Archive for November, 2008

November 30th, 2008

Immersion Blender

  • larisa/ripley's article on the recent rash of dubious takedowns in the mp3blogspotosphere :: written for a youth/general readership, so pretty backgroundy, but a good explanation of the current lay of the land :: bye bye blogspots
  • like many other music blogspotters in recent weeks, gregzinho gets hit with a DMCA takedown notice, served to him by Blogger/Google thx to some bottomfeeder based in irving, TX (who cut his teeth doing "anti-piracy" "work" for his own pr0n sites and has now turned his attn — presumably for a decent paycheck — to music blogspots) :: there are layers and layers of middlemen in this reeking, sinking ship of an industry :: can u see the rats running up the masts?
  • on musical copying, copyright, and chilling effects from ray charles to kanye to the legendary K.O., incl a brief history of sampling litigation in hip-hop :: certain issues (e.g., race & appropriation) call for more nuance, but the focus — a good argument for why copyright/IP doesn't work so well in music — is sharp :: nice generals too — "Musical styles change over time and so do their techniques of appropriation. Sometimes musical generations find their successors are engaging in different types of borrowing than they themselves engaged in. They do not always find it congenial. It is striking how often musicians condemn a younger generation’s practice of musical appropriation as theft, while viewing their own musical development and indebtedness as benign and organic. … [Sampling] is a different kind of borrowing than the adaptation of a chord pattern from a gospel standard to make an R&B hit. But which way does the difference cut as a matter of ethics, aesthetics, or law?"
  • bravo to james boyle (& yale U press) for making his new book on the public domain & enclosure in the digital age — quite appropriately — downloadable, readable as html (with the ability to comment on individual paragraphs!), and CC licensed!
  • "The internet makes copying cheap. Businesses that see their livelihood as dependent on the restriction of copying – concentrated in the recording, film, publishing and software industries – are understandably upset. Their goal is to have the same ability to control their content as they had in an analog world but to keep all the benefits of pervasiveness, cost saving, and viral marketing that a global digital network brings. To that end, they have moved aggressively to change laws worldwide, to introduce stiffer penalties, expand rights, mandate technological locks, forbid reverse engineering, and increase enforcement. It is not so much a case of wanting to have their cake and eat it, as to have their cake and make your cake illegal. Yet there are hints in each of these industries of a different business model, one that aims to encourage, rather than to forbid copying. …"
  • "These images of kids playing video games were created by Robbie Cooper, a British photographer who employed a Red camera — a very-high-resolution video camera — and then took stills from the footage. Cooper, who says he was inspired by the camera technique that Errol Morris used to interview people in his documentaries, arranged his equipment so that the players were actually looking at a reflection of the game on a small pane of glass. He placed the camera behind the reflection so that it could look directly into their faces as they played." :: write-up & slide show @ http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2008/11/18/magazine/20081123-games_index.html

videyoga ::

1 comment

November 28th, 2008

Penultimate Warrior

  • a little local DJ history (and a mix!) c/o the Soul Clap dudes & Eddie Neal :: pull quote — 'Back then [late 70s / early 80s] the Boston club scene was not as open as it is now. Club managers and owners were very closed minded regarding patronage. There was a lot of prejudgements made about people around race and ethnicity. To put it bluntly; most club managers and owners liked to control what jocks played to keep the dance floor as “undiverse” as possible. This served as a deterrent for minority patronage and allowed very few opportunities for jocks of color like myself. I taught myself how to become multi-dimensional when it came to rockin a dance floor. This meant I could be successful regardless of the format. I spun dance rock, progressive rock, top 40, disco, funk, hi-energy, reggae and merengue.'
  • more kuduro c/o soundgoods, including a link to 4 kuduro podcasts?! who said this music was flavor-of-last-month anyway?
  • very cool project documenting / visualizing local histories of graffiti, buffing, more graffiti — urban palimpsests, digitally archived :: (via culturge)
  • 'A recent study, however, suggests that despite this cornucopia, the boom in online research may actually have a "narrowing" effect on scholarship. James Evans, a sociologist at the University of Chicago, analyzed a database of 34 million articles in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities, and determined that as more journal issues came online, new papers referenced a relatively smaller pool of articles, which tended to be more recent, at the expense of older and more obscure work. Overall, Evans says, published research has expanded, due to a proliferation of journals, authors, and conferences. But the paper, which appeared in July in the journal Science, concludes that the Internet's influence is to tighten consensus, posing the risk that good ideas may be ignored and lost – the opposite of the Internet's promise.'
  • via SFJ, kper offers up a mix of that glitchy, wonky, bassy global goodness :: 'The mix showcases a lot of the guys I’m speaking about in the features I’m writing – starting with Jay Dee, who’s been an undeniable influence on a lot of these guys, and then moving on to the new generation of producers with L.A beat heads like Flying Lotus, Ras G, Samiyam and Take, the Lucky Me collective up in Scotland with Rustie, Hud Mo and Mike Slott, the always shifting Hyperdub label in London, 2tall also in London, Dabrye and Waajeed in Detroit, Megasoid and Ghislain Poirier in Montreal, edIT and the Glitch Mob in L.A, Mark Pritchard aka Harmonic 313 in Australia, Danny Breaks in the UK and more. The variety of the producers and their location is another important element in this whole new era of boom bap and wonk.'
  • SFJ on recent developments in beatsmithery, a la Flying Lotus and his instrumentalist ilk :: 'Ellison and his contemporaries have come up with a fusion of the extreme detail allowed by software programming (fractal spidering of sounds, a backdrop of crackles, and prickling, feverish rhythms no human hands could play) and the bedrock thump of hip-hop, the grounding beat that has bled into almost all pop music in the world. Ellison’s Flying Lotus releases this year—an album titled “Los Angeles” and a series of EPs—are a good index of how one branch of hip-hop is going to move into the next decade, detaching itself from traditional hip-hop rhyming and forming new splinter genres.'

videyoga ::

10 comments

November 27th, 2008

Happy Turkey Day!


(unless you’re a turkey)

2 comments

November 26th, 2008

A Farce To Be Reckoned With


videyoga ::

2 comments

November 25th, 2008

¡ Casi Aquí !

The Duke U Press catalog for Spring 2009 is already out. Why should you be excited? See pg 1 —

7 comments

November 23rd, 2008

Patriotic License


  • thx to boima for pointing me to this — quite a mix — enjoy the minimal steez and that intro track/mix, despite some serious schizophonia, works remarkably well :: ethno techno sez wha? thought so.
  • "Social network sites, online games, video-sharing sites, and gadgets such as iPods and mobile phones are now fixtures of youth culture. They have so permeated young lives that it is hard to believe that less than a decade ago these technologies barely existed. Today’s youth may be coming of age and struggling for autonomy and identity as did their predecessors, but they are doing so amid new worlds for communication, friendship, play, and self-expression. We include here the findings of three years of research on kids' informal learning with digital media." :: shorter version — "Hanging Out, Messing Around, Geeking Out" = crucial :: grab here the white-paper, the 2 pager, or click through the book version in HTML
  • charlie's calling out the big guns — the berkman center all-stars! — and the other side is calling time :: "The RIAA's case in Boston against a 24-year-old grad student, SONY BMG Music v. Tenenbaum, in which Prof. Charles Nesson of Harvard Law School, along with members of his CyberLaw class, are representing the defendant, may shape up as a showdown between the Electronic Frontier and Big Music. The defendant's witness list includes names such as those of Prof. Lawrence Lessig (Author of 'Free Culture'), John Perry Barlow (former songwriter of The Grateful Dead and cofounder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation), Prof. Johan Pouwelse (Scientific Director of P2P-Next), Prof. Jonathan Zittrain (Author of 'The Future of the Internet — And How to Stop It'), Professors Wendy Seltzer, Terry Fisher, and John Palfrey, and others."
  • ' Recent South African films, notably Triomf, Jerusalema, SMS Sugar Man and Bunny Chow, have been carving their way out of the morose state of our cinema, refusing to pander to the two or three formulas that seem to govern our output: if it isn’t addressing our political past, it should be vulgar slapstick or kitsch-inspirational. [They] view South African realities through distinct lenses and celebrate the aesthetic possibilities of filmic translation. As such they are not bound to restrictive, pseudo-moral codes. … they are exploring our multitudinous realities from new and unexpected perspectives, which in itself makes them valuable. … On the state of SA cinema, Kaganof says: “While the films are all in English, we are still making colonised films, using the colonial idiom of Hollywood to further distance ourselves from who we are. The sorry state of South African cinema reveals the sorry truth about post-apartheid South Africa. We are not liberated. Not by a long shot.” '
  • this is about as confrontational a 'gangsta ras' manifesto as i can imagine (and you wonder why certain rastas, paradoxical as it seems, condemn reggae and try to use copyright to prevent misuses of selassie's name?)
  • noz on effervesynth neo-snappery — "All these dudes have expanded their palette from just blips and bleeps to blips, bleeps and really lush synth pads."

videyoga ::

2 comments

November 21st, 2008

Skin Care Adventure

  • Mark Anthony Neal — 'Never before has a First Lady's body been subject to the amount of scrutiny and surveillance as is the case with Michelle Obama; she has been rhetorically poked, prodded and groped. Many would have found such a line of coverage unfathomable and even offensive if applied to women like Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, or Roselyn Carter, as was rightfully the case with depictions of Sarah Palin as the Vice-Presidential "MILF." … Underlying this notion of "realness" that Michelle Obama embodies are notions of accessibility and availability. If there is anything that the history of black women in this country should teach us, is that the idea that black women's bodies were accessible and available to any–and all–concretely frames our understandings of black women's histories whether it be the spectacle of the "Hottentot Venus" (Saartjie Baartman), the tragedy of Crystal Mangum or the nameless and faceless victims of sexual violence and rape.'
  • this happened — 'The largest of these exhibits [at the 1904 St.Louis World's Fair] was the Philippine village, a 47-acre site that for seven months in 1904 became home to more than 1,000 Filipinos from at least 10 different ethnic groups. The biggest crowd-drawers were the so-called primitive tribes — especially the Igorots, whose appeal lay in their custom of eating dog.'
  • "NYAHBINGHY ORDER IS THE ORDER OF THE DAY RAS TAFARI IS LIFE REGGAY IS DEATH" :: bobo dreads explain why reggae is too enmeshed in babylon / "the world" for true/turbaned rastas to participate :: some thoughts about reggae — "satan music that" "reggae more bring crime and violence" "music is food for the soul, but which music … man say you have a right music and a wrong music" "reggae promote sex and oralism" "it water down and a turn streggae" "it's distracting to the nation … it elevate the rest of the nation, the indians, the chinese" "death music" "reggae is satanism" "it nuh teach no one nothing" "reggae could only provide the material thing" "bun reggae"
  • interesting reasoning about 'interesting reasoning about reggae by bobo ashanti' — including some discussion of racism in partic rastafari mansions :: plus, this interesting bit at the end — 'As is pointed out in the comments of the Bobo interviewed at Bull Bay, even if you are a very true and good Rastafarian, and your lyrics are very true and spiritual, if you are involved in the Reggae industry you will have to compromise your livity at some point. … That doesn't mean that for many of us the Roots/Rastafarian side of the music isn't an inspiration and a positive thing in our lives still. Just have to be honest about it, coz even then, of course it is not a pure thing untainted by "Babylon".'
  • radiolab is back, with an episode on choice :: can't wait to listen, but i can't decide when/where would be best (thx again, forestfruits)
  • on the use of music as torture by the US military — and more banally by the author & his mom (h/t forestfruits)
  • fascinating profile of a fascinating thinker re: culture & ownership, gifts and value (thx, dominic) :: (non)money quote — 'The literature on gift exchange — tales, for example, of South Sea tribesman circulating shells and necklaces in a slow-moving, broad circle around the Trobriand Islands — gave him the conceptual tool he needed to understand his predicament, which was, he came to believe, the predicament of all artists living “in an age whose values are market values and whose commerce consists almost exclusively in the purchase and sale of commodities.” For centuries people have been speaking of talent and inspiration as gifts; Hyde’s basic argument was that this language must extend to the products of talent and inspiration too. Unlike a commodity, whose value begins to decline the moment it changes hands, an artwork gains in value from the act of being circulated—published, shown, written about, passed from generation to generation — from being, at its core, an offering.'

videyoga ::

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November 20th, 2008

Ne-Yo Schenkerian

When I wrote about Ne-Yo’s “Miss Independent” last week, I mostly wanted to talk about timbre — the effervesynths that seem to give it so much of its tingly, zeitgeisty affect. But I did find myself discussing things like form and rhythm and harmony too. Actually, I pretty much passed on any real harmonic analysis, as a quick ear’s glance suggested to me that the surface simplicity of the song (I called it a “two/three-chord” progression) betrayed a much more complicated — and in some ways not so easily / usefully reducible harmonic structure.

So I decided to seek out some expertise from a dear, old friend, Greg Brown, a colleague from UW-Madison working on a PhD in music theory. A student of Brian Hyer and Lee Blasius, Greg writes really beautifully about Sigur Ros, but he’s also quite able to walk the walk and talk the talk on some 18th/19th century “common practice” sump’m sump’m, knomesayin. So I look to Greg when in need of high theoretical perspectives that remain well grounded. Below, he lends his ears to those of us who’d like to attend a little more closely to the harmonic bedding for Ne-Yo’s r&b fantasy. All hyperlinks are his.

Here’s the audio for those who want to follow along —

[update 1/27/10 — there used to be an imeem link here, but then myspace bought imeem and nuked it, leaving me a nice orange ringtone ad instead; so i’ve deleted that. i’m sure you can hunt down the neyo song yrself.]

Take it away, Greg…

Ne-Yo’s “Miss Independent,” harmonically speaking, isn’t going to fit into any neat Schenkerian plan, and not just because of your and my justifiable skepticism of music-analytical reduction.

Because of the meter, I’d argue (and maybe I’ll even use the present, non-conditional tense starting now) that we have to hear the first chord as some sort of I. But we can’t, if we’re gonna be Zocchian about it. (For the benefit of anyone reading this who’s not Wayne or I, I’ll just say “Zocchian” is an inside-joke, a reference I use with tongue firmly planted in cheek. It’s a shout-out to a mutual friend, who’s an awesome pianist who can provide a play-by-play harmonic analysis, score, unseen, of even the fastest, most complicated tonal music.) So, straight off the bat, we lose the ability to proceed through a convincing harmonic analysis of this song in any traditional sense.

Of course, we can (and I will) do so anyway, which isn’t a bad exercise. In fact, the process might help us connect to the music on another level.

With philosophical disclaimers out of the way, I’m thinking we have to hear the song as being in B-flat minor. With no altered keys (five flats: BEADG, if you’d like a refresher).

Whereas the Romantics (not the band, as far as I know) — perhaps in an attempt to ride the coat-tails of Beethoven after the “controversy” — which stemmed from the fact it opens with a series of V-I, not I-V or I-V-I progressions — of his First Symphony, we can’t say it’s surprising or innovative that “Miss Independent” doesn’t start on I. Starting on IV is a little weirder, but not really too weird, because the producers are likely not thinking tonally, per se.

As a side note, this goes well with my theory that contemporary music (lots of dance music, but lots of other music, too) has effectively replaced V with IV. IV used to serve to prepare V (so sayeth the Schenkerians), or otherwise it was simply used to expand I. Today, IV tends to be the place I moves to and from — thus playing a role traditionally given to V — but IV still retains a sense that it’s “expanding the tonic” (another word for I, the root harmony, which defines the key), which is why the music we both love so much keeps flowing, pushing forward even as it asks us to listen to things that aren’t harmonically relevant.

Back to the beginning of the song: the first chord is E-flat minor. But because we initially hear it with that gay (sorry, I couldn’t resist) effervesynth, which starts on — and folds back to — D-flat, the chord is effectively a seventh chord. So it starts on a (minor) IV-7.

So the progression, as I (am asked, for the historical record, to) hear it is:

iv7 — i — VI — VII

(Note: I’m capitalizing major chords and not minor, as most theory students are asked to do unless they attend UW-Madison.)

This (non-)progression is repeated over and over until the bridge, which, by the way, I haven’t given much thought to yet, other than to briefly think about how cheesy it sounds to me. Have fun with that!

Now, I could spend way too long on this. Hell, I probably already have. But one thing is worth noting in particular. If you were to remove the iv7 (which would likely change the song beyond recognition), you get a familiar progression of some pop music (and note: it’s not really a classical progression, since it doesn’t — to Zocchian ears — “progress”). I’m thinking of some hardcore metal songs, the verse of Prince‘s “Little Red Corvette,” or the entirety of Stevie Nicks‘(s) “Edge of Seventeen.” Weird, actually, I think the Prince reference would be on key. Keep in mind we’d have to hear both those songs as I — II — iii instead of VI — VII — I.

So yeah, it’s complicated, mostly because we’re forcing harmonic theory where it doesn’t belong. Still, even leaving that opinion aside, it’s also complicated because the iv7 makes it complicated. It’s a lush, energetic chord that displaces the tonic (i) harmony on the downbeat. When you play it on the piano …

D-flat      D-flat
B-flat      D-flat
G-flat      F
E-flat      F

… you can feel and hear how the iv7 results from a double-appoggiatura of sorts. G-flat and E-flat narrow in on F, and when they get there, it’s just a i-chord.

Jammin!

To help you out, let me finish by writing out for you how I’d play it to really feel what I’m getting at. The middle lines are the right hand (start with your pinky on the top note, thumb on the bottom). It looks like four lines, but think of it as triads. I just want you to see (and feel) the two pitches converging into one. The bottom (bold) line is the left-hand bass line, which I think matches the bass of the song. I positioned the right-hand triads to give smoother voice leading between the first and second chords, and also so that you can hear the riff’s melody on the top, which is where it is in the actual mix. Finally, I just noticed that the melodic instrumental riff follows what I had already notated as the top line of the right-hand triads, but it fills in the F-to-D-flat interval stepwise, while rhythmically anticipating the chord changes. This melodic hook (for your own safety, don’t try to play it at the same time) is in italics at the very top, but there’s no space to notate anything other than each pitch the first time it’s heard. (I’m not notating repeated pitches or rhythm there.)

6 comments

November 19th, 2008

Guitar Bots

I asked a while back if there were any generous erstwhile shredders out there, hoping to score a guitar for a friend’s studio in Botswana. I received enthusiastic responses from several people, a few of whom offered to send other things or, when shipping proved insanely cost prohibitive, carry an instrument to the continent (if they were traveling, say, to Ghana). One nice guy in Brooklyn even gave me a wicked pink strat (which, dude, you can either totally have back or can rest assured that Nico will be shredding in style before too long). And I was able to recoup my ol’ p-bass from a friend who’d had it on permanent loan.

But I couldn’t find a reasonable way to send these things to my bredda in Bots.

I first “met” Moemedi / Red Pepper a few years ago. He emailed me after finding my FruityLoops tutorials and teaching himself how to make beats and build riddims. He was grateful and gracious and did me the favor of pointing me in all kinds of interesting directions in kwaito and southern African music. He’s kept me up-to-date with his latest productions, and I’ve been following along for the last couple years as Moemedi’s been saving and applying for grants and working to build the studio of his dreams back home in Palapye.

Now, after years of planning, investment, and sweat, his ambitious, gorgeous, state-of-the-art studio is nearly complete. And he’s still hoping to score some gear to get it outfitted. A guitar would be great, allowing them to add the kind of kwasa-kwasa lines that could put a local mark on the crunky reggae they’ve been making. An electric bass too. Oddly/wrongly, it would cost me much more to send them second-hand from here than for Moemedi to buy new ones over there.

So, partly encouraged by the generous response my initial inquiry received and partly inspired by my friend Marco’s suggestion that Obama donors give as much as they did to his campaign this year to other worthy causes next year, I suggested to Moemedi that he might set up a PayPal button for people who’d like to help out. Far as I know, this isn’t any sort of tax-deductible thing; more like a turbo tip jar. If you’d like to support what he’s doing, you can do so here —





Buy a chunk of guitar! Support (trans)local music! More kwasa-kwasa crunky reggae!

5 comments

November 19th, 2008

Arabic Ebonics

videyogas ::

3 comments

November 19th, 2008

Before


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Wayne&Wax

I'm a techno-musicologist, internet annotator, imagined community organizer.

I left my <3 in the digital global, but I reside in Cambridge, MA, where I'm from.

I represent like that.

wayne at wayneandwax dot com

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