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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.

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.

Music blogging motifs

For those of you who know my alter blog at the iCite net, you might have wondered if what I am building over there has any connection to what I am doing here at Wrong Notes. The simple answer is: sort-of. Over there, I am looking to create a new way to interconnect things on the web, and one of the things I want to interconnect is online music. So, the way I am releasing my music here is meant to hook into that.

As is often, amazingly, the case with these kinds of ideas, others are also working on similar things. People want to share music and connect with other people who like similar music—and so new ways to do this online keep being created.

In an earlier post here, I mentioned Lucas Gonze and his Webjay site. I think Webjay has really struck a chord with people (so go check it out if you haven't), and, in response, there have been a number of interesting experiments and comments and reflections on online music that I wanted to note here.

Jon Udell's Active Résumés is and links to a number of interesting comments, including Collaborative playlists by Alf Eaton. Sébastien Paquet is talking about and demonstrating Musiclogging and is also pointing people to the Internet Topic Exchange on Playlistlogging.

Marc Canter also often posts about this. I know and enjoy Marc as a fellow Harry Partch loving / Eno digging / synth building / tech visioning guy.

(The accompanying musical notes are my "Joi vs the Burtonator" blog-themed song, which was my first experiment in "blonging".)

CD symbolism and the power to play music

We (humans) commonly have had the power to record music and listen to it for less than one hundred years. It's been maybe only during the last fifty years that records (LPs and CDs) have become the most common way to listen to music.

I have considered myself a "CD addict", and probably would have called myself a "record junkie" when I was a teen. And, I find access to music mp3s on the Internet an interesting catalyst to reflect on what it means to listen to recorded music: what I feel like I am purchasing when I buy recorded music, and how the formats / media (e.g., album vs playlist) affect the ways in which I relate to the music I listen to. Mp3s are changing my listening.

I have a lot of ideas about this that I want to explore. And, as I have suggested, I think one of the important ways to explore it is as a musician recording music for these new formats / media.

While thinking about this today, I serendipitously came across Edward W. Felton's A Grand Unified Theory of Filesharing and a number of good comments in response (via BoingBoing). Here is a comment I wrote:

Two of the appeals of owning CDs are: the power of possessing the shiny disc, and (to initiate the "concert") the ritual of spinning the shiny disc to make music.

I think at least some of us who grew up with albums and CDs continue to strongly relate to this (80-90 year old, legacy) idea of music that comes out of a shiny disc. Even when we download and/or listen without the disc, something seems missing until we possess the disc as well.

At least some of today's free-riders are also people who have never embraced the ritual of the shiny disc—they aren't simply too young / inconvenienced to possess the discs, but are creating new rituals (or putting greater priority on different rituals, e.g., making playlists and sharing them) as well.

In terms of the battles of CDs vs filesharing, I think it is important to note that record companies are fundamentally in the business of selling shiny discs, and that "music business" throughout its history, with the exception of the last 50-75 years, had nothing to do with selling discs.

I love these shiny discs myself, but they are serving a more and more symbolic, and less and less functional role in my music listening. And, as a music listener and music creator, I feel drawn to follow where the power of music is going—which is the where people want music (i.e., which is less and less about where the shiny discs are).

"Plastic Toys" now available, latest in the Practices series

"Plastic Toys", the latest piece in the Ear Reverends' Practices series is now available. Please listen and enjoy.

This piece combines a remix of a piece I originally created in 1988 (now known as "Trescony Toy #3" and soon to be heard in Wrong Notes) with new music and vocals with some field recordings I made a few weeks ago while in Seattle.

Some people have mentioned that they didn't quite understand how to play all the songs here on Wrong Notes, so I'll note the two ways:

  1. each text post includes a music post, just click on the "play notes that go with this note" link below
  2. there is a m3u (mp3) playlist available that plays all of the current music posts, just click the "mp3 playlist" link in the upper right of the page

I'll be adding some other formats soon too.

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nearby posts:




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