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Music – What makes it good?

“Good music is good no matter what kind of music it is.”
Miles Davis

An interesting and wonderful statement. But let’s think about it a little further. What is it that makes any piece of music good? Music is often called a universal language. So, is there any universal things that could be said make musical creations good? Is there any single connecting themes or ideas that all good music has, or even all things that can be considered music?

By contrast, or from another perspective, what makes music bad?

Golden Record Cover, on Voyager Spacecraft. [Image from NASA]
Golden Record Cover, on Voyager Spacecraft.

In 1977 Two spacecraft began a truly epic voyage into the galactic wilderness on scientific expeditions. The Voyager Golden Records are gramophone records which were included aboard both of the Voyager spacecraft.

‘They contain sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth, and are intended for any intelligent extraterrestrial life form, or for future humans, who may find them.’

The record contains the following list of musical pieces:

  • Bach, Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F. First Movement, Munich Bach Orchestra, Karl Richter, conductor. 4:40
  • Java, court gamelan, “Kinds of Flowers,” recorded by Robert Brown. 4:43
  • Senegal, percussion, recorded by Charles Duvelle. 2:08
  • Zaire, Pygmy girls’ initiation song, recorded by Colin Turnbull. 0:56
  • Australia, Aborigine songs, “Morning Star” and “Devil Bird,” recorded by Sandra LeBrun Holmes. 1:26
  • Mexico, “El Cascabel,” performed by Lorenzo Barcelata and the Mariachi México. 3:14
  • “Johnny B. Goode,” written and performed by Chuck Berry. 2:38
  • New Guinea, men’s house song, recorded by Robert MacLennan. 1:20
  • Japan, shakuhachi, “Tsuru No Sugomori” (“Crane’s Nest,”) performed by Goro Yamaguchi. 4:51
  • Bach, “Gavotte en rondeaux” from the Partita No. 3 in E major for Violin, performed by Arthur Grumiaux. 2:55
  • Mozart, The Magic Flute, Queen of the Night aria, no. 14. Edda Moser, soprano. Bavarian State Opera, Munich, Wolfgang Sawallisch, conductor. 2:55
  • Georgian S.S.R., chorus, “Tchakrulo,” collected by Radio Moscow. 2:18
  • Peru, panpipes and drum, collected by Casa de la Cultura, Lima. 0:52
  • “Melancholy Blues,” performed by Louis Armstrong and his Hot Seven. 3:05
  • Azerbaijan S.S.R., bagpipes, recorded by Radio Moscow. 2:30
  • Stravinsky, Rite of Spring, Sacrificial Dance, Columbia Symphony Orchestra, Igor Stravinsky, conductor. 4:35
  • Bach, The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 2, Prelude and Fugue in C, No.1. Glenn Gould, piano. 4:48
  • Beethoven, Fifth Symphony, First Movement, the Philharmonia Orchestra, Otto Klemperer, conductor. 7:20
  • Bulgaria, “Izlel je Delyo Hagdutin,” sung by Valya Balkanska. 4:59
  • Navajo Indians, Night Chant, recorded by Willard Rhodes. 0:57
  • Holborne, Paueans, Galliards, Almains and Other Short Aeirs, “The Fairie Round,” performed by David Munrow and the Early Music Consort of London. 1:17
  • Solomon Islands, panpipes, collected by the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Service. 1:12
  • Peru, wedding song, recorded by John Cohen. 0:38
  • China, ch’in, “Flowing Streams,” performed by Kuan P’ing-hu. 7:37
  • India, raga, “Jaat Kahan Ho,” sung by Surshri Kesar Bai Kerkar. 3:30
  • “Dark Was the Night,” written and performed by Blind Willie Johnson. 3:15
  • Beethoven, String Quartet No. 13 in B flat, Opus 130, Cavatina, performed by Budapest String Quartet. 6:37

[source of list at NASA]

Picture of 'The Sounds Of Earth', Voyager Golden Record.
The Sounds Of Earth.

So if by chance an alien civilization does happen to intercept/obtain the golden record on either of the Voyager spacecrafts, (and are sufficiently advanced enough technologically to realize what it is and how to play it) that’s the first music from Earth which they’ll hear.

Do you agree with that as a good selection? What would you have wanted put on that disc?

What kinds of music make you think? And what kinds make you feel? If you’d like to, you can share your thoughts on these things in the comments below. (please do!)

“To study music, we must learn the rules. To create music, we must forget them.” ~ Nadia Boulanger

Explorer.exe, dllhost.exe using high CPU?

Do you have a problem with explorer.exe using high CPU, showing 100% CPU usage (per CPU core) in windows 7, Windows server 2008 or windows 8? ie. It might show as using 50% CPU on a dual core or 25% on a quad core machine…

explorer.exe using high CPU
Picture thanks to

Task manager shows explorer.exe and/or dllhost.exe using loads of CPU? Have you recently exported .wav files which contain markers in them using Sony SoundForge, Image-Line FL Studio or any other audio software? Maybe the files are either on the Desktop, ‘My documents’, or somewhere else which is in the path for search indexing? Or are you trying to move or delete some .wav files but can’t as they are locked ‘in use by another program’ ? Or just when you open a folder containing these .wav files with markers in them, explorer seems to take forever… If so, read on.

Microsoft claims these are ‘corrupted’ .wav files but they’re not, it seems it’s only a new problem since window 7. The solution is to disable windows explorer from trying to extract the metadata from the .wav files (by using mf.dll which fails to do it correctly, gets confused and becomes stuck in a loop forever.)

Some related files:

Here is a description and explanation from Microsoft:

High CPU usage in the Explorer.exe process when you open a folder that contains corrupted .wav files in Windows 7 or in Windows Server 2008 R2

 You have some corrupted .wav files in a folder on a computer that is running Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2. When you open the folder, you encounter the following problems:

The computer responds slowly.
You cannot perform any other operations.
You experience high CPU usage in the Explorer.exe process. Note To temporarily resolve these problems, restart the Explorer.exe process. For more information about how to restart the Explorer.exe process, see the "More Information" section. You may also encounter problems when you use other applications or operations to open the corrupted .wav files. For example, if you try to use Windows Media Player to open the corrupted .wav files, Windows Media Player stops responding. Additionally, the Wmplayer.exe process generates high CPU usage.

 When a folder that contains corrupted .wav files is opened, Windows Explorer calls the Media Foundation (Mf.dll) function to extract metadata from the .wav files. However, the Mf.dll function enters an infinite loop when extracting the metadata.


You can try their official hotfix there also, (doesn’t work lol) but an actually working solution is this:

Download the following zip and open it, double click on Fix.reg and add the information to your registry, then reboot:


An ‘unfix’ is also provided in the zip, though you won’t be needing that. :)

The solution and registry fix was originally found here: by Wojtek and also some extra information and an explanation of how that works by Gwideman:

Adding a bit of explanation: What this fix does is disable the "PropertyHandler" dll for files having a particular filename extension (here, '.wav.). The registry should already contain the mentioned keys, with the default value shown. In the .reg files shown here, '@=' means 'default value'. The '#' sign prepended to the GUID apparently just makes the GUID invalid, but preserves it for future reference.

So if you are full nerd mode, that’s how it works. There is apparently the same sort of issue with some video files and formats so you could simply find and edit the property handlers for any type of file extension like that, if one so wanted to. ;)

And here is some more info on this error from one of the Fl Studio developers, Didier Dambrin (Gol):

What they might be calling "corrupt" is a misinterpretation of the wav file format on their side. There is a legacy bug by Sonic Foundry (now Sony) in the association of a MIDI note to a wav marker, only Soundforge & FL reads it, and it has to be buggy on purpose (wrong marker ID used) for it to load in Soundforge. Probably Microsoft isn't aware of that, but a bug in a format becomes part of history & thus part of the format.
 That or they have a bug somewhere else.

  // cue triggers
             for m:=0 to High(Regions) do if Regions[m].ID>=0 then
               with SampleTriggerChunk do
                 ListID      :=CUEID;
                 dwIdentifier:=Regions[m].ID-1;  // don’t forget the -1 (bug in SoundForge)
                 dwType      :=1;  // MIDI Command Trigger
                 MIDIByte0   :=$FF;
                 MIDINoteNum :=Regions[m].KeyNum;
                 MIDICommand :=MIDI_NOTEON;
                 MIDIChannel :=0;
                 dwFunction  :=0;  // Play
                 cbExtra     :=0;

             // size of the trigger list chunk


Hope this helps… Don’t forget to reboot! It won’t work until then.