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.

4 out of 10 “incomprehensible” Bob Dylan interviews

I was thinking about Bob Dylan, and remembered this great compilation of "incomprehensible" Dylan interviews.

I should actually file this under "Things to fear about YouTube," because, of the fabled ten most incomprehensible Bob Dylan Interviews of all time, only 4 of the 10 interviews are available (6 are/were videos—now they're just YouTube's "we're sorry, this video is no longer available").

The #1 most incomprehensible interview is a gloriously preserved text quote (beat you this time, YouTube). It's also my favorite—check out the choice quote on the above linked page, or read the whole interview online Playboy Interview: Bob Dylan, Feburary 1966.

. . . the next thing I know I'm in Omaha. It's so cold there, by this time I'm robbing my own bicycles and frying my own fish. . . .

Here are the 3 videos from the list (fingers crossed that they stay online for a while):

Time Magazine, 1965

Eat the Document, 1965

Vienna street interview, 1981

Cool kinetic sculptures

As Bre said, freaking cool.

Check-out these kinetic sculptures by Tim Prentice (definitely look using the "fast internet connection," unless you absolutely can't).

Questioning the dogma of the medium

I've been thinking about what I call the dogma of the medium, and the need to question it. Here are a few preliminary thoughts.

By dogma of the medium, I mean the automatic acceptance of a medium as a rigidly defined category for creative works. For example, we often think of creative works as belonging to medium-centric categories like books, albums and movies.

Medium-centric ideas are a big part of our recent past: technologies, industries, roles in society and the format of creative works are often tied to specific mediums. We have 300-page books that are written by authors and published by publishers, and sold in bookstores. The dogmatic aspect of this is both in how it effects creators and in how it effects other participants, e.g., the creator is encouraged to create in terms of an existing medium and format, and other participants are conditioned to expect their creative experiences pre-categorized in medium-centric and format-centric terms (do you want to see an action movie?).

The way I think about it: why should a "book" just be a book? Why not text that you read interspersed with dialog audio that you hear, featuring one sequence with a musical soundtrack and a conclusion punctuated by a silent film?

As a musician, I've been thinking a lot about this idea of books with music. Many books describe music as part of a story, and so it seems like an obvious, potentially new medium, in some sense. I was excited to hear about the new Neal Stephenson book, Anathem, coming with a CD of music by David Stutz (as described by Cory at Boing Boing). Being a Neal Stephenson novel, I have to imagine there's a very deliberate orchestration of text and/with music.

When you think practically about some of the possible combinations of mixed-media / multimedia elements, it's easy to both come up with good precedents (books with pictures inside!) and also technically improbable cases (books with buildings inside!). So, the dogma of the medium doesn't effect every corner of creativity, and, at the same time, there isn't necessarily a need to explore every possible corner all at once. But, it's in the middle—in our everyday interaction with books, CDs and movies, that I think this dogma deserves to be questioned.

In particular, with regards to digital works, why confine these to the shape of physical technologies? Why have an online "music store" and iPod that is all about "playing music"? Why have a "book reader" like the Kindle?

These devices do have features beyond their more analog / physical counterparts, but these features are like decorations tacked on to the form of past mediums. So, while an iPod can display images, text or video, the music format of the iPod doesn't give one many creative options for extending music with images, text and video (unless you define the music as a subset of video, e.g., being medium-centric again, just around video).

The web, and hypertext / hypermedia, potentially supports new and imaginative ways to combine text, images, audio and video. But, to the degree that new kinds of creative works may be happening on the web, I think we're still a little stuck evaluating them in medium-centric terms of books, CDs and movies. If a work is not obviously like one of the already established mediums, it's just another "website."

The expansion of copyright laws also reinforce the dogma of the medium. Now that the original copyright on a work automatically extends permissions over any possible translations to new mediums, it's not a given that people will creatively transform works from medium to medium. This exploration now is controlled wholly by the original creator, rather than a larger collective who might find value deriving not only from the original creator's inception, but from many participants sharing and transforming the work into other mediums.

I call Err or Man a "music deck" as a way to highlight it's differences from past mediums and formats. It's nevertheless convenient and useful to sometimes describe it as a CD, or an album, or as a book, or as a website. But, the dogma of the medium is an issue in that people and stores and devices all tend to approach Err or Man in medium-centric terms. That's not going to change (at least for a while), and I even intend for Err or Man to "work," at least to some degree, in terms of medium-centric categories. But, there's also more to find in Err or Man when you put aside the dogma of the medium.

Monkey’s review of Err or Man

A Monkey's Review of Err or Man just came to me—with an excellent fan photo.

I just got this via email—I think it's going to go on a website at some point. But, I wanted to post this here, since the photo is so great.

"Far too often we find ourselves listening to music as a background entity. Then along comes the Ear Reverends' Err or Man. The music invites you in, and you find yourself transported into a realm of Yes's, synthesizers, ambient beats, guitar riffs and poetic lyrics. Each track has its own unique underlying sound while the whole journey becomes a round trip adventure—then you find yourself back where you started from, walking away, whistling one of the many tunes running through your head."

~A Monkey's Review

Ancient computer music

A 1951 recording of a computer making music—ancient in computer years.

The BBC reports at length about short recordings of bits of Baa Baa Black Sheep and In the Mood, which are thought to be the oldest known recordings of computer generated music. Amusingly, there is some debate as to whether the computer was generating music as music, or just as a kind of sound effect to punctuate the end of an early computer game.

In any case, the music comes across now more as a museum artifact than music, per se. The video in the article, however, is an iconic newsreel from the era, and is actually fun to watch.

I'll post about topics like this from time to time because I enjoy hearing about odd historical instruments—especially mechanical ones. But, early computer music and early sound recordings are definitely of interest.

I was hoping to cap this post off with the video clip of the Beatles playing Ticket to Ride on the Time / Space Visualiser in the The Chase, a 1965 episode of Dr. Who. I imagined that would be a nice complement in that it's a past vision of a future time looking back at a past that was, in actuality, really the present (at the time).

Unfortunately, the BBC has pulled that clip from YouTube, and I can't find it elsewhere right now. So, we'll all have to track it down elsewhere in the future.

Theme music and the Rockonator

I've just posted all of the theme music created by the Ear Reverends.

My current definition of theme music for the Ear Reverends is: music created for other people to use on a website, in a video, or with a book. In one case ("Spy? Music"), the theme was more of an experiment that came out of a discussion of why it made no sense to create a theme. So, it's a bit of an anti-theme—which probably will be obvious when you hear it.

Newly released to this site is the theme for the Rockonator (scroll down, click the "get recommendation now" button to hear the theme in context). This theme was produced in early 2008 by the Ear Reverends, and it's well worth 14 seconds of your time. (Hmm, that's two 14 second long themes I've now composed. . .)

The Rockonator is a feature on the Rock On website, the companion to Dan Kennedy's excellent and funny book about the big record business, Rock On: An Office Power Ballad. The stories in Rock On about creepy corporate record business life are really relevant to the Ear Reverends—e.g., that lifestyle is exactly the kind of thing we like to avoid.

You can listen to the Rockonator and other Ear Reverends' theme music in the theme music section of this site.

TV antiheros and anti-lost

I've already watched too much TV in my life, haven't I?

While I was in Hawaii, I started thinking about TV shows with plots set on tropical islands. Lost obviously came to mind, and so did Gilligan's Island. That's when I realized:

The problem with Lost is that it's just Gilligan's Island, except less funny.

Each week, someone new shows up on the island—someone who could rescue the castaways. But then, at the last minute, there's some implausible event that prompts the rescuers to leave the scene without the castaways. . .

George Saunder's New Yorker piece, Antiheros, is a funny re-imagining of something like Heroes.

I am sure even Lost and Heroes are going to prove to be part of Tommy Westphall's mind, as is most of TV (and much of even our own illusory reality).

Arts and comics rambles

This is just a rambling post about some of what I did last night, with some links for my friend Rob Schwartz.

Rob's been visiting Seattle from North Carolina this week, and we went out to dinner last night. On the way, we went to Roq La Rue gallery and saw the Chris Reccardi "Mono" / Chris Crites "Gun Show" show. Then we went next door to the Blvd gallery and saw the Bigfoot show, which we really liked. While there, we ran into artist Rich Lehl, who currently has a show at Wall of Sound.

A little later, we started talking about comics.

I was telling Rob he definitely should read Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics and Making Comics. I also mentioned some comics / graphic novels that I've read and enjoyed recently, including some of Neil Gaiman's Sandman series, Alan Moore's Watchmen, and all of Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 that's out, to date.

That's especially for Rob, but y'all should check-out that stuff yourselves, yo!

 1 2 >

nearby posts:




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