Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What's He Building In There?

It's a housing complex specifically designed for musicians. Created by Netherlands-based 24H architecture, each ultra-modern house has a designated music room (centrally located and featuring a skylight). As if that's not enough, the entire complex is super-duper-eco-friendly thanks to a system that recycles heat from a nearby harbor.

Designed specifically for musicians! Why? I have no idea! I bet living there would be like summer music camp. But with fewer bugs.

(via notcot)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Guess Who's Back / Tell A Friend

My peace offering is interactive: a tonematrix by André Michelle that lets you create sweet loops. Soothing, sort of inherently-derivative-minimalist - you're not going to get a compositional masterpiece out of the deal, but it's an addicting build-up ease-down process with which you can do no wrong (ie. the customer is always Reich).

Yeah, that happened.

(special thanks to Aaron)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Never Failed Me Yet

The Portsmouth Sinfonia - formed in 1970, there was one major entrance requirement: you had to either be a non-musician, or pick up an instrument you'd never touched before.
Hilarity ensues! A corollary rule required the musicians to play to the best of their ability (ie. not to play badly intentionally), but that only gets you so far on an unknown instrument, you know? As Dan Visconti at NewMusicBox points out, there's a certain joie de vivre (and, I think, earnestness) that makes this a "laugh with" rather than a "laugh at."

And it's not just the funny; there's some history going on here too. The idea of an ensemble made up of people who don't know how to play their instruments was a nod to Cardew's scratch orchestra and the state of experimental music; Gavin Bryars and Brian Eno were both on board - plus (of course) a select group of amateurs and enthusiasts. By the time it fell apart in 1979, the Portsmouth Sinfonia had played concerts, put out records, and even a film. That is wonderful.

(via newmusicbox)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Weeping Chandelier

It's not often that I post on just-music-that-I'm-listening-to, but I'm crazy about this particular album, and here's why:

1. It's a collaboration between the "world's foremost Death Oompah band," the Tiger Lillies, and the new music lovin' Kronos Quartet.
2. The instrumentation consists of: (1) avant-garde cabaret band (accordion! musical saw! theremin! falsetto vocals! percussion! contra bass!) + (1) string quartet.
3. All of the lyrics are culled from previously unpublished poems given to the band by Mr. Edward Gorey.

(If that's not of some musicological-literary note, I don't know what is.)
Bottom line: released in 2003, The Gorey End is weird and compelling. BOTH. And that is why I've been listening to it on repeat.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

I'll Tape It / Cause I Know You Won't

(National Geographic April 1973; vintage ads)

Ahem ahem: "You want a tape deck that lasts? We'll give you a tape deck that lasts. And lasts. ... Whatever weird instrument your great-grandson will be playing, the Sony TC-377 will capture it."

Weird instruments are the best, guys.

(via boingboing)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Music Of My Heart

The Heart Chamber Orchestra might be a little bit of a niche-group.
See here: The twelve musicians hook themselves up to ECG sensors monitoring their heartbeats. That information is fed to a software program designed to generate a score in real time and send it to the laptop screens placed in front of the musicians.

The idea is that the music literally "comes from the heart." KIND OF CHEESY? But also kind of wonderful: I think this would be an amazing (if somewhat style-limited) live performance - the concept, the visuals, the sound...

(Question: I wonder what would happen if one of the musicians had a heart attack?)

Heart Chamber Orchestra from pure on Vimeo.

(via notcot and wired)

Monday, August 9, 2010

And Here I Dreamt I Was An Architect

David Leventi's latest project is entitled "Bjoerling’s Larynx: World Famous Opera Houses": a photo series documenting famous and not-so-famous (but always opulent) theaters. The Arthur Roger Gallery in New Orleans will display the photos August 7 - September 11, 2010, but you can see them online at the artist's website here.

(via neatorama and pdn)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The World

From Saeed Kamali Dehghan's Aug. 2, 2010 Guardian article:
"In some of the most extreme comments by a senior regime figure since the 1979 revolution, [Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei said: 'Although music is halal, promoting and teaching it is not compatible with the highest values of the sacred regime of the Islamic Republic.'
Khamenei's comments came in response to a request for a ruling by a 21-year-old follower of his, who was thinking of starting music lessons, but wanted to know if they were acceptable according to Islam, the semi-official Fars news agency reported. 'It's better that our dear youth spend their valuable time in learning science and essential and useful skills and fill their time with sport and healthy recreations instead of music,' he said."


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Take A Bow

"Entrada" by Stephen Scott, performed by the Bowed Piano Ensemble of Colorado College.
Ryan Raul Bañagale (one of the original performers, and co-founder of the blog Amusicology - a favorite of mine, not to mention the place I found this video) points out the pretty intense choreography that necessarily goes along with a piece like this. Not to get back on the "some-music-would-be-perceived-differently-if-you-couldn't-see-the-performance" horse again, but: well, yes. Plus: what sounds! And all of them from a grand piano.

(If I had known about this in college, you can bet I would have tried to make it happen. Or at least thought about trying to make it happen before succumbing to comps.)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Chopper City

In my German class this summer, we were asked to present on an influential figure tied to Deutschland - and I chose Stockhausen. Obviously.
My classmates (though wonderful) were perhaps not people, um, steeped in the classical music tradition, and it took a good bit of talking to convince them Stockhausen was even a real person - much less an influential person. On the other hand, part of that was my own fault: shouting "Hubschrauber!" and miming a cello probably wasn't the most coherent way to introduce the Helicopter String Quartet (1995). I was just so excited about it, guys!

Here we are now after the fact, and Ubuweb just posted a documentary showing bits and pieces of "Helikopter Streichquartett" rehearsals and performance with the Arditti Quartet. Four string players in four different helicopters with the music piped down to the audience below - apparently the idea came to Stockhausen in a dream. This documentary is fascinating.

(CD at Amazon)