Expectation Maximization


Permalink 08:44:33 pm, Categories: Announcements [A], 307 words   English (US)

Scaled distribution of Mohali match-related posts in my Facebook news feed

Today, my Facebook news feed had nothing but talk about the WC 2011 semi-final match between India and Pakistan played at Mohali. So, here is a plot of how this chatter was distributed over a ~24 hour time period.

Mohali match madness

Each bar on the plot is the scaled count of the number of match-related posts within a 30 minute window. The start point of the time period is at around 6 PM, March 29, 2011 PST (~8 hours before match time). The spikes towards the final overs of the match were expected. The ratio of match-related posts to all posts is ~0.73.

The match-relatedness of a post was determined using a simple keyword lookup. Not exactly the most elegant way to do things (and I'm sure all you topic-modelers out there are gonna scream), but it's quick and gives us a decent estimate.

Maybe if we try this after another 24 hours, we'll see more spikes as other parts of the world wake up.

And finally, the Poster Leader Board

[Renee Kishore] => 11
[Aditya Joag] => 8
[George Mathew Menackil] => 8
[Pooja Abraham] => 7
[Kalyan Banda] => 5
[Rohan Thakkar] => 5
[Bg Lohith] => 3
[Cuckoo Mariam Varghese] => 3
[Swaroop Srinath] => 3
[Anisha Abraham] => 3
[Ashwin Kochugovindan] => 3
[Shrivardhan Kabra] => 3
[Raghuveer Mallikarjunan] => 3
[Nitin Devaiah] => 2
[Muzammil Hussain] => 2
[Jonathan Menezes] => 2
[Sulabh Choudhury] => 2
[Rena Shah] => 2
[Ashwin George Benjamin] => 2
[Lakshmi Viswanathan] => 2
[Aparna Kanduri] => 2
[Abhinav Pande] => 2
[Neil Castelino] => 2
[Candice Quadros] => 2
[Priya Iyer] => 2
[Pradipta' Prady' Mazumder] => 1
[Raghuraj S. Hegde] => 1
[Ruth Cherian] => 1
[Kartik Desai] => 1
[Marina Joseph] => 1
[Mark Sequeira] => 1
[Sahana Krishnamurthy] => 1
[Soumya Pavan] => 1
[Mervyn Joseph R] => 1
[Arun V Subash] => 1
[Aditya Makam] => 1
[Anand Patikkal] => 1
[Ess See] => 1
[Bejoy Koshy] => 1
[Rajesh Vijayarajan] => 1
[Meryl Ann Soman] => 1
[Vikram Balakrishna] => 1
[Vinayak Rao] => 1
[Jason Selvin] => 1
[Roy Varghese] => 1
[Namita Liz Koshy] => 1
[Abhishek Shroff] => 1
[Gurupreet Singh Rana] => 1
[Santhosh Lakshmi Narasimhan] => 1
[Deepti Mande] => 1
[Ashrith Barthur] => 1
[George Kuruvilla] => 1
[Wilson Kenneth] => 1
[Rashmi Mudiyanur] => 1
[Kiran Nagaraj] => 1
[Indrayudh Ghoshal] => 1
[Vinay George] => 1
[Aninda Ray] => 1
[Vincil Varghese] => 1
[Jeetendra Ashok] => 1
[Jacob Ninan] => 1
[Rahul Kapur] => 1
[Alexander Thomas] => 1
[Bindu Sibu Joseph] => 1
[Setlur Nagesh Swetadri Vasan] => 1
[Ashish K Kurian] => 1


Permalink 01:03:58 am, Categories: Announcements [A], 317 words   English (US)

Route 66

Front Cover


A year has passed since the release of my previous album of covers. It was a year in which I explored musical genres that I would never before have thought of trying out. Route 66 marks the first, in a series of albums, that will showcase this exploration.

The year was 2007, the location - the inside of an old Hyundai with a spanking new audio system; driver's seat. The radio station - Western New York's Country station. This has been my sanctuary, my retreat. And it is what I want to celebrate through this album. We're gonna ride this highway of Country Rock with 15 mile markers. 15 songs that are on my playlist on repeat. We're gonna celebrate the feeling of good music on the open road, country style!

The album is named after Route 66, a stretch of highway running from Chicago to Los Angeles, spanning more than half the country. It passes through states that are pure Country to their roots. It is a historic highway, symbolizing adventure, the open road and cruising to no particular destination. The name appears repeatedly in country music and seemed like the perfect title for the album.

I love the feeling. Getting in your car at the crack of dawn with your closest friend. Hitting the road, with no place to be in a hurry, and no map to get you there. Going where the road takes you. Stopping at a country side breakfast diner where the Two Egg Special is made with 3 eggs. Where the hot chocolate is 'all-you-can-drink'. Where the waitress knows the regulars by name. Driving down the back roads, the ones that are still single lane only. You have the road, you have the radio, you have the life.

Country music is raw, tell-it-like-it-is and honest. The songs on the album are the best of contemporary Country Rock, good old country music with a rock edge. Let's ride. No stop signs, no work zones. Just the open road. Route 66. Giddy up!


Permalink 06:47:41 pm, Categories: Announcements [A], 891 words   English (US)

In Great Company..

on 28 February, 2007

I thought I'd put up a nice post about the album, its making, the singers, the stories.. For some reason, I just cannot get myself to write so much.. Go listen to the songs here.. Go..

on 6 March, 2007

Going with an edit of a previous draft..

Front Cover

I have been waiting for an album like this for a long time. In Great Company is an album of covers that's a combination of some of my more recent recordings and a bunch of duets. Of course, the duets take the spotlight. Six songs with six very special people. As I said, this album took a long time to get ready, but it was worth the wait.

Planning for this album started almost a year back, around April 2006. I wanted to record an album of duets and had some songs in mind. A few hurried phone calls (mostly to India) and I already had five (or was it four?) people all excited about the recording. So, we started looking at possible song choices. That part was easy, we each had some "unfinished" song that we had waited a while to record. With each song that was finally recorded, came a memory that we'd cherish.. Till we record again! :)


All Over Again, the first duet on the album, was an on-again-off-again venture. Bincy was not too keen on recording this at first. I asked her to just try two lines, since we already had the gear all set up. She did, and when she heard it back, she was thrilled and wanted to complete the song! I knew then that this duet would be the one that would open the pack.


The Prayer has to be the toughest duet we have ever performed. I think Ruth agrees with me (for once!) on this. At times, we switch the male and female parts because the original is a little out of our league. We wanted to record the song way back in 2005, but never got the opportunity to do so. Well, we finally did, and even though Ruth wants a gazillion things changed in the recording ("I don't like how I sound at the start of the chorus...", "Nooooo!! Chint! How could you?!") we're extremely happy to have completed this. This duet has an accompanying video that was originally created for Listen to our Hearts, a fund-raiser that SARs had organized in Jun 2005.


Sindu and I have a history with Mary Did You Know. We loved the original duet, by Kenny Rogers and Wynnona Judd, but could never find that version's track. Ended up performing it for a show, singing the song on some other track. I was very excited when I found the track (yea, these things excite me) after searching for almost a year! When we finally recorded, we were so sure of our parts that we completed it in less than two hours (and were pretty surprised that we did; Sindu looked at me and said "..that's it eh?.."). This song too has an accompanying video.


Bless the Broken Road was not the song I had originally wanted to record with Binu (hereinafter referred to as "BinChach" also known as "The Chach" or "The Great Wisdomous Daddy"). Ask BinChach to explain to you his reasons for the switch. But we had a good time recording this one anyway. It was especially challenging since we did not even have an uninformative prior (taken from Wikipedia) to work with. We had to re-structure the song as a duet and do it with that country twang! Oh! How could I have forgotten to mention?! BinChach also goes by the alias "Blainu Chach", owing to his ability to perform some... ahem... special feats.


You Raise Me Up was another duet that Abhay (Bach, my little brother) and I had performed at Listen to our Hearts. We did it as a surprise for our parents, it was a special song and I wanted to record it. I thank Bach (the big rockstar :p) for singing it with me; (maybe I just bullied him into it, maybe he'll sit on me for writing this). We did this song on the very last day that I was in India, Bach had come to see me off and we recorded his part on that morning; my part was done about two weeks later. Ah, the advantages of modern multi-track recording.. Almost anything is possible!


And that brings us to Promiscuous. Sandhya and I did not, I repeat, DID NOT, intend to record this song as our duet! What can I say? We tried it for fun, had a whole lotta fun doing it and decided, "let's stick with this!". We're just lowly grad students in the US, and as such, have no real houses or assets or in some cases, furniture. The only place we found suitable to place the mic so that it was high enough to sing into, was the kitchen counter! This song was recorded in Sandhya's kitchen, somewhere in the middle of Kansas! The good part of that was, the food was right there when we got hungry.

So there you have it, six songs, six people, six stories. The album title went through quite a few iterations before In Great Company was finally chosen. The reason? I love the company of these people; it was great..



Permalink 09:15:55 pm, Categories: Announcements [A], 608 words   English (US)

A Story Telling..

Within each song is a story waiting to be told. The magic of it lies in the story telling.. Sometimes, we understand clearer when we hear the stories retold..
My latest album of covers, A Story Telling is a collection of 14 songs that has something to offer to every listener.. Songs from a range of genres including Swing, Rock n Roll, Country, Country Rock, Pop, Rock and even Spanish Crossover make this album the most ambitious one I have undertaken yet..
There's a lot that goes into producing an album (even if it not a set of original songs).. First, we have the recording itself.. To make sure this is worth the effort, it's important to choose songs that are vocally challenging but are also able to impress an audience.. So, you choose the appropriate songs, do your best on the recording session and hope you've got it right.. I had a set of people who served as my sounding board after each song was done.. Ajeya Krishnamurthy, Divya Ninan and Sindu John Thomas were three critics who gave me feedback and suggestions after each take.. They listened carefully and mercilessly put down the negatives.. And that is what is important, that you get honest feedback.. Thank you guys (if you are reading this)..
Once we have a sizeable collection of recordings, it's time to start thinking about a theme for the album and cover design.. I wanted this album to look and feel very different from my previous one.. Musically, I was half-way there.. Now it was important to design a good cover, playlist and inlay card.. Preeti Agrawal was the one who had the brainwave about packaging the album as a story book, so that it goes with the theme of story telling.. It's amazing how people can collaborate and create without even being in the same room, just by chatting over the Internet.. That's exactly how it happened with Preeti and me..

Preeti: .........i like the black 'n white and the curly font thing.. ok, lets go with your signature..
Achint: ok, so we're not doing the color idea?
Preeti: heyyyyyyy.. chintu.. hang on, hang on..
Achint: i'm listening.. tell tell..
Preeti: try an old book binding with golden lettering.. like as tho the cover is the book cover.. what say?
Achint: yea!! so opening the CD is like opening a book!!
Preeti: so you can proli have the top like a burgundy leather kinda texture.. might look good with some old english fonts also.. it's an idea... kick it around!
Achint: i like it!! i like it already!!

And that's how the cover design came to be.. Sindu was the one who suggested the tag line on the album, "stories retold.." It fitted just perfectly..
Some of the songs on this album are requests from my friends, so it's always nice to get their reaction when you tell them you did a song for them.. The playlist went through two changes.. Not all the songs that were originally planned for the CD made it in.. Once the design and content were ready, it was time to put out feelers.. Two or three of the best songs from the CD to act as previews.. Meanwhile, the hard copies were going out to those people who had requested them..
Now that everything is set, the final step.. The online launch.. Compose an email telling people about the album and send it out to your contacts and request them to forward it to their contacts and so on till some bigwig in the music industry happens to hear your voice and signs you on..
So.... I'm waiting..

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