Category: Music

June 6, 2019 Off

Every Final Fantasy soundtrack is now on Spotify and Apple Music

By Jill T Frey

Just in time for your road trip to LA for E3, Square Enix has suddenly made the soundtracks to every main Final Fantasy game available for free to listen to online. Just log into Spotify or Apple Music and search for “Final Fantasy original soundtrack.”

I just checked and Final Fantasies I-XV and some sub-sequels are all there, some in original and remastered versions, plus plenty of popular (or not) side titles like FF Tactics (come out on Switch already!) and Type-0. There’s even the soundtrack for the ill-considered 2001 movie, The Spirits Within.

No X-2, unfortunately for the few who liked that one (usually very intensely), and a few of the other non-main entries (like Tactics Advance and A2) are missing right now but perhaps only late to arrive. So it’s not every every Final Fantasy, but close enough that I don’t feel bad about putting it in the … Read the rest

June 3, 2019 Off

Farewell iTunes: Apple brings standalone Music, Podcasts and TV apps to Mac

By Jill T Frey

Apple is dismantling its aging iTunes software with today’s announcement that it’s launching standalone versions of its Music, Podcasts and TV apps for Mac users on the next version of macOS, Catalina. These same apps are currently available on iOS where they’re separate from Apple’s two marketplace apps, the iTunes Store and the App Store.

The company announced the end of iTunes today at its Worldwide Developer Conference, where Apple VP of Software Engineering Craig Federighi poked fun at iTunes’ bloat.

“Customers love iTunes and everything it can do. But if there’s one thing we hear over and over, is can iTunes do even more?,” he teased before jokily presenting a version of iTunes that bundles in other Apple apps like Calendar and Mail, which got a laugh.

In reality, iTunes’ individual components are getting their own Mac apps.

The new Music app will be based on iTunes, and will … Read the rest

May 31, 2019 Off

Muro is a retro-style cylinder music box you control with an app

By Jill T Frey

The light twinkle of an old-fashioned cylinder music box evokes many things: nostalgia, childhood memories, sometimes even horror (they are a trope in scary movie soundtracks). Most music boxes play one tune, but with the Muro Box, which exhibited at Computex this week, you can use an app to pick different songs or even compose your own. It even doubles as a smart alarm clock.

Created by Tevofy Technology, a Taiwanese startup, the Muro Box’s components are mounted on a wooden base and visible underneath a glass cover, so you can watch as a 20-note steel comb creates music by plucking pins on its cylinder. The key difference between Muro and traditional music boxes, however, is that Muro’s cylinder is programmable.

The Muro Box is a music box with a programmable cylinder

Instead of a fixed pattern of pins, Muro’s patented convertible cylinder features 20 stainless steel gears, … Read the rest

May 3, 2019 Off

Spotify’s leanback instant listening app Stations hits iOS

By Jill T Frey

Spotify has launched its instant listening app Stations on iOS, but only in Australia for the time being. The release comes nearly a year and a half after the Stations app first arrived on the market, initially for Android users in Australia. Dubbed an “experiment,” the app allows users to jump right into streaming instead of having to curate their own playlists or stations, or save favorite music to their library.

Unlike Spotify’s flagship application, the Stations app presents users with a minimalist interface where available playlists are displayed with an oversized font. You can scroll up and down between the playlists to select one, instead of typing in a search box or searching through voice commands.

When launching Stations, music begins playing automatically — a feature that had some calling it a “Pandora copycat” at the time of launch, given that instant music playback is something that Spotify’s … Read the rest

May 2, 2019 Off

Spotify spotted testing ‘Your Daily Drive,’ a personalized playlist that includes podcasts

By Jill T Frey

Spotify was recently spotted testing a new personalized playlist — the first one to mix music and podcasts, customized to users’ musical tastes. According to a report by The Verge, which saw first-hand the new playlist titled “Your Daily Drive,” the playlist features short episodes from podcasts followed by a curated selection of music that fits your interests.

In the case of the test The Verge saw, however, the podcasts episodes were in Portuguese — an indication that this was not meant for public consumption at this time.

However, the site wasn’t the only one to come across the test.

Several other users have also had the personalized playlist presented to them in recent … Read the rest

April 26, 2019 Off

Plex adds more TIDAL-powered features, including ‘Artist TV’ for playing music videos

By Jill T Frey

Media center app Plex today is rolling out new features to expand upon its partnership with TIDAL, the streaming music service it began working with last November. Before, Plex subscribers could fill in the missing albums from artists in their library by way of TIDAL, but this option was only available within playlists. Now it’s available in users’ own music collection, too. In addition, a new feature called Artist TV allows you to play the artist’s video catalog along with other similar videos, with just a click.

The features — we think? — were announced today in this bizarre Plex blog post. But it’s unclear what exactly is going on there.

While Plex has always had a sort of casual, conversational tone to its various product announcements, this weird and confusing bit of fiction had its community members scratching their heads.

Here’s a sampling:

After he sweeps away our

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April 25, 2019 Off

MuseNet generates original songs in seconds, from Bollywood to Bach (or both)

By Jill T Frey

Have you ever wanted to hear a concerto for piano and harp, in the style of Mozart by way of Katy Perry? Well, why not? Because now you can, with OpenAI’s latest (and blessedly not potentially catastrophic) creation, MuseNet. This machine learning model produces never-before-heard music based on its knowledge of artists and a few bars to fake it with.

This is far from unprecedented — computer-generated music has been around for decades — but OpenAI’s approach appears to be flexible and scalable, producing music informed by a variety of genres and artists, and cross-pollinating them as well in a form of auditory style transfer. It shares a lot of DNA with GPT2, the language model “too dangerous to release,” but the threat of unleashing unlimited music on the world seems small compared with undetectable computer-generated text.

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