music

  • I noticed (via the MF catalog) that Electro-Harmonix has just released something called a “Bass Blogger.” In addition to being a colossally stupid, already-anachronistic name, this somehow sounds really dirty. From looking at the product description, I can’t tell it apart from their other 74 bass distortion pedals, but whatever.

    #

In which our hero laments supply, demand

August 9th, 2008  |  Tags:  |  2 Comments

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Royalty-free “Love”

August 7th, 2008  |  Tags: ,  |  Leave a comment

There was a lot of commotion a while ago when some overcaffeinated kid revealed that the beat for the ubiquitous Usher single “Love in This Club” is made up of royalty-free loops, specifically, some synthesizer lines from the “Euro Hero Synth” set in Apple’s GarageBand. (All of the Apple loops have these bafflingly creativity-destroying names like “Cop Show Clav,” “Glow Stick Anthem Acid Bass,” “Angsty Chorused Flannel Stratocaster,” and “Uzbek Tech-House Breakdown Balalaika.”)

Of course, I use and love Logic Studio (which comes with approximately 2.7 years of royalty-free loops, including all of those included with GarageBand), but I never install loops. If I had — and if, you know, everyone else in the world hadn’t already done it — I might throw down a quick and mildly droll remix. This would probably be even easier than it sounds, since it seems like much of the production for “Love in This Club” may have been done in GarageBand. In particular, you might notice the obvious application of the “Earbleed Squarewave Mastering” preset:

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Usher may not “care who’s watching,” but he cares even less, apparently, about those who are listening. Who’s winning the loudness war now?

NB: some preset and loop names may be imaginary.

Firesale

August 5th, 2008  |  Tags: , ,  |  3 Comments

μ-blogging

“μ” as “micro:” I added a link to my twitter feed to the top of the page here in case any readers enjoy this site but think that weblog posts are typically too carefully crafted and coherent. If I know you and you’re on twitter, send a follow request!

“μ” as a lowercase Greek letter: I will get in trouble with Andrea if I admit how long I spent trying to typeset some Polytonic Greek in LaTeX today, so I won’t. I should just say that, if dissertations are to be judged by the epigraph typography at the beginning of chapters, then I am surely in line for several prestigious awards. I should also say that this is what eventually worked, for those of you who might have to do something similar and are finding this page via Google:

  1. Add this to your preamble:
    
    \usepackage{ucs}
    \usepackage[utf8]{inputenc}
    \usepackage[polutonikogreek,english]{babel}
    
  2. Then you can simply input your text, in Unicode, as an argument to the \greektext macro.

Oddly, this is one area in which HTML beats LaTeX. In HTML, I can just type the Unicode in, and it works (if your computing environment is sufficiently modern):

οὐ γὰρ μήποτε τοῦτο δαμῇ εἶναι μὴ ἐόντα·
ἀλλὰ σὺ τῆσδ’ ἀφ’ ὁδοῦ διζήσιός εἶργε νόημα.

(Special recognition to the first reader to say something smart about this quotation.)

Music notes

I’ve had a terrible time with earworm lately.

This morning, I had Busoni’s setting of Goethe’s “Flohlied” stuck in my head. Right before lunch, it was replaced by Tag Team’s “Whoomp! There it is!” Later in the afternoon, it was Fugazi’s “Arpeggiator.” None of these has been particularly conducive to accomplishing anything requiring any concentration; also, I feel like I’m permanently listening to some terrible first-semester college-radio DJ.

Jam on it

Wikiquote has a long way to go before it is comparable to Bartlett’s. I found one detail of Wikiquote’s genesis pretty bizarre: when it was first established in 2003, it lived on wo.wikipedia.org, which is the Wolof-language Wikipedia site. It was there for two weeks. I bet that a lot of Wolof speakers were totally perplexed when their community-edited encyclopedia resource was replaced with a bunch of English-language quips from Homer Simpson, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and various minor characters from the Star Wars universe.

I feel bad about my shortage of recent prescriptions, so here’s a policy idea to improve undergraduate education in the United States: Assure undergrads that, yes, it is all right to use Wikipedia — as long as they only use Wolof Wikipedia. (I learned something new from my visit: Apparently, “Soppi” is Wolof for “edit.”)

RIYL

Unicode: Nerdtacular bumper sticker.

Wikipedia snark: Wikipedia’s lamest edit wars, Why Wikipedia is almost comically awesome.

Wolof: “Senegal Champions of Africa,” by the Black Seeds. Seriously, download this song.

Nostalgia and jamais vu

July 24th, 2008  |  Tags: , ,  |  Leave a comment

I caught this breezy, entertaining story about the baby on the cover of Nirvana’s Nevermind album on All Things Considered last night. That baby is 17 now, which — as reporter Chana Joffe-Walt helpfully points out — makes me very old.

I almost feel bad for the kid — whose real name is Spencer Elden — because his over-the-top teenage ennui is permanently captured in the NPR archives. It doesn’t help that Joffe-Walt assumes a near-mockumentary tone throughout the whole piece. It really doesn’t help that Elden is nostalgic for an era that he never knew and calculatedly overwrought about it to the point of self-parody:

These days, Elden says, his peers concentrate on “playing Rock Band on Xbox, like, that’s not a real band! That’s the difference between the ’90s and kids nowadays; kids in the ’90s would actually go out and make a [real] band!”

But overall, life is good, he says. When he’s not being repressed by video games and computers, Elden blasts music — mostly techno — and carries around a big bag of angst, mostly around the fact that he is “so over” high school.

“Same people, same teachers … going to your locker, worrying about stupid girls … I wanna get something going, I wanna travel,” he says.

Andrea points out that if Elden is disappointed by doing the same thing every day, he is likely to be unimpressed with life after high school in its many forms. I was grateful that no one interviewed me on national radio when I was a teenager, but I’m mostly just impressed at how little things change: everyone wishes that they were a teenager at a different time, as if that is the precise circumstance that would make young adulthood more bearable.

You see, when Elden was being photographed in a swimming pool, I was a teenager. I think I had Nevermind on cassette. Elden is nostalgic for an idealized version of my adolescence!

I find his nostalgia wholly hilarious, since I spent an awful lot of time jumping through hoops in school, mired in tedium or trivia, and worrying about girls (some of whom, no doubt, were “stupid”). Most pointedly, when I was a teenager, I thought that everything (and especially “youth culture”) would have been better, more interesting, and more authentic had I only been seventeen years older.

Yes, my friends and I gathered our actual musical instruments and congregated in various formations in basements to make noise — but, had we access to Rock Band, we sure as hell would have played it, too. I know this because what we had instead was Jeopardy! on the Nintendo Entertainment System, which involved typing in responses (in the form of a question) with a joypad — and we played that by choice.

Instead of posting angsty rants on MySpace, we published them at Kinko’s. When I was a teenage “independent publisher,” I often spent more than half of my after-school income making photocopies. Now I spend a few dollars a month on web hosting and don’t lose money or irritate friends if I don’t accurately estimate my readership numbers every time I write something new.

When I wished that I had been a teenager a short generation earlier, part of the appeal was the prospect of being able to hear punk rock bands like the Sex Pistols or the Clash while they were still young and relevant, still performing, or still alive, depending on the group. In the Sex Pistols’ 1976 song “Anarchy in the U.K.,” Johnny Rotten snarls “I don’t know what I want, but I know how to get it.” I can think of no better single-sentence summary of the mindset of teenage angst.

Delia Derbyshire, braindance oracle

July 18th, 2008  |  Tags: , ,  |  Leave a comment

Pioneering sound designer and electronic musician Delia Derbyshire apparently had a stash of hundreds of unreleased recordings in her attic when she died in 2001; their existence became public knowledge this week. The one that will probably get the most nerd attention is this glitchy excerpt, which Paul Hartnoll describes by saying that it “could be coming out next week on Warp Records.”

I think Hartnoll is only slightly hyperbolic with “next week”, but seriously, listen to that short track. Does it sound like it’s 40 years old, or does it sound like Artificial Intelligence? It could easily be early Autechre or pre-RDJ Aphex Twin.

Think about the pop-culture climate of the day: #1 pop songs in the late 1960s included such innovative, groundbreaking compositions as “Hello, I Love You” and “Leaving on a Jet Plane.” Consider also that Derbyshire wasn’t using synthesizers: just manipulated sounds (from tape), electronic oscillators, and various filters and signal modulators. The article quotes Hartnoll again, regarding Derbyshire’s retirement from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop: “I think she got a bit disheartened and a bit bored with it all when the synthesizer came along and it all became a little too easy.”

Pretty much.

RIYL: electronic lapels, Stockhausen on AFX and vice versa. If electronic oscillators and musique concrète are too modern for you, why not build a cornemuse?

“Copyright” without “copying”

July 17th, 2008  |  Tags: , ,  |  Leave a comment

Ben Fritz writes about Lips, a newly-announced karaoke video game. Lips is notable because it will apparently allow players to plug their iPod into their Xbox and sing along with DRM-free songs from their personal music libraries. (It is also compatible with Microsoft’s Zune, which should make several dozen people very happy.)

Fritz wonders how the music industry, who currently realize royalties from the inclusion of songs in video games (and especially as paid downloadable content for music games), will react to this:

And on the face of it, it doesn’t seem like there’s a reason why the source of the music (my iPod vs the game disc) should [a]ffect who gets paid. Half the people who bought “Guitar Hero: Aerosmith” may already own lots of Aerosmith CDs, but that doesn’t mean Activision got out of paying to use the songs. Making the song into a game is arguably a transformative use for commercial gain.

Well, the legal reason why it doesn’t matter is that you aren’t actually copying anything when you play a song from your iPod. Copyright only governs distribution; you can sing along with, remix, or generally fold, spindle, and mutilate copyrighted works as much as you want as long as you keep the end results to yourself. The reason why Activation et al. have paid royalties is that they are actually distributing the original songs (or — in the case of some songs in the Guitar Hero games — that they are distributing recordings of copyrighted compositions). There isn’t a provision in copyright law stating that someone other than the copyright holder may distribute work X in format Z to me if I already own work X in format Y. With the Lips model, there is no distribution, and since the game only works with DRM-free files, the DMCA (which criminalizes defeating copy protection even if no copyright infringement occurs) doesn’t come into play.

Microsoft already allows Xbox users to play their own digital music (from CD or iPod) along with other video games. Incorporating what is essentially a sophisticated music player into a music game does not infringe upon any copyrights. As Fritz indicates, the more interesting question is political, not legal: how will this sort of technology impact the increasingly-strained relationships between rights holders and technology companies? Certainly the RIAA could try and insist on a check for every sale of Lips; it wouldn’t be the first time they’ve done something like that, and Microsoft might not have a strong position to argue from.

How do you get that effect?

June 3rd, 2008  |  Tags: , ,  |  1 Comment

This photo.net query is either pretty hilarious, a sad commentary on the age, or both. (link via markd on twitter) Of course, there are obvious parallels to this question in the audio-nerd world, where novice recordists often ask “which plugin/software will make my recordings sound like artist/producer X” — ignoring performance, technique, instrument, room, microphones, mic placement, and preamplification. For some reason, though, reading this recalled this classic Onion article for me.

Why not perform at clubs?

May 29th, 2008  |  Tags:  |  Leave a comment

This highlighted comment at CDM, from Russian DJ Artjom, is all kinds of awesome:

In general, I don’t want play in the club, because people come there to drink and to search partner for copulate. This is bad.

American Idol

April 25th, 2008  |  Tags: ,  |  2 Comments

I haven’t watched American Idol this season, but a friend mentioned to me that this week’s performances were all Andrew Lloyd Webber numbers. In a nearly record-setting case of taxi wit, I only realized what a terrible idea this was after skimming this NYT article (via Althouse)1. I should be clear that I am no more a fan of American Idol than I am of the disturbingly similar presidential primary process, although I do occasionally pay attention to the early-season “catastrophe” phase featured prominently in both. In addition, regular readers already know that I consider Webber’s oeuvre banal to the point of toxicity, and that I believe that perpetrating a Webber performance constitutes not merely an aesthetic but possibly also a moral wrong.

However, proliferating Webber is not only a bad idea for American Idol in aesthetic and moral terms; it is also a bad idea when you consider the sensibilities of their oft-beleaguered trio of judges. Consider the types of awful contestants who appear in the catastrophe phase: the goofball with implausibly bad technique, the crazy person with delusions of grandeur, and the person who is singing in scales drawn from Partch. Unfortunately, the contestant who has cut her or — more frequently — his performing teeth on musical theater and show choir repertoire is often able to fit into all of these types, and often is completely incapable of accepting their just verdict without a profanity-laden meltdown. Featuring Andrew Lloyd Webber prominently on the show counteracts the rich precedent of criticizing contestants who sound like “dinner theater” performers; so doing will only encourage these sorts of people to live the dream and further clog the American Idol applicant process.

1 Note also that the article features the NYT’s trademark, finger-on-the-pulse sensitivity to the concerns of conventional Christians. It does seem vastly more likely that the performance — which I haven’t seen — was terrible than that people were offended by Webber’s heterodoxy.

Yowling cats

April 14th, 2008  |  Tags: , ,  |  Leave a comment

According to this article, Decemberists frontman Colin Meloy is unable to write songs in front of other people. That’s reasonable, I guess. Apparently, he’s uncomfortable with exposing some parts of the process:

[W]orking melodies over, you’re constantly sounding like a yowling cat, as you’re trying to find the right melody. And you find stupid melodies, too, and stupid lyrics that you never would want anybody to think that you’d knowingly entertain….

While I am not by any stretch a connoisseur of pop music, I should disclose that I have been subjected to the Decemberists’ oeuvre several times and found it affected, grating, and essentially unlistenable. However, I now have new respect for Meloy. If he’s paralyzed by the prospect of “sounding like a yowling cat” in front of a fawning reporter from the Guardian, he must be an extremely seasoned performer to muster the courage to perform live at all.

Billboard by birthdays

April 11th, 2008  |  Tags: ,  |  Comments Off on Billboard by birthdays

David Pogue links to this entertaining site, which lets you discover what song was atop the Billboard charts on any given day (like, for example, your day of birth). Mine, sadly, is a boring old disco number; Andrea’s is an hilariously awesome disco number (namely, Meco’s Star Wars theme arrangement). I’ve got to give the advantage to the muse on this one. (WT is even more unfortunate than I, though — his birthday featured an American Indentured Servant winner at the top of the pop charts.)

BWV or NWA?

June 12th, 2007  |  Tags: , ,  |  Leave a comment

Not only is this the best iTunes error ever, but I want to buy the CD.

Hip-hop-themed linkdump

April 24th, 2007  |  Tags: , , ,  |  1 Comment

  1. Detailed analysis of the lyrics to (apparently) the #1 song in the US. I’m not familiar with the song, and I suspect that the rather McSweeneyesque subgenre of “satirical music writing that thoroughly interrogates the rhetorical and logical implications of rap lyrics” may write itself, but it is nonetheless an enormously entertaining read.
    [via Luke]
  2. A video for N.W.A.’s relatively obscure “Help the police.” Highly recommended.
    [via Andrea]

Hole in the house

March 25th, 2007  |  Tags: , ,  |  Leave a comment

goodbye, piano

Why do you taunt me, internet?

February 25th, 2007  |  Tags:  |  Leave a comment

…and why is this the only real reference — that is, besides “why can’t I buy this product?” posts on fora — to an alleged MIDI wind controller from Ion Audio? (Ion is the “consumer-grade” subsidiary of DJ-equipment company Numark and makes miscellaneous cheap music gear; you may have seen their drum pads or turntables at a local big-box department store. See also this inexpensive MIDI control surface.)

I’m rather embarrassed to admit how thrilled I am at the prospect of being able to walk into a well-stocked Target at some point in the future and walk out with a MIDI wind instrument.

Hymn intersections

February 21st, 2007  |  Tags: ,  |  3 Comments

I have written before about the abominably dopey With One Voice hymnal. Among its numerous sins include these: unsingable hymns that don’t scan or rhyme, myriad theological inconsistencies with the Lutheran confessions, total absence of any justification hymns, and liturgies devised by Marty Haugen. What has only recently become clear to me, however, is that even the title is incoherent. What is the “one voice” with which users of this sad blue book are to sing? I identify at least three strains in this collection of contemporary hymns; note that they are not mutually exclusive, and substantial overlap in fact occurs:

Venn diagram
With One Voice hymn categories. (Not to scale)

  1. The post-VC II cash-in. I missed the part of Vatican II that required vernacular hymnody to also be pedestrian and infuriating, but it must be in there somewhere. These hymns are most often written by destitute composers of various stripes in a desperate attempt to collect publishing royalties from anywhere. Inexplicably, these songs have enjoyed enormous commercial success, even though I am aware of no human who can tolerate them. (Take that, Pauline Kael!) As a result, the reach of these virulently banal hymns has extended beyond the Roman Catholic world to many other corners of Christendom — often without changing a single point of theology or emphasis! (Fortunately for other Christians, most of these hymns focus on how great we are for creating a just society, &c., and not as much on any doctrinal distinctives.)
    Warning signs: Guitar chord symbols, especially if “sus” appears anywhere therein. Any text copyrighted by a diocese is a pretty sure indicator. Beware of three-letter acronyms, like “GIA,” “OSB,” and “OCP;” run in terror if you see “SJ” or “Joncas.”
  2. Hymns that no American Lutheran knows. This is where the “with one voice” claim becomes most confusing. These hymns are completely unfamiliar to most Western Christians because they were primarily written by the gentry of some people who were once colonized by Jesuits. Many times, these will reuse melodies from secular folk music, which would be fine if, for example, the scale and rhythmic materials of indigenous Antarctican wedding songs were more accessible for congregational singing. Unfortunately, the contrafacta doesn’t go far enough, as many of these hymn texts are not recognizably Christian.

    Why are these hymns included? Surely there isn’t a large community of indigenous Antarcticans (or whatever) that attends American Lutheran churches and feels disenfranchised by having to sing recognizably Lutheran hymns. Are they there to make the -sons and -sens feel awkward (or, worse, cosmopolitan)?

    Warning signs: Syncretism, awkward text accents, seven distinct copyrights, and monody are all reasonable indicators, but these all apply pretty well to bad 20th-century mainline Protestant hymns as well. However, if you have to drop into Spanish or some language that has to be written out phonetically for the refrain, it’s pretty clear which category you’re in.
  3. Schlock. There are two overlapping subcategories of schlock, which I deem “bad Broadway musical music” and “circus music”. It’s no secret that I am revolted by musicals (I don’t even like verismo), and, while I am not opposed in the abstract to the existence of the circus, I don’t generally need a clown-car overture in church. However, if the composers of schlock were competent, they would be writing in these genres, rather than infecting a hymnal with this music. (This is really the problem with most “Christian rock” as well.)

    Warning signs: The arbitrary appearance of dashes or ellipses where syllables exist in other verses. Compound meters. Unnecessary mode mixture. Systematic avoidance of satisfactory cadences. Monody. “Haugen.”

There are a few hymns in WOV that fall outside or mostly outside the above diagram (not shown): there are a couple of nice spirituals (and a few bad ones), some 19th-century American hymns of varying quality, and even a few standard Lutheran hymns that missed the cut for the not-as-bad-by-comparison LBW. However, one must be careful to look at both the text source as well as the tune, since there are at least a few good tunes that have been debased by limp-wristed Anglican texts or other “postchristian” nonsense. (I think there’s a hymn to the tune of Herzlich tut mich verlangen whose text focuses on how, if we could just be nicer to one another and make a better government, God would like us again.) Consider yourself warned: contra-contrafacta can be hazardous.

Sirius and XM

February 20th, 2007  |  Tags:  |  Leave a comment

I was going to note that — in an apparent attempt to lure Dr. K’s husband away from XM — Sirius has added a station devoted exclusively to the “alternative” music of the 1990s. (I suspect other microgenres, such as “nationalistic 19th-century protest chants of Central Europe” were deemed to have too broad of an appeal.) However, since I observed this, the idea of luring customers from one service to another has become rather more ridiculous.

My initial reaction, much like John Gruber’s, was that the XM-Sirius merger could be good news iff it means we’ll get one service with the best programming from both. I actually am able to listen to both services, since DirecTV carries the XM music channels. As far as I can tell, the classical and “ambient electronic” programming on XM is superior, but there are a few pop and electronic stations I usually enjoy on Sirius. (Notably: Underground Garage, Left of Center, Boombox, Chill, and — perhaps best of all — Backspin.)

Doc Searls is concerned about the prospects of such a merger, raising ethical concerns about monopoly and monoculture and practical concerns about profitability. I don’t know how well those apply, since XM and Sirius effectively have their own sorts of monopolies anyway: Andrea and I chose Sirius primarily because of its exclusive deal with the NFL, and I suspect that many people have chosen XM because of its deal with baseball. (Although I shudder to think at the possibility, there are probably some people who subscribe to Sirius just to hear Howard Stern.) Most of the people who have satellite radio, though, didn’t choose a service — they chose a car, and the manufacturer of their car had chosen a service for them. So most people are locked in to one service or another anyway, and aren’t interested in switching simply because the programming is better elsewhere.

I’ll readily concede Searls’ practical concern: it doesn’t appear that there’s a good way for the merged company to cut costs and make money. However, the issue from Searls’ post that demands most further consideration is this: do people want to, as he asserts, exclusively program their own music? I don’t think it’s that clear, and I think there’s a market for well-done broadcast radio that won’t be entirely met by podcasts or whatever replaces them.

Kraftwerk reorchestrated

February 8th, 2007  |  Tags:  |  Leave a comment

I probably shouldn’t admit that this looks like the coolest pop album ever, but there you have it. The very concept makes me smile uncontrollably. I suppose now I only need to adjust my electronic lapels.

Time to clean up the database

January 31st, 2007  |  Tags: ,  |  Leave a comment

Amazon, we’ve known each other for a long time and I get along with you well enough. Sometimes, though, your computers do things that make me concerned that they are also storing my credit card number.

whoops

Uff.

Appalling

November 30th, 2006  |  Tags: ,  |  Leave a comment

I was visiting an unnamed online music retailer to buy some strings, and — in a moment of weakness — I almost bought a hand drum for $20. In fact, I went so far as to add it to my virtual “cart.” Once I had done so, however, my ludicrosity barometer required instant re-calibration:

buy a warranty

Let’s ignore the nonsensical “These are the following…” for now and focus on the important part. The item I had added to my cart listed for $20. This retailer not only expects me (with a default selection) to fork over 175% of their asking price for an impulse-buy item in order to add an extended warranty, but they have the temerity to force me to click through a button declining it, as if I were going in for expensive elective surgery without health insurance.

Perhaps this strategy is successful — I am reminded of all of the “stupid percussionist” jokes that circulated in the borderline-conservatory atmosphere of my undergrad institution — but I can’t imagine that there are many takers. Of course it makes no sense to pay for an extended warranty! It’s a drum. There is only one thing that could possibly go wrong with it, and I bet the warranty doesn’t cover replacement heads.

Nun ruhen alle wälder

November 4th, 2006  |  Tags:  |  Leave a comment

This is the first in what I hope will be a series of scores for lullabies and other songs that I sing to WT. I am making these available so that you can sing them to someone as well.

Heinrich Isaac’s “Innsbruck, ich muss dich lassen” is one of my favorite tunes, and Gerhardt’s text is a wonderful thing to sing to (or with) a child at bedtime. (For more on the text, read this excellent article. Many more translated verses are available here or from Winkworth’s Chorale Book for England.) You may be familiar with newer adaptations of Winkworth’s translation, but they are still under copyright.


Now rest beneath night's shadow

Click on the image to download a printable PDF of this score. Unlike most other material on this site, this score is licensed to you under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 License.

Finnish radio

August 30th, 2006  |  Tags:  |  2 Comments

Far too long have I neglected to link to this lovely collection of historical recordings that are freely-downloadable from YLE Radio in Finland. Some notables: Yehudi Menuhin performing works including Bach’s Double Concerto and Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole; Pablo Casals performing a Bach suite movement and a Boccherini cello sonata; and, for the opera fans, some great performances from Ruffo, Björling, and Caruso.

(hat tip: Pliable)

Lorraine Hunt Lieberson

July 6th, 2006  |  Tags:  |  Leave a comment

Pliable at On An Overgrown Path reprints a fine tribute to mezzo Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, who died earlier this week. I have little to add to this sad news except to concur that Lieberson’s recording of BWV 82 is a treasure; one hopes that this work especially can comfort her family now.

Live wiki

May 16th, 2006  |  Tags: ,  |  Leave a comment

Here’s a nice wiki about Ableton Live.

Nerdtacular.

April 11th, 2006  |  Tags: ,  |  Leave a comment

Tom at Music Thing links to this absurdly awesome Kraftwerk video from 1975. (1975!) I like Kraftwerk a great deal; however, I am reminded that electronic music is not only an expensive hobby but an extremely dorky one. (Wait for the “lapel” discussion from the narrator.)

Wow. That’s really all I can say.

Related: buy “Possessed,” in which the Balanescu Quartet performs string-quartet arrangements of Kraftwerk songs. It’s not quite the Kronos Quartet doing “Purple Haze” — it’s better.

I’m currently listening to Trans Europe Express from the album “Minimum-Maximum” by Kraftwerk

Organum mathematicum

April 3rd, 2006  |  Tags: ,  |  Leave a comment

Make posts about a fellow’s attempt to build an Organum mathematicum; the maker describes it as “a 17th century device intended to be used by non-musicians to compose church music.”

The joke almost writes itself, but I wonder if Marty Haugen has one.

Living with my switch set to bridge

March 14th, 2006  |  Tags:  |  Leave a comment

Thanks to an unprecedented gear sell-off and recent birthday-related contributions from generous benefactors, I just got a new guitar:

This is by far the nicest electric guitar I’ve ever owned. It is a “hard rock guitar,” but is only about 30% ironic. (I measured it at 297 millicamaros.) For a “hard rock guitar,” though, the clean tone is quite good. Perhaps more importantly, it is comfortable and plays well. The only modification I might make someday is to install a coiltap so I can get a little closer to a single-coil sound, but I probably won’t do so anytime soon.

My next nonsensical hobby purchase will probably be a new football jersey or some organizational devices so that the accumulation of home-recording equipment does not lead away from domestic tranquility.

reprogrammable analog IC

March 8th, 2006  |  Tags:  |  2 Comments

Retro Thing discusses a reprogrammable analog IC, sort of like an “analog FPGA.” (I recognize that combining “analog” and “G” is a misnomer.)