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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.

Another thing about free culture

It's sad how desperate and cynical we become when all have in the world is business and so-called "business culture". Business can be fine and we need a way to do commerce, make change, etc. But, culture is the context of business, and not the other way around.

I very strongly support Lawrence Lessig's work to address (from the perspective of a lawyer and legal scholar) the need to preserve and support the cultural context for creative works. It's sad to see his work being subjected to desperate and cynical attacks, though, fortunately, there are also good people open to intelligently discussing and debating the issues Lessig addresses.

Thanks, and getting the tech set up here

Thanks to everyone who has sent me comments on my music and my blog. I feel very encouraged!

My goals here are to release new music often and to connect with people enjoy listening to it (or at least who are also interested in the subjects I write about here). So, since I don't have a comment mechanism set up yet, please feel free to email me if you have any immediate comments about my music or about this blog, including any technical suggestions or issues with accessing my music files.

Right now, I am using the great and wonderful Internet Archive to host my music files, but one liability in this is that I don't have 100% control over the files once I give them to the archivists, which doesn't allow me to organize them as fully as I'd like. Plus it takes a day or two for the files to go live.

I finished two new pieces yesterday, another Wrong Note ("Matter Day") and another Practice ("Plastic Toys"), and, if I could, I would release them right now. But, it'll be another day or so while I submit them to the archivists and wait for them to go live.

One option I am starting to look into is a different host for this site who will give me unlimited data transfer, which I think I'd like just in case a lot of my music files start getting downloaded (it's OK to dream, right?). Hostbaby is an option, and, since it is from the same folks behind the excellent CD Baby, I bet they are helpful and reliable.

But, all the web hosts whom I have used before and trust have fixed / metered bandwidth—so I'd like to hear about other's experiences. I want an inexpensive, perfectly helpful and reliable, web host who offers unlimited data transfer. Whom would you recommend?

Free culture, creative commons, EFF’s $5/month, mediAgora, WebJay

This is mostly just links to good, recent, things out there:

Just out: Lawrence Lessig's new book, Free Culture (which is available for free download, licensed under Creative Commons license allowing derivative works) and, which now features, as a derrivative work, a free audio version read by volunteers. That's both free as in free markets and free as in free beer. (This is what I am listening to now.)

I am releasing my music here under Creative Commons license, and the recent CC Moving Image Contest produced great, short movies about why CC is so important.

Wired News recently featured an article, The Answer to Piracy: Five Bucks?, about the Electronic Frontier Foundation's proposal on how to fairly license online file sharing (i.e., rather than trying to prevent it, make it illegal, or sue people who do it). The EFF's proposal is A Better Way Forward: Voluntary Collective Licensing of Music File Sharing.

Kevin Marks is a really smart and nice guy whom I have had the pleasure to meet, and I really like his mediAgora: defining a new marketplace for media concept. He recently gave a nice example of how mediAgora could work in his Black, White, Grey and mediAgora post, which comments on the case of the Grey Album.

A few weeks ago, I was looking at my webserver logs here and found a reference to Lucas Gonze's weblog, which has lot's of great stuff and which I'm now reading regularly. One of the finds there is Lucas' project WebJay, which is a great site that allows people to share their mp3 music playlists. Very great!

Welcome, these are Wrong Notes, music blog music

With these Wrong Notes, I hope to experiment with the blog concept / structure itself as a concept / structure for music. Small "microcontent" musical fragments will be presented on their own (as part of each blog post) as well as collected together by virtue of appearing on the main blog page at the same time, and in other time-based collections (e.g., a month archive).

The Wrong Notes will be accessible here in several forms. Each fragment will be directly accessible as a link on this page (also available in RSS2 enclosures), and also in playlist collections (aka music "feeds") in m3u, SMIL, and other formats.

With the formats like SMIL that support mixed media, I may feature additional visual content that may not otherwise appear in the textual portion of the blog. Similarly, all the collection playlists may feature additional musical pieces than what is referenced in the posts.

Besides any novelty of using the blog as a music format, I am interested in creating a blog filled with original music fragments primarily for two reasons: 1) to use the blog as a catalog of my musical ideas / sketches in significantly early and rough form, and 2) to explore alternative, Internet compatible, collection formats / structures for music listening (i.e., neither the album nor the mixtape / playlist formats).

I am making Wrong Notes public and releasing all of the Wrong Notes music under Creative Commons (Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike) license out of enthusiasm for the power of the Internet and of freely sharing creative ideas, but with no idea how such unfinished and fragmentary music might be related to by others. My hope is that you will find some interest in it and tell me so I can learn from it!

I have an interest in the idea of music that one enjoys hearing a couple times, but not necessarily a lot. Traditionally, recorded music, because of its cost, is often designed with the idea that people should like it so much that they will listen to it over and over.

But, I also enjoy hearing a lot of musical fragments everyday—whether from musicians playing on the street, or from recorded music overheard in passing, or from other sounds. So, I imagine these Wrong Notes perhaps being enjoyable in passing—which I think some people may find appropriate in the listening context of their ever-changing playlists.

Besides Wrong Notes, I also will be releasing music from my Practices, which is more elaborate but still rough. And, I also plan to release full length, finished, albums designed to be listened to in track sequence and, I hope to some, enjoyable being played over and over.

Oh, and the text of this blog will be my thoughts about making music. Times as they are, this will include some posts about copyrights, Internet music distribution, and the music business. And, I'll certainly point out and link to other music I enjoy, as there is so much and always more coming out that I love and want to tell everyone about!

The music never stops

Good article, The Music Never Stopped: Recordings depend on music, not vice versa, by Brian Doherty, which mentions a book I have been hearing about that I would like to read, Playback: From the Victrola to MP3, 100 Years of Music, Machines, and Money, by Mark Coleman (via Doc Searls).

I sometimes think of all the various music recording and duplication methods as forms of fabrication: a blueprint is created that is rendered into music through the magic of machines as varied as your player piano to your mp3 player. In other words, what gets distributed (and so-called "pirated") is not the music itself but a copy of the blueprint for rendering the music in a certain type of device.

So, the more common a method of fabrication, e.g., digital audio fabrication being totally common now, the more irrational it is to expect it to be uncommon. When we started giving people digital blueprints of our music on CDs, we maybe mistook the physical CD as the blueprint. But, in fact, we have been giving people digital (1s and 0s) blueprints for decades now.

So, I just mean that it is inevitable that people make digital copies of our music when we have been giving them digital copies for years in the first place. The reason why we record our music in digital form and distribute it in digital form is the pretty much the same reason why people make digital copies.

Unfabricated music can never be truly duplicated: one has to be in the space and time of its emergence. But, many of us create music as fabrication: our music doesn't exist in any physical form without a mechanism of fabrication.

But, there is a larger relational context between musicians and their listeners. Might as well call it psychic, because it can't be measured, sold, bought or fabricated. All music, ultimately, evokes an unfabricated sphere of experience, and we love music for helping us enjoy that sphere.

My old tapes as artifacts

In putting together music to go along with this blog, I decided that besides creating new music (i.e., from scratch), I might find some uses for selections from any music I ever recorded (pretty much all of which is otherwise unavailable—within contexts expecting coherence, generally for good reasons). I am thinking that the "microcontent" context provided by posts like this establishes a promising context for some of my early music, which exists already, essentially, as musical fragments.

Grey Green Red White Blue Black Pink Albums

The Grey Album, DJ Danger Mouse's remix of Jay-Z's vocals from his The Black Album with instrumentation from the Beatles' The White Album, is a great example of creative transformation of previous works. Its concept and execution feel to me like a digital-jazz, and I think it would be great if works created in this manner were given room to flourish, rather than suppressed by copyright restrictions.

Lawrence Lessig has good commentary about the copyright situation in his The Black and White about Grey Tuesday. The Grey Tuesday is an organized protest around which many people are hosting The Grey Album online in spite of legal threats. The EFF also has a good analysis in their Grey Tuesday: A Quick Overview of the Legal Terrain.

All this protesting got me thinking that one way musicians could contribute more substantially to this protest would be to produce and release even more works based on remixes of these albums. Here are some ideas:

The Grey and the Blue Album: mix The Grey Album with Joni Mitchell's Blue.

Since the Beatle's 1962-1966 is also known as the Red Album, this is an easy one: The Red, White, and Blue Album: mix the Beatle's Red and White Albums with Mitchell's Blue.

I am sure, at this point, you get the idea. And, it turns out, there are a lot of other albums out there with color names. Just searching around, I found: The Yellow Album, The Pink Album, The Green Album (John Williams) and Green Album (Weezer), an Orange Album or two, and even The Silver Album.

Anyway, I can imagine a whole genre of copyright law protest music focused on color-named-albums remix inspirations. Hey, like Stravinsky suggested*, embrace some constraints and be creative within them. The results will probably at least be novel, which I think offers an essential component to the environment from which new art springs.

Update (3/31): Glad to see that people are continuing to play with this: check out Black on Black which mixes Jay-Z with Metallica's Black Album.

* also found the quote from Stravinsky:

The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees one's self. And the arbitrariness of the constraint serves only to obtain precision of execution.

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