Saturday, April 11, 2009

Unoriginal Thought

or Faith in the Done Before

I don't actually know how to play the piano. Or any instrument for that matter, and I certainly can't read music. I blew into a clarinet for a week in elementary school, but that was only because mom found her old one in the depths of a closet around that time. Nevertheless I am inspired, and will be composing a conceptual piece of music for the piano on the recurring theme of 'Fucking It Up Is the New Doing It Right'. Here's what I've got so far:

The first movement is conducted by hitting the piano as hard as you can. Attempt to alter its tuning with your strike.

Next, play a series of scales in an attempt to detect where the piano has lost its true.

Finally, construct around the first detected de-tuned octave [this algorithmically-created series of notes and chords].

Optional scales out.

OK, so something like this must have been done before. If you've heard music based around the deliberate abuse of instruments*—and most interestedly the piano—share it here, please, I'd like to hear it. I'll keep working on [this silly, important part].

* Punk is being considered. What else?

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Section 8 City From the Basement

Andrew Bird - Section 8 City

From the Basement is producer Nigel Godrich's experiment in high-quality televised musical performance.
It's an expensive show to make and with good reason. The standard of production is very high and we try to make it look and sound as good as is humanly possible. It's all done on HD video and the sound is produced by me.
. . . . .
The whole emphasis of the show is about being artist friendly and making our bands as comfortable as possible so that they can give great performances without the usual agony of TV promo which everyone has to do but no one seems to enjoy. TV world is a pretty hostile environment for your average musician to have to walk into and bare his soul on cue.. It also doesn't hurt that a lot of the people we've filmed are friends or people we've worked with before so they trust us and know that we understand what recording music is about as well as making good TV.
A success in my mind, at least from the looks of this Andrew Bird video. I've seen him live a few times, and always felt that the audience has been a distraction from the man's performance and feeling. This setting is perfect for Andrew Bird. It is plush and dark and lonely, and he shines in it. I looked it up recently to add to a fun thread on musicians who build songs live on stage with looping devices at MetaFilter. Lots of good links there, and a few more sneak peeks from Nigel on the From the Basement site.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

SCIENCE! Tracer Bullets

No, no, no—not ballistics. Science!

The Library of Congress SCIENCE TRACER BULLET SERIES contains research guides that help you locate information on science and technology subjects. With brief introductions to the topics, lists of resources and strategies for finding more, they help you to stay "on target."

Lots of it is just bibliographic listing, but some of the pages have INTERNET RESOURCES that often yield good stuff. Like Ask an Astrobiologist! (Astrobiology? As in Exobiology? Exopaleontology? Bioastronomy? Life in space?!)

Classic image from You can get it on a t-shirt.

Saturday, April 04, 2009