masthead image

WRONG NOTES: a blog of ear reverence

Wrong Notes collects posts on music, art, culture and fun stuff. Also included: news about the Ear Reverends.

Monty Python the FCC (and Suw on CC)

Eric Idle, the bringer of so many Monty Python ditties great and small, has delivered a new and oh-so timely sing-along for all of us kids at heart: The FCC Song (mp3).

I've been humming it all day, occasionally singing the chorus quietly outloud on the elevator and train and such. It is just a matter of time before everyone is singing along.

I came across this via On Lisa Rein's Radar, where she also has the song lyrics and this mirror download (mp3). Lisa is someone whom I've had the pleasure to meet and see rock on!—check out her music.

Basically unrelated, but I wanted to mention it: Suw Charman (whom I've observed in online chat rooms offering insights on the Welsh language) just posted a great article, Something for Nothing: The Free Culture AudioBook Project (via BoingBoing). It's about why it makes sense (and business sense) to use Creative Commons licenses and freely give away creative works online. Check it out!

Sites of interest

I haven't quite finished the follow-up to my previous post, but I wanted to note here some of the sites I've been looking at lately that I think are interesting.

Weirdo Music is a great resource. I also have recently gotten hooked on a local record store and their regularly updated website, SF's Aquarius Records.

(Speaking of record stores, another good source of good stuff is NYC's Downtown Music Gallery. Stores like these are perfect for those times when supreme lord Amoeba is just too overwhelming or you'd like a rarer record buying experience.)

Just a one-off of interest: The Electro-Acoustic World of Philip Glass is a good Electronic Musician interview with Glass from 1996. Coincidentally, earlier today I watched (an amazing film) The Fog of War which features a Glass composed score.

OMG, did you see this article on Wired about CDs and DVDs deteriorating: CDs, DVDs: Human After All? Um, we'd better preserve our rights to copy our collections before they fall apart.

The Digital Music Weblog consistently has interesting stuff. And, getting more copyright specific, Copyfight is a site I'm starting to read regularly.

A little more specific: New Spin on the Music Business is an interesting Wired article about ideas for changing the copyright system.

The Killing Fields: Copyright Law and Its Challengers is a good article by J.D. Lasica, whom I coincidentally met the other night. I'm looking forward to reading his upcoming book, Darknet: Remixing the Future of Movies, Music and Television.

For really serious reading, Copyright's Communications Policy, by Tim Wu looks seriously interesting.

Also, this must read article for anyone who can dig basic accounting: Nielsen Rating System At Odds With RIAA's Claim Of "Lost Sales" by Moses Avalon (great name, right?).

Finally (whew!), the Golan v. Ashcroft submission site, as part of the Golan v. Ashcroft case, is collecting examples of how people have been harmed by the removal of works from the public domain (see site for details—it's an important case).

Physical music making in the virtual age

I finally received my Mackie Control Universal, which I'd ordered several months ago but which Mackie had some problems getting out the door to my local gear dealer of choice, Computers and Music. I also picked up a copy of the Minimoog V software instrument, which I instantly gel'd with.

As I've been reflecting on the physical "symbol" of CDs in the age of MP3s, this new gear has me reflecting on the symbol of physical instruments (interfaces) in the age of software instruments (including the virtual studio).

The simplest thing to say and to note is: having physical instruments around affects how I make music. At the very least, they remind me of ways I want to make music, and goad me to make music.

I find it interesting to imagine music before music recording: music must have been much synonymous with physical locations and their peoples. Japanese music wasn't something one picked up anywhere: it was something heard in Japan, or coming out of physically present Japanese people.

So, music recordings disconnected music from the physical geographic provinces and their people. (I also think this is interesting in light of how North American regional music styles started to disappear and / or blend together after the 1930s—this Interview with Terry Zwigoff about his being a collector of 78s from the 1920s has relevant stuff.)

Now, with digital music, music is being further disconnected from the physical. One need not have a physical object (e.g., an LP or CD) that represents the music. We no longer have to associate the music with specific physical devices, media, people or places.

But, we are physical beings, and the emotion of music registers in us physically—we have physical associations with music, and we remember music in terms of the space and time of our lives. Also, we relate to our musical experience through senses other than hearing—even with albums, besides seeing them, we enjoy the way the LP or CD feels in our hands, and even may relate to the smell of the CD booklets or LP liner notes.

So, I relate to the physical music making instruments I have around me through all these physical associations that have a kind of "weight" in my life. They give me a physical extension of my physical experiences: they give me a physical way to translate those experiences into music.

But, I think most importantly, these instruments have little utility for anything other than making music! That's their weight—they are there for music. I think we need physical things in our life that are for music, even if we could use other things to make / play music.

(So, I'm not saying that we need the CD to stay or be replaced by some other physical medium. But, I'll say more about this specifically in my next post.)

Eno from 1986 on the artist as re-mixer

I've been meaning to post this quote for a while. I found it in a book I recently read and enjoyed, Brian Eno: His Music and the Vertical Color of Sound, by Eric Tamm.

In 1986, Brian Eno said that the artist:

"re-mixes"—he perpetuates a great body of received cultural and stylistic assumptions, he re-evaluates and re-introduces certain ideas no longer current, and then he also innovates. But the "innovation" part might be a much smaller proportion than we usually think. Consequently, I started to suspect that the palette of the painter or artist was incredibly broad—that it was the whole history of art. There's nothing linear about evolution at all: it is a process of trying to stay in the same place, of trying to maintain an identity in a changing landscape.

Along these lines, one of the things I've been thinking about lately is how the contemporary lock-down on free culture in the U.S. (and elsewhere, described more here and here) blocks artists from bridging the divides between cultures in the world.

OK, that is a whopper statement, but this is what I mean: outside of the cultural context in which creative works are created, it is, in some ways, easier to misunderstand those works. Artists who can re-mix (i.e., in any way, directly, artistically comment upon) recent works can respond to these misunderstandings in new works that directly quote / reference / comment upon the misunderstood ones.

(I haven't read it myself, but Alice Randall's The Wind Done Gone: A Novel might be a good example of this.)

I think copyright protection of less than one generation of artist (e.g., around 14 years) would be ideal: the young "students" of the current generation of artists would be able to freely create derivative works by the time they were themselves adults.

But, regardless of copyright law, I think it is worth considering how our own cultures are misunderstood, how existing creative works (think popular culture, first of all) perpetuate that misunderstanding, and how our own art can open new channels of (at least, artistic) dialog across boundaries.

nearby posts:




. . . the new music player is very coming soon and such . . .