Sunday, January 31, 2010

He Loves Me So / That Funny Honey Of Mine

"What do you know about Victor Borge?" Mo asked.
"He's a funny, funny man," I told her.

And to finish off your weekend:

Play The Game

Cue the Mario theme song: Cruise Elroy blogs about irregular meter in video game music.

It seems as though Nintendo hires full-time composers (executives, programmers, composers, right?) - and some of them have really made a name for themselves. Heard of Kenta Nagata? He did Mario Kart 64, Double Dash, Legend of Zelda... If you're going to be composing on a deadline for a big corporation, you might as well keep the music interesting.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

I'll Keep You Connected / Mr. Telephone Man

But where are the CANNONS?!

(Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, via youtube)

"He's A Quiet Man" / That's All She Said

Arnold Schoenberg's portrait of Gustav Mahler. Interesting indication of their relationship ? Maybe so.

Schoenberg painted portraits of quite a few of his friends: here's a whole gallery of the composer's art.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Flustered / Hey Tomcat!

The people have spoken - and I can take a hint: this one can't be ignored any longer. Kitty!

(special thanks to kevin and dan)

Let's Waste Time / Chasing Cars

Ligeti, Ligeti, Ligeti, Ligeti.
I like you more than I like spaghetti.

Kroumata performs an arrangement of the prelude from Ligeti's surrealist opera Le Grand Macabre - it's called: the Car Horn Prelude.


Dancing Bears, Painted Wings / Things I Almost Remember

Stockhausen composed his Tierkreis (twelve pieces on the signs of the zodiac) for a limited edition series of music boxes - THEY EXIST. (In fact, there's quite a story behind when and how they were made: here.)

Any way you hack it, you'd better not be expecting spinning ballerinas and "The Blue Danube" when you open this lid...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Party In The USA

In honor of yesterday's State of the Union:

Music for Multiple Basses, and the President of the United States from Bang on a Can on Vimeo.

Walk Walk Fashion Baby Work It

Liberace: Your Personal Fashion Consultant by Michael & Karan Feder

"Never underestimate a man in hot pants. Liberace, the globally-renowned pianist, swings his closet door open in order to coach you on the fine art of extraordinary dressing for ordinary occasions! Need something to wear to your sister's wedding? Packing for your next Mediterranean cruise? Shopping for a new car? Rest assured, Liberace has the perfect gold lamé number or full-length cape to suit all of your needs.

Not only can you enjoy dazzling photographs of Liberace in the most outrageous of outfits, but you can also punch these photos out to play with twelve paper dolls in hilarious poses! The perfect novelty gift, Liberace: Your Personal Fashion Consultant celebrates and salutes the new 'King of Bling.'"

(via Abe Books' Weird Book Room)

Man Made Electric Light / To Take Us Out Of The Dark

Lonnie busking at Grand and State on Chicago's red line (that's my grocery stop in case you were wondering).

Writer Brian Leli was given a Community News Matters grant to talk with Chicago subway musicians; the stories that came out of his experience are - maybe idealized for newspaper publication - but inspiring all the same. The full article has photos, sound clips, and of course these musicians' stories.

Also: I love it when my grocery trips involve a soprano sax.

(via metafilter, photo by Brian Leli)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Like Dylan In The Movies

Vier Minuten
: crazy inmate learns piano from frustrated older melomaniac. Great movie. Great scene:

Lady Loop

Things I learned today:

1. The first of Satie's Gymnopedies (1888) was sampled by Janet Jackson in "Someone to Call My Lover" (2001).
2. Elgar's Enigma Variations, Op. 36 (1899) was sampled in "Clubbed to Death" by Rob Dougan (1995).
3. And Grieg wins the prize with two works sampled: Solveig's Song (1876) in "Sometimes" by Wax Tailor (2007), and (surprise, surprise) In The Hall Of The Mountain King (1876) in Tango's "Can't Stop The Rush" (1992).

For those of you who are less nerdy, check out the rest of "the ultimate database of sampled music and cover songs": WhoSampled. The Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams Are Made of These"? Sampled 9 times and covered 4 more. (And...that didn't clear up the nerdiness, did it?)

In That Easy Silence That You Make For Me

The quietest place in the world? The anechoic chamber of Orfield Labs in Minneapolis. It's a room within a room within a room - a six-sided steel-insulated chamber on springs, surrounded by a five-sided steel-insulated chamber, surrounded by a larger room with 12-inch walls made out of concrete. (And the smallest room is also filled with wedges made out of fiberglass.) So: enter the space, and you hear -9.4 dB. Or rather: you don't hear, because the low threshold of human hearing is around 0 dB.

That's a quiet room - but not without a certain music of its own?

John Cage says:
"Going into the anechoic chamber at Harvard University, I expected to hear no sound at all, because it was a room made as silent as possible. But in that room I heard two sounds. And I was so surprised that I went to the engineer in charge … and said, There’s something wrong, there’re two sounds in that room, and he said describe them, and I did, one was high and one was low, and he said, the high one was my nervous system … and the low one was my blood circulating. So I realized that … I was making music unintentionally continuously.”

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Hey Good Lookin' / Whatcha Got Cookin'

Kurt Palm wrote a book called Der Wolfgang ist fett und wohlauf (translated: "Wolfgang is Fat and in Good Health").


Quote: "The liver dumplings that Wolfgang preferred to eat were the fried liver dumplings, which are still today on the menus of restaurants in Salzburg. These dumplings are not cooked and put in soups, but deep fried in clarified butter and served with sauerkraut. " — Kurt Palm

For those of you who:
a) like liver dumplings
b) want to be like Mozart
c) have a lot of time on your hands
d) all of the above
you can find a recipe (and more about Palm's book) here.

Hup Two Three Four / Keep It Up Two Three Four

Cooooompanyyyy, halt!

(wikipedia for more)

Untouchable Face

Musical Anatomy - by Shawn Feeny. It's a series, actually, and the whole thing re-imagines the human body plus musical instrument-appendages. The website has more drawings, as well as a time-lapse video showing the creation of "Mr. Tambourine Man".

I really love these.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Just Tie The Rope

Doesn't it somehow seem necessary? Lot's of composer-faces on your tie? I thought so.

This one is the Mozart Adagio tie:

Or if you're into jazz - make it obvious.

Oh boy there are so many more.

'Twas Then That The Hurdy-Gurdy Man / Came Singing Songs of Love

"What you lose on the hurdy-gurdy you pick up on the roundabout."

Apparently it's an actual saying? I'm going to start using it all-the-time.

(Bonus: 2007 UK Hurdy Gurdy Festival.)

No Mirrors In My Nana's House

Do you know how hard it is to find a VCR in this town? I have a major presentation for my opera class today and the only video performance that was easily available (read: that I didn't have to buy) is on VHS. So I headed to the downtown library - no VCR. Okay, well, I hear that some friends to the north have a built-in VCR - I put the video in and the TV breaks (sorry, guys). I give in and make the trip to the campus library's recording room - eight TVs! On closer inspection: four are DVD only; two of the VCRs are broken; one keeps spitting the tape back out. The last one? There's no headphone jack (read: no sound in a shared recording room) - but video success!

Which got me thinking about other more-or-less obsolete technologies. Here today for you: the history of the boombox.

(originally via npr, now via youtube.)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Love For Three Oranges

The best part is: this is a real practice technique! Lang Lang got it from Daniel Barenboim - it's supposed to help relax the wrists and hands. And, you know, when you're finished practicing, you have a snack to eat.

(via youtube)

Show Me The Money

Insurance. It's been on the mind. You hear about actresses insuring their legs for huge amounts of money - what about musicians?

Rod Stewart insured his voice for $6 million.
Ditto Bruce Springsteen.
Keith Richards insured his hands for $2 million.

And last (but oh certainly not least), Tom Jones insured his chest hair (?!) for $7 million. Ladies, ladies:

(via Calgary Sun)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Blackbird / Fly

Voilà Céleste Boursier-Mougenot's new installation commissioned by the Barbican in London. Messiaen would be proud.

In other news: I wish there were more birds in the city. Zebra-finches > Pigeons. Who's with me?

(via neatorama)

OK Computer

It's a computer program!
Anatomy offers up over eight-hundred of some of the most unique and uniquely playable instruments that twist and transform the human body into one expansive collection of physiological melody and rhythm. Anatomy sonically explores the human condition in ways never dared attempted previously, delivering you a deep, diverse & rich new palette of sonic colors and textures.
Alternatively, I'm pretty sure I know some former music majors who can make eight-hundred-odd different noises between them.

Here's the website for more information. (There's also a page with music samples.)

Friday, January 22, 2010

I'll Capture Her Heart / Singing

Alma Mahler is my favorite. Tom Lehrer is also my favorite.

Come Fly With Me

Passport photos of the Roaring Twenties' talented and famous! - uploaded to Flickr by puzzlemaster. I culled the composers, but there are so many others. These are neato.

Aaron Copland, 1925

Charles Ives, 1924

Irving Berlin, 1922

Cole Porter, 1919

(via metafilter)

Our House / In The Middle Of The Street

An Hui Province, China.
There's an elevator in the violin that takes you to the piano-house. Think on THAT.

(via HomeSweetHome and coolpictures)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ever Since You Put My Picture In A Frame

Eighteenth-century French artist Joseph Ducreux painted this ridiculous self-portrait, and now people add "archaic" song lyrics and post the new images on the internet. Apparently it was a "thing" in 2009? I missed it. Oh well. Here's a link to 140 more to keep you going!

(via knowyourmeme)

I Am Trying To Say / What I Want To Say

In the beginning, there was "Shostakovich, Symphony No. 5, Bernstein". Then (as often happens with these things) there were the youtube comments.

Somebody had to read them, of course - a dirty job, but it had to be done - so Steve Lambert took on the challenge. And then he superimposed his favorites over the original video - et voilà! The Commentary Project:

Walk On Through The Wind / Walk On Through the Rain

The BBC Radio put together five Londontowne Handel-centered walks. Although the radio version originally aired in 2006, you can recreate them and/or create your own "virtual" walk using the BBC website resources (previous link, guys). Each walk comes with a brief blurb, a map illustration, relevant books, links to the landmarks you (would) visit, and a comprehensive playlist right down to the CD call number.

I'm sorry I made that quip about you yesterday, London. Never again.

(illustration by Mel Burgum via BBC)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Time After Time

ON THIS DAY (that would be January 20):

1855 - Composer Amedee-Ernest Chausson was born.

1894 - Composer Walter Hamor Piston was born.

1899 - Composer Alexander Tcherepnin was born.

1942 - Harry Babbitt sang as Kay Kyser and his Orchestra recorded, "Who Wouldn't Love You", on Columbia Records.

1958 - "Get a Job" by the Silhouettes was released.

1958 - Elvis Presley got his orders to report to duty from the U.S. Army. He was allowed a 60-day deferment so he could finish the film "King Creole".

1964 - The album "Meet the Beatles" was released in the U.S. on Capitol Records. It was their U.S. debut LP.

1965 - The Rolling Stones and the Kinks made their first appearance on ABC-TV's "Shindig!"

1973 - Jerry Lee Lewis mades his debut at the Grand Ole Opry.

1974 - Stevie Wonder played his first show after an auto accident that almost took his life five months earlier.

1982 - Ozzy Osborne bit the head off of a bat in Des Moines, IA, and was hospitalized to undertake a series of rabies shots.

1999 - Scott Weiland (Stone Temple Pilots), while on probation for a 1997 heroin case, was arrested for failing to provide a urine sample to his live-in drug treatment center.

2002 - Sting won his first Golden Globe for his song "Until" from the "Kate & Leopold" soundtrack.

(via onthisday)

My Wings Are Broken And So Is My Hair

(If that's not enough for you, here are eight more cartoons about Stockhausen.)

Color Bars

If key relationships aren't your thing, check out Songwriting Contributions, Self-Reference, or Working Schedules - more Beatles' infographics from a collaborative project instigated by Michael Deal.

I'm not a huge Beatles' fan, but I would take down my poster of London to put any and all of these on my wall. (The cheese poster stays. Sorry Ringo.)

(via notcot)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Mars, The Bringer Of War

The Japanese Imperial War Tuba Brigade circa 1930. I am not even kidding about this.

(via weburbanist, image via Amplifier Institute Failures)

Get It While You Can

What do Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Kurt Cobain have in common?

The 27s: a website devoted to rock stars / pop stars / blues stars dead at the age of - you guessed it - 27. (And there are a surprising number of them.)

(via metafilter)

Hey Big Spender

There are some really large-scale operas out there. I mean: Mozartian costumes are one thing, yes - but Bernd Alois Zimmermann's "Die Soldaten" originally called for twelve separate stage venues. Maybe not surprisingly, the Cologne Opera told Zimmermann he would have to do a little revision before the opera could be staged. He did; it's still a huge undertaking. Here's a behind-the-scenes look at the 2008 Lincoln Center Festival production:

(Did you catch that the instrumentation calls for a 110-piece orchestra? Now you did.)

Monday, January 18, 2010

They Play Sleepy Jackson On The Radio / And That's The Way I Like It

Did you know you can listen to full Chicago Symphony Orchestra concerts online?


There are six or seven episodes of the CSO Radio Broadcast Series available to stream at any one time. I made a beeline for the January 1 concert, but that doesn't mean I won't be back for others.

It's Only A Paper Moon

Designer Kyle Bean created these sheet-music-covered instrument window displays for the luxury brand Hermès (UK, through the beginning of 2010). What do accordions have to do with seriously expensive scarves? Your guess and mine.

(via designjunkies)

Teach Me Tonight / Did You See That I've Got A Lot To Learn?

"Once I understood Bach's music, I wanted to be a concert pianist. Bach made me dedicate my life to music, and it was that teacher who introduced me to his world."
- Nina Simone

(via youtube and brainyquote)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

You're Gonna Make Me Spill My Beer / If You Don't Learn How To Steer

The next time I do a commercial, I'd like to hire an entire orchestra. It lends a certain je ne sais quoi, non?

(The Melbourne Symphony orchestra, conducted by Cezary Skubiszewski, plays the Victoria Bitter beer commercial theme song on bottles of Victoria Beer.)

Well You Can Knock Me Down

Thanks to My DNA Fragrance, you too can smell like Elvis. Sort of.
"Blue Suede is King of Cologne. From the first sniff, Blue Suede's various notes will impress every woman's senses. The vibration of this fragrance will moisten their every thought. The secret formation is discernible once it is applied to the skin. Several minutes later it will create an attractiveness that will last all day.

Blue Suede is custom engineered from the DNA genetic code of the King of Rock-N-Roll, Elvis Presley."

This description is wrong on so many levels.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Kiss From a Rose

Quote: A feature for those who like to kiss! (unquote)
Get your fill of nineteenth-century songs about kissing at Parlour Songs.


Cause I'm Bluffin' With My Muffin'

Classical guitarist Igor Presnyakov plays a little Gaga. He's stunnin' with his love glue-gunnin'.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Just Turn Around Now / You're Not Welcome Anymore

I recently discovered Randall Woolf's work, and I've been on a mad course of internet-clicking to learn as much as possible.

This is not exactly what I was expecting to find, but I'm glad I did.

(An original film (c. 1910) by Ladislas Starevitch, set to Third Angle's performance of Randall Woolf's "Revenge.")

Don't Know Much About History

(via ffffound / historyshots)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Meet Me In St. Louis

Scott Joplin was inducted into the Hall of Famous Missourians in 1992. Other past inductees include Laura Ingalls Wilder (though I'm pretty sure she grew up in Minnesota?), Charlie "Bird" Parker, Ginger Rogers, Sacajawea, and Bob Barker.

That is some company you keep, Mr. Joplin.

Run This Town

People Magazine got the Obamas' first interview of the year. Apparently, the President said he doesn't let Reggie Love update his ipod because "... then all I get is Jay-Z, and I love Jay-Z, but once in a while I might want some Yo-Yo Ma or something."

I understand, I really do.

(via Jezebel)

Shut Up And Play Yer Guitar

Why listen to one guitar when you could listen to one hundred? Loud.

Glenn Branca's Symphony No. 13: Hallucination City (for 100 guitars)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What About Everything

Let's talk about multi-tasking:

Also check out Greg Pattillo's bass flute beatbox. Yeah.

Stairway To Heaven

Belgian artist Christophe Gilbert has some really amazing - some really disturbing - works. Most aren't music-related, but if you're curious.

(via H.F.&B.U. 292)

He Don't Eat Nothin' But Bearcat Stew

A rattle shaped like a lemon with holes, 11-8 century BC, Germany.
Museum: Berlin

Shake it like a polaroid picture?

(musical artifacts from MU.S.EUM Project)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Would It Get Some Wind For The Sailboat / And It Could Get For It Is

Robert Wilson / Philip Glass
"Einstein on the Beach" Deluxe Edition Book & Print, 1976
(Book signed by Robert Wilson, Philip Glass, and Andy DeGroat; Limited Edition Print signed by Robert Wilson)
For the (reasonable?) price of $9000.
On the plus side, all proceeds go to the (awesome!) MATA New Music Festival.

My Window Looks Into Your Living Room

Oh Sweden, oh Sweden, you give us: Music for One Apartment and Six Drummers!

Everybody's favorite German friend says: "I would think that percussionists would be the more appropriate term." He's right, of course. Even so, it's awfully catchy.

(special thanks to christoph)

Pride (In The Name Of Love)

This sounds horribly pretentious, but I like to think that if music hadn't existed, I could have invented it.
- Harrison Birtwistle

(Harrison Birtwistle, you're alright.)

(via brainyquote)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Just Dance / Gonna Be Okay

The term "Gnossienne" didn't exist before Satie coined it for his short piano pieces; even so, the Gnossiennes are often considered dances (or at least dance-like).

Question: What kind of dances are choreographed to this (strange and beautiful) music?
Answer: Not many, but this one almost makes up for the general scarcity:

(via youtube)

If I Were A Painter / I Would Paint My Reverie

Where did the last hour of my life go?!
Oh wait, I remember: GigPosters is the largest archive of historical gig posters on the internet. Eye candy for the music+design inclined.

Piano Phase

Diagram of a Player Piano (1909):

1. Pedal.
2. Pedal connection.
3. Exhauster (one only shown).
4. Reservoir; high tension (low-tension reservoir not shown.)
5. Exhaust trunk.
6. Exhaust tube to motor.
7. Air space above primary valves.
8. Secondary valves.
9. Striking pneumatic.
10. Connection from pneumatic to action of piano.
11. Piano action.
12. Pneumatic motor.
13. Trackerboard (music roll passes over trackerboard).

(by William Braid White, via Wikipedia)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

And We Don't Care About The Old Folks

London's Royal Opera House appeals to the younger generation in a movie theater ad!

(via thisisrealart)

Gravedigger / I Can Feel The Rain

I suspected Hector Berlioz would have a gravestone worth looking at - and I was right.

Hector Berlioz
Dec. 11, 1803 - Mar. 8, 1869
Burial: Cimetiere de Montmartre, Paris, Ile-de-France Region, France
Plot: Division 20

(Find A Grave)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Tapes N' Tapes is a website devoted to cataloging the (sometimes very strange) designs of analog audio tape cassettes 1960-90.
Who would have thought that this could be as interesting as it is (really)?

(via everyoneforever)

Breaking All The Rules / When We Get Together

In the early 1920s, Richard Strauss wrote and published The Golden Rules for the Album of a Young Conductor:

#1. Remember that you are making music not to amuse yourself, but to delight your audience.

#2. You should not perspire when conducting: only the audience should get warm.

#3. Conduct Salome and Elektra as if they were Mendelssohn: Fairy Music.

#4. Never look encouragingly at the brass, except with a brief glance to give an important cue.

#5. But never let the horns and woodwinds out of your sight. If you can hear them at all they are still too strong.

#6. If you think that the brass is now blowing hard enough, tone it down another shade or two.

#7. It is not enough that you yourself should hear every word the soloist sings. You should know it by heart anyway. The audience must be able to follow without effort. If they do not understand the words they will go to sleep.

#8. Always accompany the singer in such a way that he can sing without effort.

#9. When you think you have reached the limits of prestissimo, double the pace.

#10. If you follow these rules carefully you will, with your fine gifts and your great accomplishments, always be the darling of your listeners.

(via Graham Nasby's Online Resources)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Inside The Museums / Infinity Goes Up On Trial

A favorite daydream of mine involves camping out in the British Library's Treasure Room Mrs-Basil-E-Frankweiler-style* (underneath the interactive Blake display - I've really thought this out) - but the Library has pre-empted me with the fantastic new Virtual Book Exhibit in its online gallery.

Now you can flip through pages in the manuscripts of William Byrd's My Ladye Nevells Booke, Mozart's diaries, or Handel's Messiah (not to mention the 15th century Sherborne Missal, or a selection of Leonardo da Vinci's sketches) without having to pay for a plane ticket. (I doubt this will stop me from daydreaming about London, though.)

*That book with the kids who live in a museum? At night they gather coins from the fountain so they can buy something to eat from the café, and they are on constant watch for the museum guards who patrol off-hours.

Cymbals Eat Guitars

(via arbroath)

Black Horse and the Cherry Tree

Aren't these beautiful? Joel Scilley uses burlwood to create his Audiowood turntables.

This past fall, I bought some records at a used booksale for 25 cents each. They were still in their plastic wrappings - Bernstein, Serkin, and the New York Phil playing the Emperor Concerto; Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra playing Mozart's Jupiter Symphony... I don't have a record player, but it seemed too sad just to leave them. (The Times They Are A-Changin'.)

(via trendhunter)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Can't Leave Rap Alone / The Game Needs Me

The Encyclopedia of White Rappers: An alphabetical listing of all the white rappers who have recorded albums with major record labels.

I don't know quite what to say about this. Okay.

(via trendhunter)

Ramblin' Man

Tom Waits: a little bit drunk?

Hobo songs are nothing new for Mr. Waits. He also sings one part of the duet in Gavin Bryars' "Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet." If you ever have time to listen to the whole 70-minute piece: do. In the meantime, a clip:

Let's Get Literal, Literal

The original music video for Aha's "Take On Me" was nominated for eight awards at the 1986 VMAs.

I like this version better. (It's the narrative theorist inside me.)


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

In Heaven There Is No Beer

You guys, this is my Great Uncle George's Ballroom! He also used to raise prize roosters - home town hero etc. etc. - only then someone discovered that the roosters' curly tails (curly tails win prizes) were actually MANUFACTURED with a CURLING IRON. Minor scandal, but he had "The Show Must Go On" etched into his gravestone, so that's that.

This explains a lot about me, doesn't it?

In other news: here's a great short history about my Great Uncle George's Ballroom and German immigrant music:

(ps. Yes, you read that right. The name of that band is: 6 Fat Dutch Men. These people are related to me.)

On the Radio / Oh Oh

Have you ever wondered what kind of music is playing in Amsterdam / Moscow / Birmingham / Istanbul / Rio de Janeiro RIGHT NOW? collects electronica-leaning tracks produced / selected / uploaded in cities around the world and streams them to you. Très bien! / Sehr gut! / Very good! I'm in a "Chicago" mood today.

(This / is / a / post / full / of / slash / marks.)

You Light Up My Life

Michael Vorfeld is a German percussionist. And this is his sound installation. The lights go on, the lights go off; they pop and flash and ding - and we get music-sound.

Sound installations. How fascinating! I think I'll spend the rest of my life studying them.

(via neatorama)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tale As Old As Time

Ooh, vintage-type music advertisements from the early 1900s! I like them.

Aeolian Pianola Piano Player (1905)
If only this were true...

Conn Band Instruments (1926)
I'm more into timpanists, myself.

Columbia Grafonola (1920)
I really hope someone actually took their Grafonola to the beach.

(more, via Vintage Ad Browser)