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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.

What’s up, site anniversary, and podcasting music

What's up: I've got a couple dozen or so unreleased tracks that I've worked on this year, and I've been thinking about doing something with them (excerpts?, mashup-medley?) as an end-of-the-year thing for this blog.

During this period at the end of the year, I definitely look back and look forward at my life. And, I'm not sure yet whether I'll release / post a lot more soon, or incorporate it all into the full "new year" plan.

One thing to say: I'm encouraged to have been able to release more than twenty-five pieces / songs over this last year, and to have received so much positive response. I'm frustrated that I haven't released more, but I hope that these pieces / songs I'm still keeping in the oven will be better for it.


It was a little more than a year ago that I put up this site's home page, and posted a link to Joi vs. The Burtonator (mp3), also today's musical wrong notes I've include with these textual wrong notes. It's seems weird to me now that I chose that song to have been the first one I released, but c'est la vie.


Podcasting, depending on how you look at it, may or may not be what I'm doing here by including audio with every post. (Trivia note: I contributed some of the history write-up to the Wikipedia entry on podcasting, and coined the term: proto-podcasting used in that entry.)

For most folks, podcasting seems to be about creating or listening to an online talk radio show or audio blog post—i.e., a program centered around someone (or a group) speaking. And, as such, it's interesting to hear how folks are using music as part of these.

I was flattered to find out that my song, Plastic Toys (mp3), was featured in a recent Cone 11, Forced Air podcast (mp3) by John Norris, whose blog covers the topics of "Art, Information, Ceramics, and You". (Thanks John!)

But, upon listening to it myself, I started to wonder how musicians like myself could contribute more than just longer music recordings to the overall production of these 'casts.

Since listening to John's 'cast, I've made a point of listening to a variety of others'. And, it seems like there is an assumption-technique being used like: I like this song and think it'll be cool to have in the background while I talk over it.

Music is so much about space (or, silence), which is emphasized through the dynamics of musical tones (or, sounds). And, a recording of your voice (e.g., radio) is also very dependent on space / silence— more so than folks often realize, as their normal context for speaking is one which includes visual cues and bodily gestures that don't appear on the audio recording at all.

So, music can add to the dynamic of your voice, and also help mark the progression of your "story". And, a first suggestion to podcasters out there is that you might consider your podcasts as being made up of several segments / stories that are more in the 30-90 second range of length, rather than as a single 3-4 minute segment / story.

Music can then be used to delineate these 30-90 second segments. So, speak for 30-90 seconds, then take a break (let your listeners absorb what you just said) and play a musical interlude for 20-30 seconds. These interludes then can have qualities that reflect (and emphasize) the feeling of what you just said, and also act as a segue to your next segment /story.

So, this is a pattern of: voice only, music only, voice only. And, one can use cross-fades (the first notes of music and the last words of the voice occur at the same time, etc.) with a great deal of nuance as well.

Another pattern is to have voice over the music. And, in this way, I think, the speaker really needs to be "singing" in a rhythmic, if not melodic sense (as in recitative). In other words, the music is not so much in the background (albeit, it's low in volume) but is an integral component of your vocal expression, and you're conscious of a groove between your speech phrasing and the musical phrasing.

Looking forward, I think it might be interesting for musicians to create and release music specifically for these kinds of patterns. (And, actually, one idea I've had is taking my un/released pieces of 2004 and producing a bunch of short musical excerpts that could be used in this way.)

I'm really excited about having my music used in podcasts, but, at the same time, I'd like to make more of this podcast-talk + music format. I mean, it's kind-of like early radio before recordings were dominant vs the development of recordings that "play" to the traditional radio format. What music recordings can we make that play to the podcasting radio format?

Also, I'd find it fun to write and record theme music for folks podcasts. That's another suggestion to podcasters: have a theme song for the intro and end of your show. But, again, it's got to be 10 seconds, 20 seconds, 30 seconds long?

Linear communications, like spoken stories or, in general, musical pieces, have a start, middle, and an end. Blog posts often do not have so much structure.

So, it's interesting to consider the podcast to be like a blog post, because, I think, the audio program (in order to be enjoyable) may have many more structural requirements than the blog post. But, that can be advantageous: you can design a structure or two that can be your podcast formats, and then that structure helps you keep your 'casts focused.

And, I'm imagining that music can not only be used to help build these program structures / formats, but that music can be created specifically for this kind of use such that the music and the talk format become more interesting / enjoyable in their combination.

Anyway, we'll see what else the Ear Reverends do with music for podcasts. And, if you use the Ear Reverends' music in your podcast, please let me know so I can keep track (and I'll probably create a page of links to podcasts that use my music).

Thanks so much for all of your support, link love, and for listening to these things we call music! Have a great new year!


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