various Plans – the Greenbelt Plan, the Growth Plan and the Provincial Policy statement. The city has wetlands in the urban area, has wetlands and in the rural area not covered by the Greenbelt Plan. Provincially significant wetlands are protected regardless of what Plan they are part of.

2. From conversations Hamiltonian staff, have observed at the consultations sessions hosted by the Ontario Government, and from many of the comments found on media sites, it is clear that hamiltonians are concerned about the loss of Greenbelt lands to development or other purposes. There are some who suggest that there is a bias in favor of the development community , at the expense of the protection of greenbelt lands. Understanding that the ultimate decision does not rest with the city but at the provincial level, what criteria does the city of Hamilton use to determine whether they will recommend the removal of lands from the Greenbelt. Given the irretrievable nature that such decisions will have on such lands, what possible justification does the city find as compelling enough to recommend their removal.

Please see Appendix C of the December 3 Planning Committee report. The Dillon Consulting report identifies various options and considerations that provide justification.

3. Focussing on the Winona area and the E.D. Smith lands, what is the recommendation the city is making with respect to these greenbelt designated lands, and what is the justification for the recommendation?

Same response as per above. See Dillon Consulting report (Appendix C of December 3 Planning Committee report).

4. Can you respond to the belief of some that PICS and other public engagement sessions mean very little in terms of the impact they have on decisions. Some suggest that decisions are pre-determined prior to consultation.

Several hundred attendees participated in the PICs and other public engagement sessions offering varying opinions and options that staff took back for consideration and Council approval.

5. A longer strategic vision for the treatment of greenbelt protected lands might suggest that the ability to grow our own food locally, or otherwise continue to protect these lands for agricultural or other public interest uses, should be given primacy over all other considerations. How do you respond to this suggestion and how aligned are the recommendations made at the city level to this notion?

From a planning perspective, the City of Hamilton must conform to the Growth Plan and the Greenbelt Plan. They work together. There are a number of different planning objectives the City of Hamilton has to satisfy, one of which is supporting agricultural land.

6. Just before the holiday season Minister McMeekin was quoted as saying that “If you want to take tender fruit lands out of the Greenbelt for development you better have a strong case for that”. Is the City of Hamilton heeding the Minster’s advice and if so, what evidence is there that that is the case?

The City of Hamilton, like other municipalities, makes comments to the province on potential changes to the various provincial plans under review. Ultimately, it is up to the province to make a final decision on what lands will be removed or added to the Greenbelt.

Joanne Hickey-Evans
Manager, Policy Planning and Zoning By-Law Reform
City of Hamilton

Saturday, January 30, 2016

At the Movies - Brooklyn

Set in 1952, Brooklyn is the story of a a young Irish woman's immigration to the U.S.A. and more specifically, Brooklyn. She falls in love with an Italian American and quickly finds herself torn between her country of origin and her newly found life and love in America. 

With remarkable casting and highly believable performances, the story captures the viewer. The scenes accomplish a sense of nostalgia and the differing characteristics of the two countries featured. This offering is beautifully filmed. If you are interested in a love story that is set is a different era and speaks to traditional values, Brooklyn is a good choice at the movies or when available on DVD or digital download. The movie offers an escape from the typical violent stories involving guns and crime. Brooklyn will warm your heart. 

Friday, January 29, 2016

LRT Project Plan Timelines for Hamilton

Please click here to have a look at the estimated timelines for the LRT Hamilton project. Special thanks to Andrew Hope of Metrolinx for providing this information.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

7- Candidate Donna Skelly

In our series entitled "7", The Hamiltonian will provide all candidates who are registered to run in the Ward 7 by-election, equal access to The Hamiltonian to get their message out. As per our standing policies, The Hamiltonian will remain nuetral and will allow all an opportunity.

Our series continues with Ward 7 candidate Donna Skelly. Enjoy our Q/A with Donna:

 1. Why are you running for Ward 7 Councillor? What are you hoping to achieve by doing so?

I’m passionate about Hamilton, the great future ahead of this city, and determined to help people – especially those who are frustrated because they feel no one is listening and they need a voice.

As the local union representative (President, Communications, Energy & Paperworkers Union, Local 1100), I was a strong voice for fellow CHCH-TV employees -- both in 2009 when I led the grassroots effort to save the station, and more recently with what we all saw happen last year and the months leading up to it.

I’m also proud to have championed the cause of Hamilton’s parents of adult children with developmental disabilities and to have achieved results for them.

This is the kind of advocate for the people of Ward 7 that I hope to be as your Councillor. Ward 7 is a