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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.

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.

Use the Internet to share more music, uh, in person

Mediachest looks neat: it helps you meet people with similar tastes so you can borrow CDs, books, DVDs, etc. from each other (via BoingBoing).

One way or another, the Internet finds ways of reasserting person-to-person connections, and not so much the person to corporation relationships big businesses (like record companies) are set up for. So, remember kids, sharing with your friends is fun!

Test post

Test ear reverends post

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