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Friday, October 23, 2009

Steve Lehman brings Computer Music to Jazz

I caught this review of Steve Lehman on NPR and unlike most of the jazz they review, it actually really struck me.

Lehman is applying a concept borrowed from the computer music world,"Spectral Music", to a Jazz context. In short, the composer uses a computer to analyze the sonic signature of a piece of audio, then consciously manipulate it to compose in the meta-space that is the texture of the whole of the piece by causing interference patterns, morphs between states, etc. In long:
Spectral music (or spectralism) is a musical composition practice where compositional decisions are often informed by the analysis of sound spectra. Computer based sound spectrum analysis using a Fast Fourier transform is one of the more common methods used in generating descriptive data. Using FFT analysis, features of a particular sound spectrum can be visualized using a spectrogram. Spectral composition focuses, then, on bringing out these features, interconnecting them, and transforming them.

My favorite music in the world (minimalism, idm, drum'n'bass, dub) tends to focus the listener on these higher level abstractions of the song, rather than just the melodies or harmonic progressions, so this is some jazz I think I can really get behind. I'd love to hear what else is happening in this area right now.

Here's an extended interview with him, also has lots of live footage of the octet:


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Eigenharp Alpha

This is one of the most expressive electronic music controllers I've ever seen:

Very well thought out. But... this still seems to suffer from what plagues most of these sorts of new instruments: it makes you look like a total tool. It shouldn't, but it does.

That shouldn't dissuade anyone from using it if they like it, though. After all, I look like a guy checking his email or playing Tetris when I perform.

(from engadget)

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Everyone Needs a Toy Steel Drums Set

Caribbean Finger Drums Song Demo

(from engadget)


Help Fund Public Enemy's Next Album

Public Enemy asking fans to raise $250,000 to help record new album
The rap collective have signed a deal with fan funding engine SellaBand, and are aiming to raise $250,000 in increments of $25 in order to record and release the as-yet-untitled album. In return, fans who invest in the album will receive a share in the revenue of the album, as well as a numbered copy of it.

As of right now they've already pulled in $39,350 in funding. Get on it, now's your one and only chance to buy Flava Flav a new clock!

Chip in why don't you?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Xenakis: Mycenae Alpha

When I first encountered Mycenae Alpha about 1994 it was by listening to a CD I found in the library. I was immediately grabbed by the music, the very lively and dynamic textures struck a chord in my head. I had always heard compositional ideas swirling around my brain, but I hadn't really ever heard anything like it in the real world. Mycenae Alpha was the first time I heard something that paralleled what I had in my head and was trying to bring out into the real world. When I learned about how the music was made, my conception of how to make was transfigured. I had struggled with learning Western music theory and composition; and I found the computer music software of the time perpendicular to my creative process. I wasn't able to get access to a UPIC machine so I had to begrudgingly lay those compositional ideas to rest and find a way to get there. Shortly after, building upon my frustration of working with computers as well as inspiration by their possibilities, I spent a year working on software to control computer music synthesis in realtime using joysticks. This was another approach to an interface that enables exploration along the lines of the UPIC. The final chunk was filled when I discovered Pure Data and its graphical structures, allowing me to combine the immediacy of the joystick with the graphical score of the UPIC.

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Diamanda Galas - Double Barrel Prayer

I've never been able to understand Diamanda, so if any of you have an explanation please share. Please.

(thanks jd)

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Har Mar Superstar - Tall Boy

A couple of fun facts:

1) yes, that's Eva Mendes getting blasted in the face with a leaf blower and glitter in slow motion.

2) yes, the chubby bald guy with a scullet is Har Mar Superstar himself.

(from crooksandliars)

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Friday, October 09, 2009

Piano as Digital Voice

This is the perhaps the coolest concept for an electromechanical sound installation I've ever seen:

Mechanical piano hacked to talk, says nothing you'd be interested in

(from engadget)

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Piracy Payback

Feeling guilt over P2P use? Piracy Payback wants to help

Feeling a sense of remorse, contrition, guilt, shame, and self-loathing over all that unauthorized peer-to-peer downloading you've been doing? Salve that stinging conscience by giving some cash back to artists!

That's the pitch behind Piracy Payback, a website that collects donations from downloaders and distributes them to rightsholder organizations in Europe and North America (where much of the content originates). I spoke to Drew K, the Australian proprietor of the site, who says that his inspiration for the venture came when he couldn't find a particular TV series available anywhere except in the darker corners of the Internet. In a moment of weakness, he downloaded, but he wanted some way to give back to the creators.

Finally I can sleep through the night!