As a Wooden Tangible Sequencer Plays Bach, Meditations on Encoding Music

You may have seen it already as it makes its viral rounds, but an advertising video for Japanese mobile giant NTT Docomo is a poetic model of how musical events are encoded, whether through means tangible or digital. A track of pitches makes a wooden ball into a mallet, traversing a track as it is driven by gravity. The keys of that track become a xylophone, the traversal of space sequencing notes in time, and you hear Bach Cantata 147, “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.” While there’s a clever take on a trill, the only disappointment is that we don’t …

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Cellist Zoe Keating on Quitting Your Day Job, Going on Tour

Should you quit your day job and go on tour with a rock band? That’s the question answered by cellist Zoe Keating at Ignite, the 5-minute hyperpresentation series put on by O’Reilly. (At an NYC event, I gave a talk explaining why understanding basic programming concepts was as important as calculating your tip on a bill.) Zoe Keating on Should you join a rock band? [Ignite’s Brady Forrest] Zoe debunks the myth of the glamorous tour with some sobering realities with which I’m sure at least some readers here are already far too familiar. The presentation is snappy, sharp, and …

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Music Tech History Day: Tone Generation Podcasts Dust Off Breakthrough Electronic Tracks

Ready to blow your mind with a little vintage electronic experimentalism? Thought so. UK producer, filmmaker, and light-show artist (among other things) Ian Helliwell decided to crate dive some early pioneering efforts in recording, and Tone Generation, a ten-part podcast series, is the result. So far, Tone Generation has landed in Great Britain and France. Tonight, they voyage to Germany. Italy is up next — and then, beyond. The creators describe the program thusly:

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Interview: Classical Music Goes Digital, DRM-Free with Deutsche Grammophon

The original promise of digital music distribution was supposed to be greater variety, the availability of out-of-print music, communities serving specific interests that had been under-served by mass culture, high-quality audio, and lots of choice. Slowly, I think, that promise is finally being delivered. Readers of a music technology site may not think much about Josquin motets (well, actually, I do, though I don’t know if I’m typical). But we have talked about a gradual shift away from mass-market, proprietary distribution as with the original iTunes Music Store to more choices of stores, DRM-free music that’s mobile across devices, and, …

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Violinist Joshua Bell Plays the DC Subway

It’s not digital music, but it doesn’t matter. It begs the question, do you have time in your day for beauty? Does your audience? (And that beauty might be made with a violin or a laptop, but either way — the question is time and attention.) Also, hint to Joshua Bell: ditch DC and come play Union Square in Manhattan. Thanks, Brent, who pulls the most telling quote in the story: “But the behavior of one demographic remained absolutely consistent. Every single time a child walked past, he or she tried to stop and watch. And every single time, a …

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