Posted in Music, tagged Music, silience on September 22, 2008 |
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I pleasantly learned today about John Cage and his take on music and sound. He famously composed 4’33″ because “There is no such thing as silence. Something is always happening that makes a sound.”
As from wikipedia:
Cage is perhaps best known for his 1952 composition 4′33″, the three movements of which are performed without a single note being played. A performance of 4′33″ can be perceived as including the sounds of the environment that the listeners hear while it is performed, rather than merely as four minutes and thirty three seconds of silence and has become one of the most controversial compositions of the century.
This piece has been performed by a number of orchastras and peeps. The piece has 3 movements, and typically the musician does something to indicate that one movement is complete.
Here’s last year’s performance … (there is always one idiot who coughs):
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A team of scientists are trying to discover why violinist Mari Kimura is able to play the sounds she does-sounds, they claim, are supposed to be impossible to produce on a violin. Kimura even demonstrated the sounds to top US scientists, but left them stumped as to how she was doing it. To explain why these sounds are astounding:
Stringed instruments work by having a string being vibrated. The
string is shortened or lengthened using the fingers. The shorter the
string, the higher the pitch and vice-versa. Normally, you would not
be able to make a pitch lower than the lowest note on an instrument
because you can only shorten the string, not lengthen it. The sounds
that Mari produces are of a pitch that requires a string longer than
the strings on the violin.
Kimura-san’s site has examples of the subharmonic sounds, if you’re interested.
[Link: NoiseAddicts; Mari Kimura's site]
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I love music and musical instruments, and I’ve seen some pretty cool and strange instruments around, but these instruments are among the weirdest I’ve ever seen. The one in the picture is the Didjibodhrán, which is essentially a wind instrument passed around drum of sorts. Who knows how PLAYABLE or pleasing the sounds these instruments produce are, but it’s a sure bet that you’ll find some artist somewhere who’ll find a way to use it in a song.
[Link: Atom Shark: 9 weirdest musical instruments]
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According to the Korea Times, we’re about to witness the death of the mp3, and the birth of the new mt9 format. What makes mt9s so much better than mp3s?
Korean computer engineers are introducing a new digital music format
that has separate controls on the sound volume for each musical
instrument, such as guitar, drum, base and voice — an ideal tool for
music lovers of different tastes as well as karaoke fans.
Now that is interesting! Normally, when I want to listen to just one instrument or channel, I mentally tune the others out. I’m not sure if this is something everyone can do though. Anyhow, according to the article:
The distinctive feature of MT9 format is that it has a six-channel
audio equalizer, with each channel dedicated to voice, chorus, piano,
guitar, base and drum. For example, if a user turns off the voice
channel, it becomes a karaoke player. Or one can turn off all the
instruments and concentrate on the voice of the main singer as if he or
she is singing a cappella.
So it looks as if I might have to start converting my collection soon! The new format is already picking up interest from Samsung and LG for inclusion on their phones and digital players. If you want to know how it all sounds, then Audizen is currently selling albums in mt9 format for between 2,000 and 3,000 won (roughly R15 to R22, or between US$2 and US$3).
[Link: Korea Times]
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How “musically minded” are you? Can you equate bits of music with shapes and visual cues? Wonder no more! Try this Associated Musical Visual Intellgence (AMVI) test. According to the site:
AMVI is a type of intelligence that’s difficult enough to define, let alone test. Many creative people can associate across sensory domains: they “hear” hints of shapes and can “taste” the essense of colors. At its most extreme this phenomenon is called synaesthesia. However, I believe that creative people subconsciously employ elements of synesthesia every day when attempting to think of things in new ways.
The test, allegedly, is hard. My personal score (as you can see in the screenshot) is 90% which ranks as “World-class performance, extremely rare”.
Excellent musicians apparently rarely score above 80%. I’d be interested to know how you guys score, cos I’m sure this test wasn’t that difficult–it’s difficult for me to accept that I score higher than “excellent musicians”!
[Link: AMVI test, via Neatorama]
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If you’re a geek like myself, then odds are you’ve come across geekcore and nerdcore music at least once or twice in your journey across the intarwebs. I love geek music–it tends to cover far more interesting material than your average “Oh I love you, I hate you, I can see my kids in your eyes” type music that you hear on the radio. Geekcore and nerdcore music covers themes that are generally considered the domain of geeks and nerd such as anime, comics, Star Wars, Star Trek, video games, and fantasy and sci-fi books and movies. There is a hair-fine distinction between the different genres of geek and nerd music, for example geek rock tends to be an alternative music subgenre, while nerdcore (also called geeksta rap) is a generally a hip-hop subgenre.
Most geek and nerd music can be readily found across the Internet, from places such as last.fm, to MySpace, to the artist’s homepage. Here is a list (in no particular order) of ten brilliant geek- and nerdcore acts that you might enjoy. I know that music taste is subjective, so no lambasting me for “but why isn’t this artist in this list?”…I might have a reason for leaving out one artist or another, and I might not even be aware that your favorite artist exists. Feel free to enlighten me in the comments.
- Tripod - Tripod are a geek comedy group from Australia, and consist of band members Scott, Simon, and Steven. Their act is high in comic content, and they’re frequent guests at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. The members of Tripod are self-confessed gaming geeks, and it shows in their music and excellent lyrics. Tripod’s music crosses several musical styles, has a strong focus on comedic content, and pokes a lot of gentle fun at geeks and gamers.
- Lemon Demon – Lemon Demon, fronted by Internet celebrity Neil Cicierega, is a geek band with a range of styles, but mostly easy to listen to. Their lyrics cover everything from kittens to Crayola, and somtimes seem quite surreal (for example the song Don’t Be Like The Sun). The lyrics don’t have much comedic bent, but the music is well written and still good listening.
Lemon Demon Website
- MC Hawking – Imagine if renowned physicist Stephen Hawking was a gangsta rapper. That’s pretty much what you get when you listen to MC Hawking. The lyrics are quite strong, so parental advisory and all that, but when you come down to it, it’s sheer brilliance. For example, from the track titled Entropy, he raps:
“Defining entropy as disorder’s not complete,
’cause disorder as a definition doesn’t cover heat.
So my first definition I would now like to withdraw,
and offer one that fits thermodynamics second law.”
MC Hawking Website
- Jonathan Coulton – Like many geekcore fans, I only heard of Jonathan Coulton after his fame with “Still Alive”, the ending song from the brilliant game Portal. Jonathan’s music is very accoustic, and his voice has a light quality that seems remniscient of Paul Simon (check out his brilliantly light rendition of Sir Mix-A-Lot’s Baby Got Back). Coulton’s lyrics cover a very wide range of topics, such as zombies, Tom Cruise, programmers, and creepy dolls. It’s well-written stuff that’s easy on the ears.
Jonathan Coulton Website
- They Might Be Giants – They Might Be Giants (often abbreviated to TMBG), an American geek rock band, cover themes such as the sun, metal detectors, and Istanbul (not Constantinople). You have heard TMBG’s work if you ever watched the TV show Malcolm in the Middle: TMBG did the theme song, You’re Not the Boss of Me.
They Might Be Giants Website
- MC Chris -MC Chris, with his idiosyncratic high-pitched voice, is a geeksta rapper and voice over artist. His music, with parental advisory lyrics, covers themes such as Star Wars (with the famous Boba Fett’s ‘Vette), video games, and dungeons and dragons. If you like your rap and your geek mixed up, give this a try–it’s entertaining.
MC Chris’s Website
- The Arrogant Worms - The Arrogant Worms are a Canadian group whose lyrics frequently have a comedic theme. Much of the humor is Canada-centric, such as their brilliant Last Sasketchewan Pirate and Canada is Really Big, but they do cover many themes from Dungeons and Dragons, cows, and Killer Robots from Venus.
The Arrogant Worms Website
- Dragonforce - Dragonforce are a British power-metal band who frequently use video game themes in their music. The music is fast and loud…very fast and very loud. In fact, as a point of interest, their song Through the Fire and Flames is featured as a track in Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, and is possibly one of the hardest tracks to play–a caveat that makes gamer geeks all the more determined to see it through, no matter what!
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Posted in Media, tagged Movies, Music, soundtracks on March 26, 2008 |
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So (to my shame) I only got around to seeing Stardust recently, and although I absolutely loved the movie (The Salma wasn’t as thrilled as I was, and I think that they could have used a better actress to play star-girl) and want to get my hands on the Neil Gaiman book, I was far more impressed with the soundtrack. The music is sweeping and etherial (which is exactly as it should be), and the main themes that the composer, Ilan Eshkeri, created for the characters are a wonderful blend of music. This is excellent music for working to, or even just relaxing to. The opening theme, Through the Wall, starts the whole thing off and you’re simply swept away on a tide of beautiful strings and horn instruments. I’d never heard of Ilan Eshkeri before, but I’m definitely going to be looking out for more music by this guy. I’d put him on par with the composing giants (Horner, Williams, Zimmer, and so on) in terms of composing brilliance, which is quite a high recommendation indeed. But then, maybe I’m just biased that way!
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